Christian Leaders Plea for Military Help to Disarm Muslim Insurgency, Prevent Genocide
ICC Note: The Central African Republic is majority Christian. Despite this fact, the Christian population suffers persecution and duress at the hands of an Islamist insurgency which installed the country’s first Muslim President earlier this year in a putsch.
10/27/2013 Central African Republic (The Toronto Star) – The leaders of the Central African Republic’s 4 million Christians have issued a joint plea for military help to disarm a largely Muslim insurgency and prevent “genocidal interfaith civil war”.
Meeting Oct. 3-6 in the capital, Bangui, more than 100 church leaders issued a document accusing the Séléka rebel coalition of killing pastors, raping nuns, torturing civilians, burning villages, destroying churches and looting property.
Rebels under the banner of Séléka tossed out President François Bozizé in March, forcing him to flee the country. Human-rights watchdog groups say that in the seven months since, rebels have killed hundreds of people and have driven tens of thousands from their homes, many of which have been looted and burned.
Doctors Without Borders said on Oct. 16 that a renewed wave of violence this month has displaced about 30,000 people in the northwest region of the landlocked country, at the heart of the continent.
The church leaders’ “Bangui Declaration” urges the international community to “fly rapidly to the rescue, to prevent the country from falling into the hands of extremists and religious fanatics”. They said security units provided by neighbouring countries are ineffective and urged the UN to send a more robust, multinational force.
The delegation to Bangui contained representatives of all Catholic and Protestant denominations in the country. Their declaration was signed by four representatives: Rev. Franco Mbaye-Bondoi, general secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of Central Africa; Rev. Nicolas Geurekoyame-Gbangou, president of the alliance; Mgr. Dieudonné Nzapalainga, the Catholic archbishop of Bangui; and by Abbot Cyriaque Gbate-Doumal, general secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Central Africa.
After signing it, the four handed the document to the organiser of the conference, Open Doors International, a global ministry that provides support to Christians under pressure because of their faith.
About 85 per cent of the Central African Republic’s five million people are Christian.
“In this situation, Christians are specifically those the most affected,” the joint statement said.