Thursday, April 27, 2017

Why the Return Of Internet 3 Months After Has Not Resolved The Anglophone Crisis

After 93 days of internet black out and about five days into the University Games Currently taking place in Bamenda, inhabitants of the North West and South West Regions can now browse online normally and carry out their business transactions online.

However, all is not yet over as the population is still insisting that all those arrested in connection with the strike should be released. It all started on 16 October when Lawyers went on strike advocating for the recognition of the Common Law in the Cameroonian judicial system. Teachers on their part joined the strike on November 21 2016 protesting against the francophonisation of the English sub system of education. 

Thereafter the demands increased, this time with a call for a two state federation. The decision to cut internet came on the 17 January 2017 on grounds that the tool was being used to promote hate and discord. According to the government these striking lawyers and teachers were extremists with secessionist tendencies who were using the opportunity to spread hate literature and incite acts of violence of all sorts. The government also justified the disconnection of internet on the fact that criminal activities that were punishable by law were being carried out on social media .This important tool for social and economic development was therefore being used by the enemies of the state.

Under such circumstances therefore, the state had the responsibility to re-establish public order, maintain peace and security, guarantee the security of citizens and their properties, and assure the proper functioning of public services. The state, it was noted reserves the right to ensure that internet is not once again used to propagate hate and discord.

Reacting on « Silicon Mountain » through Twitter, the tech-entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong Noted that “internet is our right .You have given us internet as if you were giving freedom to slaves ,she said before lauding the massive mobilization on social media through the campaign Bring Back Our Internet. On the website Quartz Africa, the African edition, the American news outfit highlights that this action was a show of solidarity with people in the zons that did not have internet., and millions of tweets gave her hope. Quartz Africa in its recent publication proposed the putting in place of a refugee camp for those without internet in Bonako ,a village in the South West region along the Tiko Douala highway. It was to be called Silicon Mountain for the sake of the dynamic entrepreneurs of the digital age. Because of the digital clampdown that started I January the population increased journeys to and from Bamenda to Mbounda with the appalling state of road between Babajou and Bamanda while those in the southwest go to Douala, a distance of about 70km ,These journeys were expensive both in terms of time and money.

International Pressure

According to a French NGO,Internet Without Borders, the first 60 days of internet black out cost the Cameroonian economy 2.69 million euro The consequences are grave, the NGO concluded Cameroon Info comes back to the details of this blackout indicating that through the campaign Bring Back OurInternet Edward Snowden reacted on twitter that” Cameroon has beaten the record of the longest internent blackout on the continent”.

The resistance of government in the face of mounting pressure to put an end to this digital isolation was fierce,the NGO notes. The list of pressure is long coming from the UN ,the American Congress, the Vatican ,and also social pressure especially on the 17 April ,the date marking the 3rd month of the internet blackout in the Anglophone regions .A silent march was organized in Yaounde. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, narrates Moki Edwin Kindzeka on Radio Deustche Welle English. « Internet is like the air that we breath .On 18 April ,it is lawyers who organized a press conference .The government of Cameroon took a step ahead at the end of March by announcing the putting in place of a Common Law Department in ENAM, the creation of the Faculty of Law at the University of Buea and Department of English Law in the Universities of Douala ,Ngaoudnere ,Dschang and Maroua ,and the increase of the number of Anglophone magistrates in the higher echelons of the judiciary. The lawyers called for the rapid and effective implementation of these measures ,adding that Cameroon is a Bilingual country only in theory with chances to learn from the Bijural system in Canada.

But above all they pleaded for the release of all those held in detention in connection with the Anglophone crisis. Barristers Claude Assira and Bernard Muna categorically called on government to release all lawyers and others detained in Yaounde, and the safe return of all those in exile and to life the injunction on persons who are prohibited from leaving the country. According to the website News du Camer., about 70 to 100 are behind bars since the start of the crisis. One of them notes that those detained are neither the leaders nor the most radical of the Anglophone crisis , Shortly after the restoration of internet messages calling for the release of the prisoners flooded the internet. The Anglophone crisis is far from over .While tension is reducing in one direction, anger is rising in the other The Anglophone crisis is complicated ,writes Christophe Sessou on BĂ©nin Monde Infos. He recalls that it is part of  the monumental failure of the candidate of the Anglophone regions, I John Fru Ndi in the 1992 presidential elections ;an election that saw Paul Biya edge him with a narrow margin. Since then Fru Ndi has continued to contest election results. With government remaining silent,it has open the way for the two regions to start clamouring for autonomy. ,the Beninese journalist writes .They are now talking of the Republic of Ambazonia which is the North West and South West who are claiming political marginalization, disfavoured in the distribution of oil revenue which comes from their region . Paul Biya for his part noted that there should be peace even with the worries of Anglophones .Another area of concern is the accusations levied against the clergy .Three Bishops are due in court on Monday 24 April .The BarchBishop of Douala has thrown his full weight behind the three concerned Bishops according to 237online.

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