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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs