January 30, 2014
BBC News

Central African Republic: 'Scene of Absolute Horror'

About a million people in the Central African Republic - 20% of the population - have fled their homes during months of communal violence after Seleka rebels seized power last March.

In recent weeks there have been more reports of atrocities committed by rival militias in an atmosphere of increasing insecurity.

Peter Bouckaert, director of emergencies for Human Rights Watch, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme he saw French peacekeepers do nothing while corpses were mutilated at the airport at the capital Bangui on Wednesday. The French defence ministry has not commented.

Peter Bouckaert:

It was an absolutely horrific scene when we arrived at the entrance to the airport in Bangui.

We found a large mob of people, and French soldiers at the scene. The crowd was mutilating two bodies of Muslim men that they had just killed with machetes.

There were probably about a dozen people involved in the mutilation. They were probably members of the anti-balaka Christian militia.

Large crowds of people had gathered, including children.

They cut one man's genitals off and put them in his mouth.

It really was a scene of absolute horror.

People were filming this on their cell phones and many were laughing. When we left the scene, they said: "Keep on filming, because we're not yet done." . . .


[Central African Republic has suffered decades of dictatorship, coups and rebellions that have kept the diamond-rich country in many ways frozen in time since its independence from France in 1960.--"Christian mobs attack Muslims in Central African Republic," Associated Press, December 9, 2013]

Bate Felix, "Militia attack Muslims in Central African Republic's capital," Reuters, December 20, 2013

[Christian President Francois Bozize fled to neighboring Cameroon and Seleka leader Michel Djotodia declared himself President. He is the country's first Muslim head of state.--"CAR conflict about power, religion,", December 21, 2013]

Sudarsan Raghavan, "Tens of thousands of Muslims flee Christian militias in Central African Republic,", February 7, 2014

"Central African Republic: 'Ethnic cleansing' of Muslims,", February 12, 2014

Andrew Harding, "CAR crisis: The church sheltering Muslims,", February 14, 2014

Louis Charbonneau, "U.N. says west of Central African Republic 'cleansed' of Muslims,", March 6, 2014

[The cauldron of hatred has been stirred by failed politicians who want to stage a comeback, and by the country's northern neighbour, Chad, covetous of Central Africa's resources.

But it is partly about jealousy between those who had political power but were poor - the Christian majority - and those excluded from politics who seemed slightly richer - the Muslims, Central Africa's main traders and herders.--Tim Whewell, "The sadness behind the Central African Republic's mango trees,", April 5, 2014]

Jean-Pierre Campagne, "Christian vigilantes trap 14,000 Muslims in C.Africa town," AFP, April 12, 2014

Cara Anna, "Almost all 436 Central African Republic mosques destroyed: U.S. diplomat," Associated Press, March 17, 2015

Azad Essa, "Muslims being 'erased' from Central African Republic,", July 31, 2015

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