Thursday, February 6, 2014

CAR: " Why should I feel pity when you kill your own and feel no shame "

Human Rights Watch reports

A lot of this I have covered in previous blogs but the motivation of the Chadian " Peacekeepers "  has long been suspected and really the African Union needs to dismiss the Chad contingent.

Central African Republic: Seleka Fighters Regroup in North 

Bangui:  Armed Seleka commanders and fighters are leaving their bases in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, regrouping in northeastern towns, and engaging in a new wave of horrific attacks against civilians. In some cases,Chadian peacekeeping troops have facilitated the movement of armed Seleka leaders complicit in grave abuses.

In late December Radio France International reported that Chadian troops were to be pulled out of the south of the CAR and sent to secure the north, this obviously didn't happen. At the time I blogged that there was considerable disquiet about the activities of  those troops and the role of Chad in the Seleka rebellion.

" Chadian troops are to be pulled out of the Central African Republic's capital, Bangui, after clashes with demonstrators and Burundian soldiers. The Chadians, who are the largest contingent of the African peacekeeping force, Misca, will be redeployed to the north."

Chad is widely believed to be have been behind the Seleka rebellion and having troops from there is not all that smart. The feeling in the Christian community is that the peace keepers from Chad are actually protecting Muslim and particularly Seleka interests.

"The whole Chadian contingent will be sent to secure the north in the next few days," Misca spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ndong Toutoune told the AFP news agency."

Seleka forces in January 2014 tortured and killed civilians in and around the town of Sibut, where the former rebels have been regrouping, Human Rights Watch said. Seleka forces were able to leave bases to which they had been confined by African Union peacekeepers by using bush roads to circumvent checkpoints or by traveling with Chadian troops in heavily armed convoys.
“If the African Union is truly going to protect civilians in the Central African Republic, it needs to rein in the rogue activities of the Chadian peacekeeping troops,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “The Chadian forces should not be enabling the Seleka to prey on civilians.”
The issue is not about reigning them in any more, they are part of the problem and are obviously under the orders of Chad President and not the African Union. They need to be removed from the AU MISCA forces.
The predominantly Muslim Seleka include numerous Chadian and Sudanese mercenaries. The African Union peacekeeping force deployed to protect civilians, known as MISCA, which officially became operational in December 2013, also includes Chadian troops. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported in January 2014, following a December 2013 monitoring mission, that it had received “multiple testimonies of collusion” between some Chadian peacekeepers and Seleka forces.
I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to find that there are active or more likely temporarily " former " members of the Chad army operating as part of the Seleka alliance and if that is the case there should be no surprises that there is a large degree of collaboration between the Chad peacekeepers and the Seleka bandits.

                                                                           21-year-old Abraham Ngieri
" On January 28, a group of eight Seleka fighters detained 21-year-old Abraham Ngieri and two other young men, Michel Ngodji, 31, and Franku Mois, 24, in Sibut and took them to the main Seleka base, at the mayor’s office in Sibut. In front of the gathered Seleka commanders, the fighters tied up the three men, tortured them, and stabbed them with knives over a five-hour period, in an effort to make them reveal the location of anti-balaka bases in the area. When it became clear that the men did not know the location of the bases, the Seleka commander of Sibut, General Rakis, ordered his soldiers to take the three men away and kill them.

Ngieri, who, despite being seriously wounded, survived this attack, told Human Rights Watch:
The zone commander himself gave the order to take us away and kill us. About nine of them took us in a 4x4 blue pickup. We were still tied up, in the arbatasher way [with arms and legs tied behind the back], and they took us to a house a few kilometers from town. Then they stabbed us again, and put the house on fire over our heads. I only managed to escape because the ropes burned and I was able to free myself, but the others burned to death."
The testimony included a report that on December 5 they went together, door-to-door, looking for members of the anti-balaka – Christian militias that have formed to respond to the Seleka, but often have targeted Muslim civilians – and indiscriminately killed at least 11 people. Those killed included elderly women and people who were ill or had mental disabilities, the report found.
It is not my place to defend the actions of the Christian anti-balaka militias by the same token it is very hard to condemn them given the brutality that the Seleka alliance has inflicted on the Christian community. On 9 January 2014 I blogged about this from Voice of America.  

"The Muslims knocked on our door and asked us, 'do you have any guns?," she told me. "We said no, but they took my son out and they shot him. They shot all of our sons, one by one."

However, aid workers with long experience here believe that power is seeping away from the Seleka, partly because some are from neighbouring Chad and are returning home.

One aid worker spoke of a growing Christian backlash against the Muslim population (a minority here) threatening truly awful bloodshed on a scale not yet seen."
The number of reports of atrocities committed against Christians i have read number in the hundreds, there are over 10 accounts of atrocities in the Human Rights Watch report this blog is about. It is no wonder that the Christian community is taking revenge.
Since December, MISCA, alongside the French force Sangaris, had worked to diminish the violence in the Central African Republic by containing the Seleka and their weapons at bases in Bangui. But in late January, Human Rights Watch documented movement by the Seleka on their own and in the company of Chadian troops, which coincided with a new wave of abuses.
In late December ( I read and blogged the article on Christmas day ) the ABC carried a story about Muslim citizens of the CAR protesting about the French Forces who were then bringing the Seleka gangsters to heel, it was incredible to think even then the fools couldn't see that the French would soon become their only hope of surviving the inevitable Christian backlash that is now occurring.
" On Tuesday the crowds making their way down the deserted city streets were holding signs that said: "We say No to France!" and "Hollande = Liar." Other signs had a hand drawn map of this nation located at the heart of Africa, but showed it split into two, with a Muslim homeland penciled in in the country's north."
Splitting the CAR into separate Christian and Muslim nations is I suspect the objective of the Chadian troops and why they are enabling the Seleka Alliance to carry on the slaughter of the Christian community. 

" It doesn't take a geopolitical genius to draw a line on map and I suspect that that is something that isn't too far from the front of President  Idriss Déby Itno's mind."

Shades of Rwanda and the DR Congo.
The African Union should immediately suspend and investigate, with the support of the United Nations (UN), any Chadian MISCA troops credibly implicated in serious abuses, including assisting Seleka to carry out abuses, Human Rights Watch said.
I think the situation has moved well beyond that. The UN Security Council have screwed up this situation in a manner that only the UN Security Council could. I think that it is time to point out to President  Idriss Déby Itno that invading and fostering invasions of sovereign nations has consequences. It might also be time for the Security Council to wake up and understand that the reports that their experts are filing, reporting on the presence of Arabic speaking bearded men operating in sub Saharan Africa might point to a coordinated attempt export Jihad to region.  

" The ominous convoy rode into Sibut on Wednesday night, the fighters speaking only Arab, and began committing atrocities against civilians, a paramilitary police source said.

Killers " speaking only Arab(ic)" is starting to become a very unwelcome pattern in the Central African region. The ADF Ugandan rebels ( also Muslim ) operating in the neighbouring DR Congo seem to have some Arabic speakers as well. 

Again from the UN Experts report:

The Group determined that during 2013, foreign, Arabic-speaking men have conducted military training courses and operations with ADF; however, the Group was not able to firmly establish the nationalities of these foreigners or their organizational affiliation(s).

I have seen other reports describing them as bearded Arabs. It isn't all that hard to connect the jihadi dots, or rather disconnect them in a final and terminal way."

The UN, regional organizations, and countries assisting MISCA should carefully review their support to ensure it does not benefit Chadian troops that either commit human rights violations or assist the Seleka in the commission of abuses.

“To be effective, peacekeepers should be impartial,” Bouckaert said. “The African Union should rigorously investigate whether Chadian peacekeeping forces are putting civilians at risk by supporting the Seleka.”
I think they are operating under orders that are diametrically opposed to the objectives of the AU Mission.  
Chadian Troops Assist Seleka LeadersOn January 26, at 4:30 p.m., Human Rights Watch researchers witnessed and filmed a heavily armed convoy of Chadian peacekeeping troops about 60 kilometers north of Bangui. The convoy included at least eight pick-up trucks carrying Seleka fighters including some leaders, such as General Mahamat Bahr, the head of military intelligence for the Seleka, whom Human Rights Watch had met the day before he fled.

On January 31, General Bahr contacted Human Rights Watch by phone to say that he had traveled with the Chadian peacekeeping convoy to Bossangoa, a key town in the country’s northwest. The Chadians were to relieve peacekeeping troops from the Republic of Congo who had been stationed in Bossangoa for months. Upon taking over peacekeeping responsibilities in Bossangoa, the Chadian troops allowed another Seleka leader, Colonel Saleh Zabadi, to leave with his troops from their base, where they were ordered to remain, and to go with General Bahr and other Seleka commanders to the northern cities of Sibut, Kaga Bandoro, and Kabo, where Seleka leaders were regrouping with their forces.

There is a major problem here. " The Chadians were to relieve peacekeeping troops from the Republic of Congo who had been stationed in Bossangoa for months."

" The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) information minister says 850 peacekeeping troops from the national army, the FARDC, will be sent next week to neighboring Central African Republic (CAR) to help with efforts to stabilize the security situation there."

In a December 2013 report, “They Came to Kill,” Human Rights Watch documented how Colonel Zabadi, then the Bossangoa deputy commander, ordered the drowning on November 18 of seven farmers who were wrongfully accused of being anti-balaka militiamen. The farmers were bound and thrown into the Ouham River; three survived. Human Rights Watch met with Zabadi and Bahr in December to confront them with the evidence and warn them they could be held criminally responsible for such crimes.

I think that more substantive action than a warning from a non governmental organisation such as Human Rights Watch might be in order. This is a war crime Zabadi and Bahr should be arrested if possible but failing that the ICC should issue warrants for them.

MISCA, which has a mandate to protect civilians, has worked to stabilize the Central African Republic by ordering Seleka fighters to remain on their bases and by trying to prohibit them from circulating with weapons. An official with the peacekeeping force told Human Rights Watch that the Chadians were operating outside of its command and mandate by providing escorts to armed Seleka leaders.

The African Union is doing the best it can, the EU with far greater resources is making a half assed effort and once again the UN is doing sweet bugger all.

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