Cameroon Genocide Sparked by the English Language

A deadly conflict in Cameroon sparked by increasing tensions between English and French-speaking populations has displaced at least 160,000 people inside Cameroon, and more than 21,000 have fled to Nigeria, where they lack shelter and food. What began as a request for English to be used in the courtrooms and public schools of the country’s two anglophone regions has escalated into a crisis, calling for secession and the creation of a new country, which they want to call Ambazonia.

Although French and English are both official languages in the central African country, English speakers complain of policies they say discriminate against them, particularly in the education and judicial systems. In 2017, the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium began Operation Ghost Town, a call for the shutdown of schools in the English-speaking south-west and north-west provinces. In response, the government arrested anglophone leaders, blocked the internet for months and installed a curfew in a series of repressive measures that became deadly when at least 40 were reportedly killed during massive demonstrations in September. 


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