Various civil society groups from around the world have penned an open letter urging the Cameroonian government to restore full internet access in its English-speaking regions.

Last week, the Minister of Post and Telecommunications ordered Cameroonian national ISP, CAMTEL, to give a directive to all fixed and mobile internet providers to cut off internet in Yaounde and Bamende, the country’s Anglophone regions.

The shut down was in response to ongoing protests in the regions by lawyers and teachers against the “sidelining of English” by French, which is the country’s dominant official language.

The open letter, signed by organisations such as Internet Freedom Forum, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, Center for Media Research, Voice of Women Initiative and more, urgently requesting the internet to be restored.

“Research shows that internet shutdowns and violence go hand in hand. [2] Shutdowns disrupt the free flow of information and create a cover of darkness that allows repression to occur without scrutiny. Worryingly, the Republic of Cameroon would be joining an alarming global trend of government-mandated shutdowns around election issues, a practice that many African Union member governments have recently adopted…,” the letter says.

The organisations state that shutdowns, especially during elections and periods of unrest, should never be the new norm.

“The internet has enabled significant advances in health, education, and creativity, and it is now essential to fully realise human rights including participation in elections and access to information.”

Read the full letter on Internet Without Borders.