Cameroon diaspora use protests, discussion to shed light on human rights issues in the country

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Members of the Aurora city council(Angela Lawson, Francois Bergan, and Marsha Berzins) in a meeting with the Cameroon community, Feb. 26.

The Cameroonian diaspora in Colorado is not large when compared to the country’s diaspora in places such as Washington D.C., Virginia or California, which has hundreds of Americans with roots from the country.

While this is the case, the small community in Colorado’s front range, made up of students and professionals working in many fields, boasts some of the most vocal activists who are seeking change in the country.

Even before the current crisis which threatens to erase the future of the country started, many of them had been waging a silent battle of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) for some time. The SCNC, with its roots dating back to the early nineties–advocates complete separation of the Anglophone or English-speaking regions of the country to form a country called Southern Cameroons or Ambazonia Republic.

The desire to return to a federal system of government which the country was founded upon in 1961, as well as calls for separation from La Republique du Cameroun, has morphed into an international crisis of identity which the government of President Paul Biya is fighting to control.

While the phenomenon called the Cameroon Anglophone Problem is taking place in small communities, the situation is gaining worldwide attention.  American officials, from city council members, mayors, people at the U.S. Department of State, and the United nations (UN) are getting briefed about what is happening. Like the case of Southern Sudan before it gained independence there is a diplomatic offensive taking place, so it seems.

Recent events in the country, marked by civilians deaths and the shut down of the internet, have turned into a constant drip of negative news. This has created a gloomy trajectory for the hitherto peaceful country. It is the more reason we have stayed on the story for many weeks to see where the country is going.

So it was that on Sunday, February 26, a group of concerned Cameroonians in Colorado organized a two-part event to voice their concern about what they described as “human rights abuses in the country.”

First they staged a protest rally in front of the Aurora Public Library where they marched, danced and chanted songs of freedom reminiscent of the movement which liberated South Africa from Apartheid.

When the protest was over, the event moved into the community room at the library. There the group made a presentation and call to action about what was happening in Cameroon. For that, the guest speaker, prominent Cameroonian barrister, Harmony Bobga gave an account of what is taking place in the country. He said he fled Cameroon recently because of concern for his life.

“The specific case of Cameroon is actually one that shocks humanity,” Bobga said about the predicament of the country. On the question of Southern Cameroons, he said they have a legal basis for their case based on U.N. documentation as well as, the 1961 constitution of the country. He said what was going on is rooted in the “mismanagement of their values” by the government of Cameroon.

More than 50 people attended the event, including former Aurora city councilman, Ryan Frazier. “We want to do our part to bring attention here in the U.S. to what is going on with any of your families, friends and others in your country,” Frazier said.

Frazier said the situation has really opened his eyes about the country, especially after he heard about the things that were taking place there. He asked the community to reach out to their council as well as congressional representatives to voice concern about the situation.

In attendance were three Aurora city council members; Angela Lawson, Francois Bergan, and Marsha Berzins.

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