People in English-speaking areas of Cameroon are calling for a boycott of national Youth Day on 11 February amid ongoing unrest. The Southwest and Northwest provinces, Cameroon's only English-speaking region, have been rocked by anti-government protests for months.
Lawyers, teachers and students have been striking and protesting since October 2016 against perceived marginalisation and the use of French in courts and schools in the provinces.
The first celebration of Youth Day was held in 1962, one year after British Southern Cameroon and French Cameroon unified.
During this national holiday, youths participate in parades, marches and spots activities.
However, the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) – recently banned by the government – is now calling on people to mark 11 February as a national day of mourning to highlight the grievances of people living in English areas.
"Youth day will be boycotted and ghost towns [strikes] are on now in Southern Cameroon in preparation for tomorrow," Wilfred Tassang. executive secretary of the of the Cameroon Teachers Trade union (Cattu), told IBTimes UK.
He also alleged the government was "ferrying in Francophone children from other regions and young police recruits to come and celebrate in Anglophone regions."
The High Commission of Cameroon in London has not replied to a request for comments on the allegations.
The Cameroonian government is facing condemnation for the way it is handling protest samid fears at least four people were killed during rallies.
Authorities have been criticised for their decision to shut down the internet in the English areas.
The block, implemented earlier in January, is forcing people to travel to French regions where they can use the internet.
Some groups have taken to the streets demanding a return to a federal state system, the breakaway of the Northwest and Southwest provinces and the restoration of Southern Cameroons – the Republic of Ambazonia – a British mandate during colonisation.
The Cameroonian government, which denied allegations of excessive force by the military and police to quell protests, initially engaged with the organisers of the strikes. However, it has rejected calls for a referendum on a possible return to a federal system.
Some analysts have claimed authorities are failing to address people's long-standing grievances that go beyond the use of French in courts and schools. The internet shutdown has now intensified grievances, with claims it was now affecting local businesses.