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Ivory Coast Massacre: Charity
Claims More Than 1,000 Killed In
Duekoue

By MICHELLE FAUL   04/ 2/11
11:55 AM ET   

JOHANNESBURG -- More than
1,000 civilians have been killed in a
western Ivory Coast town, a
Catholic charity said Saturday,
adding that the mass killings
happened in an area under the
control of forces fighting to install
the country's internationally
recognized president.

The U.N. military spokesman said
he had no information about mass
killings in Duekoue, though he
confirmed there are nearly 1,000
peacekeepers based there.
Spokesman Patrick Nicholson of
the Roman Catholic charity Caritas
said workers visited Duekoue on
Wednesday and found hundreds of
bodies of civilians killed by bullets
from small-arms fire and hacked to
death with machetes.  He said they
estimated that more than 1,000
civilians were killed.
The International Federation of the
Red Cross put the death toll at
Duekoue at about 800, in separate
and independent visits Thursday
and Friday.  Nicholson, the Caritas
spokesman, said the killings
occurred over three days in a
neighborhood controlled by fighters
loyal to internationally recognized
President Alassane Ouattara,
though it was not clear who the
perpetrators were.

"The massacre took place in the
'Carrefour' quarter of town,
controlled by pro-Ouattara forces,
during clashes on Sunday 27
March to Tuesday 29 March,"
Nicholson said. "Caritas does not
know who was responsible for the
killing, but says a proper
investigation must take place to
establish the truth."
He said the victims included many
refugees from fighting elsewhere in
the country, where rival forces had
been battling over a disputed
November election.
Caritas' investigation would indicate
that people were killed at close
quarters in a small neighborhood of
a town of just 50,000 people as
pro-Ouattara fighters began a
two-pronged assault that brought
them swiftly to Abidjan, the
commercial capital and seat of
power, within days.

The charges would be a strong
blow to the embattled government
of Ouattara, who is calling for
entrenched incumbent leader
Laurent Gbagbo to cede power
after losing November's poll.
Ouattara's camp denied forces
fighting for it were involved in any
atrocities including in western Ivory
Coast, but did not refer to the latest
allegations. Efforts to reach
Ouattara's spokesman Saturday
were unsuccessful. He did not
respond to calls to his cell phone.

Previously, the United Nations put
the death toll at 492 from four
months of fighting to install rival
leaders following disputed
November elections.
Col. Chaib Rais, the U.N. military
spokesman, told The Associated
Press that nearly 1,000
peacekeepers at Duekoue "are
protecting the Catholic Church with
more than 10,000 (refugees)
inside, and we have military camps
in the area."

But he said "I have no special
report of (mass killings). There was
fighting two days before, on
Sunday, and people were killed,
but I cannot confirm those
numbers."
Rais said there was fighting in and
around the town on Sunday and
Monday, between forces loyal to
the rival leaders.

On Monday, fighters loyal to
Ouattara said they took Duekoue.
But Nicholson said interviews with
survivors indicated pro-Ouattara
forces had control of Carrefour
neighborhood from Sunday.
ICRC spokeswoman Dorothea
Krimitsas said "inter-communal
violence" erupted there, apparently
on Tuesday.

International and Ivorian Red Cross
teams visited Duekoue Friday and
saw a "huge number of bodies,"
estimated at more than 800, she
said.
"We think there is a risk that this
kind of event can happen again
and hope that by calling today
again for protection for the civilian
population, we hope that such
events can be avoided in the
future," Krimitsas told The
Associated Press by phone from
Geneva.
The area has been a hotbed for
conflict between two tribes that
support rival leaders vying for
power in Ivory Coast, the
democratically elected Ouattara
and Gbagbo, who refuses to
accept his election defeat.
The International Organization of
Migration said Friday that tens of
thousands of refugees have
overcrowded Duekoue and that
others who had fled the violence in
Duekoue "are now stranded along
the route, in fear for their lives."

It said some of those slaughtered
apparently were killed by
"mercenaries" from nearby Liberia.
Liberian mercenaries have been
reported to be fighting for both
Gbagbo and Ouattara.
The Roman Catholic bishop for the
area, the Right Rev. Gaspard Beby
Gneba of Man, said he was called
by a priest from Guiglo, a town
near Duekoue that also is
sheltering refugees. He said the
priest told him refugees were dying
and that they were burying two
people on Saturday.
Gneba said tensions in the area
are a mixture of political, ethnic and
land rivalry, aggravated by the
influx of tens of thousands of new
Ivorian refugees and
long-established refugees from
neighboring Liberia. In January, an
unknown number of people were
killed in violence in which some
homes were torched and others
looted, he said.

Gneba said more than 30,000
refugees had flooded the town of
about 50,000 since January. Many
are being sheltered at the Salesian
priests' Mission of St. Theresa of
the Baby Jesus.
"There's a traumatic humanitarian
situation there," Gneba said. "They
need everything: food, medicine,
water, sanitation. People have lost
everything, houses, clothes, they
do not even have a mat to sleep
on."

Rais, the U.N. colonel, said there
are nearly 400 peacekeepers
based at Guiglo who were doing
what they could to help with water
and food.
Ouattara's government, in a
general statement Friday
responding to allegations of
abuses by Amnesty International,
blamed any killings on Gbagbo
forces acting as they retreated.
Ouattara had long tried to distance
himself from the northern-based
fighters taking up his cause who
fought in a brief civil war almost a
decade ago that left the country
split in two. Those fighters were
accused of many atrocities at the
time.

But Ouattara's repeated calls for
an international military intervention
to force out Gbagbo and end the
violence have gone unheeded.
This week he appeared to change
tack as the fighters began a swift
advance on Abidjan, calling the
rebels the "Republican Forces."
"The government firmly rejects
these accusations and denies all
implication of the Republican
Forces of Ivory Coast in any
possible violations," said Friday's
statement.
Human Rights Watch issued a
statement Saturday saying it had
documented abuses, with the vast
majority perpetrated by forces loyal
to Gbagbo against real or
perceived Ouattara supporters, as
well as against West African
immigrants and Muslims.

"The documented abuses include
targeted killings, enforced
disappearances, politically
motivated rapes, and unlawful use
of lethal force against unarmed
demonstrators," the statement said.
"These abuses, committed over a
four-month period by security
forces under the control of Gbagbo
and militias loyal to him, may rise to
the level of crimes against
humanity."
It was not immediately possible to
reach Gbagbo or his ministers.
But the New York-based
organization said atrocities
committed by pro-Ouattara forces
also could amount to war crimes
and crimes against humanity,
including three detainees burned
alive and four whose throats were
slit, all in Abidjan.

"Human Rights Watch has also
received credible reports of abuses
committed when Ouattara's forces
took control of several towns in
western (Ivory Coast)," it said.
In one village near Abidjan, the
statement said, at least nine
civilians were killed "in an apparent
case of collective punishment
against alleged civilian supporters
of Gbagbo."
It added, "The killing of civilians by
pro-Ouattara forces, at times with
apparent ethnic or political
motivation, also risks becoming a
crime against humanity should it
become widespread or systematic."

Pasted from
www.huffingtonpost.com/
2011/04/02/ivory-coast-
massacre-1000-killed-
duekoue_n_844000.html>
PRESS CONFERENCE
STATEMENT BY THE SOCIALIST
FORUM OF GHANA (SFG) ON THE
WORSENING SITUATION IN COTE D’
IVOIRE

Good Morning ladies and gentlemen of the Press,
We thank you very much for responding to our
invitation to this morning’s press conference. The
purpose of this meeting is to express the concern of
the Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG) on the
deteriorating situation in Cote d’Ivoire and the
attempts by some foreign governments and
organisations to foment civil and military strife in that
country.

On 24th Day of March 2011, the Heads of State Government of
ECOWAS, meeting in Abuja (Nigeria), passed a resolution
(RES.1/03/11) to request the UN Security Council to mandate
the United Nations’ Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), to use
all necessary means to facilitate the immediate transfer of
power to Mr. Alassane Ouattara; and for the United Nations
Security Council to adopt more robust actions against Mr.
Laurent Gbagbo and his associates.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
We wish to remind you and the rest of the country that Ghanaian
troops are serving in Cote d’Ivoire under a parent UN Security
Council Resolution 1528, which was passed in 2004.

Under that Resolution, the UN peacekeeping contingent was
mandated principally:  
•        To observe and monitor the implementation of the
comprehensive ceasefire agreement of 3rd May 2003 and
investigate violations of the ceasefire;
•        To liaise with the National Armed Forces of Côte d’Ivoire
(FANCI) and the military elements of the Forces Nouvelles in order
to promote the establishment of trust between all Ivorian forces
•        To guard weapons, ammunition and other military materials
handed over by  the   former  combatants  and  to  secure,
neutralize or destroy such materiel;
•        To protect United Nations personnel, installations and
equipment, provide  the  security  and  freedom of movement of
United Nations personnel  and, to protect  civilians under  imminent   
threat of physical violence, within  its  capabilities  and  its areas of
deployment
•        To support, in coordination with the Ivorian authorities, the
provision of security for the ministers of the Government of National
Reconciliation
•        To provide oversight, guidance and technical assistance to the
Government of National Reconciliation, with the assistance of
ECOWAS and other international partners, to prepare for and assist
in the conduct of free, fair and transparent electoral processes

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
The use of the expression “use all necessary means to facilitate the
immediate transfer of power to Mr. Alassane Ouattara” in the recent
ECOWAS Heads of State Resolution is effectively calling on the UN
to change the status of the United Nations’ Operation in Côte d’
Ivoire. In effect, West African leaders are asking for an amendment
of the role of the peacekeeping force from that of a peacekeeping,
protection and monitoring role to that of a belligerent and offensive
war machine on the side of one of the contending parties.

It is the firm view of the Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG) that if the
UN Security Council were to adopt the recent decision of the
ECOWAS to turn the peacekeepers into a partisan fighting force, the
rationale and understanding for which the government of Ghana
agreed to send troops, would have been changed.

If that should be the case, Ghanaians would have to ask ourselves
why our soldiers should be fighting and probably dying in Cote d’
Ivoire. Would it be in defence of “free, fair and transparent electoral
processes” or for democracy or what?

In spite of the claims of the ECOWAS Commission, the AU
Commission, France, the United States and their western media
trying to convince the world that the November 2010 second round
Presidential election results in Cote d’Ivoire were conclusive and that
one party won, the truth reveals otherwise.

It is an established tradition of the ECOWAS to send election
observer teams to monitor elections in West Africa.  The ECOWAS
election observer mission, would, within two days of an election,
publish their interim report. In the particular case of the November
2010 elections in Cote d’Ivoire, the ECOWAS observer team has not
been able to publish an interim report, four clear months after the
elections. The ordinary people of ECOWAS should ask the
Commission, why they have no report on the elections.

The African Union also sent a 200 strong Observer team, led by the
former Prime Minister of Togo, Mr. Joseph Kokou KOFIGOH. The
report of the AU team on the electoral process was very clear. At
post election press conference of the AU team, addressed by Mr.
Kofigoh stated:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the delegation has noted a lot of violence.
Loss of life, arrest, intimidation, attempt to kidnap, destruction of
election equipment. These facts should give the relevant
organisations a clear appreciation of events and determine their
impact on the results. Moreover, the delegation regrets the
kidnapping of two of its members, who were thankfully freed with the
help of UN forces.”

According to Societe Civile Africaine pour la Democratie et l’
Assistance Electoral (OSCADAE) an independent NGO, that was
invited to observe the elections, their Head of Delegation, Ms.
Seynabou Indieguene (Senegal) stated:
“In accordance with the recommendations of the declaration of the
International principles of Electoral observation adopted by the
United Nations on 27th October 2005 by the United Nations and the
engagements of Francophone countries in Bamako in November
2000, on free and fair elections observation. As per the request of
the Independent Electoral Commission of Cote d’Ivoire to have the
presence of international observers in the north, west and central
regions of Cote d’Ivoire, the OSCADAE sent its members to
Korogho, Touba, Bouake, Mankono, Guiglo, Yamoussoukro and
Abidjan.

“From the reports of our observers who have visited 620 polling
stations, we can confirm the following: The exercise has been quite
violent. The curfew was not observed in the north, west and centre
of the country. Opening of polling stations were delayed by between
thirty minutes to an hour. The representatives of LMP – President
Gbagbo- were refused access to polling stations to do their work,
especially in Korogho. Ballot boxes were transported by men in
military uniform on bicycles without representatives of the electoral
commission. People were told who to vote for at the entrance of
polling stations.

“Voters of the LMP were physically attacked in Korogho, especially
in Soba Primary School. Voting was done in some polling stations
without the necessary equipment. In view of the above, our mission
can confirm that the credibility of the run-off in these localities is
doubtful.”

In yet another observer report, Mr. Jean-Marie NGONGJIBANGTE of
Cameroon, Head of Delegation, Co-ordination of African Election
Experts, stated:

“I am the Head of Delegation of Observers from Cameroon, Senegal,
Benin, Mali, Morocco, Gabon, and Togo. We have deployed our
members to the Regions of Korhogo, Bouake, Katiola, Seguela,
Yamousoukro and Abidjan.

“Compared with the first round of Cote d’Ivoire’s Presidential
election, the second round took place amid a lot of violence. The
Observers of the Co-ordination of African Election Experts have
noted that people did not go to the run-offs in as large a number as
the first round.

“After sharing information with other national and international
election observers,  we hereby state that the second round of the
Presidential elections in Cote d’Ivoire was held amidst major
problems in the regions of Korhogo, Bouake, Seguela, Katiola,
Garango,

These problems were stealing of ballot boxes, arresting of
candidates’ representatives, multiple voting, refusal to admit
international observers to witness counting of ballots, and the
murder of representatives of candidates.

“To that effect, we hereby declare that the second round of voting
was not free, fair and transparent in these localities”.

In spite of all these, it is bizarre that the ECOWAS, which could not
publish the report of its own observers, declared that one side had
won a free and fair election. It is even more intriguing, that the AU
Commission should have ignored the report of its own observer
mission and gone ahead to pronounce one side as victor. It is even
more curious that having failed to publish the report of its own
observer team, the ECOWAS Commission should have organised  
and hosted  on 8th February 2011, a special presentation for the
West African media of the Final Report of the EU Electoral
Observation Mission (EUEOM) in Côte d'Ivoire. Where is the
ECOWAS Observer Team’s own report?

Ladies and Gentlemen,
That is not all. Immediately following the protest of President Laurent
Gbagbo challenging the election results, the AU sent ex-President
Thabo Mbeki, the former President of South Africa to Cote d’Ivoire to
seek clarification. After considering the election figures presented to
him by the Cote d’Ivoire Electoral Commission, ex-President Mbeki
recommended that the AU should set up a process to verify the
election figures because there were significant red flags. It is again
curious that ex-President Mbeki’s recommendation was rejected by
the AU Commission.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, the electoral figures, presented
to the UN, the ECOWAS, the AU and ex-President Mbeki and which
are being used to proclaim Ouattara as winner of the elections,
would blow your mind.

For an election result to be credible, the important ingredient is that
there should be no major occurrences of ballot box snatching,
prevention of candidates' agents from witnessing the voting,
widespread intimidation or harassment of voters, etc. Moreover, the
electoral officers should be able to accompany the election materials
at all times until they have been handed over to the appropriate
officials. These ingredients have been reported to be missing in the
Cote d’Ivoire presidential run-off.

Secondly, election results must be consistent. The actual votes cast
at a polling station or in a constituency must not be more than the
total registered voters. However, in Issia, in the Haut Sassandra
Region, out of a voters' register containing 79,093 people, Ouattara
got 79,771 votes while Gbagbo got 46,976. Ouattara alone got more
than the registered voters (120% share) while actual total turnout
was 160.25%. In Koumassi, in the Lagunes Region (Abidjan) with
71,190 registered voters, Ouattara got 61,429 while Gbagbo got
56,000. The total votes obtained by both candidates is 117,429,
which represents a total turnout of 165%. This is so although
according to the Cote d’Ivoire Electoral Commission's own figures,
valid votes cast was 59,102. These figures are mathematically
impossible.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
There are several more of such cases. If we were to take you
through some of the locations where the African observer teams
reported cases of electoral fraud, you would find the following:
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In other places in the north where the rebel Forces Nouvelles are strongly positioned,
the results were even more spectacular.
VOTES IN FAVOUR
OF GBAGBO
ACTUAL VOTES        % SHARE
372                     2.59
86                      1.62
1093                     2.09
1803                    4.98
VOTES IN FAVOUR
OF OUATARRA
ACTUAL VOTES        % SHARE
98,580        88.11
81423        96.71
44,552        95.70
49,438        93.81
CONSTITUENCY          TOTAL
REGISTERED
VOTERS
Korhogo                    117,418
Ferkéssedougou       90,461
Séguéla                      52,370
Mankono                    57594
VOTES IN FAVOUR
OF GBAGBO
ACTUAL VOTES        % SHARE
3,652                 3.57
2,772                 3.29
2,002                   4.3
3,261                 6.19
VOTES IN FAVOUR
OF OUATARRA
ACTUAL VOTES        % SHARE
13973              97.41
5214                98.38
51322              98.29
34398              95.02
CONSTITUENCY        TOTAL
REGISTERED
VOTERS
Madinani                  15,644
Minignan                    5803
Odienné                    57417
Dabakala                   41795
It is clear from the AU Observers, OSCADA and the Co-ordination
of African  Election Experts, who have published their reports, and
who say that voting was very chaotic and quite violent in several
parts of the country where they observed, that irregularities were
widespread. These reports are in direct contrast to the claims by
the Head of the European Union’s Election Observer Team in Cote
d’Ivoire Mr. Cristian Preda, who stated that “In over 95% of the
polling stations, there were present representatives of the two
candidates and everybody was satisfied, nobody complained of
fraud. The other international observers didn't find any fraud
either; and that the only person that saw fraud was the President
who refused to leave”. (
Ref. http://www.europarl.europa.
eu/news/public/story_page/030-112304-021-01-04-903-
20110121STO12291-2011-21-01-2011/default_en.htm)

These are the conclusions of an observer team that admitted that
it visited only 5% of the 20,000 polling stations.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
The state of affairs in Cote d’Ivoire looks as if, for some leaders in
the ECOWAS, the AU, the EU, the United States, the election
results were determined even before the ballot took place. We
now have a situation in which the European Union, France and the
United States, supported by the ECOWAS Commission and the AU
(which do not have their own reports) are turning the UN
peacekeeping contingent in Cote d’Ivoire into a rogue organisation
which, for some months now, has been involved in numerous
illegalities, way beyond their mandate.

A few examples may suffice here:

Early this month, the Commander of the United Nations “peace-
keeping” troops in Cote d’Ivoire, General Abdul Hafiz resigned
from his position after a fierce argument with Mr. JIN CHOI, the
Representative of the UN Secretary General in Cote d’Ivoire.  Gen.
Hafiz was protesting against the calculated attempts by France, US
and other western countries to use the UN soldiers to manipulate
the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, even if it means killing innocent
Ivorians. In a statement to reporters, he said,
“Our role has been diverted; I do not understand the new role we
are having. The bosses are asking us to fire on civilians, to help
the rebels’ camp to fight the regular army. We are not in this
country to kill Ivoirians. We are training, arming, transporting the
OUATTARA army; I could not take it anymore and I briefed several
times CHOI about this unfair situation we are in, but it looks like he
has another mandate that has nothing to do with preventing war
and promoting peace… “

He continued, “I stopped, because I do not want to be in the
wrong. Coming from one of the poorest countries in the world, I
know that by doing this, I lose a lot of money, but I have done it for
my dignity and respect for human life”.

Among the complaints of General Abdul Hafiz is that Mr. Jin Choi,
the UN representative, is involved in the recruitment of
mercenaries from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad and Liberia and
dressing them up as UN peace-keepers, who then move
armaments to help the rebel soldiers of Ouattara. On 8th and 9th
March 2011, more than 100 Burkinabe and Senegalese
mercenaries were flown by UN helicopters to the Marahoue
National Park, near Bonon, about 50 kilometres west of
Yammoussoukro.  When an Ivoirian TV station published this
report, Mr. Jin Choi accused the Bangladeshi Commander of
leaking what Choi calls“top secret” information to the TV station.

Even granting Mr. Choi’s allegation that it is General Hafiz who
leaked these pieces of information, it also confirms that UN
facilities in Cote d’Ivoire are being used to aid rebels and promote
civil war, is true. Should we Ghanaians sit down and allow the UN
to use mercenaries in our name?

This crucial information that General Hafiz has resigned in protest
was drowned out by the western press, including the BBC and
Agence Presse International. They did not even publish it.

Again in February this year, the UN office in Cote d’Ivoire released
information that Belarus had violated the UN embargo on arms
shipments to the Ivory Coast by sending three MI-24 assault
helicopters to aid Laurent Gbagbo. On the basis of this supposed
shipment of arms, Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary –General
immediately called for an urgent meeting of the Security Council.
This was another blatant lie and another sorry attempt at
disinformation.

The truth was revealed when Brigadier General Benjamin
Freeman Kusi, the Chief in Command of the ONUCI (UN
peacekeepers) in the northern zone reported   the news of the
arrival of the Mi-24 helicopters. Brigadier General Benjamin
Freeman Kusi, who is a member of the Ghanaian peace keeping
contingent, announced on 27th February 2011, it was the UN that
had acquired those three MI-24 combat helicopters to enable the
U.N. Force to use them initially as a defensive and dissuasive
force. He stated that the helicopters will be stationed at Bouake
and will operate on the Bouake-Yamoussoukro-Abidjan axes but
with an operational capacity on the whole of the national territory.

Brigadier-General  Benjamin Freeman Kusi’s report stated
the objective of the helicopter mission as:
-        to reinforce the capacity of the current air force of the
ONUCI definitively to ensure the superiority of this force in this field.
-        Helicopters MI-24 will be parked in Bouake with Ghanaian
control
-        The helicopters will start from Bouake and will be supplied
while fuelling in Abidjan (at the bases of the French  Unicorn Force
) and at Delia
-        The operation of the MI-24 will be defined by the Air Ops
with the agreement of the Force Commander.
-        The authority authorising the  shooting from the MI-24 will
come from the Force Commander of the ONUCI or from any other
entity according to the situation

This effectively means that UN forces have prepared to shoot at
Ivoirians from helicopter gunships on the basis of a command from
the ONUCI.

Even if the UN has decided to order assault gun-ships to shoot at
Ivorians, it is very disingenuous that they should turn round and
accuse Belarus and President Gbagbo of breaking UN arms
embargo?

On 4th March 2011 the UN and the western media, announced
that seven anti-Gbagbo women protesters had been shot dead by
Gbagbo’s supporters. Later information showed that this was a
staged-managed hoax organised by Ouattara supporters to fool
the world. No one got killed. Eye witnesses and available video
footage have reported that the women were asked to lie down for
animal blood to be smeared on them. This cynical action was
flagged by the roguish UN office in Cote d’Ivoire, the BBC and
Radio France International as evidence that Gbagbo was killing
women.  The supposed video footage included an allegedly killed
woman who tried to get up, thinking that the recording was
completed, but who was then told to continue to lie down.

What is happening in Cote d’Ivoire is a deception of the world.
This is a travesty. It is this deception and orchestration, which
some West African leaders would like Ghanaian soldiers to join to
install a President with an inconclusive election results.

It is in the light of these deceptions that the Socialist Forum of
Ghana would like to appeal to all well-meaning Ghanaians to join
us to appeal to the Government of Ghana, not to allow Ghanaian
soldiers to be party to intended massacre of Ivorians, using the
umbrella of a UN establishment in Cote d’Ivoire that has become a
criminal set-up.

It reminds us of the situation in Congo in 1963, when Ghanaian
soldiers, under the so-called umbrella of the UN were made to look
on while Patrice Lumumba, the democratically elected leader was
captured, murdered, and his body burnt. Mr. President, do not
allow this to happen again in our name.

Thank you very much. You may now ask questions.
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