Nfor Ngala Nfor, of the Southern Cameroon National Counci (SCNC)l, was speaking in Paris on Thursday where he is winding up a two-month tour of Europe designed to draw attention to the movement.
The group is campaigning for autonomy for the former British Trust Territory of Southern Cameroons. It is branded by the government as an illegal secessionist movement.
“We are not trying to create an identity for the British Trust Territory of Southern Cameroon," Ngala Nfor told RFI. "We are acting in conformity with legality and history and culture to restore what La République has made disappear.
“Our country is under military occupation by La République du Cameroun. Because of this, many of our people are languishing in prison; many have died in prison simply because they are in favour of peaceful restoration of the statehood of the former UN Trust Territory of Southern Cameroon.”
He points to the case of university lecturer Justice Muluh Mbu, who has been in prison since last year without trial.
“Our colleagues who are imprisoned are not even allowed access by their relations,” says Ngala Nfor.
The Republic of Somaliland in Somalia has effectively broken away, but the African Union and international organisations have refused to recognise it because, they say, it would set a bad precedent. But Ngala Nfor is still optimistic.
“It is achievable because the law states clearly that any people subjected to oppression to an accession have a right and this right is inherent in the people and it is unquestionable and it is their duty to restore their identity in order to enjoy their complete freedom.”
The movement has taken the Cameroonian government to court at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
“The ruling is not 100 per cent perfect, but it has recognised the southern Cameroonian people as a people distinct from the people of La République, and as such entitled to the enjoyment and exercise of their rights under international law," he said.
“No colonial authority has ever wished to get rid of its colony especially the source of its revenue and cheap labour. As all other empires have collapsed in conformity with the unstopability of the right to self-determination, La République is going to lose Southern Cameroon.”
The commission has recommended dialogue and offered to help mediate.
“We have declared our readiness for dialogue,” said Ngala Nfor. “It is the occupier of our land that is dilly-dallying, but with time they will bow down to the supremacy of truth and legality.”
The government has been invited to respond to this article.