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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs