In Cameroon, where Anglophone activists tried before a military court received heavy sentences this week, the case against Mancho Bibixy has been adjourned yet again until April 24.
Bibixy was arrested after making a public speech from a coffin in November 2016, as the tensions heightened between the country’s English-speaking teachers, lawyers and other professionals seeking reforms, and the increasingly authoritarian government of President Paul Biya.
Their appeals arise in response to what they say is longstanding political and social marginalization in a predominantly Francophone West African nation, which is tied to the colonial history and partition of Cameroon. As the Anglophone movement took off, it was met with repression and force; it has now evolved in some quarters into calls for secession, leading to more arrests and ever-deepening division.
Bibixy, with a background as a radio presenter, is among the more prominent of hundreds of Anglophone activists detained, and he drew attention to their cause with a hunger strike in prison matched by general strikes on the streets. He also worked as a teacher in Bamenda, and was among the earliest of professionals associated with the outlawed Anglophone Civil Society Consortium and its leaders.
Appearing with Bibixy on Friday was Anglophone activist Joseph Ngalim, who received a sentence of 11 years and 9 months on charges of secession, terrorism and opposition to the state. Earlier this week, Penn Terence Khan – after delivering a blistering rebuke to the military court – received a 12-year sentence.
“Dialogue is the best cure for the crisis rocking Cameroon today,” he said, before concluding his statement with an appeal to remedy Anglophone marginalization with real institutional protections for the minority.
Image: Bibixy file