Ivory Coast eyewitness: Women 'slaughtered by soldiers'

04 March 2011

The attention of the world may be on the Middle East but violence is apparent elsewhere. This eyewitness account from a woman in Cote d’Ivoire highlights the urgent need for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). IANSA women have joined the call for the Treaty to cover all weapons, munitions and related equipment for the use of force in military, police and internal security operations enforcement to ensure that the Treaty will prevent grave human rights abuses.

Ivory Coast eyewitness: Women 'slaughtered by soldiers'
4 March 2011, BBC

The UN refugee agency says parts of Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, resemble a war zone. On Thursday, security forces shot dead at least six women marching in support of Alassane Ouattara, witnesses say. Mr Ouattara is recognised by the UN as the winner of November's presidential election, but Laurent Gbagbo has refused to concede power.

One of the protesters, who was too frightened to give her name, told the BBC World Service what happened:

We were all gathered at a roundabout leading to the suburb of Abobo. This was a rallying point for more than 5,000 women. So there I was, among those women. The plan was to hold a peaceful march, heading towards the town hall of Abobo. Then we heard young girls shouting: "Tanks are coming! Tanks are coming!" We turned our heads towards where the girls were pointing, and indeed tanks were rolling our way. And those who were in the tanks started shooting at us with machine guns.

We were slaughtered. Eight women, including a pregnant woman, were killed on the spot. During the shooting, a bullet blew open the head of one of the victims. It was the first time I had seen someone's brains out. As for the pregnant woman, her belly literally exploded.

We have no idea why they shot at us. We were just a gathering of women, nothing else but women.

We were debating on how to deliver a message to Gbagbo. To ask him why he had allowed elections to be held in the first place. To also tell him that our choice has been made. We voted for change and the restoration of peace in this country. In the presidential election we voted for Alassane Ouattara.

Even my relatives are wondering how I managed to escape. They can't believe it. They are all amazed. Only God knows how I escaped the killing. If we assume that we are in a democratic country, then our duty is to march again and again.

We, the women of Ivory Coast, will continue our action. Laurent Gbagbo wants to rule the country by force. Suppose he killed all of the women of Ivory Coast, whose ruler would he be? We firmly believe that God will help us.

Online at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12646355