Central African Republic an ‘Orgy of Bloodshed’

central african republicCentral African Republic is an “orgy of bloodshed,” according to Peter Bouckaert, director of emergencies for Human Rights Watch. Bouckaert told BBC’s Focus on Africa program that the level of violence is “horrific,” and that a scene in particular at the airport in Bangui, where people had taken refuge from the violence, was particularly agitating.

Bouckaert’s following account is disturbing, so reader discretion is advised.

According to Bouckaert, he had arrived at the entrance to the airport in Bangui when he had come across a large mob of people. Surrounded by French soldiers, the mob was openly mutilating the bodies of two Muslim men. The men who were killed by machetes were having their bodies chopped up by the anti-balaka Christian militia, while a crowd, including children, watched.

Bouckaert says that people were filming the mutilation on their cell phones while they laughed. One person said to Bouckaert and his crew that they should keep filming, “because we’re not yet done.”

Bouckaert’s account grew increasingly distressed, as he talked about the idle French soldiers amongst the crowd. He recalled that the soldiers were heavily armed, and could have easily put an end to the scene. According to Bouckaert, the French soldiers watched the mutilations and simply got back in their vehicles and “drove away.”

The horrifying scene described by Bouckaert has led him to self-declare the ongoing violence as an ethnic cleansing unseen in the Central African Republic. The sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims has taken an extremely gruesome turn, with entire communities being “wiped off the map.”

The Seleka, an alliance of militias in the Central African Republic, overthrew the government back in March 2013. Since then, unspeakable atrocities have been committed by the group against Christians, such as the burning of churches and public executions. The violence only worsened after the Seleka abandoned large swaths of Muslim-populated areas, leaving them vulnerable to vengeful Christian militias. The back and forth violence has only worsened, and Bouckaert’s testimony about what he saw at the Bangui airport puts into perspective how the Central African Republic has become an “orgy of bloodshed.”

The Seleka, according to reports, are on their way out. An interview Bouckaert had with the head of Seleka’s military intelligence attested to how the Seleka has called it quits: “He said it was over for Seleka,” said Bouckaert. Shortly after, Seleka’s head of military intelligence and a convoy of Seleka generals departed from the country to Chad.

Bouckaert says that the Seleka’s resignation is not only allowing them to escape justice, but is facilitating the mass slaughter of entire Muslim communities that have become the scapegoat for the Seleka’s crimes.

Bouckaert’s account of innocent men, women and children being hacked by machetes is truly horrific, and is something the international community has tried to respond to. Peacekeepers have been sent in to try to quell the violence, but as noted by Bouckaert, the French soldiers he saw witnessed the atrocities and did nothing to stop it.

Bouckaert is trying to call attention to how the Central African Republic has become an “orgy of bloodshed,” and how the international community is failing to stop the violence.

by John Amaruso
Sources:
BBC
The Star
Time

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