Cote d’Ivoire: Ritual Killings: 21 Children Found Dead, their Heads or Genital Organs Severed; Authorities Seem unimpressed, M. Frindéthié

bredouCote d’Ivoire is gripped with fear as an increasing number of kidnapped children have turned up in several locations, decapitated, disemboweled, or their genital organs severed.

According to Police Chief Brédou Mbia, 21 out of 25 children, who were kidnapped in the last three to four months, were found dead, their bodies gruesomely mutilated, in ways that point to ritualistic murders. These slayings, first denied by the police, were finally admitted as more and more parents took to the social Medias to denounce them. Many people in the country suspect these grisly murders of young children to be the work of local marabouts (Muslim soothsayers) or dozo féticheurs (animist shamans), commissioned by politicians or fortune seekers to ensure them success.

The number of murders (21) given by the police chief is being disputed by a population that has lost faith in the Force Républicaine de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI), a heavily corrupt security force that is better known for bullying, racketeering and summarily executing than protecting the populations. The FRCI are staffed with the traditional Dozo hunters, clansmen of the president and the interior minister, through a politics coined rattrapage ethnique by the authorities (a policy rewarding Muslim Northerners supposedly discriminated against in the past). In fact, recruited in a rebellion that started in November 2002, the Dozos are the main constituents of the rebel troops that have supplemented the French army in bringing Dramane Ouattara to power on April 11, 2011. The Dozos-FRCI have been cited in many occasions by human rights organizations for their continued human rights violations in Cote d’Ivoire.

The Dozos-FRCI are legendary for their proclivity for human sacrifices, as they are convinced that they wield mystical power that requires human blood. There is explicable suspicion in Cote d’Ivoire that the authorities know and protect the killers. Last week, a protest march organized by concerned parents to draw attention to the danger stalking the children in Cote d’Ivoire was unexpectedly prohibited by the government. On January 30, the Minister of interior, Ahmed Bakayoko, accused those who expressed concern about the horrific killings of being “jealous opponents overstating a [trivial] case to tarnish the image of the government.” For Bakayoko, the horrific murders and mutilations of these 21 children do not warrant much agitation. Bakayoko promised to legally hunt anyone suspected of stirring up unnecessary fear. To prevent the horrific news from getting the kind of exposure the Boko Haram Kidnapping received, and sullying the government, the Ivorian police has been cracking down on internet cafés, arbitrarily arresting clients or simply closing businesses in the populous quarters of the capital Abidjan, where household internet accessibility is scarce and the cyber cafés remain the privileged means of connecting to the world wide web. There is a conscious effort by the authorities to hush the horrors, which risks leaving them unaddressed, and thus likely to be repeated.

The hypocrisy here is just mindboggling. Hitherto, when in the opposition, these same politicians were so much concerned about the alleged abuse of children in cocoa plantations as to commission a fake reportage that caused a journalist to lose his job. And the so conspicuously garrulous first lady, whose children of Africa is known for her yearly hurly-burly of VIP parties, has curiously remained tepid on the situation that should interpellate her, as her husband, as usual, was flying around the world, offering condolences.

While, on the one hand, the Minister of the Interior, fearful of a coup against his president, had deployed 15,000 security forces around the perimeter of Abidjan on the eve of New Year 2015, for the protection of the children of Cote d’Ivoire, on the other hand, it is no more than 1,500 forces that Ahmed Bakayoko promises to dispatch in the whole country of 22,000,000 people; which is clear indication of where the government’s priorities really reside.

As the Ivorian authorities show very little motivation to meaningfully protecting the populations, the children of Cote d’Ivoire continue to be in grave danger.

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