Cannibalism, Child Mutilations in Central African Republic

Central african child peers through wall, photo by pierre holtz

Central african child peers through wall, photo by pierre holtz

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, Africa -- Violence among Christian and Muslim militias in the Central African Republic (CAR) remains alarmingly high.

Despite intervention efforts, death and displacement continue. In this troubled environment, there have been reports of cannibalism as well as revenge-killings targeting children.

Ouandja “Mad Dog” Magloire, a Christian, has admitted to beating and stabbing a Muslim man before dousing him with petrol, setting him on fire, and eating parts of his body.

Magloire claims revenge as his motive, saying that Muslims had killed his pregnant wife, his sister-in-law and her baby.

The victim of cannibalism, who was attacked in broad daylight by Magloire and approximately 20 other men, was not personally connected to Magloire’s losses.

Other revenge crimes involve children who are mutilated or beheaded. Over 130 children have been killed or maimed since January, usually in machete or knife attacks. These are clearly crimes against humanity, but there is no justice system currently stable enough to hold anyone responsible for their actions.

Not only are children preyed upon in retaliation attacks, they are also often recruited into armed groups. During the evacuation and displacement of over 500,000 individuals, already-vulnerable children are more likely to be unattended and harder to protect.

Hope may come in the form of Catherine Samba-Panza. She was elected in January to serve a one-year term of interim president while the CAR, hopefully, gains stability. She has no connection to either Muslim or Christian groups and urges both sides to lay down their arms. So far, nobody seems to be listening.

The Central African Republic Crisis Rages On

ngaoundaye-central-african-republic-photo-by-hdptcar.jpg

Jessamy Nichols, Africa Correspondent
Last Modified: 23:16 p.m. DST, 18 December 2013

CAR Rebel Exercising, Photo by hdptcarCENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, Africa - I first wrote about the Central African Republic’s deplorable conditions in September, and the situation has worsened since. Luckily, the international community has recently made much larger efforts to step in, intervene, and restore stability but there is still immense and lofty work to be done.

From December 5th through 7th, UNICEF reported that within those 72 hours alone, 60,000 citizens were displaced and 394 were killed. At this point a week ago, the internally displaced persons count had risen to half a million people.

After this extremely deadly period of three days, France finally decided to send in troops to this area and militarily push to end the conflict.

Although international presence may help resolve this conflict in the main hotspots, the destruction and horrors are continuing across the country in small villages and areas isolated from help.

IDP camps are popping up across the country, and as they do, these displaced persons also lack access to adequate shelter, sanitation, food and water. These problems are thus mounting and exponentially piling on top of one another, so more must be done before the damage is irreversible and before more innocent people die.

This international intervention also follows the successful work by the UN and MONUSCO to shut down the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so this could hopefully be a precedent for how to end the rebellious conflict in the Central African Republic. If the UN and its diverse troops were able to tackle several conflicts such as these, this may set a much needed tone for African states that murderous rebels will not be tolerated.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report
Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

Rebels Overthrow CAR President, Seize Bangui

president-franc3a7ois-bozizc3a9-central-african-republic-photo-by-brice-blondel-for-hdptcar.jpg

Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 03:10 a.m. DST, 25 March 2013

Central African Republic Government Forces, Photo by Brice Blondel for HDPTCARBANGUI, Central African Republic - Rebels overthrew the Central African Republic’s President this Sunday. According to the Associated Press, the rebels, known as the coalition group Seleka,  declared that the country has “opened a new page in its history.”

President Francois Bozize fled while extra French troops have moved to secure the airport, officials said.

Two months prior to the overthrow, the rebels had signed a peace deal to allow the President to stay in power until 2016. However, the rebels began accusing the President of not following-up in his promises.

In the days leading up to the overthrow of Bozize, the rebels have performed several armed attacks. They captured the north city of Bambari and the area around Bria.

Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General condemned the attacks. According to the Uganda Daily Eye, Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement issued on Wednesday night saying, “These developments gravely undermine the peace agreements in place and the efforts of the international community to consolidate peace in the Central African Republic.” Ban urged for all parties to cease hostilities immediately.

The Central African Republic (CAR) President Bozize pleaded with Foreign Powers for help. He focused especially on seeking French assistance, as they were their former colonizer.

Paris declined military assistance.

Following the overthrow of Bozize by the rebels, Reuters reports that the French President’s office said that they would send more troops to protect their citizens. President François Hollande spoke with Ban and Chadian President Idriss Deby and reiterated his plea for restraint and dialogue between the parties.

Associated Press reports that Ban condemned the unconstitutional seizure of power and called for a restoration of constitutional order. He also expressed concern over reports of human rights violations.

Central African Republic, a nation of 4.5 million, has long been wracked by rebellions and power grabs. Bozize himself took power in 2003 following a rebellion, and his tenure has been marked by conflict with myriad armed groups.

The landlocked country has been wracked by rebellions and power grabs. CAR held their first multi-party democratic elections in 1933 which brought Ange-Felix Patasse to power. He lost popular support and was overthrown in 2003 by French-backed Bozize. Following Bozize’s re-election in 2011, his rule was plagued with corruption, underdevelopment, authoritarianism, and the creation of an open rebellion against Bozize’s government by an alliance of armed opposition factions known as Seleka.

In December of 2012, Seleka launched its offensive, accusing Bozize of reneging on a peace deal and demanded that he step down.

Seleka signed a ceasefire agreement and joined a power-sharing agreement government on 11 January 2013 and dropped their demands for Bozize to resign. However, on 23 January 2013, the ceasefire was broken and the government blamed Seleka, Seleka blaming the government for failing to honor the terms of the power-sharing agreement.

By March 24, rebels entered Bangui and took over the Presidential Palace. According to GlobalVoices, Michel Djotodia has declared himself as president of CAR. This information remains unconfirmed by other news sources.

The African Union condemned Seleka’s actions and announced a travel ban and assets freeze against actors involved in violating humanitarian rights or the January peace agreement, reports CNN.

The office of President Hollande said in a statement that some South African soldiers were killed in clashes that lead up to the overthrow of Bozize. UN spokeswoman Uwolowulakana Ikavi said that UN offices and some residences of UN personnel were looted.

Meanwhile in CAR, Seleka rebels urged citizens to remain calm and to prepare themselves to welcome rebel forces into the country, CNN reports.

The recent events highlight the problems of Bozize’s government. CAR is one of the poorest countries in the world, and among the ten poorest countries in Africa. According to the Human Development Index (HDI) CAR received a 0.343, which gives the country a rank of 179 out of 187 countries within their data.

HDI is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income that ranks countries into four tiers of human development. Countries with ratings near 1 indicates high human development, while ratings near 0 indicate low human development.

Additionally, a 2009 Human Rights Report by the US Department of States notes that CAR’s human rights record remained poor, with concerns over numerous government abuses.

The take-over indicates the desperation of the country and its citizens. Without the improvement of the government, Bozize and others will find that peace will be difficult to negotiate with Seleka rebels.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki

 

The Pastor, The Witch, & The Children

fon-children-benin-photo-by-adriane-shepherd.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:41 PM EDT, 7 June 2012

A medicine man or witch doctor, working on a fetish in Mopti, Mali 1993, Photo by Peter GaulBRITAIN -- The ugly specter of witch hunting has once again found purchase in the United Kingdom. When Americans or Europeans think of witch hunts they recall a period in European history that lasted from the early 16th Century until the early 18th Century and sporadically thereafter.

The countries with the most notable and bloodthirsty trials and the highest number of victims, in descending order are Germany, Sweden, Scotland, America, and England. (Source: Hanover College, Department of History)

Historians and sociologist remain divided on the exact reasons why the citizens of these countries embarked on campaigns to eradicate ‘witches,’ who were primarily identified as women, though men and children were also victims.

Some have suggested that witchcraft was used as a means of subjugating the population to force them to accept Christianity. While others believe that it was a combination of misogyny and Gendercide, however, both agree that it was a combination of factors including mass hysteria and a desire to explain sociological problems such as poverty, plagues, and unexplained deaths.

400 years later witch hunts have once again returned to the U.K. through an unlikely conduit. On 4 March 2012 in London, Kirsty Bamu, a young, Central African Republic (CAR) native was brutally murdered by family members after being accused of being a witch. He was beaten over a period of several days as part of a 'exorcism,' before finally succumbing to death by drowning. There are thousands of African children who are suffering similar fates throughout Britain.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRqrGHA-Azs&feature=related]  "A phenomenon which was eradicated in Europe in the early 18th century is now raging across Africa, where according to UNICEF children between ages 4 and 14 are increasingly accused of practicing witchcraft. With the exception of Liberia and Sierra Leone, the urban phenomenon of child witches occurs principally in the Congo Basin, more precisely, in areas of Kongo culture (Yengo, 2008).

It is no coincidence that these countries, Angola, the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have also suffered from political instability, endless conflicts and civil wars, and the recruitment of child soldiers. The phenomenon appears to be gaining ground in countries that are geographically close (Cameroon, CAR, Gabon and Nigeria; Liberia and Sierra Leone).

The last decades of the twentieth century were particularly hard for the majority of sub‐Saharan African countries, which have suffered an acute and multiform crisis (social, economic, political and cultural). While a small number of individuals gained wealth rapidly, most people sank into a quagmire of poverty. Furthermore, the social changes that followed the rise of capitalism, urbanization and school attendance had a profound effect on the family, kinship relations and inter‐generational relations. In these circumstances, it is obvious that there were strong tensions between the elderly and the youth, brothers and sisters (in the widest sense), and also one’s cousins." (Source: UNICEF Report Pg. 19 -24)

Although, it is a complex issue, the prevailing belief which seems to be confirmed by news coverage, is that cases of adults in Africa being accused of witchcraft are usually the result of a dispute over inheritance or someone's desire to get that person out of the way. In fact, in the Central African Republic the government legalized the hunt for witches by instituting laws which allow the police to arrest, charge and prosecute women who have been accused of practicing witchcraft. Many of these women languish in prison for years simply because they angered a male.

In the case of ‘child witches,’ in addition to the sociological stresses outlined in the UNICEF report, much of the violence seems to be instigated by ‘ministers’ who preach a Prosperity Theology. A branch of Word of Faith movement, it is sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel or the health and wealth gospel, and is a Christian religious doctrine which claims the Bible teaches that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians. The doctrine teaches that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one's material wealth. (Source: Wikipedia)

Since children are unable to defend themselves, it is easy for church 'pastors' to level charges against them while simultaneously extorting money from their families who are desperate to remove the perceived evil in their midst. These religious leaders are able to enslave people with their perfidious assertions that these curses can potentially be removed through a large donation.

Once accused, the children do not stand a chance and are subsequently subjected to inconceivable methods of child abuse which are euphemistically labeled as ‘exorcisms.’ Subsequently, when these religious leader proclaim that the inhuman measures have failed to cast out the evil from the child, these precious victims are then thrown out into the street and left to die, or are tortured and killed.

This heinous practice that is spreading across Africa is unfortunately motivated by Christian extremists who are intent upon lining their pockets versus tending to the spiritual needs of their flock. We encourage you to watch the video reports at the links below to learn more about this horrific phenomenon, as well as familiarize yourself with the history of witch hunts and witch trials in Renaissance Europe.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor-in-Chief: @ayannanahmias