News / Africa

HRW Reports Massacres in CAR

At PK12, the last checkpoint at the exit of the town, thousands of Muslim residents from Bangui and Mbaiki flee the Central African Republic capital Bangui, escorted by Chadian troops, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. PK12 is the last neighborhood in Bangui with a concentration of Muslim residents.  (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
At PK12, the last checkpoint at the exit of the town, thousands of Muslim residents from Bangui and Mbaiki flee the Central African Republic capital Bangui, escorted by Chadian troops, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. PK12 is the last neighborhood in Bangui with a concentration of Muslim residents. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
The group Human Rights Watch reports it has uncovered evidence of massacres in remote villages in Central African Republic. It accuses both anti-balaka militias and Seleka fighters for the attacks. The armed groups have been waging inter-communal violence since December. 
 
Human Rights Watch Emergencies Director Peter Bouckaert said it took time to learn the details of the attacks.
 
“The southwest of the Central African Republic is a very remote area. It actually took us days just to reach the area where these massacres have taken place. We had heard rumors of large-scale killings in the southwest for weeks now, but we finally managed to get there and to get direct eyewitness testimonies about what’s been happening in that part of the country,” he said.
 
Two attacks occurred on the village of Guen. The first attack came on February 1st and the next, four days later. Human Rights Watch said anti-balaka militias killed 72 Muslim men and boys, some as young as nine. Eyewitnesses said the victims were shot or hacked with machetes, or both.
 
HRW researcher Lewis Mudge said, “There seems to be a general strategy on the part of the anti-balaka to target men and males. And they do not make a difference between boys and men. They don’t see a young man at the age of 12 or 13 as being any different from a man in his 30s. So, they are certainly targeting any male that they can get their hands on except for the very young. We do see them sparing young boys, five, six, seven years old.”
 
Mudge said that while anti-balaka groups around the capital Bangui appear to have some organization, it’s not the case with those in southwestern CAR.
 
“These anti-balaka groups really are just criminal gangs, bands of thugs. The town of Carnot, which is a major diamond producing area, has at least 12 anti-balaka groups that have staked-out territories. Down in Berberati it’s very, very difficult to know who actually is controlling the anti-balaka. They seem to exist more for profit and to harass people and try to get money,” he said.
 
Human Rights Watch reported another massacre occurred February 19th in the village of Yakongo. It’s about 30 kilometers from Guen. This time the attack is blamed on the mostly Muslim Seleka fighters and Peuhl cattle herders. Nineteen people were killed in Yakongo, along with two anti-balaka fighters. Eyewitnesses said one of the victims was a
two-year-old child, who died in his mother’s arms after being shot.
 
Mudge said that most of the Seleka left southwest CAR in late January and early February and moved east. Those remaining have joined with the Peuhl, who are moving cattle from CAR to Cameroon
 
“It seems that they’re attacking villages out of both revenge and also to replenish lost food supplies. Because in every attack we are noting that they focus on stealing the manioc and the peanut stocks,” said Mudge.
 
Both Yakongo and Guen are located on a main road linking the towns of Boda and Carnot, where thousands of Muslims have taken shelter from anti-balaka attacks.
 
Anti-balaka militias arose last December in response to Seleka attacks against Christian and traditional religion communities. Earlier in 2013, the former rebels forced President Francois Bozize from power. There has been no effective government since then despite two interim presidents, including Michel Djotodia, the former Seleka leader. Anti-balaka fighters appear to have the upper hand in much of the country.
 
Human Rights Watch’s Bouckaert said it appears the conflict is nearing the end stage in many parts of western CAR.
 
“These really are the last remaining Muslim communities from a population of hundreds of thousands, who used to live in these areas. The vast majority of the Muslims have now fled to neighboring Chad or Cameroon.”
 
U.N. agencies are looking for safe locations in the north of the country to relocate Muslims from Bangui, Boda, Carnot, Berberati and Bossangoa. They have some protection there from French and African forces, but Bouckaert said Muslims in remote areas do not.
 
“They continue to be attacked, but they also are in a horrific humanitarian condition. In some of the places we visited we actually found people starving to death because they were unable to access food,” he said.
 
He said that a much bigger international military presence is needed in CAR. Current peacekeepers are too few in an area that’s too big.
 
“They are very limited in number. There are only 6,000 African peacekeepers and about 2,000 French troops on the ground in a country which is larger than France. But we are concerned

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid