By: Rebecca Tinsley
Following ICN's article on the deteriorating situation in Cameroon www.indcatholicnews.com/news/34221 readers asked what they could do. It is not the place of non-Cameroonians to dictate Cameroon's future. However, without genuine and inclusive negotiations between the government and the Anglophone community, there will be no end to the current violence.
Anglophone Cameroonians have asked for help to press their case with the Francophone-dominated regime. Direct appeals to Yaounde may be futile, but there are points of leverage: the French government, the Commonwealth and the Catholic Church. The British government has chosen a position of moral equivalence, despite the colonial links with Anglophone Cameroon. However, British readers can follow the suggestions below, including writing to their MPs (find your MP here www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/ ) adapting the words below, asking them to pass on your concerns to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
It is never a waste of time contacting your elected representatives. The late Senator Paul Simon said if only he had received 100 letters about Rwanda while the genocide was happening, he would have felt justified raising America's inaction with the US State Department.
Putting pressure on France
Please write to our local French Embassy. If you don't speak French then cut and paste the words below, and email in the following standard form:
information.(your capital)-firstname.lastname@example.org E.g. in Canada, the French embassy is email@example.com
French Ambassador in the USA
S.E. M. Gerard Araud,
Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington DC, 20007
alternative email: https://franceintheus.org/spip.php?article1131
French Ambassador in the UK
S.E. M. Jean-Pierre Jouyet
58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT Information.firstname.lastname@example.org
French Ambassador in Australia
S.E. M Christophe Penot Information.email@example.com
French Ambassador in New Zealand
S.E Madame Florence Jeanblanc Risler Information.firstname.lastname@example.org
French Ambassador in Cameroun:
S.E. M. Gilles Thibault
fax: (237) 222.22.79.09
French Ambassador in Canada
S.E. Madame Kareen Rispal, 42 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON K1M 2C9
Fax: 613 562 3735 email@example.com
Suggested French letter for the French Ambassador in your country and/or the French Ambassador in Cameroun, Son Excellence Gilles Thibault (see above):
Je vous écris au sujet de la violence dans la zone anglophone du Cameroun.
Je voudrais respectueusement encourager le gouvernement de France d'utiliser son influence d'animer le Président Biya d'inicier un dialogue transparent et génuine avec les groupes de croyance anglophones*, avec les leaders politiques et avec la société civile.
La France est dans une position unique de persuader le Président Biya d'inicier des négociacions positives. S'il n'y a pas de dialog honnête dans le Cameroun, le mouvement sécessioniste deviendra chaque fois plus fort.
Je remercie votre Excellence de lire ce message. "
(In English: "Your Excellency, I write regarding the violence in the Anglophone region of Cameroun. I respectfully urge the government of France to use its influence to press President Biya to begin a process of transparent and genuine dialogue with Anglophone faith groups, political leaders and civil society. France is in a unique position to encourage President Biya to begin constructive negotiations. If there is no genuine dialogue in Cameroun, the secessionist movement will get stronger. I thank Your Excellency for reading this message.")
The Sec General of the Commonwealth (Baroness Scotland) recently visited Cameroon. http://thecommonwealth.org/media/news/secretary-general-calls-peace-and-unity-during-visit-southwest-cameroon
You can write to Baroness Scotland at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Baroness Scotland, I write to express concern at the deteriorating security situation in Cameroon. I am aware you recently visited Cameroon. I appeal to you to please urge President Paul Biya to begin genuine and inclusive talks to find a constitutional settlement guaranteeing all communities a stake in Cameroon's future. Failure to do so will only polarize and entrench opinions on all sides. Please urge President Biya to include representatives from civil society, faith groups, women and young people in any negotiations. I also urge you to use your influence with the UK FCO to raise the concerns of Anglophone Cameroonians with President Biya.
The Catholic Church
More than 40% of Cameroonians are Roman Catholic, and President Biya has to be seen to be respectful to the church. Readers may wish to approach their local bishop, urging them to raise Cameroon. This website is useful: www.gcatholic.org/ It may also be worth contacting the Pope's representative in your country. Again, this website is useful: www.gcatholic.org/ In the UK the Apostolic Nuncio is at email@example.com and should be addressed as Your Grace.
British MPs - suggested letter
Dear (your MP),
I am writing about the deteriorating security situation in Cameroon, and I urge you to please pass on my concerns to the FCO. Britain has important historic ties with the Anglophone region of Cameroon, and English-speaking Cameroonians have pleaded with people in the UK to support their call for equal treatment under the law in their homeland. English speakers have a constitutional right to use both English common law in their courts, and to study in English using English curricula and tests in their schools. However, French-speaking judges, laws and teachers are being imposed on them by the government. Anglophone Cameroonians have been marginalized by the majority French speakers since independence, seeing their constitutional rights gradually eroded. The UK has a legitimate role pressing President Paul Biya to begin genuine and inclusive talks to find a constitutional settlement guaranteeing all communities a stake in Cameroon's future. Failure to do so will only polarize and entrench opinions on all sides. The FCO should not maintain its current position of moral equivalence while so many Cameroonians look to the UK for their cultural, legal, political and linguistic roots. Therefore,
I urge the FCO to press President Biya to include representatives from civil society, faith groups, women and young people in any negotiations.