News / Africa

    Former Ivory Coast Leader’s ICC Hearing Renews Frustration

    Traditional hunters known as dozos accost a truck driver at an illegal checkpoint north of the western Ivory Coast town of Duekoue, February 15, 2013. (Robbie Corey-Boulet for VOA)  Traditional hunters known as dozos accost a truck driver at an illegal checkpoint north of the western Ivory Coast town of Duekoue, February 15, 2013. (Robbie Corey-Boulet for VOA)
    x
    Traditional hunters known as dozos accost a truck driver at an illegal checkpoint north of the western Ivory Coast town of Duekoue, February 15, 2013. (Robbie Corey-Boulet for VOA)
    Traditional hunters known as dozos accost a truck driver at an illegal checkpoint north of the western Ivory Coast town of Duekoue, February 15, 2013. (Robbie Corey-Boulet for VOA)
    Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is set to appear before judges at the International Criminal Court Tuesday.  He faces charges of crimes against humanity in the wake of the violent conflict that plagued the West African nation after national elections in 2010. The confirmation of charges hearing will allow judges to determine whether Gbagbo’s case should go to trial. But in the western Ivory Coast town of Duekoue, a flashpoint of the conflict, some Gbagbo supporters are wondering why no one is being held accountable for atrocities they say were committed against them.  

    In Duekoue’s Carrefour neighborhood, a group of boys plays football across the street from a lumpy plot of grass. The plot is a mass grave containing dozens of bodies of victims of a massacre during Ivory Coast’s election crisis.
    Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.
    x
    Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.
    Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.

    ​On March 29, 2011, fighters loyal to Ivory Coast’s current president, Alassane Ouattara, stormed the neighborhood in search of supporters of former president and political rival  Gbagbo. In the ensuing violence, hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed.

    A United Nations report concluded that most of the victims appeared to have been killed by Ouattara's fighters, but that scores were also killed by Gbagbo troops.

    Gbagbo’s refusal to accept defeat by Ouattara in Ivory Coast's November 2010 runoff vote sparked six months of violence that claimed at least 3,000 lives. But while evidence collected by rights groups and journalists suggests that serious crimes were committed by both sides, so far only Gbagbo supporters have been charged and detained both in local courts and at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

    That angers 49-year-old Georges Doue, a Carrefour resident who lost seven relatives, including an elder brother, during the Duekoue massacre. His wife had given birth the day before the attack, and she fled to the town’s Catholic mission with their newborn son still attached by the umbilical cord.  

    He says the people who attacked are the ones who are in power now and ruling the country. They are not worried at all, he says, and it is difficult to see. He says these same people are still circulating and carrying guns, and this is a situation that traumatizes the community.

    For months after the fighting stopped and Ouattara assumed office in May 2011, residents of Duekoue complained of abuses carried out by Ouattara’s army, including beatings and summary executions. Residents today say these crimes have decreased considerably. But illegal roadblocks are still being operated by soldiers and traditional hunters known as dozos, who often demand bribes in exchange for passage.  

    Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (L) uses an ipad prior to attending African Union talks in Addis Ababa, March 10, 2012.Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (L) uses an ipad prior to attending African Union talks in Addis Ababa, March 10, 2012.
    x
    Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (L) uses an ipad prior to attending African Union talks in Addis Ababa, March 10, 2012.
    Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (L) uses an ipad prior to attending African Union talks in Addis Ababa, March 10, 2012.
    Ouattara has promised to investigate reports of human rights abuses. But there is concern that judicial officials have been slow to look into crimes committed after the conflict ended.

    Last July, a camp for displaced persons - many of them from Carrefour - was burned down by an angry mob that local residents say received assistance from the army and dozo hunters. At least eight people were killed, though rights groups have said the number may be higher.  

    Colette Goungnonhi, who lives in a village three kilometers outside of Duekoue, lost her pregnant daughter and a young grandson in the Carrefour raid, and later was forced to flee the attack on the camp for displaced persons.

    Though she supported Gbagbo in the 2010 election, she said she had no problem with the ICC proceedings against him, and that if he committed crimes he should be punished. But she said the same should apply to Ouattara’s fighters.

    She says we do not know who we can complain to.  She says she feels a pain in her heart when she sees the security forces. "I feel revolted," she says. "I have no power and I have no ability to change things.”

    You May Like

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora