French institute vandalised during anti-coup demonstrations in Burkina Faso

Burned-out walls, broken windows, smashed doors, scattered computers, and books dear to the cultural milieu, the French Institute in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, the scene of a putsch at the end of September now presents nothing but desolate scenes.

On October 1, demonstrations multiplied in the aftermath of the coup d’état that brought Captain Ibrahim Traoré to power, deposing Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, himself the author of a putsch eight months earlier.

French buildings, including the French embassy and the French institutes in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso, the country’s second-largest city, were attacked by demonstrators who accused Paris of protecting Lieutenant Colonel Damiba, whose departure they demanded.

In Ouagadougou, the street leading to the French Institute was littered with broken glasses, broken computers, and burnt air conditioners.

The building is now isolated by a security perimeter installed by the Burkinabe police, a journalist from AFP noted on Wednesday.

In the entrance hall, the portals and baggage scanners were burned, and the ceiling and walls were blackened by flames.

“It is the work of real monsters, who today cannot even justify the ransacking of places so important for the cultural, student, professional and artistic world,” said, between two sighs, William Somda, a cultural entrepreneur, dejected by “the extent of the damage.

“All the buildings were ransacked: the two levels of the adult media library, the children’s media library, the language centre, the exhibition hall, and the two performance halls,” laments Thierry Bambara, general manager of the French Institute of Ouagadougou.

“The damage is enormous. We will have to wait for an exhaustive assessment to put a figure on the damage,” he said, adding that “computers, various devices, including consoles, musical instruments were burned.

“We start by burning books and then we will burn people. Whoever can burn a library, a cultural space, has burned the men who wrote these books,” said Salif Sanfo, a cultural operator and former deputy, looking at the damage in the library.

In the large library room, the shelves are overturned, and books, covered with soot, litter the floor, scattered among CD-ROMs and computer keyboards. -AFP

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