Cameroon Government Warns Parents to Stop Using Children for Politics

By Peter Clottey*

Parents in the English-speaking parts of bilingual Cameroon who are preventing their children from going to school are sacrificing the youths’ education to score political points, the nation’s information minister says.

“We condemn the fact they prevent tomorrow’s leaders of our nation” from acquiring the knowledge they need, Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in an interview with VOA. “It is wrong to do it.”

Tchiroma’s criticism followed weeks of protests by English-speaking teachers and lawyers who contend that the Yaounde government, dominated by the French-speaking majority, slights their interests and does not give them adequate resources. The protests have forced the closure of some schools in English-speaking areas.

Tensions were so high that 10 people were killed in demonstrations over language discrimination in Bamenda in December, according to human rights groups there. The government sent in 5,000 troops to stabilize the city.

Civil society groups and political leaders from the English-speaking parts of Cameroon also have said that the government has a plan to force institutions, including schools and the legal system, to use French. This, they said, would undermine the constitution. They have demanded negotiations with the government as part of an effort to ensure the administration respects their rights.

Tchiroma said the government in Yaounde needed time to resolve the concerns of the English-speaking regions, but that it was ready to hold talks.

Despite receiving such assurances, English-speaking activists say they have been arbitrarily arrested by the country’s security agencies, detained without charges and beaten. They also said students from the English-speaking areas who were in schools in Yaounde were being arrested and detained without charges — part of a government campaign to harass opponents and stall talks on resolving concerns.

Tchiroma sharply denied such accusations.

“When they claim they are being harassed or intimidated, it is completely wrong,” he said. Those detained “were arrested red-handed, burning, inciting and doing this and that.”

Tchiroma also said assertions that the administration plans to force French on the English parts of the country was a calculated attempt to make President Paul Biya and his administration unpopular. He warned that the government was displeased with politicians who fan untruths, which he said could dangerously undermine the country’s stability.

*Culled from VOA Some information for this report came from AP

PAV Editor’s Note: Indeed arbitrary arrests are ongoing.  Amos Fofung  of Concord newspaper and Atia Azohnwi of the Sun Newspaper were reportedly arrested on the same day Tchiroma granted the VOA interview.Contrary to claims from Tchiroma, Consortium leaders Agbor Balla and Fontem Niba consistently advocated and led the struggle in a non violent manner prior to their arrest. The same goes for Supreme Court Judge Ayah Paul whisked off from his residence.The North West and South West Regions remain heavily militarized with no access to internet. Tchiroma’s claims are not accurate at all .Even leading CPDM militants like Protais  Ayangma have criticized the government for the arbitrary arrest and detention of Consortium leaders. Many are of the view that the government shoulders the bulk of the blame for  the degenerating state of affairs.

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    “Today on behalf of the government we say that the problem that they raised if they are legitimate problems which are conformed to our laws and constitution, the government is ready to receive them listen and together find a common solution to those problems”

    1. So the government has to deem it legitimate before they listen to the people?

    2. If something is not in the law or against the law and it’s brought for discussion to maybe change the law, has that person committed a crime?*


    “Several People are at this moment in jail in cameroon they were members of the consortium that wanted to address these issues with the government there are all in jail why is that if you say are inviting to dialogue why are they in jail?”


    “All those who were arrested and are today in custody just because they were caught red handed in burning looting threatening people. All of those in one way or the other arrested were caught red handed. They have the right to have their lawyer to defend them and the presumption of innocence is recognized to whoever who find themselves in this situation”

    *Response: Tchiroma will have a special place in Hell. 1. The leaders of the consortium are lawyers and teachers who never looted or were caught red handed destroying any property. Their demands were tabled 7 times for more than a year and no response. 2. Presumption of innocence means you should get bail, get charged and be released till your day in court. He contradicts himself and doesn’t even know it. 3. Lawyers have been arrested and are afraid to communicate, speak publicly for they will be locked up. Vocal lawyers are on the run. Did the loot? This man is insane*


    “Cameroon as we know is a state that is divided into two languages. The people of the anglophone part of the country have been expressing profound dissatisfaction with the way that arrangement is working some of them want federalism or separation is it something that the government of cameroon is prepared to discuss?”


    “We say that come, when you want to engage in a certain discussion, you have to come with the constitution and the law. If the constitution enables the government to discuss federalism or secession, there’s no problem, but if the constitution prevents the government from so doing anyone cannot accept this madam”

    *Response. So the constitution tells you not to talk about some things? Is that freedom of speamech or am I hearing censoring citizens? And why the clause if? Can your government discuss from lawyers Federation or Sécession freely? You negotiate one day with people and arrest them the next day? Today you say they looted, burned places etc*

    Thanks @bbc_audreyb for a brilliant interview that expose those fools called Cameroon government officials.

    @bbc_audreyb For 55 years the oppressed have been speaking and nothing is changing. Enough is Enough.


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