Cape Town — Sissiku Julius Ayuktabe has written a letter from his cell at Kondengui Principal Prison, where he says he is being unjustly detained with "a sizeable part of my cabinet and with thousands of other Southern Cameroonian prisoners who have run afoul of the repressive regime of Paul Biya, the long-ruling despot of Cameroon".
"We are in an increasingly dire state – overlooked and forgotten by the world at large, which allows our captors to inflict unspeakable violence upon us. This, in reality, is indicative of the broader struggle that my people have faced, often in silence and too often disregarded," Ayuktabe (IS THIS CORRECT?) writes in an exclusive for Democracy in Action.
The former interim president of the South Cameroon government writes that he had the "honour" to serve (HOW LONG?) before he was "illegally abducted" with part of his Cabinet from the Nera Hotel in Abuja in Nigeria months ago.
Seven leaders of the Movement for the independence of Southern Cameroonians Sisiku Tabe were arrested by the Nigerian State Security Service Abuja. They were tranfered to Cameroon where they are being tried by a military for terrorism. If foud guilty they could face the death penalty. Human Right lawyers have however challenged the actions og the Nigerian government. On 1 March Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled that the forced deportation of the 12 leaders and 39 other Anglophones from Taraba State was illegal and unconstitutional.
The judge said that irrespective of whether they posed a threat to the Nigerian state or not, the Federal Government did not follow due process and thus violated both the Nigerian constitution and articles 32 and 33 of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
Stating that their human rights were violated, Justice Chikere ordered their return to Nigeria. He also decided the government should pay compensation of ₦5 million each to the 12 and ₦200 000 each to the 39 other deportees.
The root cause of the ongoing crisis in Cameroon, he says, is the result of a "severely botched decolonization process".
"The Republic of Cameroon achieved its independence on January 1, 1960, and became a member of United Nations with her own territory clearly defined, sharing a recognized boundary with Southern Cameroons. British Southern Cameroons was later granted its independence on October 1, 1961 with her own territory clearly mapped out as well, sharing common boundaries with the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Cameroon.
"The unjust treatment of Southern Cameroonians is, today, an unavoidable and tragic reality", he writes and "people are being killed not for what they have done but for who they are. Southern Cameroonians have been described as "rats" and "dogs" by members of the Biya's government, and there are "calls for their extermination with the justification that the president has the right to kill everyone on the pretext of national unity".
"Imagine being told that you are the enemies in the house; imagine your people being told to vacate their ancestral lands and villages or be considered terrorists; imagine the scorched earth policy and military operations in our villages that have spared no one, not even elderly women and young children; just imagine being made to feel like a second class citizen in the country of your birth."
Ayuktabe ends with a plea for help: "Let my people go! Support our democratic aspirations. Join our struggle for human decency and battle for respect of our bodies, hearts and minds, our traditions and values. The struggle of Southern Cameroons is your struggle. Please, stand with us."