Africans must speak against the torture of Muslims in CAR

Rhulani Thembi Siweya


By Rhulani Thembi Siweya

As the African Union sits from the 27 June-4 July 2017 in Addis Ababa, Central African Republic’s(CAR) looming crisis must top the agenda. An opportunity is yet again presented to African leaders to demonstrate their commitment to peace and stability in the continent. This is country surrounded by Cameroon, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo.

Calls have been made by various lobby groups for calm and investigation into Human Rights violations. Central African Republic is in a state where even peace-keepers are targeted and killed. It would seem Africa has forgotten about the people of CAR. That the world has turned their back on innocent women and children.

In 2016 when they held their elections, we had hope that all will slowly go back to normalcy, however this was not be. Things have taken a turn for the worst and immediate intervention is required. In 2013 Seleka rebels lead a coup which brought downthe government of the day. Of interest was that this rebel group was Muslim-ledand they had organised themselves in
response to a perceived oppression due totheir religious orientation. In retaliation, Christians organised themselves into a militia group and soon the situation escalated into a humanitarian crisis of international proportions. Muslims were chased away from their homes into neighbouring countries. By 2015 Human Right Watch warned of Ethnic cleansing.

This is a country which consists of Christians in the majority and minority Muslims who feel tha tthey are forever side-lined. Interestingly this a country with a positive history of both religions co-existence. What then informs the contestation today?

After the 2016elections, Muslim refugees from CAR, came back to their country under the impression that they will occupy their houses. That wasn’t to be! They were placed in a camp for the Internally Displaced People (IDP) because the Christians who chased them away also occupied their houses. Fearing that they could be killed if they tried to go back to their dwellings, they were left with the choice of occupying badly-funded camps with appalling living conditions. More needs to be done to rectify this situation.

The people of the CAR remain poor in spite of their wealth in minerals like diamond, uranium, timber etc. It is unacceptable that they continue to rely on foreign aid to an extend of food parcels. We worry because the poor have organised themselves along religious orientations to take out their frustrations on each other. They target each other while the real problem is in the leadership of the day. The situation is so dire that Black African Muslims in CAR are asking why their fellow Arab Muslim brothers are not coming forth to negotiate on their behalf.

As African leaders sit in the AU, a call is made to remind them that the people of CAR must be remembered. We must not look away. They are in need of our help. The government of the day continued to fail them. There is a need for funding which will be directed to peace and stability. African leaders must assign more peace-keepers and a dialogue amongst contending
leaders must be encouraged and intensified.

Rhulani Thembi Siweya is the founder of Africa Unmasked and an NEC memberof the ANCYL, she writes in her capacity as patron of Africa Unmasked