Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Truth and Reconciliation, Part 4

"He who controls the present, controls the past.
He who controls the past, controls the future."

George Orwell

We consider current events in Côte d'Ivoire. From Ivory Coast: Mass graves unearthed in Yopougon, dated May 9, 2011:

The UN's human rights chief in Ivory Coast has told the BBC new mass graves have been found there containing the remains of more than 50 male victims.

Guillaume Ngefa said two burial sites had been found in a suburb of Abidjan.

He said local people allege that many of the victims were killed by former President Laurent Gbagbo's supporters.

They said the massacre in the Yopougon district happened the day after Mr Gbagbo was seized by supporters of his opponent, President Alassane Ouattara.

Football field

Mr Ngefa said the UN was examining all mass graves, including those alleged to contain the bodies of Mr Gbagbo's supporters.

He said that so far 10 graves had been found in Abidjan with a total of 63 bodies.

"We suspect there could be more," he told the BBC's World Today programme.

One of the suspected mass grave sites is at a football pitch in Yopougon, which was controlled by pro-Gbagbo groups until last week.

We now review excerpts from As bodies pile up, Ivorians fear reprisals, by Tim Cocks and Ange Aboa, May 10, 2011:

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - In a muddy slum at the edge of Ivory Coast's main city, palm leaves stuck in reddish mounds of earth mark the mass graves of locals killed by rampaging gunmen.

Buried there are 68 bodies of President Alassane Ouattara's Dioula tribespeople, killed by militiamen loyal to his rival, Laurent Gbagbo, just hours after his overthrow on April 11, residents of the Yopougon district of Abidjan say.

"There are 29 people buried just in that one," said Ibrahim Bakayoko, 62, a local leader, walking over to a conspicuously large grave -- 3-4 metres (yards) square -- with a small bunch of flowers at its centre.

"The day after Gbagbo fell, the militiamen came here and went door to door, dragging the Dioula out and executing them."

Formerly a soccer pitch, the graves, flanked by rows of ramshackle houses peppered with bullet holes in the part of Yopougon known as Doukoure, attest to the recent violence.

Faced with the sheer number of bodies, and unable to venture too far for fear of falling victim themselves, Yopougon locals had no choice but to create impromptu cemeteries.

The Dyula (or "Dioula" in the excerpt) are mainly Muslim people, originally from the northern part of Côte d'Ivoire and the border areas of neighboring countries. Presumably, they might be supporters of Ouattara, which suggests Gbagbo's forces killed them.

But, I wonder...

Skipping down:

Deputy U.N. mission human rights officer Guillaume Ngefa confirmed the body count of 68 to Reuters but did not specify their ethnicity. However he supported the assertion that they were killed by Kalashnikov-wielding gunmen at a time when pro-Gbagbo militia still held the upper hand in the suburb.


Sprawling around the western tenticle of Abidjan's filthy lagoon, the poor, densely populated district of Yopougon bore the brunt of the worst urban warfare between Gbagbo's and Ouattara's forces. It continued for weeks after Gbagbo fell.

In many parts of the suburb there is barely a building unscathed by bullet holes. Many are completely bombed out.

An interesting choice of words - "bombed out". If I recall correctly from a video in a previous post, US Senator James Inhofe pointed out that it was French aircraft doing the bombing, inflicting tremendous numbers of civilian casualties.

I wonder if these mass graves, the ethnicity of whose occupants the UN mission human rights officer refuses to confirm, might not be from the slaughter inflicted by French bombs?


Fighting has died down since Ivorian troops captured a naval base in Abidjan from remnants of Gbabgo's militiamen last week.

But while much of the rest of Abidjan sees traffic jams growing, bank queues lengthening and boutique shops re-opening, Yopougon is traumatised. Very few are out on the bomb-cratered streets in this neighbourhood housing two million.

"Everyone is afraid," said Madou Bakari, a traditional healer. "We are trying to forget, but many have left here and will never come back. Life is hard here because we lost everything."

The U.N. peacekeeping mission is investigating reports of violations by both sides in Yopougon, and some local charities fear Ouattara's forces may be carrying out reprisal killings.

If true, it wouldn't be the first time Ouattara's thugs were out of control, would it?

Following the trail of destruction, we consider excerpts from Ivory Coast: Pro-Gbagbo militia 'massacred civilians', May 10, 2011; here is the boldfaced introduction to the article:

Some 200 people, mostly civilians, have been killed by retreating militiamen and Liberian mercenaries loyal to ousted Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo, officials say.

Mercenaries fight for money.

Gbagbo has been deposed and is a prisoner of Ouattara; Gbagbo's access to Côte d'Ivoire's funds was cut off before Gbagbo was deposed and arrested.

In other words, Gbagbo can't pay anyone.

How would mercenaries, who fight for money, be loyal to someone who long ago lost the ability to pay them?


The killings happened last week in coastal communities as the fighters headed for the Liberian border, the defence department said.

The claim has not been independently verified.


"The last fighters in the pay of the former president, Laurent Gbagbo, were mercenaries from Liberia and Ivory Coast militia, the defence ministry said in a statement signed by Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, who is also defence minister.

We met Guillaume Soro in Men of Integrity, Part 1.


"After being routed, they headed to their home areas," it said.

After fleeing from the main city, Abidjan, the fighters passed through coastal communities including Irobo, Grand Lahou, Fresco and Sassandra where the killings took place, the statement added.

Most victims were chosen for ethnic reasons or because they lived in areas that had traditionally supported President Ouattara, it said.

Earlier, UN human rights chief for Ivory Coast Guillaume Ngefa said that 68 male victims had been found in 10 mass graves at two sites in Yopougon, the last district of Abidjan to remain under the control of pro-Gbagbo forces.

He said local people claimed that many of the victims were killed by Mr Gbagbo's supporters.

They said the massacre happened the day after Mr Gbagbo was seized by supporters of President Ouattara.

Maybe some of Gbagbo's supporters are out of control.

Of course, so are some of Ouattara's.

But, Ouattara is the international community's golden boy, and Gbagbo is the deposed strongman, so while Gbagbo might get held responsible for what retreating mercenaries do, you know Ouattara will not answer for what his "troops" do.

Back to another excerpt from As bodies pile up, Ivorians fear reprisals:


"Is it really over?" asked the state-owned daily Fraternite Matin on its front page on Monday.

That will depend on whether Ouattara can reconcile enemies, many of whom say are not ready to forgive.

"My big brother lies in that tomb," said 25-year-old trader Aboubacar Meite. "If I find the killers, I'm going to avenge him, even if President Ouattara tells us to leave it be."

Limiting such reprisals will be crucial. Ouattara wants to put Gbagbo on trial and promises a truth and reconciliation commission to bury Ivory Coast's demons once and for all.

Funny Ouattara has a "truth and reconciliation commission" whose job it is to make peace.

Here are the truths that I still have trouble reconciling.

From L'Abidjanaise, Part 9:

The February, 2009, INCSR: Country Reports - Costa Rica through Haiti had this to say about Côte d'Ivoire:

Corruption: There is no direct evidence of government corruption related to illicit drugs. Cote d'Ivoire does not, as a matter of policy, encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. While no senior official is known to engage in, encourage, or facilitate narcotics production or trafficking, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions, reports of widespread public corruption from the lowest policeman up to the ministerial level are common.

Lots of corruption, but at the highest levels, no senior Ivoirian officials were known to be involved in trafficking narcotics.

From Truth and Reconciliation, Part 3:

Professor Frindethie was quoted in Ouattara: Financial questions and "the bleeding of Africa", April 14, 2011:

During his term [as unelected Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and Interim President of Côte d'Ivoire, 1990-1993], Ouattara reportedly oversaw an estimated $22 billion of capital flight from the Ivory Coast to foreign shores.

"As a result of Ouattara's collusion with French businessmen, 27 per cent of the assets of Ivorian enterprises were French owned; 240 subsidiaries and more than 600 companies belonged to French businessmen, representing 68 per cent of direct foreign investments in the Ivory Coast," according to Dr Frindethie.

At the same time, it's alleged that Ouattara ordered all public receipts to be transferred from the treasury directly to an account at the office of the Prime Minister, "mixing public and individual assets with state property for the first time, making him one of the richest men on earth," according to Dr Frindethie.

US government sources show Gbagbo and his closest people were basically free of narcotics-related corruption, while Ouattara has a reputation for looting Côte d'Ivoire to enrich himself and his associates.

Who controls the mainstream media? Who manipulates the international community? Because these people are telling us a very slanted story about what is going on in Côte d'Ivoire today, and they're not telling us certain aspects of Côte d'Ivoire's history.

And, by controlling what we learn today about what happened yesterday, they set the stage for colonialistic/imperialistic exploitation of Côte d'Ivoire in the future, under their puppet Ouattara.

Indeed, Ouattara is selling Ivoirians into slavery.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face -- forever."

George Orwell

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