Thursday, April 14, 2011

A CRY FROM ABIDJAN -- Christians imperilled

A cry emerges from Abidjan. A cry of desperation, it emerges only to be suffocated by the din of Western media celebrating the restoration of "democracy" and the return of "normalcy".

-- from a Christian family trapped in Abidjan

"We living in great penury and fear to be looted or even killed like hundreds or even thousands of families in Abidjan. What is going on is beyond imagination: a pure genocide is currently performed right in the eyes of the French and UN troops and the international humanitarian NGO's, targeting entire ethnic groups, as well as a category of people based on their political affiliation or work. Whosoever is suspected to be from the Dan, Wê, Bété (Gbagbo's tribe), Akyé, Abbey, Ebrié -- basically all the western and southern tribes -- is targeted. Militaries, policemen, customs, all men in arms are tracked and killed, along with their families. In some extreme cases, people are killed only because they are not from the north and not Muslims."



Before Laurent Gbagbo was captured -- Amnesty International published this warning:
Côte d’Ivoire: Warning of ‘human rights catastrophe’ as forces reach Abidjan
Amnesty International 31 March 2011

"Côte d’Ivoire civilians are at immediate risk of massive human rights violations Amnesty International warned today, as forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara reach the country’s commercial capital Abidjan. [. . .]

"Local sources have told Amnesty International’s delegation currently in Côte d’Ivoire that dead bodies are still lying in the streets of Duékoué [in western Ivory Coast], and tens of thousands of civilians are still sheltering in the Catholic Mission without adequate food, water, sanitation and medical care."

[NOTE: the massacre in Duékoué of around 1000 civilians by pro-Ouattara forces on 28-29 March, occurred in the presence of some 1000 Moroccan U.N. peacekeepers. In its defence, the U.N. has said the majority of the force was deployed around the Catholic mission, defending some 30,000 civilians who had sought refuge there. See report from Salesian Missions official news service. ]

Amnesty continues: "On 29 March, the Republican Forces killed civilian Jean Louana, election campaign director of one of the current ministers appointed by Laurent Gbagbo. They also shot down a Pastor of an evangelical church along with eight members of his congregation."

Quite rightly, Amnesty's report lists abuses from both sides. However, like virtually all Western media it insists on referring to the ethnic massacres perpetrated by pro-Ouattara forces (Republican Forces) as reprisal attacks. This is incongruous considering the fact that the pro-Ouattara forces are the aggressors, the invading forces.

The day after regime change was effected, Amnesty International released this plea:
Reprisal attacks against Gbagbo supporters in Côte d'Ivoire must stop
Amnesty International 12 April 2011

"Perceived supporters of former Côte d'Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo are at risk of violent reprisals, despite President Alassane Outtara’s call for Ivorians to 'abstain from all forms of reprisals and violence', Amnesty International warned today.

"Today in Abidjan, armed men, some wearing military uniforms, have been conducting house-to-house searches in neighbourhoods where real or perceived supporters of Laurent Gbagbo are living, including Yopougon and Koumassi.

"One eyewitness told Amnesty International how a policeman belonging to Laurent Gbagbo’s ethnic group was taken from his house this morning and shot dead at point blank range in front of him.

"'Dozens of young people are going into hiding in Abidjan out of fear for their lives. In the western part of the country people suspected of being pro-Gbagbo are also terrified. Many are hiding in the bush after their villages were burned down and they need to be protected,' said Véronique Aubert, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa.

"Amnesty International has learned that the village of Zikisso, 300 km west of Abidjan, has been attacked several times, including last Sunday, by armed forces allegedly loyal to President Alassane Ouattara. The village chief, Gnagbo Matthias, was abducted by these forces on Monday and is reportedly being held in the town of Lakota.

"Humanitarian conditions are rapidly deteriorating in a Catholic mission in Duékoué, 600 km west of Abidjan, where 27,500 people took refuge after hundreds of people were killed on the basis of their ethnic origin or presumed political affiliation. . . "

An independent report from the Associated Press (AP) also confirms that ethnic-religious-political killings are taking place in the south and western regions.

Reprisals rock Ivory Coast after strongman deposed
AP 13 April 2011

"GUIGLO, Ivory Coast (AP) — The young man in civilian clothes didn't have the right answers for troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara and they suspected he was a fighter backing his rival for the presidency. So one of the soldiers kicked the man in the teeth.

"Fifteen minutes later, an Associated Press reporter saw his body, the chest torn open by bullets, dumped outside this western town.

"Reprisal killings erupted as Ouattara's fighters made a lightning assault to force his rival Laurent Gbagbo from power. And although Gbagbo was captured Monday in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's commercial capital, suspected Gbagbo supporters are still being rounded up in cities and villages, especially in western Ivory Coast.

"Parishioners are reporting the kidnappings of dozens of young men in San Pedro, said a Catholic priest in the cocoa-exporting port city in southwestern Ivory Coast. He asked not to be named, explaining: 'We are all in danger'. . ."

AP reports that some 5,000 ethnic Bété and Guere refugees (predominantly Christian tribes loyal to Gbagbo) are holed up in San Pedro's Cathedral of St. Pierre, surrounded by pro-Ouattara forces who recently shot open the gate and fired into the crowd, killing one and wounding several.

"A woman at the cathedral who was too scared to give her name said her neighbor, the headmaster of the Catholic primary school, was killed Monday night at his home because he belonged the wrong tribe.

"'We have a very toxic and explosive mix here of political, ethnic, religious and land rivalry,' the priest said. 'The recent tumultuous events have brought long-simmering conflicts to a head. Who knows where this will end'."

See also:
COTE D'IVOIRE: Accounting for atrocities
IRIN 14 April 2011
A quote concerning Abidjan: "Kouamassi, south of the lagoon, and Yopougon, one of the most densely populated parts of the city, with strong pockets of support for Gbagbo, have remained tense. Residents in these areas have talked of man hunts and executions, of incoming troops targeting Gbagbo supporters, with the young particularly vulnerable. They paint a damning picture of the operations and general behaviour of the Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI), troops loyal to President Alassane Ouattara. . ."


GHANA's former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, has described the arrest of Cote d’Ivoire’s President Laurent Gbagbo as a repetition of the tragedy of DR Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, who was popularly elected in 1960 on a platform of independence and resistance to neo-colonialism only to be assassinated in 1961 in the service of Western interests.

Rawlings laments: “Fifty years down the road, with Africa still groping for freedom and justice, Black Africa repeats the tragedy of Patrice Lumumba, while next door fellow Arabs are fighting and dying for their freedoms. Whither are we bound?”

(see: Patrice Lumumba: the most important assassination of the 20th century
Guardian, 17 Jan 2011 (50th anniversary of assassination))

Mr Rawling was scathing concerning the humiliation and "violent manhandling" that accompanied the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo, his wife, and family.

He also expressed grave concern over the verifiable reports that the rebels were conducting house-to-house "cleansing" operations in Abidjan, wherein men have been executed and women and young girls abducted.

Rawlings told that “Reports by the Red Cross and other international organisations of the massacre of 800 in Duekoue by the advancing rebel forces and the failure to lay the blame where it belongs by the international community further exposes biases in the Ivorian crises.”


FINALLY: All Elizabeth Kendal's work on Ivory Coast dating back to the Sept 2002 coup, have now been uploaded to the blog.