Monday, December 17, 2012

Ivory Coast: racial and religious hatred empowered and unleashed

--- HRW exposes gross human rights abuses against predominantly Christian southern tribes

By Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Monitoring
Special to ASSIST News Service

AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- The legacy of French and NATO intervention in Ivory Coast -- in which the West intervened on behalf of Islamists in order to advance their own economic interests -- is that Ivory Coast's predominantly Christian southern tribes must now live with serious insecurity in an increasingly militarised yet lawless state where Muslim soldiers may abuse them at will and with impunity.

Brief background

Ivory Coast held elections in December 2010, despite the fact that pre-conditions had not been met. For starters, northern-Muslim rebel forces loyal to Muslim presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara refused to disarm; a fact that meant the electoral process in the north could hardly be free and fair. 

After the Constitutional Council investigated all reported irregularities (as mandated by the constitution) it ruled that the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo -- a southerner and observant Christian -- was the victor. However, before it could even announce its ruling, pro-Ouattara elements pre-empted the constitutional council's decision and broadcast via French TV from Ouattara's headquarters that Ouattara had won the election. The illegal announcement was met favourably in the West as a Ouattara presidency would serve French and US economic interests. 

Confident of Western backing, Ouattara then moved to seize power through military violence. Up against the mighty army of the Ivorian secular State, the pro-Ouattara ethnic and Islamic rebels were the weaker force. The violent coup d'état coup was only successful due to NATO air-strikes and military assistance from France. 

Having seized power through violence and with foreign assistance, it is no surprise to learn that Ouattara's hold on power is dependent on violence and terror.

For further background and analysis on Ivory Coast: see Religious Liberty Monitoring. 

Death in Abidjan

On Monday 6 August, gunmen -- presumed to be Gbagbo loyalists -- killed six soldiers in a pre-dawn attack on the Akouédo military base in Abidjan. A day earlier, gunmen attacked a police station in Yopougon neighbourhood, on the other side of Abidjan, killing four soldiers. Gbagbo's political party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), issued a statement condemning "with the utmost vigour this wave of deadly violence", while also calling on the government to capture the attackers.


In response, President Alassane Ouattara ordered the Republican Forces (FRCI: the new Ivorian Army, incorporating the former rebels) to "fight without mercy" those attempting to create a feeling of insecurity in Ivory Coast. Consequently, there has been a surge in appalling human rights abuses targeting "perceived Gbagbo loyalists": i.e. predominantly Christian southerners, mostly ethnic Bété, Guéré, Ebrié, Oubi and Adioukrou. The abuses involve mass arrests, extortion and extreme violence, including torture.

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