Friday, December 29, 2006

A Ouaga newpaper called « L’Evenement » just published the list of all the convicts that broke out of prison on December 20. 537 names, along with date of birth and the names of their parents. I guess that’s a good way to help track them down, but it seems kind of hard on the poor parents! Their various crimes are also reported: plenty of robbery, murder and rape, with the occasional woman accused of excision/FGM. L’Evenement is one of the few papers here that is writing about what happened last week. They also have reported that their journalists have been harassed and had their cameras broken by the police when they tried to investigate the damage at the MACO prison and at the CRS camps. One female journalist was beaten. Where’s Reporters Without Borders when you need them?

Why did the army break open the prison that night? I’ve had a few people write and ask. (Hi Lyn and Andy!) Here’s the situation, as far as I understand it: Blaise (the president of Burkina) fears his own military. The only way he will ever leave power is through a coup and the military is the only force with any hope of pulling one off. And Blaise knows just what he’s up against. He came into power in the country’s bloodiest coup ever. And winning hasn’t improved him. Human rights organisations have recorded the highest ever number of political assassinations, hit squads and "disappearances" under his regime; one study puts the number of assassinations at about twenty.
Luckily, amazingly, and wonderfully, the Burkinabé are very mellow people. Even though their government treats them so very badly, they are in no rush for some kind of crazy upheaval. But still, certain military leaders do become popular with their troops and the possibility always raises its head: will this be the man to lead them against Blaise? I met one of the top candidates a couple of years ago. I was at friend’s house (all names changed or omitted, just to be safe) and there was a guy there lounging around eating peanuts. His suit was nice and he had a very small cell phone, but he still had the general air of one of the many slackers and hangers-ons that are always over at M’s place. After we left, JP told me that the fellow was General L. He was hugely popular and rumor said that he could lead a coup against Blaise any time he wished, but the Winyé are” too lazy”. - General L didn’t want the hassle. So they (mostly the Mossi) say. At least he managed to stay out of jail (Some of his supporters were not so lucky, though) Others suspected of being popular, but known to be more ambitious, have been thrown into prison, along with their supporters. It was a group of these accused coup organizers that the soldiers hoped to release from the MACO. They didn’t manage it. A large part of the general population escaped, but not the political detainees.

I don't usually get so polical in my blog. I don't want to get emails from wierdos and writing on politics is the best way to have that happen. There is also the off chance that Blaise has the media monitored here and one day the guys in black Land Cruisers come and take me away for a nice visit with the Presidential Guard. They do have a certain rep for that kind of thing....

Oh, BTW! To the wierdo that has already written to me: I am a heartless neo-colonialist gawking at the misfortune of others. I just wanted you to know that. Now go away.

Jeez. I hope I don't have to lock down my blog. I have "met" some very cool people that have stumbled fortuitously onto my musings. We shall see.

1 comment:

MLW said...

Apparently, some things are universal. It's a bedrock rule in my biz that whenever a prisoner escapes, he always turns up at his mom's. Maybe not the first day, but a few days later. So perhaps the Burkina paper knows this fact of life, and that's why they printed the names of the convicts?

Says something about the powers of motherhood, no? That is, unless you are a heartless neo-colonialist mother gawking at the misfortune of others, like SOME people I happen to know.