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Brothers crucified by Ouattara forces in Ivory Coast

Country/Region: Cote d'Ivoire, Africa

Two peasant brothers were brutally crucified on “the example of Christ” as forces loyal to Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara continue to target perceived supporters of his ousted Christian predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo.

Alassane-Ouattara_4X3.jpg
President of Côte d'Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara
CC BY-NC 2.0 by BBC World Service

Raphael Aka Kouame died of his injuries; incredibly his younger brother, Kouassi Privat Kacou, survived the ordeal. The pair were badly beaten and tortured before being crudely nailed to cross-shaped planks by their hands and feet with steel spikes on 29 May.

The brothers were falsely accused of hiding weapons in their home village of Binkro, which has been targeted by Ouattara supporters as the birthplace of a key enemy. They are looking for Prefect Koko Djei, President of the General Council of Oumé and an official in Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front party, who is accused of distributing weapons to young Oumé men. The brothers repeatedly denied any involvement in a weapons cache, but their pleas were ignored.

After crucifying the brothers, Ouattara’s men took them on an extensive search of Binkro, but they found only a store of medical equipment and supplies, which they looted. The seriously wounded pair were then taken to prison in Oumé, where Raphael died in the night.

Ongoing attrocities

This is just one of the many atrocities that have been committed as fighting between Ouattara and Gbagbo supporters has continued in the wake of the disputed presidential election last November. Christians have been caught up in the conflict as perceived supporters of Gbagbo. Support for the two men is split broadly along geographical and religious lines, with the predominantly Muslim north largely backing Ouattara, a Muslim from that region, while support for Gbagbo, a Christian, comes from the mainly Christian south.

Human Rights Watch reported that Ouattara troops have killed at least 149 real or suspected Gbagbo supporters in Abidjan since the capture and arrest of the former president on 11 April. Of these, at least 95 were unarmed. The group believes the total number of non-combatants killed to be much higher, as many witnesses, largely from ethnic groups linked to former President Gbagbo, were too terrified to talk or had fled Abidjan during or following the violence.

Human Rights Watch also documented more than 220 killings by pro-Gbagbo troops against real and perceived Ouattara supporters when the republican forces swept through Abidjan between March 31 and the end of April, as fighting continued following Gbagbo's arrest.

Amnesty International also warned, towards the end of last month, that reprisal attacks are still being committed by Ouattara’s forces. Statements collected by an Amnesty delegation indicated a systematic and targeted series of killings committed by uniformed republican forces, who executed hundreds of men on political and ethnic grounds.

Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty's West Africa researcher, said:

Human rights violations are still being committed against real or perceived supporters of Laurent Gbagbo. Alassane Ouattara's failure to condemn these acts could be seen as a green light by many of his security forces, and other armed elements fighting with them, to continue.

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