Monday, February 10, 2014

CAR:" My next destination even isn't really that clear "

The BBC reports

Violence could force out CAR's Muslim population - HRW

Religious violence in the Central African Republic could force its entire Muslim population to flee, a senior human rights worker has told BBC News.

            French peacekeepers continue to patrol Bangui as families mourn new victims of the inter-religious violence
Human Rights Watch emergency director Peter Bouckaert said this could affect the economy, as Muslims control the livestock market and other businesses.

What economy ? The country is facing famine .

Violence between the Christian majority and Muslims has torn the country apart since a coup last year.

Mr Bouckaert said at least ten people died this weekend in the capital city.

He said he had personally witnessed a Muslim being hacked to death in Bangui, in retaliation for the reported killing of six people by Muslim fighters.

The French news agency AFP said there was some dispute over the religion of the victim.

It is fairly difficult to interrogate a corpse about religious beliefs but only a fool would bet against it being a Muslim.

Tens of thousands of Muslims have already fled the to neighbouring Cameroon and Chad.

It has been fairly obvious for some time now that the outcome of the sectarian violence in the CAR would result in the removal of the Muslim community. I am not condoning this but in many ways the Muslim community are the authors of their own demise. A few weeks ago I blogged:

" The boot is now clearly on the Christian foot it may well be that the surviving Muslim community will be exiled if they are not killed. This was always going to be the outcome and to some degree it is understandable. The Muslim community allowed the Seleka rebels to massacre the Christians now the situation has been reversed the most that the peacekeepers can hope to do is provide safe zones while a solution is arrived at. "

The CAR, one of Africa's poorest nations, has been in chaos for more than a year since Muslim Seleka rebels seized power.

Coup leader Michel Djotodia, who became the CAR's first Muslim leader, resigned as interim president last month as part of a regional peace process.

However, violence, largely perpetrated by either Christian anti-Balaka militias or Seleka members, has continued despite interventions by thousands of peacekeepers from the African Union and the former colonial power, France.

The question is not so much who is behind the violence now that is obvious but who funded the Seleka rebels and what was the goal of those who sponsored the rebellion ? It is hard not to suspect an attempt to extend Muslim influence further south in sub Saharan Africa. If that was the goal it has been an unmitigated failure. Yes I am pointing a finger at Chad but I suspect it is wider than that.

'Burned in the street'

"It's just a matter of days or weeks before the last pockets of Muslims in this country leave for Chad, fleeing this wave of violence," Mr Bouckaert told the BBC World Service.

"There are literally entire neighbourhoods which are completely emptied of their Muslim population. Their homes are being systematically taken down - roofs, doors, windows, everything is just being taken down. So the very evidence of their existence in this country is being erased."

Perhaps not quite the feared genocide but the result is going to be the same. In November 2013 fear were voiced this blog was at that stage hopeful it could be avoided:

" It may be a little early to be describing it as genocide but religious persecution is certainly happening and a Christian backlash is certainly on the cards."

On Sunday, he said, he was woken up to the sound of loud explosions coming from a Muslim area of Bangui and went with his team to investigate.

"We came upon a body of a Muslim man being burned in the street," he said.

"The local people told us that overnight six civilians were killed by armed Muslim men in this area and they captured one of them and lynched him in the street and then burned his body. As we were there, they caught a second Muslim man and hacked him to death."

The latest victim of the violence in Bangui, he said in a tweet, was a Christian boy who had come to buy wood near the central mosque.

This will carry on until there are no Muslims left, the only solution left is to set up a secure site and hold the remaining Muslim population until arrangements can be made for their evacuation.

Muslim neighbourhoods were being abandoned, Mr Bouckaert said.

"The violence is now coming mostly from the anti-Balaka militias who are systematically attacking Muslim neighbourhoods but the Seleka fighters are still around."

The Seleka gangsters are now moving out into the countryside as they retire to the north, continuing the killing, rape and murder of civilians and ensuring by doing so the deaths of more Muslims in revenge attacks.

The HRW official said Rwandan troops had told him the situation in the CAR had brought "back horrible memories" of the genocide in their own country two decades ago.

War crimes inquiry

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says she has opened a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes in the CAR.

Mrs Bensouda said she had received reports of "extreme brutality by various groups".

The charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says all communities are affected by the violence, but lately there have been collective reprisals against Muslims.

According to MSF, about 30,000 refugees are already in Chad and another 10,000 have reached Cameroon.

Amid the bloodshed, there are stories of people helping neighbours of a different religion.

In a tweet, Mr Bouckaert added: "Christian neighbours helping Muslim neighbours flee from Kolongo neighbourhood as looters from other areas flood in."

There were very few Muslims helping Christians when the Seleka coalition was in the ascendancy, I doubt that there will be many Christians willing to help Muslims now. The Muslim community made a very deliberate choice to support a group of armed thugs who slaughtered their fellow christian citizens. The simple truth is that there is no place in the CAR for Muslims and they have a simple choice - leave or die.

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