Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla

No Room for Debate in Cameroon Classrooms

Human Rights Watch | The suspension of a university professor’s classes in Cameroon has raised fears that the government wants to silence those who dare raise the subject of the country’s Anglophone crisis.

Since late 2016, Anglophone regions of Cameroon have been gripped in violence between government forces and armed groups seeking a separate state. The crisis has claimed thousands of lives.

The government has repeatedly denied that its security forces have committed abuses during the crisis, but now it seems to be taking matters even further.

On April 20, the minister of higher education sent a letter to Buea University alleging that law professor Felix Agbor Nkongho, also known as Agbor-Balla, breached “the university’s code of ethics and conduct” and called on the head of the university to take measures. Agbor-Balla’s classes were then suspended.

Agbor-Balla told Human Rights Watch that he believes the suspension of his classes was because of an assignment in which he asked students to explore the reasons behind the Anglophone crisis. He added that it was only meant to get the law students to think critically and put the crisis into a legal context.

“I don’t discuss politics in the classroom,” he said.

A Ministry of Higher Education representative told Radio France International that Agbor-Balla had “turned a classroom into a political space.”

It is not the first time teachers got into trouble for discussing current events in Cameroon. On September 13, 2019, a teacher at the high school in Avebe-Esse, a village in the South region, was arrested after mentioning in class that the government was considering allowing jailed opposition leader Maurice Kamto to participate in a national dialogue. The teacher was released five days later.

Agbor-Balla had been arrested in January 2017 for leading peaceful protests in Buea along with other Anglophone activists. Charged by a military court under the anti-terrorism law, he was eventually released in August 2017 and all charges were dropped.

Since then, he has advocated for upholding human rights during the crisis, denouncing abuses by both the military and the armed separatists.

University students should be encouraged to debate the most pressing issues of the day. The suspension of Agbor-Balla’s courses shows the government wants to stifle that debate.

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6 comments

  1. That’s how to produce ROBOTS for the work force, robots dependent on ” hautes instructions de la hierarchie” for what to do inside the toilet – whether heavy duty or light duty.

  2. It`s very sad, to read any news from cameroon. That, is not a country.

  3. All this aryan organisations are nothing but instruments created to goat and subject others.in oder to understand this, we are going to use critical and a wholistic way of thinking. Since five hundred years that aryans, invaded the world, for example slaugtering the indians of America, taking thier land and changing the name to the physical elimination of the original people of Australia and new Zealand, has anyone ever herd of a single aryan that was taken to court, not to talk of being condermned for participating in such a vast campaign of genocide? Can the so call amnesty International tell us what happened to the original people of Canada whoes decerndants now live in reserves like animals,while savage invaders occupy thier land? Any African who believe in this organisations is kikiki

  4. The crime syndicate ruling LRC understands only the ARGUMENT OF FORCE.
    Thank God Dictator Biya foolishly declared his UNWINNABLE and UNSTOPPABLE war.

    THE WAR WILL RESOLVE THE ANGLOPHONE QUESTION

  5. This is a fascist regime governed by criminals and anyone who still thinks that Southern Cameroons should remind in any form of union with LRC is dreaming. We do not want to be with LRC and why are they forcing us to be with them when we do not. We left Nigeria because we wanted freedom of speech and other good arms of good governance and look at what is happening today.

  6. It is shameful that in this day & age the Biya REGIME indulges in this kind of practice. In this Southern Cameroons’ crisis, there are a lot of folks on the side of reason, neither with the government nor the separatists and approaching the situation from the perspective of creating a country that must be properly governed; respect of civil liberties and the conduction of free & fair elections.

    I have always stood for federalism, hoping it would mitigate the current crisis and give some autonomy to the Southern Cameroonians. I have called out both the government & Amba for atrocities committed but I am not oblivious of the fact that Biya’s callousness and the Ewondo-Beti-Bulu-Grand-North conspiracy is what has dragged the country into this mess.
    Biya is a despot and he’s failed woefully.

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