The Political Manipulation of Ethnicity in Côte d'Ivoire
August 28, 2001

Leading government officials in Côte D'Ivoire have incited a violent xenophobia that is threatening to destabilize the country, Human Rights Watch charged in a new report released today. The World Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, which begins in Durban on August 31, should condemn the Ivorian leaders who have promoted intolerance based on ethnic and religious differences. The 70-page report, The New Racism: The Political Manipulation of Ethnicity in Côte d'Ivoire, describes atrocities committed during presidential and parliamentary elections in October and December 2000, and is based on extensive interviews of victims and witnesses in Abidjan in late 2000 and early 2001. The report documents more than 200 killings, as well as torture, rape, and arbitrary detention. The political and social climate remains volatile today as intolerance and xenophobia continue to shape daily life.The election violence began with security forces targeting civilians on the basis of these political affiliation. Following Gbagbo's victory, security forces began targeting civilians solely and explicitly on the basis of their religion, ethnic group, or national origin. The overwhelming majority of victims come from the largely Muslim north of the country, or are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants to Côte d'Ivoire. About one-quarter of the population of Cote d'Ivoire was born abroad or is descended from immigrants. Opposition leader Alassane Ouattara and his party, the Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR), largely draw their support from these groups. 70pp, 7.00

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ISBN: Volume 13, No.6 (A)