News / Africa

CAR Rebels Accused of 'Rampant Abuses' Against Civilians

Anne Look
Rebels in control of the Central African Republic (CAR) clashed with youth protesting in the capital, Bangui, on Friday.  The violence killed at least two rebels and one civilian, according to witnesses.  Human Rights Watch (HRW) says members of the Seleka rebel coalition that overthrew the CAR's government in March are committing "rampant abuses" against villagers in rural areas around the capital.   

It's been three months since the Seleka rebel coalition took over the Central African Republic.

Young people took to the streets of their Bangui neighborhood Friday to protest the alleged murder of a college student.  The student was found dead the day after witnesses say armed Seleka rebels kidnapped him from his classroom.

Residents say abuses against civilians in the capital have continued unabated since rebels seized the capital on March 24.

Human Rights Watch says rebels are also attacking the population in rural areas around the capital.  HRW says Seleka fighters have killed at least 40 civilians and razed at least 34 villages since February.

HRW Africa researcher Lewis Mudge says the group has documented villages attacked as recently as June.  

"In village after village, it was almost the same message which was to 'please send help.'  These were villages that were attacked intentionally by Seleka and civilians were shot as they were trying to flee," Mudge said. "They are now living outside of their villages in the bush and in the surrounding forests where they have very, very minimal access to any kind of humanitarian support."

Villagers told HRW that dozens are dying in the forest for lack of assistance.

Aid agencies say this is the "worst humanitarian crisis the country has ever known."  Insecurity has pushed more than 200,000 people to flee their homes in the past six months.  More than 60,000 people are suffering from severe food shortages.

HRW says Seleka forces, in uniform, have targeted some rural communities outside Bangui to quell resistance or to pillage.

Mudge said some attacks were carried out alongside armed members of the Mbarara community, nomadic herders from Chad who appear to be working with Seleka.  

"They might have had an altercation over something like a cow or a goat, in which the Seleka or a member of this [herder] community was trying to steal it… The Seleka would attack villages completely indiscriminately on the same road if they heard an attack took place against a Seleka.  They would burn hundreds of houses in retaliation," Mudge said.

HRW says more than 1,000 houses have been burned in the the provinces to the southeast and the north of the capital.

Several rebel leaders in the capital, contacted by VOA, declined to comment on HRW's findings.  

Mudge said Seleka appears to be changing its commanders in the provinces "every month or six weeks."

"Outside of Bangui in the provinces, the Seleka don't seem to know to know really who is responsible for the acts that they claim happened before they arrived…. In the towns that we visited, we found very minimal civil, police and judicial authority," Mudge said. "There is no state outside of Bangui for all intents and purposes."

A regional peacekeeping force sent by the Economic Community of Central African States has been largely concentrated in the capital.

HRW is calling on the United Nations Security Council to consider sanctioning Seleka's leaders and to support the deployment of additional regional troops to the CAR to protect civilians.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More