An Alarming Trend in Cote d’Ivoire: Death Squads on Mission to Silence Journalists, M. Frindéthié



One journalist gunned down in front of his family members, another one kidnapped at his home: such are the latest deeds of the nocturnal DEATH SQUAD of Cote d’Ivoire’s dictatorial regime. The Kalashnikov-wielding, tribalistic organization that seized political power in a reign of terror in April 2011 in Cote d’Ivoire cannot stand being criticized for its flawed politics. Amadou Soumahoro, the leader of the RDR (the party in power) had unequivocally warned journalists and opposition actors on several occasions that whoever criticizes the policy of the regime is flirting with death. The regime has once again confirmed Soumahoro’s doctrine by unleashing its DEATH SQUAD.

When on November 17 gatecrashers identified by witnesses as wearing the official uniforms of the regime’s military forces (FRCI), lodged a bullet into the chest of Désiré Oué (40), chief editor of Tomorrow Magazine, before fleeing with his computer and some important documents, the dictatorial regime’s communication minister, Ms. Affoussy Bamba, was quick to conclude that Oué was the victim of a break-in gone wrong. Ms. Bamba’s affirmation, which was supported by no serious investigation, was a precipitous attempt to curb the ire that followed justifications of the murder by a paper close to the regime as a well-deserved punishment for a former militiaman of Previous administration. For the journalist’s wife and colleagues, Oué was targeted for his articles against Ouattara’s dictatorship.  

Oue’s assassination follows a series of intimidation of journalists by the regime and destruction of opposition papers’ headquarters by the regime’s militias. There is a sense in the country that since Ouattara’s bloody seizure of power, license has been given to his DEATH SQUAD to silence any political dissent. The Death Squad goes door to door in the middle of night and simply assassinates individuals or whole families on the basis of ideological differences. “Nights have become violent nowadays,” whispers Martine (name has been changed) as she speaks to us on the phone, with her air conditioning running full blast in the background to cover our conversation. “You never know whether you’ll be alive in the morning,” she adds. “Neighbors report on neighbors, and if you are known to have campaigned for Gbagbo (previous president) or to have simply applauded one of his campaign speeches, you can be sure that Ouattara’s Death Squad will visit you some night.” The fear in Martine’s voice is unambiguous. And she is right to be frightened. The massacres committed by Ouattara’s Death Squad are just gruesome. What is more frightening is that they carry an obvious air of ethnic and religious cleansing, as mainly Christians and Southern populations are targeted.                     


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