Cameroon: Anglophone activists denied bail as hunger strike, ghost towns continue
The trial in Cameroon of a prominent lawyer and human rights activist and some two dozen other defendants has again been adjourned after a military tribunal in Yaounde denied them bail.
Their next court date is scheduled for June 29, according to local media reports.
Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla, leader of the Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, was arrested in January when the government under President Paul Biya outlawed the group. Consortium co-leader Dr. Fontem Neba also was arrested, along with a third Anglophone activist, Mancho Bibixy, who was arrested after making a public speech in November.
Those arrests came as the Anglophone movement was gaining traction among lawyers, doctors and other professionals seeking to address the political and social marginalization they say that Cameroon’s English-speaking citizens experience in the predominantly Francophone West African nation.
Those longstanding divisions arise in part from the colonial legacy of the West African nation. Authorities in Cameroon also have interfered with journalists and Internet access, and the situation has drawn the attention of the international community as well as human rights groups.
The other defendants were added to the same trial, although defense attorneys argued previously there was no real relationship between them and the three internationally prominent defendants.
All of them are among those who have faced detention and arrest since the protests and general strikes began in October 2016. Detained activists and supporters taken to Yaounde from across Cameroon’s Anglophone regions, including Bibixy, have launched a new hunger strike to protest their detention.
Fellow Anglophone activists have called for the latest “ghost town” general strike to be held Monday in Bibixy’s name. The “ghost town” movement in Cameroon has for months demonstrated participants’ solidarity with the Anglophone cause.
Image: University of Notre Dame/File
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