Sunday, January 20, 2013

human rights abuses? This is a very disturbing article, but it would be helpful if the Guardian tried to analyse the situation with some fairness, rather than accusing the Army of taking advantage of the situation for racial discrimination. Some Fulani have complained of being singled out and are now staying indoors reports the Guardian, and goes on to describing the situation as if there had always been racial tension between Fulani and southerners. This is absolutely not true. With the exception of the Touaregs who have wanted independence and whose relations with the rest of the Malian tribes have always been uneasy, Mali’s tribes live in enviable harmony. The situation in the warzones in Mali is becoming very difficult because of the Islamist’s tactics of integrating inside the population and hiding out in people’s houses. Therefore it must be necessary to control any unknown new arrivals, and inevitably light skinned people will attract more attention. The other day I spoke to Samake in Djenne. He said three people had been arrested there. They were indeed of a lighter complexion. They were also completely unknown to anyone in Djenne, and they remain in prison there for the moment, apparently. They were suspected of being Islamist spies. I think there will be arrests of this kind, inevitably. This is a war situation, and regrettably harsh measures cannot be avoided. The Guardian reports: Amnesty International says that it has documented evidence of abuse by the Malian army, including extrajudicial killings. It says that in September, a group of 16 Muslim preachers composed of Malian and Mauritanian nationals were arrested then executed by the Malian military in Diabaly. Some commentators in Mali speculate that the occupation of Diabaly by Islamist fighters – whom French and Malian soldiers said they had defeated on Friday – was sparked by vengeance for the actions of the Malian army there. This is the story of the vehicle that refused to stop at a checkpoint( mentioned in my blog on 15th of October in relation to the incident with the Mauritanian president). This was a situation clumsily handled by the Malian Army. But for Amnesty International to claim that it was a crime against Humanity is way exaggerated. The vehicle refused to stop at a military check point in a climate of heightened security despite warning shots being fired in the air repeatedly.


Blogger David said...

It seemed fairly balanced to me, trying to be as precise as it could in chronicling atrocities on both sides. That the insurgents' actions in Timbuktu and elsewhere are going to be found as much more frequent is not the point: the Malian army's 'extrajudicial killngs' don't look good. This is maybe an inevitable consequence of war, but it's horrible.

11:02 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Yes, it is of course horrible, but my point is that the incident of the 16 Muslim preachers used by Amnesty International and cited by the Guardian as a Malian Army atrocity is not relevant in my opinion. They were not killed in cold blood, they refused to stop at an Army Checkpoint!

11:09 AM  
Blogger Laurent said...

It has to be remembered when reading these newspaper stories that they are fed to the media by one group who needs the publicity to remain in the public eye. It is unlikely that the media has much presence in Mali or even much knowledge of the actual situation and such a story sells well. In other words keep it simple and use words like crimes against humanity or other loaded expressions to attract readers attention. It also feeds into the mindset of public opinion that if it comes from Africa or some other far away continent it must be bad. Unfortunately the public's attention span is short.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Susan Scheid said...

Sophie: I saw this in the New York Times just now (click here; the video is here), and thought you might like to see it, if you hadn’t yet. Most if not all of the musicians David mentions in his post up now participated in the creation of the video. In case the hyperlinks don’t work, here are the web addresses for the article and the video: and I follow your reports with interest and concern as always. Stay safe, and may all be well.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Kim Hart said...

Hi Sophie
Though I dont often post anything, I continue to read your blog daily - as many say - its just about the only way to get any reliable info on the situation in Mali - listening right now to more 'hot air' on TV! We also read Andy Morgans blog - you probably know it: www.andymorganwrites. He has several extensive pieces on the historical background to the current situation that make for interesting reading. The big piece from his upcoming book seems especially good 'Guns, cigarettes & Salafi dreams: the roots of AQIM' and it would be interesting to hear if you concur with some of his conclusions!
Keep safe!
Kim Hart

11:10 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Thank you Susan for the link to the song- it was good to see and hear this in the London mid-winter, the message is of course a little muddled- Peace, yes, but how?
Kim, I read the Andy Morgan piece- very interesting and detailed. One important thing he points out is that it is not just a clearly north/south or racial lightskinned/dark skinned divide. But although he claims that there are Bambara and Songhai etc fighting on the Islamist side, I would still say that I really don't think the Islamists have been able to infiltrate the general population in Mali to any great extent. Their ideas are just too alien for the Malians, who are a tolerant people who like to enjoy life: they love their music and their sport, especially football- it is difficult to think that the Islamists will find this a fertile ground for converts.

3:24 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home