PRO-GOVERNMENT MILITIAS SPREAD FEAR THROUGH MEDIA
On 26 July 2005, members of the Young Patriots swarmed the headquarters of the national public broadcasters, Radio Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) and Radio Côte d'Ivoire (RCI), in Abidjan, demanding that the stations air a speech by their leader Charles Blé Goudé, reported RSF. The speech urged followers to stop opposition demonstrations in government-controlled areas of the country.
The militias also roamed through several neighbourhoods and destroyed copies of opposition newspapers, including "Le Patriote" (which supports the RDR, a party led by former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara) and "Le Nouveau Réveil" (which supports former President Henri Konan Bédié's PDCI party).
On 25 July, Young Patriots entered Edipresse, the sole distributor of private newspapers, and destroyed hundreds of copies, including those of the dailies "Le Patriote", "24 Heures", "Le Jour Plus", "Le Front", "Nord-Sud Quotidien", "Dernières Nouvelles d'Abidjan", "Le Nouveau Réveil", and "Dernière Heure".
This is not the first time that the militias have attacked opposition newspapers, says CPJ. In November 2004, during a political crisis, the Young Patriots torched the offices of "Le Patriote" and "24 Heures", disrupting publication and causing the papers to relocate temporarily.
Since 2000, when President Gbagbo took over in flawed elections, the government has increasingly relied on militias for law enforcement and, following the 2002 coup attempt, to combat the rebellion, says Human Rights Watch. The militias are used by the government and pro-government
regional officials to violently suppress opposition demonstrations and political party activity, and to muzzle the press.
Groups such as the Young Patriots monopolise political discourse and most public forums for political debate. No opposition group can hold a public meeting without fear of being attacked, according to Human Rights Watch.
Visit these links:
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=14552
- RSF Report: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=13934
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/Ivory26july05na.html
- CPJ Report: http://www.cpj.org/attacks04/africa04/ivory.html
- Human Rights Watch Report: http://hrw.org/reports/2005/cdi0505/
- Cote d'Ivoire's Hate Media: