This afternoon, while watching Impact with Mishal Husain on the BBC, I was taken aback when the anchor of the program failed to mention the volatile situation in Ivory Coast - even after saying the program covers "stories that matter from across the globe." Of course Libya, Japan and Bahrain were on the headlines, but the entire 30 minutes program ended without any mention of Ivory Coast. This goes to show that the situation in Ivory Coast does not matter to western media - despite the fact that yesterday, a renown human rights organization - Human Rights Watch - reported on-going crimes against humanity by Gbagbo forces in the west African country.
The BBC and other western media outlets might downgrade the conflict in Ivory Coast and look away while Gbagbo forces slaughter civilians, but people of good conscience around the world cannot look away.
Since the disputed November 2010 presidential election in Ivory Coast, forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo have committed horrific crimes, including extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances, gang rapes, attacks against national minorities and political violence against opposition supporters.
On 3 March 2011, in a show of barbarism and uttered disregard for human life, forces loyal to Gbagbo opened fire on unarmed women calling for the removal of Laurent Gbagbo. On this day, seven women were brutally killed and many wounded. In the spirit of endemic impunity, no one has been arrested in relation to the incident which sparked domestic and international outrage.
A lot has been said and written about the volatile situation in Ivory Coast, but concrete steps are yet to be taken by the international community and other actors to restore the inherent dignity of Ivorians and bring perpetrators of violations to book.
Now that Human Rights Watch has published detailed allegations of crimes against humanity by Gbagbo forces, it remains to be seen whether governments and the UN Security Council will divide their attention equally between Libya and the Middle East - where the oil and money is - on the one hand, and Ivory Coast on the other hand.
The Security Council should refer the equally deadly situation in Ivory Coast to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In December 2010, the ICC warned that those who perpetrate violence against civilians in Ivory Coast will be prosecuted. Over the past couple of months, we have seen violence against unarmed civilians and opposition supporters escalate. Now is the time to take concrete steps to bring perpetrators to book.
* Photo: allWestAfrica.
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