By Emmanuel Tatah Mentan, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017
La République du Cameroun’s (LRC, hereunder) name, and that of its leader, Paul Biya, have become a short-hand for systematic cruelty, horror, and genocide on an enormous scale in former British Southern Cameroons (aka Ambazonia). The reality is almost certainly impossible to imagine for people who are not there.
Between 1961 and 2017, at least 500 Ambazonians are believed to have lost their lives, over 1million maimed, girls raped by HIV infected troops, arsons visited on school buildings, property looted by marauding state armed robbers. For such a small country, that created an effect that lasts to this day: almost one in ten people living in Ambaland now is believed to have died as a result of Biya’s genocide campaign and some buried in mass graves to hide crimes against humanity.
This carnage has a history.When French-backed Ahmadou Ahidjo imposed his socalled Federal Republic of Cameroun, instead of the UN envisaged Federal United Republic of the Cameroons in October 1961, many British Southern Cameroonians greeted the move with a cautious optimism, weary from decades of colonial rule.
During the nearly twenty years following the imposition of that phony federalism, the economy of Southern Cameroons was virtually destroyed. Economic production and consumption were transferred to LRC in the vile name of economic take-off. Ahidjo and his French masters and local cronies mobilized the entire population to launch a dimwitted “national unity” campaign. The labor demanded of Southern Cameroonians to survive was backbreaking, monotonous, and unceasing.
Everyday freedoms were abolished. Some forms of religious worship were banned. Money, markets, and media disappeared. Travel, public gatherings, and communication were restricted. Contact with the outside world vanished. And the state set out to control what people ate and did each day, whom they married, how they spoke, what they thought, and who would live and die. “To keep you is no gain,” the Ahidjo regime warned, “To destroy you is no loss.”
Then came the “messiah” chanting deceitful slogans of “rigor and moralization” called Paul Biya in 1982. Biya and his fellow ethnic ideologues believed that the “science” of telling lies had provided them with the tools to eliminate rival economic deprivation of their kith and kin, noted for their pandemic kleptocratic instincts. The “”all-knowing”
single Party would catapult Cameroun toward a political utopia named “Communal Liberalism.” Like that of other genocidal ideologues, the Biya path to this future was strewn with the bodies of those who did not fit this vision like the Lake Nyos victims of a nuclear bomb test in the death of night of August 21, 1986.
The enemy within: For the Biya murderers, grandiose and unrealistic visions led to abysmal failures, failures suggested subversion, perceived subversion fueled paranoia, and paranoia sparked purges in settling political scores and the “purification” of the masses.
After members of Biya’s clique like Emah Basile ordered the eradication of “hidden enemies burrowing from within,” terror and death became commonplace. Sometimes suspected enemies were executed in public or secret; often they simply vanished. “Be quiet,” people whispered; “bodies disappear” and that means few headaches less.
In our age of terrorist fear, as suspect Boko Haram Arabs and Muslims vanish, are tortured, or held without trial, the Biya kleptocracy cautions us about the dangers of political paranoia. The enemy within, too often, turns out to be ourselves as – driven by fear – we violate the rights of others.
Torture: The Biya terrorist regime established an elaborate security apparatus to identify and eradicate the “impure elements” threatening the purity of the deadly impure “Renouveau National.” Some of these class enemies were killed immediately; others were imprisoned and tortured. Arrest presupposed guilt, so interrogators
sought to force prisoners to reveal their treason. “Why did you betray the Party and its illustrious President?” they would ask. “Who else belongs to your secret network?” The Biya gangster regime utilizes a wide range of torture techniques – electric shocks, asphyxiation as in the cases of Catholic clerics like Mgr. Balla (RIP), immersion in water, forcing the consumption of feces and urine by people like Dakole Daissala, stringing prisoners up in the air, and prolonging bodily stress – that have echoes world-wide today. These brutal methods get results: Most prisoners are eventually willing to confess to almost anything.
Now, as we learn more about Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, and sites of rendition, the violent practices of the Biya murderous state warn us that the information extracted through torture is highly unreliable and that those who turn down this dark path start to resemble the evil they are pursuing.
Through a glass darkly: One of the most startling aspects of meeting perpetrators of genocide in LRC is how ordinary they often are. In their path to evil we catch reflections of ourselves. Most of us have, at some point, used stereotypes and euphemisms, displaced responsibility, followed instructions better questioned, succumbed to peer pressure, disparaged others, become desensitized to the suffering of others, and turned a blind eye to what rogue terrorist governments should not be doing. These sorts of things are going on right now in Ambaland and terrorist LRC genocidal state.
The sites where people are being killed and buried in mass graves in Ambaland have become known as LRC’s “killing fields.” Those being killed are often hit over the head with butts of guns or hunted down by helicopter gunships or smashed by cars in a bid to save bullets. LRC’s attempts to create a completely self-sufficient starving peasant society in Ambaland is leading to thousands of deaths from starvation and a lack of medicine for the wounded leading many others to die unnecessarily from diseases like malaria and woumds inflicted by the Biya regime murderers.
Fifty six years later, LRC and its terrorist machine teach us difficult lessons about ourselves (Ambazonians) and the world in which we live. Such understanding can help us become more self-aware, humble, tolerant, and let’s hope, willing to resist in the face of evil. Today, in an era of new ethnic fanaticisms, the Biya gangsters remind us that vision needs to be tempered with humility and toleration of the sort that inspired people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and, Mandela.