Protests in English-speaking Cameroon keep children out of school

Bamenda is dotted with a number of burnt buildings as a result of the unrest
Bamenda is dotted with a number of burnt buildings as a result of the unrest

Schools in Cameroon’s English-speaking region have failed to open for the second day of the new academic year.

Residents are observing a three-day ghost town protest which includes preventing their children from attending classes.

However, two ministers of education visiting the two affected English-speaking regions have criticised activists for getting children involved in their fight.

Anglophone activists declared the ghost-town protest in a bid to pressure the government to release scores of people arrested over several months and detained in the capital Yaounde.

The Yaounde military court has been trying some of them on charges of terrorism and secession that carry a maximum penalty of death or life imprisonment.

Markets, shops and banks have remained closed and troops have been deployed throughout the entire north-west and south-west regions.

The ghost town protests have been observed every Monday for nine straight months.

A total of 55 English speakers were freed from jail last week but activists say talks will only take place when all those in detention are released.

What has become known as the Anglophone crisis was sparked off when English-speaking teachers and lawyers started a strike demanding sweeping reforms that would have removed Francophone teachers and judges from classes and courtrooms.

But talks between trade unionists and the government stalled when the activists demanded a federal form of government.

Separatist groups have been championing a cause for an independent state for English-speaking regions as a means of ending what they describe as their second-class status imposed by the majority francophone government.

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