By Basil K Mbuye
The government of Cameroon has intensified a manhunt on Activists of the Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, advocating for a breakaway state as the Anglophone Crisis continue to take a new twist.
In recent days, the government has stepped up efforts in a massive crackdown in the English speaking regions (Northwest and Southwest) of Cameroon that has forced SCNC activists to go underground.
Cameroon’s Ministers of Communication IssaTchiroma Bakary and that of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga Nji in one of their outings in June 2018, reiterated that Cameroon will not tolerate division and promised hard times to secessionists calling for Southern Cameroons independence.
Let me remind you (pressmen) that the form of the state is non-negotiable and our defence and security forces will defend our territorial integrity against these activists threatening the peace of our country. Let it be clear, any person waging a war of separation against the state will be dealt with according to the law,Issa Tchiroma Bakary warned.
The situation in these regions two English speaking regions of Cameroon has not been the same as activists arrested, raped, killed or maimed while others are nowhere to be found as family members and friends worry over their disappearance while in detention.
One of the cases in point is that of the Assistant Head of the SCNC Communication Department in the Southwest Region, Kimberly Olive Kehmbong. Working alongside her boss Salle Claude, Kehmbong played a vital role in organizing activities in the region to mark the 2018 celebrations of the Southern Cameroon independence on October 1.
Recounting her ordeal, she narrated how they were tortured, asked to sleep in the mud and locked up in a prison cell where they urinate and sleep in the same room with no light. She just as other females arrested was raped and molested by government forces that usually go unpunished after committing such acts.
She has been arrested on two occasions. She was arrested on October 1,2018 and also on February 16, 2019. Since then, her whereabouts remains unknown.
Most of the activists who have been arrested are being detained under horrendous and inhuman conditions. Some have died in detention while the whereabouts of others remained unknown.
Since escaping from the cruel hands of the government forces, the whereabout of Kehmbong and other activists remain unknown as the government continues to crackdown on the SCNC kingpins.
She and other main activists have been on the governments blacklist of wanted SCNC activists since 2018 because of their call for the independence of the English-speaking people and marginalization of Anglophones.
The families of these activists at large frequently experienced intimidation from government forces who usually make stops to check if they are back.
Other activists like Emmanuel Ngong, Lucy Limunga, Bessem John Arrey, Taboh William Tendoh, have been arrested and detained several times for carrying out protest to call for the independence of the former British Southern Cameroons from the French-speaking part of the country.
In October 2017, government forces crackdown in towns and villages along Cameroons border with Nigeria caused at least 7,000 people and possibly as many as 20,000 to flee into Nigerias Cross Rivers state, where the UN refugee agency is bracing itself for the arrival of 40,000 more.
With a solution yet to be arrived at, the lives of SCNC activists who are in governments wanted list continue are not secure.