Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Ivory Coast massacre confirmed

The Transatlantic Intelligencer notes a major development in the Ivory Coast story. French military officials have verified the massacre:

A colonel of the Ivorian gendarmerie interviewed by Agence France Presse (AFP) has affirmed that French forces on November 9 fired directly and without warning upon the crowd of protestors gathered in front of the Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan. Colonel Georges Guiai Bi Poin, who was in charge of a contingent of Ivorian gendarmes dispatched to control the crowd and coordinate with the French troops, says that the order to fire came from the commander of the latter, colonel D'Estremon.
Transint, notes that this blows up the sequence of events the French have been officially putting out:

Colonel Guiai Bi Poin is quoted saying: “French troops fired directly into the crowd. They opened fire on the orders of their chief Colonel D'Estremon. Without warning.” Note that the last sentence in the French original implies more precisely that there were not warning shots [“aucune sommation”] – and thus explicitly contradicts the version of events still being defended by French officials. The AFP report, dated Sunday November 28, continues:

Guiai Bi Poin said the crowd at the Hotel Ivoire was yelling insults but was unarmed.

"Not one of my men fired a shot," he said. "There were no shots from the crowd. None of the demonstrators was armed -- not even with sticks, or knives or rocks."

He said that when he reported to the French commander on the day of the riot [sic.], he was told: "Colonel, my barbed wire has been crossed, and the crowd is getting excited. If they do not let us leave within 20 minutes, I am going to shoot."

"Suddenly," said Guiai Bi Poin, "there was a movement on our left and my gendarmes were pushed violently by the crowd. They fell back a meter or two. D'Estremon then said to me, 'Colonel, the red line has been crossed. I am going to open fire. FIRE!'"

This is obviously many orders of magnitude greater than the “atrocity” at Abu Ghraib or the re-deadening of ol’ death-faker by an understandably antsy U.S. soldier. Plus, we have French officials caught in the act of dissembling. How much play do you think this will get in the world press, now that a) it’s all on tape, and b) those involved have admitted to it?

Need I even ask what would happen if America had done something like this? Ink wells would run dry decrying the massacre by American stormtroopers of the innocent and oppressed Ivorians. An international day of solidarity with the Ivory Coast would be declared, as millions rallied world-wide to urge the Ivorians to cast off their colonialist ties. “No blood for whatever-the-hell-the-Ivory-Coast-produces” would be slapped on signs, buildings and the slow moving elderly.

Instead, we get one French paper smearing the whistle-blowers that dared speak out against France.


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11:20 PM  

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