Saturday, November 20, 2004
From emailer Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi:
Let me emphasize that portions of the video are very graphic. View at your own risk.
The video is highly subjective. Just like with any home movie, it starts and stops at different times with no particular purpose, and no time sequences are shown. When the firing starts, you can't see who's shooting, where it's aimed, or why. In fact, you never see soldiers shooting, at least in part II -- you just hear the shots and see the aftermath. Just as with the video in Iraq, the entire presentation lacks context. Who starts the shooting? Did anyone in the crowd have weapons and fire back, or fire first? So far, I can't tell.
Perhaps this might be the French Amritsar, but the video shown doesn't prove it; it merely suggests it. Before we leap to conclusions, we need a bit more evidence than these videos provide.
Quite true. Of course, before we get more information, there needs to be a bit of interest generated, and as Glenn points out, "I hope we'll see some reporting on the subject. Certainly Reuters would be all over something like this if U.S. troops were involved. . ." ...and not just Reuters.
The same emailer points to this Reuters news report:
Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie urged President Laurent Gbagbo to stop stoking anti-French hatred in the country, where French troops are trying to keep the peace between the rebel north and the south he controls.
Gbagbo said in a French Internet forum on Saturday that he believed that the charge, first made by Cardinal Bernard Agre on Vatican Radio last week, was true even though he had not visited morgues as Agre had and seen proof for the accusation.
"The outrageousness of the terms President Gbagbo has used rob them of all credibility," Alliot-Marie said.
"These charges amount to disinformation similar to President Gbagbo's doubts about the reality of the French military victims in Bouake," she told France-Inter radio, referring to nine French soldiers killed in a rebel raid on Nov. 6.
Asked about the charge that French soldiers had beheaded young Ivorians during protests in the capital, Gbagbo told the Internet forum run by the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur:
"This testimony by the prelate was reported by all the people who were present at the siege of the Hotel Ivoire by the French army and all those who were in the hospitals.
"I wasn't in the hospitals but everyone who went there said it. We can assume this testimony repeated by several people is true."
Agre told the French service of Vatican Radio on Nov. 11: "I've just come back from the hospitals, it's unbearable, these young girls decapitated by the French army, these people even lying on the floor."
Alliot-Marie accused Ivory Coast's leaders of manipulating crowds of protesters in an extremely dangerous way...
If this is related to the events shown in the video, then I can tell you having viewed it that it does not show anyone technically "beheaded," which makes it sound as though the Frenchmen purposefully chopped someone's head off, but in the most grizzly portion of the video, it does show at least one case of what can only be the effect of a high-caliber round on a human skull. It could easily, after the individual is removed to the morgue, wind up being described as the effects of "beheading."
Update3: A commenter at Captain's Quarters points to the first part of the video (a different file) and says, "There is another file, filmed much closer to the French troops which clearly shows a French soldier, firing into the fleeing crowd. He does not appear to be concerned about any incoming fire, and is making no attempt to find cover. He just stands there and blasts away. Nor do the other French soldiers in any of the footage appear to react as if they are in danger or taking fire."
I am downloading it now, but it is coming in very slowly.
Update4: OK, I've seen the first section of tape. There certainly isn't anything there that would appear to justify the type of carnage seen later. I saw no weapons of any kind in the crowd which did not appear to be there with violent intent, and in any case was mostly confined by their own organizers behind a self-imposed line demarcated by string. The only thing that's visible when the initial shooting erupts is two or three individuals that appear to get too close to the French line protecting the hotel - the French themselves being behind a large hedge, barbed-wire and among armored vehicles.
That, in any case, is what can be discerned from the video. More to the story? That's a question for the French to answer.
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From Solomonia, via Ghost of a Flea, comes news of a graphic video of French soldiers allegedly firing on civilians in Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The files take forever to download; they are huge. The source is Côte d'Ivoire's embassy in DC, which ha... Read More