By Solange M. Ashu
AmbaNews24 – Madrid, Spain
Following a diplomatic mission by the Ambazonia Governing Council to the Basque Country from March 27 – 29, 2019, the Basque Parliament on June 6, 2019 passed a resolution on the Ambazonia Independence Cause calling yet again for dialogue and negotiations that address the root causes of the ongoing conflict
The Ambazonian delegation to the Basque Country Parliament was led by Dr. Julius Nyih, Vice President of the Ambazonia Governing Council.
The milestone resolution of the 75 members legislative body of the Basque Government is titled, “Institutional Declaration on the Ambazonia Conflict.” This is the first declaration made by a constituted foreign parliament that speaks of the ongoing Ambazonia independence cause as an “Ambazonia Conflict”. This terminology is significantly opposed to the awkward “Anglophone Crisis” that is now viewed as an expression that fails to reflect the true nature of the situation – the conflict is not a fight over language, but a liberation struggle for the independence and sovereignty of Ambazonia as a country.
The “Official Declaration on the Ambazonia Conflict” originally adopted in the Basque and Spanish languages reads:
The Basque Parliament observes that since October 2016, Cameroon has been in a state of crisis caused by the violation of human rights, the use of brutal and indiscriminate force against the Anglophone population. This population is located mainly in the south west of the country – specifically in what was the English Cameroons protectorate [the UN Class B Mandate Trusteeship territory of the Southern Cameroons under British administration – editor’s note added].
The conflict escalated in October 2017 when the Government of President Paul Biya of Cameroon violently suppressed popular demonstrations called by civil society organizations against the discrimination suffered by the Anglophone Ambazonian population. This led to a resurgence of the prolonged grievances that have now transformed into a conflict facing the Government and the marginalized Ambazonia population in the region.
The executive government of Yaoundé, in its objective of subjugating the protest of the English speaking population, has activated its security and defense forces to act, and they continue to act in a barbarous way against the civilian population, using scorched earth policy that has affected numerous innocent victims. On the other hand, violent groups in that region, taking advantage of the protest, have committed crimes to hundreds of victims of the population and to police officers.
In this regard, the prestigious non-governmental organization known as the “Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa” has documented to March 2019, the burning of 176 villages, the killing of hundreds of persons, the displacement of thousands of civilians in the region to the forest and other towns, with many becoming refugees in Nigeria. The affected population needs humanitarian aid.
Faced with this grave situation of indiscriminate violation of human rights, the Basque Parliament:
1. Denounces and condemns the constant violation of fundamental human rights through cruel violence and disproportionate use of force against defenseless civilians that have caused serious humanitarian crisis, the kidnapping of students and teachers and the murder of police officers.
2. Expresses solidarity and support to victims and close relatives of these massacres, to alleviate the terrible suffering that they are going through because of this humanitarian tragedy
3. Calls for necessary dialogue and negotiations between the parties, under international auspices, with the objective of achieving a just and lasting solution, and in accordance with international law and principles as well as respect for human rights
4. To enable this dialogue, exhorts the Ambazonia armed groups and the Cameroon government to ceasefire and terminate all hostilities
5. Encourages the government of Yaoundé and opposition leaders to embrace and continue in the path of dialogue
6. Calls on the Basque and the Spanish Institutions, the European Union, the African Union and the United Nations to take note of these violations of human rights, assess and respond to the humanitarian crisis, and become involved in a negotiated solution that is viable and permanent to end the blood bathe.
Reacting to the declaration of the Basque Parliament, Dr. Julius Nyih, said, “It is important that the world speaks of us as who we truly are, namely, ‘Ambazonians’”. He added that this resolution is an important step in the right direction; however, more work still needs to be done.
Dr. Nyih who has been a true champion for the freedom and independence of Ambazonia recalled the important principle of international law, which the Basque Parliament alludes to in calling for a just and lasting solution that aligns with international law and principles. Under the principle of uti possidetis juris, which provides that sovereign states should retain the boundary they had at their independence, Dr. Nyih said the territorial integrity boundary of Cameroon ends at the Mongo and at the Matazem, obtained when Cameroon acceded to independence on 1st January 1960. He went on very emphatically that Ambazonia was never part of Cameroon’s territory on that date. International law and procedure required a union treaty between the Government of Cameroon and the Government of Southern Cameroons as it were (now Ambazonia) to affect any union of the two territories. He said no such union treaty exist because Cameroun simply matched its military into Ambazonia on September 30, 1961 and occupied the territory without the ratification of the 1961 Plebiscite by the Southern Cameroons House of Assembly or the signing of an international union treaty.
“Dialogue and negotiations that respect international law and principles,” the Vice President added, “cannot end in any solution short of the independence and sovereignty of Ambazonia for such solution to be just and lasting as the Basque Parliament has pointed out.”
On the call for a ceasefire and termination of hostilities in the territory by both sides, Dr. Nyih went on that, “The Ambazonian people do not want to see the ongoing massacre of our people. It must stop!” He recalled that the Ambazonian people had filled the streets of Ambazonia carrying peace plants in September and October of 2017, and demanding the end to the neo-colonization, oppression and domination of Ambazonia by Cameroon for over six decades. Cameroon decided to unleash its military with helicopter gunships, and they have been massacring thousands of Ambazonians since then with the utter silence of the international community, especially the United Nations that failed to invoke the principle of the Responsibility to Protect. He said this deafening silence by the international community has shocked the Ambazonian people. This, he went further, caused Ambazonians to begin defending themselves against the Cameroon aggression following Paul Biya’s declaration of war on Ambazonia on November 30, 2017 at the Nsimalen airport in Yaoundé. According to Dr. Nyih, Cameroon soldiers have wasted their lives in Ambazonia fighting a war they cannot win as the American Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor P. Nagy, Jr. told the Cameroon government. He went on that once the Cameroon government ends the war it declared and withdraws its troop, the sound of guns will ipso facto not be heard from the Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF) as both sides will come to a permanent ceasefire.
The Ambazonia Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs took keen interest in Paragraph 3 of the Resolution. He iterated that the call for a political solution to the “Ambazonia Conflict” is an appropriate call that conforms to diplomatic language and action because according to him, all conflicts and wars end up at the dialogue and negotiation table. “As the Basque Parliament has resolved,” he pointed out, “the objective of this political solution should be to achieve a just and lasting solution that is in line with international law and principles as well as the respect for human rights.” He went further and spoke lengthily about the right to self-determination that: “self-determination is a core principle of international law that is enshrined in multiple international treaties including the Charter of the United Nations and the International Bill of Human Rights. It states that all peoples have the right to determine their own future: their political, economic, social, cultural, educational, and legal systems. No one people can force their will and governance on another people. The Indonesians could not force their force their rule on the people of East Timor. The government of Ethiopia could not govern the people of Eritrea by brutal force. The German people cannot force their governance on the Belgian people. Neither the Mexican people can force their rule on the American people, nor can the people of South Africa govern the people of Namibia by force.”
Expanding on this principle of self-determination, Dr. Larry Ayamba affirmed that the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights has determined that Ambazonians constitute ‘a people’ under international law. “Consequently,” he emphasized, “Cameroon violates international law and principles when it uses its military to force its governance and machinations on the Ambazonian people. Dialogue and negotiations that respect international law and principles and seek to achieve a just and lasting solution as the Basque Parliament has underlined in this diplomatic language of the resolution shall end in the independence and sovereignty of Ambazonia.”
Squeezed on the value and next step from this resolution, the Ambazonia Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs told AmbaNews24: “There are steps that the Ambazonia Governing Council already took following our visit to the Basque Country in line with our strategic plan for the independence and international recognition of Ambazonia as a sovereign country.” He went on that various elements of this plan seek to achieve the international recognition of Ambazonia as a sovereign country, to enforce accountability for the human rights atrocities of Cameroon in Ambazonia, to provide humanitarian assistance to the victimized and suffering population, and establishes a clear roadmap for the future development of Ambazonia. Dr. Ayamba elaborated that, “What we are doing is part of a strategic path which is well outlined with steps from one phase of the struggle to the next, and we know how this will contribute to our short, medium and long-term objectives”. He refused to give any further details as to timeframes and other details but reassured the Ambazonian people with certainty that “we will get there!”
On the subject of humanitarian aid, Ms. Cecilia Amabo, Ambazonian Secretary for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs said, “We certainly expected the Basque parliament to condemn any abuse on our local population, no matter who the perpetrators are, and we must take all steps necessary to put an end to all human rights violations. There is a dire need of humanitarian assistance to our over 40,000 suffering people in Nigeria as refugees, to thousands being subjected to inhumane torture in the jails of Cameroon, and to the 560,000 Ambazonians in the territory as internally displaced persons. The Basque Parliament recognizes this, and we will continue work to ensure that the solidarity and support to the victims of Cameroon’s barbarism in our land translates into concrete aid steps to alleviate the suffering of our people.”