News24

Ouattara forces commit abuses - report

2011-04-10 22:17

Duekoue - Forces loyal to Ivory Coast's democratically elected president killed hundreds of civilians, raped his rival's supporters and burned villages during an offensive launched in the country's west, a human rights group said.

Human Rights Watch called on Alassane Ouattara to investigate and prosecute abuses by his forces and those supporting his rival, strongman Laurent Gbagbo.

The group also said that forces loyal to Gbagbo killed more than 100 civilians to retaliate against pro-Ouattara fighters who launched a major offensive advancing toward Abidjan.

Gbagbo is holed up in a bunker in his residence in Abidjan. After a decade in power, he still refuses to step aside even though the United Nations has ruled that he lost the November presidential election to Ouattara.

After four months of diplomacy, Ouattara gave the go-ahead for a military intervention led by fighters from a former rebel group. They swept across the country, advancing hundreds of kilometres and taking dozens of cities in a matter of days before being held up at the door of Abidjan, Ivory Coast's biggest and most strategically important city.

The United Nations on Sunday said that the Golf Hotel in Abidjan where Ouattara is based came under attack late Saturday and one peace keeper was injured.

UN spokesperson Hamadoun Toure said that rockets and mortars landed on the hotel grounds shortly after UN forces came under attack nearby on Saturday evening. One peace keeper was evacuated to hospital with serious injuries, he said.

Massere Toure, a communications adviser for Ouattara, said that a patrol sent out from the hotel was also ambushed on Saturday afternoon by forces loyal to former president Gbagbo. 

More going on

Gbagbo's forces broke out of the presidential compound on Saturday and advanced into position in the down town core and near the Golf Hotel.

But the human rights group warned there is more going on outside Abidjan.

"While the international community has been focused on the political stalemate in Abidjan over the presidency, forces on both sides have committed numerous atrocities against civilians, their leaders showing little interest in reining them in," said Daniel Bekele, Human Rights Watch Africa director in the report obtained by The Associated Press late on Saturday.

People interviewed by the group described how pro-Ouattara forces "summarily executed and raped perceived Gbagbo supporters in their homes, as they worked in the fields, as they fled, or as they tried to hide in the bush".

The report said that many of the abuses occurred from March 6 to March 30, as villages in the west including Toulepleu, Doke, Blolequin, Duekoue and Guiglo fell to pro-Ouattara forces.

The UN said peace keepers and human rights officials discovered about 60 bodies in the western town of Guiglo. The UN human rights agency said another 40 corpses were found lying the street in Blolequin, and many of them had been shot.

Fifteen other bodies were found in Duekoue, where violence already has left at least 229 dead in recent weeks.

The report said that many were targeted for their ethnicity and Ouattara's Republican forces have killed, raped, and pillaged the predominantly Guere population, who largely supported Gbagbo in the election. Abuses continued through March, culminating in the massacre of hundreds in Douekoue on March 29, the report said.

Mission refuge

On Sunday, rebels at roadblocks in Carrefour were armed with AK-47's, shotguns, hunting rifles and knives. They stood across from the charred shells of former homes.

Thousands of people gathered at the Roman Catholic Mission of St Theresa of the Baby Jesus, which has become a refuge for 30 000 people. Rice was being distributed and Medecins Sans Frontieres had set up a clinic.

Ouattara had long tried to distance himself from the northern-based fighters taking up his cause who fought in a brief civil war almost a decade ago that left the country split in two. Those fighters were accused of many atrocities at the time. But he appeared to change tack as the rebel fighters, which he renamed the "Republican Forces", began their lightning assault on Abidjan.

In recent weeks, a pro-Gbagbo militia had also been targeting Ouattara supporters, refugees told the AP.

On March 28, pro-Gbagbo forces massacred more than 100 people in Blolequin, and killed 10 more northerners and West African immigrants in the town of Guiglo, the group said.

"To understand the tragic events in Ivory Coast, a line cannot be drawn between north and south, or supporters of Gbagbo and Ouattara," Bekele said.

"Unfortunately, there are those on both sides who have shown little regard for the dignity of human life."

In the report, Human Rights Watch called on Ouattara to "take decisive measures to address serious violations of international law by all forces, prevent further reprisals and acts of collective punishment, and urgently investigate and prosecute all those responsible for abuses."

More than a million people have fled their homes since the November elections, with some 130 000 cross the border to Liberia.

Comments
  • bluntynatty - 2011-04-11 02:49

    Blood on the hands of both men... here is a crazy idea both men step down and let the Women of CI take controll and clean up! Women do all the other work maybe its time they take controll of the government!

      daaivark - 2011-04-11 07:38

      Why not!

  • fazal.k.esq1 - 2011-04-11 03:57

    Why Ban Ki-moon decided to destroyed cote d'Ivoire because of their fear of loosing their grand in Africa? Why should he (Ban Ki-moon) order air strike in that country? UN and France are really doing dirty job in cote d'Ivoire while our corrupt African leaders are also watching for these stupid people destroying our continent. Why should they attack one side and not attacking Ouattara's people that killing and raping innocent people at the villages? As long as UN and France still operating in cote d'Ivoire, there'll never be peace because President Gbagbo is not ready to step down while Ouattara is power hungry president by financed rabbles to use rigging tricks. Power hungry Alassane Ouattara need to be killed so there'll be peace as soon as possible.

      bluntynatty - 2011-04-11 06:24

      Both sides have blood and rape on there hands! do not forget that! And the killing of one man or an other will not bring peace! people understanding that they are herting and killing each other and that there is no winner in war is what will bring peace! when people come to gether on a common ground and not let there governments controll there way of thinking is when there will be peace. My husband was all most killed today because of what tribe his family is from! he is a good man and does not think bad of the man that was going to end his life... its men like him that will save CI not men that look at killing to solve this!

      bluntynatty - 2011-04-11 06:25

      Both sides have blood and rape on there hands! do not forget that! And the killing of one man or an other will not bring peace! people understanding that they are herting and killing each other and that there is no winner in war is what will bring peace! when people come to gether on a common ground and not let there governments controll there way of thinking is when there will be peace. My husband was all most killed today because of what tribe his family is from! he is a good man and does not think bad of the man that was going to end his life... its men like him that will save CI not men that look at killing to solve this!

      daaivark - 2011-04-11 07:40

      I agree with bluntynatty. There has been enough killing.

  • Ross - 2011-04-11 07:30

    Africa is by far not ready for democracy. The contenders for leadership normally fight it out on the ground. The one that kill's the most civilians, rapes the most women and head bashes the most babies normally becomes the leader. The winner also has full access to the states coffers for his/her own use. The West must stay clear from Africa.

      Torrie - 2011-04-11 10:33

      Dotto.Nothing more to say.Always have been.Always wil be...

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