3 September 2012
Western Revisionism of Togolese and African Realities
September 1, 2012
By Juliette Abandokwe
As I was looking for information in English on the anti-government demonstrations in Togo and their repression by Gnassingbe's army since last June, I found almost nothing, except this!
Togo Civil War 1991-1992 (http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/tango/togo1991.htm)
The disclosure (April 1991) of killings allegedly by security forces set off huge, violent demonstrations against the military-controlled government of President Gnassingbe Eyadema (1937-) of Togo (formerly French Togoland), on the south coast of West Africa. Under much public pressure for democratization, Eyadema then legalized opposition political parties and was forced (due to a general strike) to convene a national conference, attended by both military and civilian representatives (July-August 1991). Soldiers failed to halt the conference, which declared itself sovereign; civilians formed a governing council, with free multiparty elections set for 1992 (later postponed). At the conference, militant troops invaded but withdrew through a show of civilian strength. Eyadema remained nominally president, and his loyal troops later (October 1992) occupied the National Assembly building in Lomé, the capital, holding civilian legislators hostage until they agreed to unfreeze the assets of Eyadema's party, the Rally of the Togolese People. Pro-Eyadema forces later attacked and killed opposition leaders, pro-democracy demonstrators, and dissident soldiers and others (1993-94), securing President Eyadema's hold on Togo's government.
How can violent repression of a people by the "security forces" of an illegal military controlled government be called a "civil war", if not by western media!?
The same may be happening again these next days in Togo.
The people of Togo have been putting up with the Gnassingbé family's tyranny since 1963.
After having succeeded to pay off his country's foreign debt, Sylvanus Olympio, first President of "independent" Togo, was murdered in January 1963 by Etienne Gnassingbé Eyadema (backed up by France, "Friend of Togo") who remained in power until his death in 2004. His repressive regime has probably been among the most brutal in sub-Saharan Africa.
After a few months of illegal leadership, then legalised by rigged elections in April 2005 (again backed up by France, the everlasting "Friend of Togo"), his son Faure Gnassingbé gracefully took over, turning Togo into a internationally recognised monarchy, and who is today desperately trying to keep up with his second « France-friendly » mandate .
Since 12 June 2012, the "Save Togo" movement ("Sauvons le Togo") has succeeded in peacefully mobilizing thousands of Togolese, who are demanding self-determination, respect for non-amended Constitution, end of repression and of looting of public funds and resources, as well as access to their basic human rights; Togolese people are globally claiming the end of clan-based tyranny of the Gnassingbé monarchy.
But phobia of demonstrations by the regime is congenital in Togo, as in other places in Africa, and the army has been out since the very beginning of the demonstrations, wearing brand new outfits and super modern helmets, intimidating, beating up, arbitrarily arresting youth, and terrorising the population with teargas and gunning.
But the Togolese have had enough for some time now, and resistance has been very active since 2005. They have understood the power of mass-mobilisation and images. Behaviour and arrests by the army are filmed and photographed by many equipped citizen observers. When youth are arrested and hauled into army trucks, their co-citizens share their burden and do all they can to trace them into security force premises. The institutionalised kidnapping of those who are the hope of a whole Nation, will no doubt end up with beatings and torture, far from public eyes. They will then be doubtlessly released and will tell their co-citizens how they were treated.
Will such reports be sufficient for people who have heard and gone through the same things for 49 long years, to hold up future demonstrations? Do they really still have something to lose? Nothing is less certain.
We unfortunately also all know that France, indefectible "Friend of Togo", can never accept self-determination in "sovereign and independent" Togoland. We have seen it before, as we talk of the traditional model of French neocolonial Africa.
In the meantime, we are all watching the people of Togo daily on YouTube and elsewhere on the net, admiring the courage and determination, wishing so hard that they will somehow win over Tyranny and Evil. We all wish their efforts will also encourage youth in other parts of Africa, in other democratic France-friendly tyrannies, like Gabon, Congo, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, and a few others we sometimes know nothing much about. All these nations were gracefully granted “independence” in 1960 by a brutal colonizer who pretended he was leaving, but who in reality never left. Some of those countries suffered major population losses, such as Cameroon for example in a hidden and brutal independence war, where “enemies of the Nation” (and of friendly France of course), where still hunted down by the French “military cooperation”, and executed long after 1960. The responsibility of France in locally well-known war crimes has been witnessed by many, even by French pilots who took part in the dropping of napalm bombs on hundreds of villages, killing up to 500 000 thousand villagers.
French crimes against humanity in Africa after independence are numerous and well documented, as well as her implication in the overthrow or murder of many “inconvenient” presidents and opposition leaders. The systematic support of France and her allies in the rigging of elections in countries where leaders have been trained and financed for the sake and up-keep of French economic interests is well-known by all. French neocolonialism through total control of the monetary system (CFA franc), local power and land possession of French industrial empires (Bolloré, Bouygues, Areva, etc.) using African resources exclusively for their own economic development, having politically eliminated all sources of obstruction, as well as profiting and implicitly encouraging local impunity in terms of labour regulations and human rights. All former French colonies have stepped into the same neocolonial pattern, and suffer from the same pack of gross abuse and violation, witnessed by a silent and complicit western international community.
In fact, who cares about powerless Africa? Actually the longer it remains powerless, the more profit will be made from it. Basically, the West cannot strategically be interested by any form of emancipation in Africa. Anything that looks like people’s empowerment must thus be undermined, in a spirit of infantilisation of any effort to grow out of what is just simply modern slavery. This is where very efficient revisionist media come in. The transformation of reality in the field is systematic.
So this is how western media ends up claiming that the people’s upheaval in Togo is in fact a civil war, or a tribal based war like in Democratic Republic of Congo or elsewhere, ignoring the fact that the pro-dictator people are often a minority of sometimes remunerated people from the same clan or tribe.
Defining the claim of a people to self-determination as a civil war, justifies in the eyes of France and its western economic partners the victory of the stronger part on the weaker part, which in turn allows them to validate repression against the weaker part, i.e. the unarmed civilian population.
We have seen several upheavals in France-controlled Sub-Saharan Africa these last five years, and most of them ended up in a bloodbath and/or in massive arrests of youth. Western media was always there to transform the protestors into looters, disorganised agitators, delinquent jobless people, and so on. In spite of many official reports on wide-spread human rights abuses, ranging from arbitrary arrests and detention, extra-judicial killing and so forth, the crimes have mostly ended up by being forgotten about or undermined in a spirit of implicit disqualification and institutionalised negrophobia.
So to come back to Togo, let’s continue watching the scene these next days and weeks, and let us be aware of the risk of qualification of the Togolese sentiment of “Too much is too much” as a fabricated civil war or other western revisionist phenomenon.
As for the African diaspora in Europe and in the United States, a special and continuous effort could be made to inform European and American people about what is really going on in Africa. Crimes in one part of the world should be known in all parts of the world. Then nobody can later say they did not know. The capacity of thought of any individual in a country where freedom of opinion is the rule, can induce protest and pressure on Government if the person thinks that what is being done by Government is wrong. Thus, the decision between universal good or bad is the responsibility of every individual.
We all know by now that the power of the people, i.e. the sum up of a majority of conscious individuals is what represents ultimate power.