Yesterday, at least six children were brutally killed by attackers armed with guns and machetes at Mother Francisca International Bilingual school in Kumba, Ambazonia. At least a dozen more were wounded. Every local press source and discussion forum is saying that the Cameroon military is responsible. But less than an hour after the event, the New York Times published an article asserting that “separatists” are responsible — though the lede of the Reuters source article itself states that Reuters was unable to confirm this. How could this article have been processed so quickly through the ranks of these international media platforms? How could it so shamefully present a narrative that completely omits the understanding on the ground?
As if the senseless massacre of these innocent souls is not enough horror, their deaths are being shamelessly deployed as political tools in this neocolonial game before their blood has dried. Our hearts and minds cry out in agony. When will this making of human beings into pawns stop!? Enough!!!
Thankfully, principled media makers are challenging the irresponsible narrative being propagated by the PR-lobbyist industrial complex. Cameroonian journalist Mimi Mefo posted a summary of Ambazonian leaders decrying the attack and denying responsibility: https://www.facebook.com/1927380740639827/posts/3677501295627754/
Michel Biem Tong reported in this French-language dispatch the details behind the community’s understanding that the Cameroonian military committed the murders with the political-strategic intent to discredit the Ambazonian liberation movement:
Al Jazeera issued a relatively balanced report clarifying the lack of evidence behind the assertion that separatists are responsible: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/24/five-children-killed-in-attack...
APOCS mourns this senseless loss of life, and joins with imprisoned leader Sisiku AyukTabe in calling urgently for a UN Security Council-mandated Fact-Finding Mission to investigate this tragedy and other widespread reports of human rights abuses in Ambazonia. Sign this petition to ask leaders in your region to push the UN to act: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/support-political-prisoners-demanding-...
Please honor the memories of these children by refusing to accept the maligning of this liberation movement and lifting up these voices.
What is Ambazonia? Ambazonia is a West African nation struggling to throw off neocolonial overlords and restore our political independence. For background, read APOCS's History & Context Overview, here: https://ambazoniapocs.net/node/16
What is the role of language? The Al Jazeera article noted the significance that the attack occurred on a bilingual school, but its US-based commentator misunderstands the political history that would lead to an accurate understanding of this significance. The terms “Anglophone/Francophone” or “English-speaking/French-speaking” are often used to shorthand the conflict. Outside observers can misunderstand that the conflict is actually about these colonial languages. But these terms are shorthand for a system of social stratification. When Ambazonians voted to merge with Cameroon in a UN-administered plebiscite in 1961, the specific terms of the plebiscite was that each territory would keep its constitution, laws, and public institutions as well as its ability to conduct business in French and English, respectively. But this understanding was not honored, and instead the French-Cameroon regime quickly moved in direct and underhanded ways to dismantle and defund “Anglophone” institutions and replace them with centrally controlled institutions, including by imposing the use of the French language. Ambazonians pushed back on this and defended the use of the English language in our schools, courts and other civic institutions. For decades, Ambazonians have defended bilingualism as a policy that best empowers the people to have access to full participation in society, whereas French-only institutions block access to the majority of the population. In reality, almost all Ambazonians are multilingual — speaking their indigenous language(s), a pidgin dialect that varies by region, English, and sometimes French.
Why are children being targeted? Schools are a site of the Ambazonian struggle for independence because of a long history of effective organizing within this civil society sector. For decades, the majority of the organizing was led by students and teachers in response to efforts by the Cameroonian regime to dismantle Ambazonia’s effective and popular network of parent-teacher associations, and to require testing only in French. In 2016 when a general strike was called in response to the lawyer-led uprising, students and teachers responded and went out on strike. Many international observers have, both unintentionally and willfully, simplified the situation by arguing that Ambazonians are “keeping kids from attending schools.” This distorted narrative masks the underlying reality that Ambazonians have been for decades organizing to build and defend community control of our educational infrastructure.
Ambazonian teachers and students are among the prisoners of conscience that APOCS supports. Read more about the struggle from teacher and school administrator Penn Terrence Khan:
Ambazonian Teacher-Activist Faces Death Penalty or Life Imprisonment in Cameroon’s Military Court System
Show trial of Vice Principal Khan Terrence by Cameroon Military Tribunal backfires Big time!
Ambazonia Prisoner of Conscience and Education Rights Activist Penn Terence Continues to Teach from Behind Bars
Please note: these articles have been "cleaned up" since we posted this article!!!
Image obtained and tweeted by journalist Michel Biem Tong
"CORRECTION NEEDED" is an occasional media critique column produced by Ambazonia Prisoners of Conscience Support Network.
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