Resolution calling on the Cameroon government to address the current humanitarian crisis plaguing the English-speaking region

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CITY OF SOMERVILLE, MASSACHUSETTS

93 Highland Avenue

Somerville, MA 02143

Wilfred Mbah – Alderman at Large

 

Resolution calling on the Cameroon government to address the

current humanitarian crisis plaguing the English-speaking region.

 

WHEREAS:   Cameroon is a nation state with dispersed and widely diversified indigenous groups, and ranks among the top five most ethnically and linguistically diverse countries in the world; and

 

WHEREAS:   Since the Western and Eastern part of the country came together in 1961 to form a United Republic, civil and political liberties have been increasingly stifled as the Cameroon National Union [CNU] took central stage, becoming Cameroon’s sole legal political party until 1990; and

 

WHEREAS:   After the introduction of multi-party politics, individual and minority rights were not protected and guaranteed, thus facilitating a reign of terror and state-sanctioned violence and the emergence of a Presidential Republic whereby the President rules by decree and is both the head of state and head of government; and

 

WHEREAS:   Such a form of governance has contributed to the weakening of formal and informal institutional systems, making participation, accountability and transparency more difficult to implement by public authorities, eroding public trust in government and in Cameroon’s democratic practice internationally; and

 

WHEREAS:   To defend its grip on power, the state apparatus responds with a disproportionate use of force, brutality, wanton arrest, intimidation, human rights abuses and the curtailment of civil liberties and public freedoms; and

 

WHEREAS:   Following the appointment of Francophone judges in the English speaking region of Cameroon, peaceful protests were initiated by the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, and common law lawyers wrote an appeal letter to the government protesting the use of French in schools and courtrooms in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon, a practice that prevents English-speakers from participating in their own education and governance; and

 

WHEREAS:   The government responded to the protests with brute force, sending security forces to fire tear gas, and allegedly assault protesters, and closing all schools in 2016 in the Anglophone regions, cutting off internet access for much of 2017 and holding the protest leaders in captivity for nearly six months, with no access to lawyers or family; and

 

WHEREAS:   The government has burned down homes and croplands in most villages, displacing 160,000 people, about twice the population of Somerville., including Alderman Mbah’s  older brother, who was recently living in the bush with his wife and 5 children, along with several of his neighbors; and

 

WHEREAS:   It is important to note that Cameroon plays a role in ensuring peace and stability in the fight against terrorism in the Central African sub-region and any civil unrest or armed struggle for political governance could lead to a failure of the state system which would worsen security, increase poverty and add to the migration crisis in Africa and Europe; NOW TEREFORE BE IT

 

RESOLVED:  That the Somerville Board of Aldermen calls on the government of Cameroon to act swiftly to resolve this crisis before it results in a civil war and to create space for ordinary citizens to articulate their grievances and learn how to constructively engage the government, as well as how to organize and mobilize themselves nonviolently to achieve a more inclusive and participatory political processes.