Press Release For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 12 2011
Amnesty International Calls for End to Reprisal Attacks Against Gbagbo Supporters in Ivory Coast
Eyewitnesses Say Policeman Belonging to Gbago’s Ethnic Group is Shot Dead, After Being Taken from His Home
Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected]
(New York) – Amnesty International warned today that perceived supporters of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo are at risk of violent reprisals – eyewitnesses report a policeman taken from his home and shot dead — despite President Outtara’s call on Monday for Ivorians to “abstain from all forms of reprisals and violence.” Today in Abidjan, armed men, some wearing military uniforms, are conducting house-to-house searches in neighborhoods where real or perceived supporters of Gbagbo are living, including Yopougon and Koumassi.
One eyewitness told Amnesty International that a policeman belonging to Gbagbo’s ethnic group was taken from his house at around 10 am and shot dead at point blank range in front of him.
“Dozens of young people are going into hiding in Abidjan out of fear for their lives. In the western part of the country people suspected of being pro-Gbagbo are also terrified. Many are hiding in the bush after their villages were burned down. They need to be protected,” said Véronique Aubert, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa.
Amnesty International learned that the village of Zikisso, 186 miles west of Abidjan, has been attacked several times, including last Sunday, by armed forces allegedly loyal to President Ouattara. The village chief, Gnagbo Matthias, was abducted by these forces Monday and is reportedly being held in the town of Lakota.
Humanitarian conditions are rapidly deteriorating in a Catholic mission in Duékoué (372 miles west of Abidjan) where 27,500 people took refuge after hundreds of people were killed on the basis of their ethnic origin or presumed political affiliation.
“They are trapped in overcrowded and appalling conditions, having fled their homes after atrocious abuses were carried out by both parties to the conflict,” said Aubert.
“The local authorities are telling the displaced people that they can return to their villages, but people are afraid of reprisals and refuse to leave the camp. These people need proper shelter and protection from the UN mission in Côte d'Ivoire.”
“Only justice and protection can bring an end to the climate of fear in Côte d'Ivoire. Alassane Ouattara must establish law and order in the country by giving strong instructions to all his forces to respect human rights and prevent abuses by anyone,” said Aubert.
Amnesty International is calling for Gbagbo and his family, who are being held in Abidjan, to be treated according to due process of law.
“Serious human rights violations committed by Gbagbo and his supporters, as well as those committed by forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, must be tackled and the perpetrators brought to justice,” said Aubert.