Cameroon government troops have since 2017 been fighting armed separatists in the country’s North West and South West Regions who want to create a breakaway country christened the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
Corporate demands by Common Law Lawyers and Anglophone Teachers led to protests in November 2016. The street demonstrations later morphed into ongoing running gun battles between state forces and armed separatist fighters in the predominantly English-speaking regions, leading to untold destruction of human lives, their habitats, and livelihoods.
Tit-for-tat killings, kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, arsons, maiming, and outright terror have become part of daily lives in some parts of the English-speaking regions.
In the early hours of Tuesday, January 26, 2021, Norway-based Cameroonian activist Lucas Ayaba Cho, leader of the Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF) dispatched an audio message distancing himself from the “war for freedom”.
He regrets that “criminals have turned a people’s war for freedom into a war of shame”.
“When I see a soldier [armed separatist fighter] die because of thuggery, stealing, I feel ashamed. Memory lost, memory wasted. I feel ashamed that brave men and women who’ve risen up to challenge Cameroon have become petit criminals trying to get food, going around harassing people, begging for food,” Ayaba Cho said from the comfort of his home in Norway.
“I do not only feel ashamed, I feel angry. Anger towards such persons more than I even have anger towards La Republique. It is a disgrace,” he added.
The leader of the ADF armed group said while Mandela spent 27 years in jail without blinking and South Africans endured for more than half a century, separatists in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have turned into petit criminals in four years.
His words: “Separatists who have been fighting for four years now have turned themselves into petit criminals. Instead of being seen as heroes within our communities, instead of being seen as people who protect our civilians, they are being seen as tormentors. Not tormenting to get things done, tormenting to eat, to drink. How cheap some of you have become.”
Ayaba says deceased fighters like ‘General’ Ivo Mbah and others will be weeping in their graves seeing what the so-called struggle for freedom has become.
“General Ivo should be frowning and mourning. All those great patriots, Fiango and the others should be looking at such persons with disdain. It is distasteful to see soldiers [armed separatist fighters] falling because they are harassing the population,” Ayaba thundered.
The Norway-based separatist strongman questioned the intellectual capacity of the armed separatists who go as far as “tormenting” families that are burying their deaths.
Hear him: “You people haven’t got brains or what? The other day, I said I have imposed a foreign direct tax on all foreign businesses. You people are going around tormenting mothers in the villages, even where they are burying their dead. What a sacrilege!
“What a sacrilege to the customs and tradition that we hold dear. What has become of some of you? What has really become of some of you? Who are you? What are you fighting for? Stop giving us sleepless nights every day. Every day you go around picking up [kidnapping] people, transporting them, collecting money. Do you remember Charles Taylor? He was a warlord. He became president. Do you know where he is? In jail somewhere. Do you know Prince Johnson?
“Let me tell you something, everyone, even patriots, nationalists who spend their time tormenting the population, those who encourage, propagate torture, systematic brutality, thuggery against our own civilian population, it is a matter of time. If your body does not lie on the streets, wasted, to be eaten by vultures, the ambazonia justice will look after you. No one will remember your bravery. They will only remember the torment that you instilled in the body politics of the ambazonia society.
“You cannot turn a people’s war for freedom into a war of shame where every day I am being questioned by journalists about A, B, or C because of criminals and irresponsibility of commanders who work within these places. How is it possible that you have a soldier [ armed separatist fighter] within your camp that keeps giving your camp a bad name?
“On a daily basis, we do not sleep, making sure we can provide. You people should be creative, ingenious. The Kurds who have been fighting for more than sixty years created restaurants, the Kebab to be able to generate money. You people are going around stealing, killing people, tormenting and harassing people. It is a disgrace. And not in our name, not in the name of the ambazonian people. It is in your name.”
This is the first time Ayaba Cho is openly admitting to the atrocities being carried out by armed separatists in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions.
Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations have blamed separatists for abusing the rights of civilians, championing kidnappings, maiming, school boycott, civil disobedience, slaying among others.
Human Rights groups have also blamed the government of Cameroon for the killing of civilians like was the case in Ngarbuh on February 14, 2020.
The government has however called on the armed fighters to drop their weapons and embrace peace.
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