In the Comoros Islands, in the Indian Ocean, there have been reports that the deposed President Ali Soilih ordered the massacre of a least 11 people in March.
In the Comoros Islands, in the Indian Ocean, there have been reports that the deposed President Ali Soilih ordered the massacre of a least 11 people in March. President Soilih was overthrown in coup on May the 13th and was later shot after the new leaders, Mohamed Ahmed and Ahmed Abmed Abdallah, seized power. The Comoros, situated between Madagascar and Africa have undergone five changes of government since declaring themselves independent from France in 1975. One of the group of four islands -- Mayotte -- voted to remain in French colony.
SYNOPSIS: The village of Iconi lies 10 kilometres north west of the Comorean capital, Moroni, on the main island of Grand Comoro. The archipelago is poor, with few natural resources and little industry. Before independence it relied heavily on French aid but under the government of President Soilih all ties with France were broken. The people of Iconi are totally dependent on fishing - but this barely provides a subsistence existence. President Soilih attempted to introduce socialism while in power. He disbanded the civil service, destroyed a 100 years of administrative records, reduced the voting age to 14 and attacked the Moslem religion. Most of the 350,000 islanders are Moslem.
These are the graves of the villagers who reportedly died in March because of their opposition to the government of President Soilih. A week before the alleged massacre the Central Revolutionary Council introduced a ruling demanding that fishermen sell their entire catch without taking any fish for their families. The measure was unpopular and the Iconi fishermen resisted. On the following Friday, President Soilih ordered that his name should be used in prayer instead of Allah. One of the surviving villagers described what happened next.
He said that the villagers opposed both the law on the sale of fish and the anti-Moslem legislation. On one Saturday in March, soldiers marched into the village on the orders of President Soilih. Realising the troops were about to open fire, the fishermen and their families sought sanctuary in the mosque. They refused to come out and the soldiers then began to shoot indiscriminately into the crowd. At least 11 people died and more than 140 men, women and children were injured. The surviving villagers took the wounded to the nearest hospital in Moroni and buried the dead in the small cemetery near the mosque in Iconi.