French military sexual abuse of African children


This 30 April 2015 video is called France investigates allegation of child abuse by its troops in the Central African Republic.

By Antoine Lerougetel and Kumaran Ira in France:

French soldiers sexually abused children in Central African Republic

6 May 2015

On April 29, Britain’s Guardian newspaper revealed the sexual abuse of children aged between 8 and 15 by French soldiers in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). The deeply impoverished country has experienced escalating sectarian fighting between Christian Anti-balaka and Muslims Seleka militias. Thousands of civilians had fled Bangui neighborhoods to seek shelter in nearby M’Poko airport.

According to the Guardian, the alleged abuse took place between December 2013 and June 2014 in a refugee camp in Bangui.

Reuters cited French judicial sources saying that a number of French soldiers had been identified. Chadian peacekeepers were also allegedly involved in the sexual abuse. On Thursday, Le Monde reported that more than 14 soldiers are under investigation.

The Guardian revelation was based on a leaked report by a senior UN aid worker, Anders Kompass, who disclosed the abuse allegation to French prosecutors last July, after the UN failed to take action to stop the abuse. Kompass is under investigation for breaching confidential information and was suspended after leaking the report.

According to many witnesses, young boys accused French soldiers of having raped and abused them “in exchange for food” or money. The incidents took place before and after the establishment of the UN-led peacekeeping mission in CAR.

The leaked report contains interviews with six children, who were sexually abused by French soldiers. Some indicated that several of their friends were also sexually assaulted. According to the Guardian, “The interviews were carried out by an official from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights justice section and a member of Unicef between May and June last year.”

One interview describes how two nine-year-old children were sexually assaulted together by two French soldiers who demanded oral sex in exchange for food.

The Guardian continues, “Another nine-year-old child describes how he went to ask for food from the French military at the IDP camp at M’Poko airport. He says the soldier told him to carry out a sex act on him first … He [the child] had friends who had done it already, he knew what he had to do. Once done the military gave a military food portion and some food. X said the military had forbidden him to tell anything about him to anybody, and that if he would do so he would beat him.”

The sexual abuse committed by French soldiers exposes the utterly fraudulent character of the “humanitarian” pretensions of French imperialism’s intervention in CAR, a former French colony.

Paris launched its military intervention in CAR in December 2013 under the guise of halting sectarian violence between majority Christian and minority Muslims. Paris initially backed Muslim Seleka forces in an attempt to topple President François Bozizé, aiming to seize the strategically located country in the centre of the African continent, and destroying China’s growing economic influence in the country. China had made several key deals with the CAR under Bozizé, including on oil contracts and military cooperation.

Paris initially deployed 1,600 troops in the CAR and around 2,000 troops are being deployed under the peacekeeping mission, codenamed Operation Sangaris. Since Paris intervened militarily, the humanitarian crisis has deepened and sectarian conflict has escalated.

Although the report on the sexual abuse emerged last July, the PS government kept total silence on the matter and avoided taking any legal action. Since the Guardian ’s revelation, the government has made hypocritical comments, and is seeking to whitewash the case.

When informed on the affair last July, in an interview to Le Journal du Dimanche on May 3, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian claimed to have felt “disgust and a form of betrayal of the mission that was given to Operation Sangaris,” adding: “I immediately transmitted the report to the judiciary. It was our wish that the full truth rapidly come to light in this affair.”

After the report was passed to the French prosecutor, an internal army investigation into the matter reportedly was carried out, ending in August.

Le Drian claimed that the investigation has been “made available to the justice system.” With the case still in its preliminary stages after it was opened nine months ago, Le Drian downplayed it, saying, “I believe it is a complex inquiry. Since the crimes allegedly took place, most of the soldiers involved have left this theater of operations, but this should not prevent the judiciary from rapidly doing its work.”

In a cynical attempt to give a positive, “humanitarian” face to more imperialist crimes, President François Hollande said, “If some soldiers have behaved badly, I will show no mercy … You know the trust I have in our army, [and] the role the French military play in the world.”

French neo-colonial military abuse of African children


This video says about itself:

France, US want to keep Africa under colonial rule

10 April 2013

France has started pulling its troops from Mali – the first step in handing over operations to a UN-approved African force. The French anticipated a short campaign against Islamist insurgents in January – but now plan on keeping one thousand troops by the end of the year. Investigative journalist Michel Collon thinks Africa’s instability is the perfect excuse for the west to intervene and exploit the continent’s untouched resources.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

UN aid worker suspended for leaking report on child abuse by French troops

Anders Kompass said to have passed confidential document to French authorities because of UN’s failure to stop abuse of children in Central African Republic

Sandra Laville

Wednesday 29 April 2015 11.02 BST

A senior United Nations aid worker has been suspended for disclosing to prosecutors an internal report on the sexual abuse of children by French peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic.

Sources close to the case said Anders Kompass passed the document to the French authorities because of the UN’s failure to take action to stop the abuse. The report documented the sexual exploitation of children as young as nine by French troops stationed in the country as part of international peacekeeping efforts.

Kompass, who is based in Geneva, was suspended from his post as director of field operations last week and accused of leaking a confidential UN report and breaching protocols. He is under investigation by the UN office for internal oversight service (OIOS) amid warnings from a senior official that access to his case must be “severely restricted”. He faces dismissal.

The treatment of the aid worker, who has been involved in humanitarian work for more than 30 years, has taken place with the knowledge of senior UN officials, including Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, and Susana Malcorra, chef de cabinet in the UN, according to documents relating to the case.

The abuses took place in 2014 when the UN mission in the country, Minusca, was in the process of being set up.

The Guardian has been passed the internal report on the sexual exploitation by Paula Donovan, co-director of the advocacy group Aids Free World, who is demanding an independent commission inquiry into the UN’s handling of sexual abuse by peacekeepers.

It was commissioned by the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights after reports on the ground that children, who are among the tens of thousands displaced by the fighting, were being sexually abused.

Entitled Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces and stamped “confidential” on every page, the report details the rape and sodomy of starving and homeless young boys by French peacekeeping troops who were supposed to be protecting them at a centre for internally displaced people in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.

Donovan said: “The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations’ appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn’t uncommon. The UN’s instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks – ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble – must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access, top to bottom, and full subpoena power.”

The UN has faced several scandals in the past relating to its failure to act over paedophile rings operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo and Bosnia. It has also faced allegations of sexual misconduct by its troops in Haiti, Burundi and Liberia.

The treatment of Kompass, a Swedish national, threatens to spark a major diplomatic row.

This month, the Swedish ambassador to the United Nations warned senior UN officials “it would not be a good thing if the high commissioner for human rights forced” Kompass to resign. The ambassador threatened to go public if that happened and to engage in a potentially ugly and harmful debate.

The abuses detailed in the internal report took place before and after Minusca was set up last year. Interviews with the abused children were carried out between May and June last year by a member of staff from the office for the high commissioner of human rights and a Unicef specialist. The children identified represent just a snapshot of the numbers potentially being abused.

The boys, some of whom were orphans, disclosed sexual exploitation, including rape and sodomy, between December 2013 and June 2014 by French troops at a centre for internally displaced people at M’Poko airport in Bangui.

The children described how they were sexually exploited in return for food and money. One 11-year-old boy said he was abused when he went out looking for food. A nine-year-old described being sexually abused with his friend by two French soldiers at the IDP camp when they went to a checkpoint to look for something to eat.

The child described how the soldiers forced him and his friend to carry out a sex act. The report describes how distressed the child was when disclosing the abuse and how he fled the camp in terror after the assault. Some of the children were able to give good descriptions of the soldiers involved.

In summer 2014, the report was passed to officials within the office for the high commission of human rights in Geneva. When nothing happened, Kompass sent the report to the French authorities and they visited Bangui and began an investigation.

It is understood a more senior official was made aware of Kompass’s actions and raised no objections. But last month Kompass was called in and accused of breaching UN protocols by leaking details of a confidential report, according to sources.

Kompass’s emails have been seized as part of the investigation into the alleged leak. One senior UN official has said of Kompass that “it was his duty to know and comply” with UN protocols on confidential documents.

Bea Edwards, of the Government Accountability Project, an international charity that supports whistleblowers, condemned the UN for its witch-hunt against a whistleblower who had acted to stop the abuse of children.

“We have represented many whistleblowers in the UN system over the years and in general the more serious the disclosure they make the more ferocious the retaliation,” said Edwards. ”Despite the official rhetoric, there is very little commitment at the top of the organisation to protect whistleblowers and a strong tendency to politicise every issue no matter how urgent.”

UN sources confirmed an investigation by the French was ongoing – in cooperation with the UN – into allegations of a very serious nature against peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.

On Wednesday a spokesman for the French justice ministry told Reuters: “A preliminary investigation has been opened by the Paris prosecutor since July 31, 2014. The investigation is ongoing,” he said, declining to give further details.

A spokesman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed an investigation was under way into the leaking of confidential information by a staff member.

France’s poisoned legacy in the Central African Republic. Latest mission to the former colony in 2013 was to protect people displaced by sectarian conflict – now French troops are accused of engaging in child abuse: here.

Lost English cuckoo found again in Africa


This video from England says about itself:

21 August 2013

Discover more about the story of cuckoos on Dartmoor and hear about an exciting project that will be tracking their migration to Africa.

From Wildlife Extra:

Lost cuckoo makes dramatic reappearance

March 2014: One of the migrating cuckoos being tracked by the British Trust for Ornithology on its migration to and from sub-Saharan Africa has been located after a three-month silence. Tor, the cuckoo that was fitted with its tracking device in Dartmoor National Park last May had ‘gone dark’ and was feared dead.

Tor’s satellite signal, that transmits for 10 hours every couple of days to reveal the location of the bird and, occasionally, its body heat measurement, was last received on 4 December, at which time he was on the Gabon/Congo border. It is not unknown for the transmitters’ batteries to degrade or for the birds to be under dense cover for extended periods which prevents the devices’ solar panels from charging them up, but usually there is only a period of a week or two before they spring into life again.

In this case, Tor stayed under the radar for an unprecedented amount of time until he resurfaced in early March in the Central African Republic.

The BTO has been satellite-tracking cuckoos on their migration since 2011 in order to find out their important stop-over sites and wintering destinations to and from Africa and so discover why we have lost more than half of our breeding cuckoos in the past 25 years. Last spring 15 cuckoos were tagged, most of which are now on their way back to the UK. Information from the project will help to form conservation strategies and initiate action.

To find out more about the project and follow the progress of this year’s cuckoos as they return to the UK, visit here.

You can also sponsor a cuckoo and help finance the research here.

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French neo-colonial war in Central African Republic


This video says about itself:

The Central African Empire was a monarchial regime that existed between 1976 and 1979 in what had been the Central African Republic. It came about when the President Jean-Bedel Bokassa declared himself Emperor in Napoleonic fashion and then staged a massive coronation for himself, all done in French Napoleonic style.

The world was somewhat shocked at this, some countries playing along and others dismissing the self-proclaimed Emperor as a mad man. Bokassa argued that, as an empire, the country would be more stable, more glamorous and attract more attention. That, it certainly did, but stability was not forthcoming and in due time Bokassa was driven out and the republic restored.

Central African emperor-dictator Bokassa meets French President Giscard d'Estaing

On this photo, Central African emperor-dictator Bokassa meets a close ally, French President Giscard d’Estaing. Bokassa gave Giscard gifts of diamonds and ivory. This corruption scandal with that dictator contributed to Giscard losing his re-election bid in the 1981 elections.

By Kumaran Ira in France:

French war in Central African Republic intensifies humanitarian crisis

16 December 2013

On Friday, French Defense Minister Jean Yves Le Drian visited the Central African Republic (CAR) to hold talks with the country’s interim leaders amid the ongoing French intervention and escalating violence in the country. He spoke with French soldiers and also with CAR President Michel Djotodia, who is supported by the Seleka militia.

France’s Operation Sangaris began after the UN Security Council voted a France-sponsored resolution on December 5, authorizing French and African intervention ostensibly to prevent humanitarian crises and halt rising sectarian violence. Some 2,500 African Union (AU) troops functioning as French proxies have been deployed—a number slated to increase to 6,000.

Speaking to French soldiers in the CAR capital, Bangui, Le Drian said that the “spiral of confrontation has seriously worsened,” producing a “humanitarian crisis” and the risk of “anarchy” in the region if it attracted criminal and terrorist groups.

Le Drian’s statement was a tacit admission that the basis of the French intervention in CAR is a political fraud. Supposedly launched to halt violence between majority Christians and minority Muslims, France’s war in its resource-rich, strategically located former colony is fuelling violence between Christian militias and the Muslim Seleka forces backed by Paris.

Le Drian’s visit came after French President François Hollande’s December 10 visit and the death of two French soldiers on December 9 amid heavy clashes with militias in Bangui.

French military spokesman Colonel Gilles Jaron explained, “The two soldiers had been part of a team inspecting an area east of Bangui’s airport close to midnight on Monday before a disarmament operation.” According to Jaron, “gunmen fired on the French patrol, which returned fire.” Both soldiers subsequently died at the hospital.

Speaking in the CAR, Hollande claimed that his administration’s policy of disarming warring groups and restoring stability is essential to avoiding more bloodshed: “France knew it would be dangerous, but it is necessary to avoid carnage.”

Covering up French imperialism’s predatory interests in the region, Hollande cynically added: “France is not here in the Central African Republic out of any self-interest… France has come to defend human dignity.”

Hollande’s comment epitomizes the Orwellian propaganda of his Socialist Party (PS). Rather, French imperialism—having intervened in Syria to support criminal and terrorist forces linked to Al Qaeda, that Le Drian claims to be fighting in CAR—is intervening yet again in an impoverished former colony where it has a long history of reactionary intrigue.

This history includes French support to the dictatorship of Jean-Bédel Bokassa, whom French imperialism ousted in the 1979 coup codenamed Operation Barracuda; the 2002 installation in Operation Boali of Bozizé, whom it defended with 2006 bombings aimed at Djotodia’s forces; and finally France’s latest swing behind the Seleka forces.

While Hollande tries to wrap his wars in the tattered mantle of “human rights,” other political representatives of French imperialism make no bones about the strategic interests Paris is advancing. Christian Jacob, who heads the right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) group in France’s National Assembly, told a radio interviewer on Wednesday: “The CAR military operation is essential, given the country’s strategic location in the heart of Africa.”

The humanitarian crisis and sectarian violence devastating the CAR are primarily the result of Paris’ bloody pursuit of its imperialist interests in its former colony, backing Seleka’s ouster of CAR President François Bozizé in March. Paris aimed to seize the strategically located country in the centre of the African continent and destroy China’s rising influence in Bangui. China had made several key deals with the CAR under Bozizé, including on oil contracts and military cooperation.

France’s direct intervention into the CAR has intensified the violence. More than 600 people have been killed in the last week and over 160,000 people had fled their homes in Bangui alone, according to UN reports.

CAR Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye acknowledged, “Religious communities that have always lived together in perfect harmony are now massacring each other. The situation must be stopped as soon as possible.”

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Adrian Edwards said: “There are frequent reports of indiscriminate attacks against civilians, recruitment of child soldiers, sexual and gender-based violence, looting and destruction of property.” He added that 160 people were also reported to have been killed in other parts of CAR.

Sectarian clashes were also reported in several towns, including Bouca, Bossangoa and Bozoum, with 27 Muslims reported to have been killed by Christian self-defence militias, known as anti-balaka, in the village of Bohong on December 12.

Contacts have reportedly begun between Djotodia and the “anti-balaka” militias in an effort to negotiate some type of truce. Djotodia told RFI radio that “he was ready to extend his hand” to rival Christian forces.

France’s intervention is supported by Britain and the United States. Britain’s Royal Air Force has offered two large C-17 transport planes to help deploy French troops and armoured cars to the CAR.

Washington is deploying two aircraft and a command team to nearby Uganda in support of French operations in the CAR. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has authorized military transport aircraft to carry troops from Burundi to the CAR.

On December 9, a US official told Reuters the Pentagon has received requests for logistical support to bolster French and AU troops. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said US military support would likely resemble the assistance that the Pentagon has provided France during its war in Mali. That included airlift assistance and intelligence sharing.

Yesterday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that France would ask for more help from European Union (EU) member states to help it wage war in CAR. “That is a real, big problem,” Fabius told Europe1 radio. “Tomorrow, I’ll go to the Council of Foreign Ministers and I will ask for stepped-up, more robust aid, including on the ground.”

When it launched its military intervention in the CAR a week ago, the Hollande administration claimed that it would only last about six months. However, analysts pointed out that it could last far longer.

African specialist Roland Marchal of the Paris-based National Centre for Scientific Research said “It’s an illusion—as it was an illusion in Mali to declare the war was over, that French soldiers would be back home soon… We have more than 2,000 soldiers [still in Mali], though Francois Hollande promised that only 1,000 would be there by the end of the year.”

EMILE SCHEPERS examines the French history of meddling in central Africa: here.

Le « Dossier noir » de l’armée française en Afrique: here.

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Good African gorilla news


This is a western lowland gorilla video from the Central African Republic.

From Wildlife Extra:

Gorillas reintroduced into Congo & Gabon are thriving

October 2013. The Aspinall Foundation’s reintroduction of western lowland gorillas to areas of Africa where they have been hunted to extinction appears to be working, according to a new scientific study.

Critically Endangered

Western lowland gorillas are classified by the World Conservation Union as Critically Endangered, based on a projected 80% decline in the wild over just three generations, ranking them alongside the most threatened species on the planet. Reintroduction of gorillas to protected areas from where they have previously been exterminated is still considered controversial, but a pioneering, long-term programme to do just that is starting to show it may be possible after all.

Congo & Gabon

Two gorilla populations are currently in the process of being re-established in the neighbouring African republics of Congo and Gabon, by the UK-based charity The Aspinall Foundation in collaboration with the respective governments.

Fifty-one gorillas were released between 1996 and 2006, 25 in the Lesio-Louna Reserve in Congo, and 26 in the Batéké Plateau National Park in Gabon. Most of the released gorillas are rehabilitated orphans of the illegal bush-meat trade, taken as young babies from their slaughtered mothers by opportunistic hunters. The majority of orphaned gorillas die of depression and mistreatment, but a few survive long-enough to be confiscated and handed over to long-term rehabilitation programmes.

In the Gabon project, in addition to the wild-born orphans the released gorillas also include seven captive-borns, sent back to Africa from The Aspinall Foundation’s successful captive-breeding population at Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks in the UK.

Good levels of survival, births and dispersal

Dedicated field staff have been monitoring the released gorillas for over ten years at both reintroduction sites. A previous analysis, published in 2012 in the International Journal of Primatology, illustrated that the reintroduction programme had been successful in terms of post-release survival, birth rates and dispersal, all of which were comparable with wild populations. The new study goes a step further, using this information to develop a computer simulation model of the growth of the two reintroduced gorilla populations over a 200-year period.

Lead author of the new study, The Aspinall Foundation’s Conservation and Reintroduction Co-ordinator Tony King, explained, “We have seen with our own eyes the remarkable ways in which the released gorillas adapt to their new homes, and have celebrated numerous successful births to orphaned gorillas who never had the chance of a normal upbringing in a gorilla family – but this is the first time that we have put all this together to help predict the future success of the reintroductions.”

3 more gorillas released

The results of the study suggest that the reintroduced gorilla populations have a good chance of sustaining themselves for 200 years and more, but illustrated that reinforcement of the populations by further releases could significantly improve probabilities of population persistence and retention of genetic diversity. Damian Aspinall, chairman of The Aspinall Foundation, said, “This is incredibly useful information. Only last week three more gorillas were released in Gabon, and we are currently preparing an entire family group for imminent release.”

Slow reproduction

Developing the model was a challenge. “Gorillas can live for over forty years, usually don’t reproduce until they are at least 10 years old, and females produce one surviving off-spring only every five years or so,” added co-author Christelle Chamberlan, who has worked with both reintroduced lowland gorilla populations and the wild mountain gorillas of Rwanda. “Even after a decade of monitoring our released gorillas, there are still many aspects of their life-history patterns that we don’t know. We tested our model to see which factors were most significant in changing the predicted success of the reintroduction. Relatively small changes to annual birth rates or to female survival rates made big changes to the predicted long-term growth of the populations. Good numbers of healthy, reproducing female gorillas are therefore critical to population persistence.”

“It is definitely an ambitious project,” King concluded. “Results so far have exceeded most expectations. The gorillas are still living on a knife-edge though. Small reintroduced populations are always susceptible to crashes due to random changes in any number of factors. We plan to release more gorillas at both sites, which will increase the chances that the populations will survive. In reality we are still only just beginning.”

The study was published in the international conservation journal Oryx.

France’s secret war in the Central African Republic


This video shows pictures of the destroyed town of Birao in the northern Central African Republic.

From British daily The Independent:

Inside France’s secret war

For 40 years, the French government has been fighting a secret war in Africa, hidden not only from its people, but from the world. It has led the French to slaughter democrats, install dictator after dictator – and to fund and fuel the most vicious genocide since the Nazis. Today, this war is so violent that thousands are fleeing across the border from the Central African Republic into Darfur – seeking sanctuary in the world’s most notorious killing fields.

By Johann Hari in Birao, Central African Republic

Published: 05 October 2007

I first heard whispers of this war in March, when newspapers reported in passing that the French military was bombing the remote city of Birao, in the far north-east of the CAR. Why were French soldiers fighting there, thousands of miles from home? Why had they been intervening in Central Africa this way for so many decades? I could find no answers here – so I decided to travel there, into the belly of France’s forgotten war.

On the battlefield – Birao

I am standing now on its latest battlefield, looking out over abandoned mud streets streaked with ash. The city of Birao is empty and echoing, for the first time in 200 years. All around are miles of burned and abandoned homes, with the odd starved child scampering through the wreckage.

French neocolonialism in Burkina Faso: here.

Other European countries and French intervention in Africa: here. And here.

Chad, February 2008: here.

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