Is Cameroon persecuting its English speakers?

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya and Cameroon’s First Lady Chantal Biya arrive at the opening ceremony of the Francophone Summit in Montreux October 23, 2010. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud (SWITZERLAND – Tags: POLITICS)

Opposition leaders have been arrested and the internet has been cut in English-speaking regions for more than a week.

Cameroon’s main language is French, but about a fifth of the country’s 22 million people are English speakers.

They are concentrated in the country’s northwest and southwest regions, which were colonised by Britain.

English speakers have long complained of discrimination.

They say that official documents are always in French and that the language barrier disqualifies them from most government jobs.

Some support breaking away to form their own state.

In recent weeks opposition leaders from the English-speaking regions have been arrested.

Thousands of English-speaking teachers, lawyers and students have gone on strike to protest against alleged marginalisation.

In response, internet service in English-speaking areas was cut off more than a week ago.

That, in turn, has led to a new campaign using the hashtag “Bring Back Our Internet”.

The government says that the internet blackout and arrests of political leaders are necessary to maintain peace.

So, what does this mean for Cameroon?

Presenter: Richelle Carey

Guests:

Elvis Ngolle Ngolle – Former Minister of Special Duties in the Office of the President of Cameroon.

Julie Owono – Head of the Internet Desk at Internet Without Borders.

Albert Nchinda – Political Analyst.

Source: Al Jazeera News



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