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Cameroonians stage ‘silent protest’ to demand internet

Internet users in Cameroon have once again taken to the streets urging their government to restore internet connectivity in English-speaking regions. Monday marks three months since internet services were cut off.

Hundreds of youths on Monday quietly marched to the Cameroonian Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to ask the government to reinstate internet connection in the English-speaking northwest and southwest regions.

21-year-old Ruth Tamassang, one of the protesters and a student at the university of Bamenda, told DW, the internet blackout had forced her to move to the capital Yaounde where she can do her research in preparation for her examination. “Now we live in a world that is changing, a world of news.” You have to know what is happening,” Tamassang said.

“Internet is like the air I breathe. When one day passes without me having internet, it is just like I am ill, I am dead. I don’t like it really,” Tamassang added.

Giles Formusoh, 22, said the internet blackout that started on January 17 is having a serious impact in the affected regions. “It is really, really pathetic,” Formusoh said. “I have a cousin who was in a very difficult situation and we could not get to him because of the [internet] blackout,” Formusoh said. According to Formusoh, it has become difficult to conduct research, look for new avenues or for training workshops as well as search for international scholarships. “The internet would help me to better research for my work.”

Struggling startups

“Money is being lost, some of us can’t work with foreign clients because of the cut in internet service. It’s disruptive to everyone,” Churchill Mambe, owner of Njorku, an employment and hotel services company told AFP news agency. Forbes Magazine recently listed Njorku among the top 20 African startups.

To access the internet, Churchill had to relocate his offices to Bonako where many startups reeling from the internet shutdown have created an ‘internet refugee camp’. Around five new startups were coming up each month in Buea, capital of the southwest region before the internet disruption.

A campaign under the hashtag #Bringbackourinternet was launched by activists of free speech in a bid to put pressure on the government. At the end of last month, Yaounde reluctantly accepted responsibility. “There are unpleasant situations for which some decisions have been made,” Telecommunications Minister Minette Libom Li Likeng said. According to reports in the local press, the minister promised that internet service would resume soon everywhere.

Cameroon’s economy has lost nearly 3 million euros ($3.1 million) as a result of the internet blackout according to French NGO, Internet sans Frontieres (Internet without Borders). The organization said since 2015, there has been a rise in the use of internet blackouts as a means of stifling opposition by French-speaking African governments.

“DNS Error” (can not find server)

In January, four internet providers in Cameroon including France’s Orange and South Africa’s MTN told their subscribers that internet connectivity was no longer available due to “reasons outside of (our) control”.

Tensions between President Paul Biya’s government and the English-speaking minority in the northwest and southwest regions erupted last November when a group of lawyers and teachers demanded reforms. The protests quickly attracted other activists who have long complained of marginalization and discrimination. Some have called for the creation of a separate state.

In January, protests in the English-speaking regions brought several cities to a standstill. Biya’s regime responded to the demonstrations by deploying security forces, arresting some opposition leaders and shutting down the internet. Some of the protesters accused of being behind the social unrest are facing trial at a military court.

DW

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13 comments

  1. What I don’t understand is people crying about internet when others have been deprived of education. Please government dialogue and my brothers allow the next generation of pastors and doctors to pursue their dreams. A lot of hypocracy on both sides.

    • So you don’t get it that research and looking for international scholarship means school?

    • Love,

      Clearly in the article, we learn some of the persons crying of internet shortage are students. They can’t do research work or prepare for exams. In USA where u reside, it is impossible for schools to function properly without internet services. It is the same in most countries now. Some classes, academic journal, virtual reference libraries etc are online. It is easier to get a book online for academic purposes now etc etc. I don’t really get ur point. No hypocracy on both sides. Just the childish government as usual using amateur strategies at solving a dilemma.

  2. Common sense must prevail to get things back to normal.

  3. Gov`t would have brought back internet, but for two reasons:
    a. ` … shame, that killed Ntoko.
    b. the people will demand more – eg. those not alive and missing as
    per the rampant killings during the strike.

  4. subiru madina Cameroon

    I weep for my country everyday so the could be a little bit of change. But……

  5. Jackson jr, my point is she is not the only student. Others have been deprived same rights and some don’t care. I weep for all students who have to miss a year of school over a fight that would have resulted in a better results because of propaganda. No one is saying there is no descriminatiin but while this is happening people are only crying about internet. What should those other children say? At the end of the day, anything that does not benefit God and the poor is never a good decision.

  6. If the old saying still holds true – that necessity is the mother of invention – one should look forward to a redynamized citizenry after the lifting of these dark clouds over the national sky.

    Lawyers will embrace the fall back position (PLAN B) and have another job. Silicon Mountain geeks will do likewise. Entertainment industry will bounce back to life with lots of parodies and comedies since the fear of being lifted to Kondengui on charges of messing with demigods will recede. I can’t wait for those sunshine days to come!

    • By the way, it would appear that by a presidential decree signed last evening, His Excellency the President has authorized the reestablishing of the Internet in the NW and SW Provinces. Bravo!
      Praise singing takes the stage now, n’est-ce pas?

      If anyone is privileged to find a copy of the decree that suspended Internet service in the first place, kindly share it. The big boy is claiming credit for bringing back what he did not take away (or did he?).
      Whatever the case, the people of SW and NW take a good sigh of relief and come back from the Dark Ages.

  7. Order to restore internet.

    What now is to be said or done to release all those missing from their loved
    ones?

    Soon, there is going to be another tug – of – war.

    Kudos to the great fighters. That journey of a thousand miles to the statehood
    of Ambazonia, is starting with the order to reinstate the internet.

    But we have to be careful, cause biya will use this to see reason to put
    our clergy in a cage.

    Is the internet enough reason, to end the strike? No, Ambazonians. A lot
    more on the table.

  8. Where did this silent protest took place precisely? ,if I may judge from the above article, it took place in Yaoundé, and I strongly believe no francophone took part in this protest.Dear francophones,you people hates us wholeheartedly,the is no way you people can hide your feelings.Please let us DIVIDED in peace for God sake.
    Eto even went on Facebook and insulted Southern Cameroonians.This is what he wrote,” Le Ngambe meme en tenue de Ville.

    • God is the only judge, and He is going to solve the problem for us.With all the effort and loyalty we have shown in the relationship, only for them to take our leniency for granted.

      Heavenly Father, listen to our cry for help.