The Second Paris Peace Forum, 11-13 November 2019, has enabled us to begin to understand Paul Biya’s reasons for his genocidal war against the people of Ambazonia. During the Conference, he claimed that German Kamerun was his country that was divided into the British and French trusteeships! He has tried to assimilate and dissolve the English 20% into the French 80% but failed and wants to give a special status to the English 20%, but keep them within one country. It is based on this claim to German Kamerun being his country, we think, that he believes that he has a duty to kill Ambazonians to force them to belong!
This is the most outrageous and dangerous statement from a man sitting in a peace conference. We now partially know the absurd reasons for his genocide, from his own mouth. Biya’s idea is a rejection of the fundamental principle of the intangibility of frontiers inherited at independence, a principle which underlies the stability of all boundaries in the world. Here is Paul Biya rejecting international law while sitting in a peace conference! These statements go against Cameroun’s voluntary treaty commitments in international law, the UN Charter and the African Union Constitutive Act.
The world now has an obligation to stop this monster; a monster preaching the absurdity that countries need not respect the boundaries they inherited but cross them to occupy weaker neigbhours! These are ideas that are capable of destabilizing the whole world, because every country inherited its boundaries and rejecting those boundaries would create havoc. The OAU and the African Union have repeatedly stressed the importance for all African countries to conform strictly to their inherited boundaries.
Biya’s idea is the same idea that Nazi German pursued! This is a man trying to revive the Roman Empire under one nation; to revive the Ottoman Empire under one nation or German Kamerun under one nation! This monstrous idea goes against the very principles that define the territory over which each country can exercise jurisdiction. It is nothing short of the revival of imperialism in all its forms. It is a return to the dark ages of unilateral boundary assertions!
German Kamerun did not belong to La Republique du Cameroun (LRC); it belonged to the Germans. International title to that territory belonged to the Germans by treaty!
La Republique du Cameroun did not exist during the period of German Kamerun! La Republique du Cameroun did not inherit the territory of German Kamerun; it inherited the territory of French Cameroons. The boundaries of German Kamerun were carved out by the same powers that carved out the boundaries of La Republiqaue du Cameroun and those of the British Southern Cameroons. Biya cannot pretend to recognise the boundaries of German Kamerun and reject those of La Republique du Cameroun. German Kamerun was not limited to British Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun. Why is Biya not also laying claim to those parts of German Kamerun that are now in Nigeria, Central African Republic, Chad and so on? He clings convulsively only to the British Southern Cameroons! If Biya were not merely faking reason, he would claim Northern Cameroons that is now in Nigeria, would lay claim to parts of Chad and Central African Republique! But he is fully conscious of his deceit and fraud.
La Republique du Cameroun has a date of birth or date of independence, which is 1 January 1960. Cameroun’s treaty obligations confine Cameroun’s sovereignty to the territory she inherited at her independence. Cameroun cannot lay claim to any territory outside of the territory she inherited on her date of birth. Before La Republique du Cameroun was born on 1 January 1960, German Kamerun had died and been dismembered 48 years back, in the Versailles Treaty! La Republique du Cameroun was one of the products of the dismemberment of German Kamerun, and so too was British Southern Cameroons.
Under the League of Nations and the United Nations, British Southern Cameroons was treated as a separate and distinct territory from French Cameroon. It had its own government; international boundaries; was offered the choice to achieve independence in association with either Nigeria or La Republique du Cameroun. How could what LRC claims to be a part of its country have such a choice; that is, the option not even to associate with LRC?
The boundaries of LRC were inherited, not created! The country from which Cameroun inherited those boundaries, France, never contested the boundaries of neighbouring British Southern Cameroons. Just as La Republique du Cameroun inherited its own boundaries from a dismembered German Kamerun, so too were British Southern Cameroons boundaries inherited from the dismembered German Kamerun. The Roman Empire is today scores of countries! The boundaries of German Kamerun were not more genuine or authentic than the boundaries of British Southern Cameroons or those of La Republique du Cameroun. They are all based on international treaties! The only thing that is not based on any treaty, any agreement or any notion of law, is Biya’s claim to the Southern Cameroons’ territory!
If LRC claims to have inherited German Kamerun, what are the instruments of that inheritance? Under what law did that inheritance take place? And when did that inheritance begin?
Was there a German title to any territory called “German Kamerun” on the date of LRC’s independence? German Kamerun ceased to exist and was completely dismembered through the Versailles Treaty, more than 48 years before LRC was born. How could LRC inherit a title that did not exist at the time it came into being?
When LRC joined the United Nations on 20 Sept. 1960, did it not bind itself by the rules governing territoriality? Is LRC bound by the principle of intangibility of frontiers inherited from colonisation? Is LRC bound by the African Union Constitutive Act which she has voluntarily ratified, in particular, Article 4(b) which confines LRC’s sovereignty to the territory she inherited at independence? Under what law would LRC defend its boundaries if encroached upon by a neighbouring country?
It is time for the international community to face these monstrosities! This is not simply a Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia problem, but a great threat to the stability of the world. If countries reject the boundaries they inherited, there is no other principle to safeguard peace in the world! Here is a President who, before the world, rejects the very rules that they themselves have ratified in various treaties and re-affirmed over and over again. He is blinded by his imperialism and self-aggrandizement to stir up conflicts, kill, commit atrocities and yet can put the word “peace” in his mouth. He is counting only on the silence and indifference of the on-looking world. The world can no longer be silent and indifferent to Biya. We call on the world to unite against these evils and put an end to Biya’s war and atrocities in the British Southern Cameroons.
By Denis Atemnkeng