January 03, 2008

Petition For Peace In Niger












To view / sign the Petition, go to:


FRENCH:
http://www.PetitionOnline.com/plpanf07/petition.html

ENGLISH:
http://www.PetitionOnline.com/pinnne07/petition.html

GERMAN:
http://www.PetitionOnline.com/fidrnd07/petition.html


An English version of the Petition is reproduced below:


To: Government of the Republic of Niger,
United Nations,
European Commission

Since its independence, the state of Niger has been in latent conflict with the Tuareg population living in Nigerien territories. This situation escalated in 1990 with a massacre of this population group in Tchin-Tabaraden and resulted in an armed conflict. After the conclusion of a treaty of peace, which was intended to make allowances for certain claims brought forward by the Tuareg organizations in 1995, this conflict calmed down. Today, it seems that the implementation of the treaty has failed. This has caused new dissatisfaction among the population in the north of Niger.

A new Tuareg movement “Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice” (MNJ, Movement of Nigeriens for Justice) has formed whose central demand is that the peace accords signed in 1995 be met.

Another issue is that the exploitation of the uranium deposits in the regions inhabited by the Tuareg remains an unsolved problem. The local population has practically no benefit from the proceeds gained out of these mineral resources, while the ecological consequences of the uranium production seriously endanger the population and their environment.

We observe that the current crisis is seriously threatening the democratic process in Niger, in particular as the government seems to fall back on out-dated, dictatorial methods in order to gag the press and to impede the freedom of expression of the citizens.

Confronted with this situation and the risks involved for the population in the north of Niger, we make the following observations:

(1) Violations of human rights

(a) Homicides in June 2007

On June 10, 2007, three Tuareg men, very advanced in years, named Sidi Mohamed Imolan – called Kalakoua - Abtchaw Kounfi and Aoussouk Kounfi, two of whom were visually handicapped and a one-legged amputee, were arrested by the Nigerien army near the Tezirzayt well. These three old men were killed during imprisonment. The corpses were left behind near the Tezirzayt well, one of the corpses being dismembered.

On June 17, 2007 the Nigerien head of state, the interior minister and the commandant of the military section Agadez, one after the other, confirmed the death of the three men.

The nomad population of the Tezirzayt valley, including the pupils and the teacher of the local school, were expelled from there by the military.

(b) Homicides in August 2007

On August 26, a patrol of the Nigerien army (FAN) indiscriminately shot an aged man and his little caravan of 11 camels and 4 donkeys on their way from Arlit. This happened 1km and 200m from the Gougaram–Iférouane national road.

(c) Arrests

At the end of August, the president of the Republic Niger, Mamadou Tandja, declared a three-month state of emergency for the department Agadez. Since the time the emergency act has been applied, more than 100 civilians have been temporarily arrested. At least 10 out of these people are still waiting for the accusal and are detained under inhuman conditions.

The taking under arrest and the detention by the army or the police of civilians who are not involved in the armed conflict, and who have not committed any offence to the law, constitutes an act of “arbitrary detention” and therefore a violation of Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

(d) Land mines

According to the inhabitants of the region, the Nigerien army laid landmines around Inferouane. As a direct consequence thereof, the free moving space for the population and their herds is considerably reduced. This means a real threat to the existence of these people. The supply of food has become almost impossible and the little quantities of products available in the market place are offered at unaffordable prices. This situation forces many families to leave the northern region towards the south.

Should the state turn out to be responsible for the laying of mines, the Nigerien government would be guilty of having broken the Ottawa Convention. This Convention prohibits the use, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personal mines in the form of a treaty under international law. Niger ratified the Ottawa Convention as early as 1997; two years later, the Ottawa Convention came into force for all signatory states.

(e) Homicides in September 2007

On September 26, 2007, a patrol of the Nigerien army (FAN, Forces Armées du Niger) stopped several motor vehicles, which were going in a northward direction, near Innazawa and Tadara. The army forced the passengers out and separated the dark-skinned from the light-skinned, who were probably taken for Tuareg. The 12 light-skinned people were then executed by the Nigerien army.

On September 27, 2007, further southwards, near the road between Assamakka and Arlit, the same soldiers captured 22 Tuaregs – men, women and children – in their tents and causelessly shot them to death.

None of the dead persons was involved in the hostilities. There is no accusal against them. They were executed beyond any legal procedure, a fact that constitutes a severe violation of human rights.

The methods applied by the FAN and by the Nigerien government strongly conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention, and can not be accepted.

(2) Ecological impact of the uranium mining

For more than 30 years, the company AREVA and its Nigerien subsidiary companies have extracted uranium from mines in the region around Arlit (in northern Niger). Huge quantities of radioactive waste rock are produced, which would have to be deposited sealed off from the environment for thousands of years. In the uranium mining region around Arlit, however, the radioactive waste is deposited open-air and, among other things, is blown over the area by the wind. The radioactive substances leak into the groundwater and get into the food chain, representing a considerable threat for nature, animals and human beings. These facts were confirmed by a study prepared by CRIIRAD (Commission de Recherche et d'Information Indépendantes sur la Radioactivité) in spring 2007.

In order to dramatically increase (double) the uranium production and exports, the Nigerien government has issued exploration licenses to North-American, Chinese and French companies in the past few months. The consequences for the environment and for the people and animals living in this region (Environmental Impact Studies) have not been studied. Since the beginning of 2007 more than 122 licenses have been issued to foreign companies - in a region which traditionally is characterized by stock-breeding and some agriculture. These agricultural activities constitute the economic basis for the local population. Even more alarming are the circumstances under which these extraction licenses have been granted. The Nigerien press repeatedly broached the issue of the awarding process and talks about a dubious license market.

It is unacceptable that uranium is extracted under conditions undermining the environmental law and that the industrialized countries’ energy supply is provided via destruction of the ecologic system of the Nigerien population.

(3) Violations of the freedom of the press and the freedom of opinion


Since the outbreak of the conflicts between MNJ and the Nigerien government, the freedom of the press has substantially been violated in the country:

• The independent local newspaper “Aïr-Info” in Agadez, which had reported on the conflict, was banned from publishing for three months (June – August).

• Three other newspapers from Niamey, that had reported on the disruptions, got a warning;

• The French radio station RFI (Radio France Internationale) was banned from broadcasting for one month (July – August) after having protested against the prohibition of sending reporters to the conflict zone in northern Niger and having reported on the conflict. The RFI reporter and correspondent, Moussa Kaka, was threatened with death by a high Nigerien military.

• On September 20, 2007, Moussa Kaka, correspondent of RFI, was arrested.

• On October 9, 2007, Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, chief editor of the local newspaper “Aïr-Info” was arrested.

Both journalists had repeatedly reported on the conflict and are still under arrest without due process of law. The motives of the imprisonment have internationally been denounced in the meantime (by Reporters Sans Frontières and the international committee for the protection of journalists).

The repeated breach of the freedom of the press and the freedom of opinion is inconsistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and therefore unacceptable!

In the light of these facts, we demand:

• As a matter of principal, a peaceful solution of the conflict through
negotiations and the immediate stopping of military actions;

• Clarification of how the homicide of the three elderly Tuareg men by the FAN on June 10, 2007 near Tezirzayt could happen;

• Clarification of how the homicide of an aged Tuareg and his animals, coming from the market place, who was shot by FAN on August 26, 2007 near Arlit, could happen;

• Investigation of the incidents that occurred on September 26 and 27 in the border area between Iferouane, Gougaram and Assamakka, and which led to the execution of 34 Tuareg civilians by the FAN;

• Surrender of the responsible persons for an independent trial;

• Observance of the Ottawa Convention of 1999;

• Protection of the civilian population and cessation of arbitrary convictions and of extrajudicial arrests and executions according to UN Conventions;

• Observance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

• Observance of the Geneva Convention;

• Independent investigations on the environmental impact of the uranium production (fauna, flora, water, air) on the entire food chain, the people living in this region and on their health;

• Stopping the issue of new exploration licenses without comprehensive and independent studies on the environmental impact, for uranium and any other mineral resources (like e.g. gold, oil etc.);

• Discharge of the journalists arrested and restoration of the freedom of the press.


Sources:

- Reuters press agency: http://www.reuters.com/, http://africa.reuters.com/NE/
- Agence France Presse: http://www.afp.com/
- Website of the MNJ: http://m-n-j.blogspot.com/
- Eye witness accounts


The following Organizations support this petition (as of December 12th 2007) :

- Association Alhak n Akal, Arlit, Niger
- Association pour la Promotion Culturelle Tufat, Agadez, Niger
- Collectif de Femmes du Printemps Noir de Kabylie, Algeria
- ADHUC Droits de l'Homme et Univers Carcéral, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
- ERND Institute (Environnement, Ressources Naturelles et Développement), Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
- Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones, N’Djamena, Tchad
- Association Horé poulakou, Cameroon

- Menschenrechte 3000 e.V (Droits de l’Homme 3000), Freiburg, Germany
- Netzwerk Afrika-Deutschland e.V., Bonn / Berlin, Germany
- Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker (GfbV) Deutschland
- INFOE Institut für Ökologie und Aktions-Ethnologie e.V., Köln, Germany
- Redaktion AFRICAlive, Berlin, Germany
- BBU Bundesverband Bürgerinitiativen Umweltschutz (Federal Association of Environmental Actions Groups), Bonn, Germany
- AKU Arbeitskreis Umwelt, Gronau, Germany
- Domega, Dortmunder Menschen gegen Atomanlagen, Dortmund, Germany
- Redaktion aaa, anti atom aktuell, Gorleben, Germany

- Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker (GfbV) Switzerland
- SES Schweizerische Energiestiftung, Zürich, Switzerland
- EvB, Erklärung von Bern, Zürich, Switzerland
- TRAS-ATPN, Trinationaler Atomschutzverband, Association Trinationale de Protection Nucléaire, Deutschland, Frankreich, Switzerland
- Nordwestschweizer Aktionskomitee gegen Atomkraftwerke (NWA), Basel, Switzerland

- Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (ACDN), France
- Collectif Vendéen contre l'Enfouissement des Déchets Nucléaires (COVEDEN), France
- Temoust Association Survie-Touarègue, Lyon, France
- ICRA International (Commission Internationale pour les Droits des Peuples Indigènes), Fontenay-sous-Bois, France
- Entraide Occitano Touarègue, France
- Association ALTERN'INFO, Chazay d'Azergues, France
- MIR Mouvement International de la Réconciliation, Paris, France
- Association Tilalt-Niger, France
- Association Targuinica, Houlbec Cocherel, France
- Artisans du Monde, Angers, France

- AKIN Arbeitskreis Indianer Nordamerikas, Wien, Austria
- Women for Peace, Finland
- Women against Nuclear Power, Finland

Sincerely,

The Undersigned


To view the signatures to date, go to:

FRENCH:
http://www.PetitionOnline.com/plpanf07/petition.html

ENGLISH:
http://www.PetitionOnline.com/pinnne07/petition.html

GERMAN:
http://www.PetitionOnline.com/fidrnd07/petition.html

January 01, 2008

Aghaly ag Alambo: New Year's Speech - In English




Aghaly ag Alambo
President of the Niger Movement for Justice

Photo credit: MNJ


New Year's Speech

Tamgak, Aïr Mountains
Agadez region, Niger
January 1, 2008




Hear the recorded speech HERE

MNJ transcription, in French HERE

TCN Translation, in English:


Dear fighters, Dear fellow citizens,

Eleven months after the start of our struggle for justice, we are highly satisfied with the results achieved. Most of the Aïr is now under the control of our Movement.

We reaffirm more than ever our commitment to the welfare of our populations and respect for human value. We bitterly regret the acts of barbarism committed by our country's army, which, under orders from the President of the Republic, massacres civilians. We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

1 - Despite some organizational difficulties getting our struggle started, our valiant fighters have been able to checkmate the efforts to intimidate us exercised by the power in Niamey. Contrary to the government's campaign of brainwashing and propaganda, trying to make it appear that our fighters were deserting, we welcome with satisfaction the massive numbers of Nigeriens who have rallied to MNJ, including those of the commander Kindo Zada and his brothers in arms, as well as Mr. Boubacar Mohamed Sougouma, Chief of Staff of FARS and his fighters. Our congratulations and encouragement.

2 - The year 2007 ends with a genuine note of appreciation for our Movement in light of our various commando operations. Concerning prospects for 2008, the MNJ is committed on their honor to strengthen and expand its activities, but also to create a climate of serenity across the entire territory which it controls.

We note with regret that ill-intentioned individuals have been engaged in looting on peaceful citizens. The Movement will undertake energetic action with the goal of putting an end to such practices. Any offenders will be put under arrest until the end of the conflict.

Concerning our struggle: this is the place to remind everyone that our struggle is committed more than ever to the search for justice and equity for the whole of our citizenry. In this regard, the MNJ will strive to put an end to trafficking of all kinds and to the numerous misappropriations of public funds, carried out under the aegis of the army and the power of the Fifth Republic at the expense of our dear country.

Contacts are already being made with lawyers, to create a dossier of complaints against the army's supreme commander and the predators of our wealth, before the International Criminal Tribunal for crimes against humanity.

3 - With regard to the exploitation of our mineral resources, the MNJ opposes the distribution of research permits and exploitation on our territory, which do not take into account the development and socio-cultural welfare of our peoples, in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Dear combatants, the struggle for justice has just begun. Today you constitute the hope of our people and our country, through one of the most difficult moments of its existence.

Dear combatants, Dear fellow citizens, may the year 2008 be for us a year of success and justice for our struggle, a year of prosperity and health for all of us.

Long live the struggle for Justice!

Long live Niger!

Thank you,

MNJ President,

Aghaly ag Alambo



December 31, 2007

How the Media Reconstructs Tuareg Culture

On the Internet, there is a great deal of mis-information about Tuareg culture, written by people who do not consult primary sources. Reporters are especially guilty, and students looking for term paper data on the Internet can easily fall prey to information that is false. Students could easily think that well-known news sources are authoritative, but the fact is, many do not do careful research, and students could wind up using such faulty information in their assignments. A primary source, for the purpose of writing about Tuareg culture, would be an authoritative, comprehensive ethnography of the Tuaregs, written by an anthropologist who has lived among the Tuaregs and learned Tuareg culture first-hand, through participant observation. In terms of country facts, students should consult government documents such as the World Factbook.

Tuareg Culture and News has a list of Books in English about the Tuareg people, under the Posts section. The most authoritative, comprehensive ethnography on Tuareg culture in English is:

Johannes Nicolaisen (1963, 1997)
The Pastoral Tuareg: Ecology, Culture and Society (Carlsberg Nomad Series, So2)

For those who are able to read French, the most authoritative, comprehensive ethnography on Tuareg culture in French is:

Edmond Bernus (1983)
Touaregs nigeriens: Unite culturelle et diversite regionale d'un peuple pasteur (Memoires ORSTOM)

Note that both of these ethnographies were written several decades ago.
There still are many Tuareg who continue to make a living herding livestock, and who continue to nomadize with their herds. For many of these Tuareg, their fundamental beliefs and customs haven't changed so much from the ethnographies of the twentieth century. However, there are increasing numbers of Tuareg who have migrated to cities in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and America to pursue higher education, find jobs, or simply escape the poverty, instability and political repression of the countries where they grew up. Historical events, climate change, modernization, and globalization have changed things quite a bit for all Tuaregs over the past 25 years. Check some of the more recent sources on TCN to learn about recent culture change.

Below, TCN has analyzed one recent news article on the Internet, to give readers an idea of the types of mis-information about the Tuaregs that is perpetuated on the Internet.

National Public Radio, a well-known media source, published a July 2, 2007 article on drought in Tuareg regions: "Drought Forces Desert Nomads to Settle Down" (
Jane Greenhalgh).

The article concerns ways in which climate change has affected Tuareg culture.


-- Location: "For centuries, the Tuareg people have lived as nomads, herding their animals from field to field just south of the Sahara Desert in Mali, near Timbuktu."
-- Facts: Timbuktu is in the Sahara, not "just south" of the Sahara. Timbuktu is a Saharan city, located in the southern-central regions of the Sahara. Recommended reading:

Miner, Horace (1965) The Primitive City of Timbuctoo.
This is an authoritative anthropological account of Timbuktu.

-- Subsistence: "Over the past 40 years, persistent drought has forced the Tuareg to give up their wandering way of life."
-- Facts: Drought has forced some Tuareg to give up herding, but not all Tuaregs. Moreover, the term "wandering" makes the Tuareg seem aimless. Tuareg nomadize -- and this involves considerable planning. Each Tuareg family is associated with a particular well, and they nomadize around their "home well" during the dry months of the year. During the shorter rainy season, Tuareg families move their herds to transient summer pastures. Their movements are fairly predictable, and based on a considerable body of ecological knowledge. They do not "wander."

-- Cooking Customs: "They build a fire in a sand pit, and when the sand gets scorching hot, they bury a sheep carcass in it."
-- Facts: Tuareg do not bury a sheep "carcass" in a fire pit. The term "carcass" makes it sound as though the Tuaregs eat like barbarians. In fact, Tuareg ritually slaughter a sheep, and carefully butcher it before cooking it.

-- Eating Habits: "As the women look on, the men of the village sit around the main dish along with Korus and the others from CARE. After the men are through eating, the bones are cleared away for the children and women to pick over..."
-- Facts: This makes it sound as though Tuareg women are like slaves who just cook, clean up, and eat crumbs. It's part of Tuareg women's role to provide gracious hospitality for guests. This isn't a burden, it's a source of pride, both for the women, and for their husbands. They do not "look on" as the men eat, or watch the men eat, because Tuaregs consider it rude to look at each other eating. The point is, Tuareg women are not sequestered, and do not remain in closed tents or kitchen areas like Arab nomad women do. Tuareg women remain public persons, and for this reason, they remain seated in a public space that includes the men and guests, even if they are in a separate group. They are likely to meet and greet visitors, and sit and talk with them for awhile. Although Tuareg men and women socialize together publicly (unlike Arabs), when they eat, the men and women usually eat separately, and for that reason, the women in this case would not join their men in the meal. The leftover food is always conserved and used up; it is never thrown away. Just as an American woman would remove all the meat from the bones after Thanksgiving dinner, a Tuareg woman makes use of all of the meat from a sheep. If there is an excess of food from a meal, a Tuareg woman will store it, to be reheated for breakfast. Certain parts of the sheep are sometimes reserved for women. For example, the liver, which is high in iron, may be saved for a woman who is pregnant or nursing.

-- Diet: "The Tuareg diet has changed from one of meat and cheese to one with more grains and vegetables."
-- Facts: The most essential food in the Tuareg herder's diet is milk -- not meat. The main food that they eat twice a day is porridge (similar to oatmeal) made from millet or other grain, along with copious quantities of fresh milk. They also eat bread, and cheese made from goat milk, as well as wild fruits and vegetables collected seasonally. Tuaregs who are herders rarely eat meat, except for festive occasions, holidays, and when they have guests. The reason they eat little meat is because if they kill female livestock, they won't have the resource base to reproduce the herds, and they will lose their source of milk from lactating animals. They also need to maintain a certain number of livestock to sell at the market so that they can purchase the things they don't produce themselves, such as grain, salt, cooking oil, clothing, and so forth. For Tuaregs, their herds are "food on the hoof." If they butcher too many of them for the meat, they put their resource base at risk. Tuareg herders are excellent resource managers, and know the risks involved with depleting their herds for meat.

-- Property: (Hadijatou, a Tuareg woman in her 30s): "Before, everything was given to us by the men. When you are given what you need by other people, you are dependent on them," says Hadijatou. "But when you are producing what you need you depend on nobody. The life now is far better."
-- Facts: This statement needs some ethnographic background. A Tuareg husband is expected to provide for his family, including his wife. For this reason, a wife and children are "dependents" of the husband. However, in the Tuareg tradition, both men and women receive gifts of livestock while they are growing up, and each can own and control livestock, achieving a measure of economic independence. Also, Tuareg women can earn some income by making cheese and selling it at the market. After the devastating droughts of the 70s and 80s, when many people lost most of their livestock, many Tuareg women had to sell their remaining livestock and their jewelry in order to help the family buy food. Also, the majority of aid agencies have given relief food, blankets, equipment and livestock to "male heads of household" to distribute them, which altered the traditional system. A Tuareg household is organized around a married woman. A tent belongs to the wife, and it is the wife who keeps stock of the food supplies and distributes cooked food. In the case of Tuareg families who have settled and live in banco-brick houses, men may own the houses, following the tradition of settled farmers. For those Tuaregs who make a transition to farming, women's position in society may gradually change over time, and take on some of the gender inequalities of farming peoples. Gardening projects, such as the one featured in the NPR story, were organized largely through the men.

-- Respect for women; views on public education: "Traditionally, the men don't care what the women think. Children don't count for much, either. Mohamed Ag Mustafa, the herder still living the traditional Tuareg lifestyle, says he sees no reason to send his children to school: "Maybe school is useful for people in the cities, but not for us. As far as we are concerned, children are only useful for getting water or keeping an eye on the cattle."
-- Facts: This makes it look as though men have no respect for women, and are ignorant about the benefits of public education, which isn't the case at all. Tuareg women enjoy a degree of social respect that isn't seen in very many Muslim cultures. Tuareg husbands normally talk with their wives and get their advice before moving forward with plans. Children are cherished in Tuareg society, and given important responsibilities when they are little. They learn everything they need to know in order to be successful at herding, through their parents and other relatives, in the context of the home. There is a vast body of knowledge involved in herding, and it takes years to learn it. It can't be learned in the public school, and Tuareg children who leave home to attend a public school will never be able to catch up: they will lose this important knowledge base. At a public school, they will learn how to read and write, usually in a foreign language such as French, and for most of them, this knowledge will be worthless, since there are high rates of unemployment in the countries where they live. The Tuareg father in the NPR story is made to seem ignorant about the benefits of schooling, but in fact he is very wise: the only real chance his children have of maintaining themselves when they grow up is to learn how to produce food through herding or gardening -- which they have to learn at home, by participating in food production and learning the techniques first-hand. Not all Tuaregs will be able to continue as nomadic herders. Some Tuaregs who go to public school, will go on to earn advanced degrees in colleges and universities as they have been. And these will be a great resource to the Tuareg people, too. In a non-industrial society, higher education has its place, but is not necessary or even desirable to those who pursue traditional subsistence. This seems ironic to Westerners, who are accustomed to K-12 schooling, and going to college or getting a job afterward. But for people living in the poorest countries in the world, with no job prospects in sight for most of them, it makes sense.

-- Fatalism: "Ultimately the Tuareg may have no choice; this may be the end of a culture."
-- Facts: It's true that, with increasing desertification brought on by climate change and global warming, it may not be possible for all Tuareg to continue as they did in the past. The rainfall in the Sahara is erratic; drought is the result of lack of rain. There will be good years and bad years. There will be fewer good years with increasing desertification. However, there will still be some opportunities for some Tuareg to continue as they have, while other Tuareg may have to become farmers or migrate to other lands to seek alternate livelihoods. The fact is, in the vast regions of the Sahara where the Tuareg live, they have developed the technical knowledge and skills to survive there, whether there are droughts or not. Their culture is not static; over hundreds and thousands of years, they have continually adapted and changed to meet changing situations. The Tuareg who continue this way of life are likely to continue to develop new technologies and new strategies. In the Sahara, farming is not possible without the enormously expensive technologies we have in America -- sprinkler systems, tractors, and so forth, which are most successful with agro-business and major capital. The pastoral Tuareg have pursued a way of life that doesn't require major capital, and that allows them to maintain more autonomy. They are the only people who know how to produce food in the desert without expensive technology. Water and pasture shortages may force some Tuareg to leave herding and seek some other alternative. But others will continue as they have for centuries, and make improvements as it becomes possible for them, whether aid agencies help them or not. They are practical, resourceful, and highly intelligent people.

What is more threatening to the Tuareg way of life,
and to Tuareg culture,
are not so much the recurrent droughts,
but the marginalization and ethnic hatred
to which the Tuareg people are subjected in the countries where they live.
Government hate campaigns, massacres,
and exclusion from basic national resources
-- development funds, jobs, health care --
are the most significant threats to Tuareg culture.


December 28, 2007

Search for the Masked Tawareks

W. J. Harding King, A Search for the Masked Tawareks. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1903.

Chapter XVI, Page 224:

"The Tawareks may, roughly speaking, be said to hold, with the exception of the Twat depression and a strip of desert along the Atlantic Coast, the whole of the Sahara from Timbuktu in the south right up to the southern boundary of Algeria, and to extend as far east as the western frontiers of Tripoli and Fezzan."

"The French lay claim to the whole of this immense region, and of late years have been poaching upon the Tawarek preserves, and, by establishing a few small outposts in the oases, have attempted to obtain some control over the trade routes and to protect them as far as possible from the attacks of these marauders. They will, there is little doubt, succeed in controlling the trade, but they have as yet no power to protect the routes, for though the French publishers may issue maps in which the Sahara is painted red to mark it as a French possession, this does not by any means constitute them the rulers of the country, and no greater mistake can be made than to suppose that it is they who rule the Sahara."

"The Tawarek rules it. . . . Mounted on his swift mehari, armed with his sword and iron lance, he is monarch of all he surveys."

-- Written in 1903

William Joseph Harding King (1869-1933), explorer, FRGS, was educated at Jesus College Cambridge. He travelled extensively in the north African deserts. In 1900 and 1908 he was in the Western Sahara and in 1909-1912 he explored the central portions of the Libyan Desert. He took part in 1913 with Oric Bates in the archaeological expedition to Marmarica. He was the author of two books - A Search for the Masked Tawareks (1903) and Across the Libyan Desert (1923) - and a number of articles.

-- University of Exeter, Academic Services

Articles by W. J. Harding King:

"Travels in the Libyan Desert", The Geographical Journal, Vol:39 (1912), pp:133-137;192

"The Lybian Desert from native information", The Geographical Journal, Vol:42 (1913), pp:277-283;320
"The Farafra Depression and Bu Mungar Hattia", The Geographical Journal, Vol:42 (1913), pp:455-461;516
"A Study of a Dune Belt", The Geographical Journal, Vol:51 (1918), pp:17-33;251-258
"Mysteries of the Lybian Desert", London, 1925

-- The Libyan Desert, History and Exploration


December 27, 2007

Climate of Repression in Niger

Four innocent Tuareg civilians in a common grave, tortured and executed by Niger's Army in reprisal, after the army lost four of their men to the rebels in the North.
Two farmers, a herdsman, and a holy man.

Photo credit: MNJ

With local and international reporters incarcerated and awaiting death sentences for even interviewing the rebels for their news reports,
who would dare speak out for justice
-- except for rebels?

"There is no voice of the people
that would dare speak out
against the current dictatorship."


-- Ahmed Akoli, political secretary for MNJ. December 21, 2007


For Americans, it is difficult to imagine living in a country where freedom of speech and of the press is restricted by government. Our Bill of Rights guarantees it. We expect it. We feel that it's an important part of democracy. Americans are often shocked when they visit a country that doesn't permit it.

Niger is one such country that heavily restricts the media from publishing certain news or opinions that the government deems controversial. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press have always been suppressed in Niger, but new levels of media repression have emerged during President Tandja's administration. Over the past few months, the president has had numerous news reporters arrested and deported or incarcerated who interview the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) or write stories about the conflict in the north that do not support his political viewpoints.

The Tuaregs and other Nigeriens live in a climate of repression, afraid to speak out on injustices in the country. Since Independence, Niger has gone from one military coup or presidential assassination to the next. Tandja was a participant in a coup d'etat in 1974, and came to power in 1999 after the country's president was assassinated. Some Nigeriens, including members of MNJ, believe that Tandja and his cronies were involved. Tandja absolved the perpetrators of the assassination in the new constitution, and whoever committed the assassination has gone unpunished, despite a year 2000 Amnesty International appeal for resolution of the murder, which has continued to affect the social and political climate in Niger.

July, 2007: The U.S. Embassy in Niger brought a noted media expert to Niger to "raise awareness among Nigerien journalists, media executives and government officials on the roles and responsibilities of the media in a democracy." U.S. News & World Report journalist Eduardo Cue took part in U.S. Embassy-sponsored activities over a five-day period, including "a two-day media training conference which included journalists from throughout the country." He also spoke to numerous social activist groups and NGO leaders about the media’s responsibility, and emphasized that "freedom of the press and responsible journalism are essential components of a democracy, since the public’s right to information is the cornerstone of a free society."

Following the U.S. Embassy's efforts to encourage freedom of the press in Niger, the government of Niger began to crack down even more harshly on reportage covering the ongoing conflict in the north. Since then, numerous Nigerien and foreign reporters have been intimidated, arrested, detained, and incarcerated, for news coverage on the current crisis in Tuareg areas of the North. (For highlights, see TCN's story on the human rights situation in Niger).

Reporters, humanitarian agencies, and NGOs in general are strictly controlled in travel to "the North," where they might directly observe the situation, collect first-hand interviews and obtain local news. The government of Niger is keeping foreigners out of the North who might report on the political, economic and social conditions affecting the Tuareg people, particularly the conflict. Foreign non-government organizations that serve the Tuareg people have been closely monitored or banned from the region, partly because of the dangers involved in the conflict zone, and partly because of the government's campaign to prevent any reportage that is sympathetic to the Tuareg rebels or the conditions of the rural Tuareg people.

Oct. 24: Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which is accustomed to working in dangerous conflict zones to provide emergency health care, was forced to leave the Agadez region on government orders. MSF had just opened a new health care program in early October at Dabaga, 50 km north of Agadez in the Air Mountains in the middle of the conflicted area. They had to leave the region after two attacks on their vehicles (Oct. 16 and 22), attributed to unidentified men who MSF says were members of the rebel group (MNJ has not accepted the blame). The MSF vehicles were traveling along roads that run out of Agadez into the Air Mountains, where the Niger army and Tuareg rebels have been fighting since Feb. 2007. It is a region where smugglers and occasional bandits also travel. Tuaregs in the Air Mountains have suffered from malnutrition and untreated illnesses because food supplies have been irregular or stemmed as a result of the conflict.

Nov. 14: Libya sent humanitarian food aid to help 500 displaced families in the Air region, specifically around Iferwan and Tabelot, but the government of Niger refused to allow an airlift of the emergency food from Tripoli to Agadez. These families have been victims of abuse by the Niger army and were forced to leave their home villages in early November. MNJ says that the power elites are holding the food in Niamey, which they will sell or use for their own profit. This claim is not unwarranted, since it has been standard practice in the past.

Nov. 28: Perhaps the last reporter to actually travel to the north and cover the conflict without complications was Phuong Tran, with Voice of America. In late November, she traveled with the Tuareg rebels for 11 days, and reported via satellite telephone from "an undisclosed location in Niger." Her reporting was guarded, and she avoided saying anything critical of the government of Niger, except to say that Tandja had recently held a meeting to discuss how to "finish off" the rebels, and that Tandja has "refused to negotiate with them."

Dec. 15: Humanitarian efforts to help the Tuaregs are hampered at nearly every turn by the Niger authorities. Air-Info reported on December 15 that a 63-year old French woman, Josette P., president of an NGO for economic development (Dev-France), was arrested in Agadez. Her organization had been supporting local initiatives and helping Tuaregs through grants and micro-credit projects. Two days before her arrest, the police had questioned her about suspected connections with the MNJ, which she categorically denied. Nevertheless, she has been detained for two weeks at the penal facility in Agadez.

Dec. 17: Two well-known French TV journalists, veterans of news coverage in African conflict zones, were arrested on December 17 for travel to the north without permission and conducting filmed interviews with the MNJ. Reporter Thomas Dandois and cameraman Pierre Creisson remain in jail in Niger facing a death penalty.

Dec. 19: The human-rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch recently went to Niger to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in the North, in the conflicted Tuareg regions, but apparently they were restricted to the capitol city, Niamey, to collect interviews and data. Based on their own accounts, it seems as though they were not permitted to travel beyond Niamey, which is almost 1,000 miles from the conflict region in the North, and were limited to trying to find people from Agadez who happened to be in Niamey at the time of their visit.

Amnesty International apparently relied on reports they had received, as well as one voice contact (mode not specified) with a Tuareg who had directly observed the body of his kinsman who was slaughtered, and described the evidence of torture from cigarette burns, whipping, and shots to the face and chest.

Human Rights Watch said they conducted interviews in Niamey and Dakar, the capitol of Senegal on the Atlantic coast, which does not even border Niger. It appears that their main evidence supporting allegations that MNJ had laid landmines came from the *opinions* of foreign military analysts and diplomats. They said they had interviewed "several rebels" who admitted placing landmines, but it is not clear how they were able to interview MNJ rebels operating in the Air Mountains, if the rights agencies were limited to interviews in Niamey and Dakar. Nor is it clear exactly who the people were that were interviewed, and in what way they are allegedly connected with the MNJ. The MNJ has been regularly documenting the use of Chinese landmines by the Armed Forces of Niger since July, and has continually emphasized that MNJ is not laying mines. As recently as Dec. 21, 2007, MNJ spokesman Ahmed Akoli stated: "The MNJ maintains the position that it always has, which is not to harm civilians or private interests. We know that the Government is prepared to do anything to try to discredit our movement because we take on the debate of the real issues that affect the country's future."

On the question of landmines, there is some contradiction in the reportage. A Niamey-based news source L'Union recently reported that two Tuareg men connected with MNJ were apprehended in Tanout, for allegedly laying landmines in front of the Prefet's home in Tahoua on Dec. 18. However, the independent newspaper Le Republicain asks why the Nigerien authorities are not being more diligent about pursuing the "real" perpetrators, and questions whether or not the men arrested at Tanout were actually the guilty ones. Given the government's campaign to demonize the Tuaregs on the national radio and television (see MNJ blog -Highlights in English) it is not clear whether or not the arrested men were framed, in order to support the government's policies.

It appears there has been some confusion among the various news agencies about whether MNJ is willing to negotiate peace. In an article titled, "Niger Rebels Attack Convoy, Refuse to Negotiate," VOA recently reported that MNJ refuses to negotiate with the government; in the same article, VOA states, "The government has refused to negotiate with them." The headline says that the rebels refuse to negotiate: but the fact appears to be, and VOA does affirm, Tandja is the one who refuses to negotiate. MNJ has repeatedly appealed for negotiations with the government for the past year, and has maintained a steady log that illustrates this on their website. MNJ has pointed out that the government of Niger is corrupt and unstable, a façade of democracy, dominated by clan-connected power elites, and that it would be difficult for them to negotiate with such a government; they do not feel the government would be willing to meet their demands (see Temoust's interview with Ahmed Akoli for the list of MNJ's demands). However, they have shown their willingness to negotiate numerous times over the past year in statements that are available to the public online (MNJ blog). What is clear is that President Tandja has consistently refused to acknowledge the MNJ movement and to take any step that would open up proper negotiations toward peace.


Sources:

Air-Info
A French female, citizen of France, 63 years old, detained in the penal facility at Agadez.
Air-Info, No. 68, Dec. 15, 2007
(Reported in TamTamInfo, Google English translation)

Amnesty International
Niger: The Right To Justice. 2000 report.
Niger: Extrajudicial executions and population displacement in the north of the country.

December 19, 2007 report.

BBC
MSF forced out of northern Niger. October 24, 2007.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
Doctors Without Borders Halts Activities in Niger. October 24, 2007.

Human Rights Watch (report)
Warring Sides Must End Abuses of Civilians.
Dec. 19, 2007.

International Herald Tribune (IHT) - Associated Press
Reporters Without Borders urges release of 2 French journalists detained in Niger
.
December 20, 2007.

Le Republicain - Oumarou Keita
Propagation de l'Insecurite: Les Mines et Blogs de la Desolation! December 20, 2007

Mouvement Nigerien pour la Justice (MNJ)
Food Aid Diverted by Niamey. November 14, 2007.

The Union (copied in TamTamInfo) - Ousmane Dambadji
Insecurity in the North: Mine-Layers Apprehended at Tanout.
L'UNION N° 17. December 26, 2007.

U.S. Embassy, Niamey, Niger
U.S Expert Explains Role of the Media in a Democratic Society. 2007 Press Release.

Voice of America - Joe De Capua
Tuareg rebels gathering strength in Niger. November 28, 2007.

Voice of America
Niger Rebels Attack Convoy, Refuse to Negotiate
. 05 December 2007

December 25, 2007

MNJ Blog - Highlights in English

This English translation of MNJ's posts (in French) on their website is intended for educational purposes, to enable English-speakers without any knowledge of French to access primary sources on the Tuareg-led rebellion in Niger that are written in French. Primary sources in English can be difficult to come by when researching Tuareg culture, and for this reason Tuareg Culture and News is making an effort to supply sources in English wherever possible.

What is a "primary resource"? ALA definition of "primary resources":

"Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, documents produced by government agencies such as Congress or the Office of the President, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons. These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past, and when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research."

-- American Library Association website: CLICK HERE

The Nigerien Tuareg-led MNJ movement maintains a website where they regularly post news about the conflict in Niger. Below is an English translation of highlights from, or in many cases complete posts from, the MNJ website. The MNJ website, in French may be found HERE. A rough Google English translation (which sometimes has gross errors) of MNJ's website may be found HERE. For maps of Niger, including a map of MNJ attack sites (as of August 2007), refer to the TCN list, below the posts. This list of highlights will be updated from time to time.

Dates on the left represent dates of publication on MNJ's website:

MNJ = Mouvement Nigerien pour la Justice (Niger Movement for Justice)

FAN = Forces Armées du Niger (Niger's Armed Forces)

2007:

[Feb. 8]: Initial MNJ attack on Iferwan's FAN military post (mentioned in April 19 blog)

Wed. April 18: MNJ Statement of purpose, administrative organization, claims and demands.

Thurs. April 19: (2nd) Attack in the vicinity of Iferwan. Results: FAN lost one vehicle; several soldiers killed; MNJ took matériel.

Sat. April 21: MNJ attacked FAN military attachment supporting Areva's third uranium mining site, Imoraren (under construction). Results: FAN lost 2 soldiers, several wounded. MNJ took several vehicles and material. The attack was a "warning to Areva."

Sun. April 22: Skirmish at Tezirzayt and Abargot. Results: "FAN suffered heavy losses." MNJ exploded FAN's VLRa vehicle and destroyed 5 other FAN vehicles.

Mon. April 28: Attack 3km south of Iferwan. Results: "There were no FAN survivors." MNJ destroyed 1 FAN army truck and several 4x4 vehicles.

Fri. May 11: FAN troops "still arriving in the Air."

Sun. May 13: Reprint of article in the journal World, says that, since the attacks in April, MNJ has not carried out other actions, and FAN "has been bombarding our positions without success." Nearly 700 Tuaregs have joined MNJ, many from exile in Algeria and Libya. The MNJ VP Acharif says they get their weapons from neighboring countries or Ivory Coast. They get their funds from Tuareg merchants in neighboring countries. MNJ leader Aghaly Alambo says MNJ does *not* get funds from a foreign state.

Wed. May 23: FAN desertions to MNJ are increasing.

Sun. June 3: MNJ intercepted "a group of drug traffickers" with 600 kilos of drugs, a launcher and several sophisticated weapons, which the MNJ took. They said the traffickers were in the pay of politicians and traders residing in Niamey. MNJ is committed to stopping the flow of drugs in the north.

Tues. June 5: Clash "in the North," triggered by FAN following MNJs interception of their "drug traffickers, working on behalf of politicians and traders in Niamey." Results: FAN lost 18 soldiers; MNJ lost 5; several injured. Later: FAN reprisal: FAN arrested 2 civilians "for no reason."

Sun. June 10: MNJ says 3 civilians are missing, and they have no news.

Fri. June 15: FAN slaughtered the 3 civilians they had arrested on June 2: Sidi Mohamed Imolan (Kalakoua), Abtchaw Kounfi, Aoussouk Kounfi

Sat. June 16: Government of Niger confirmed the death of the 3 civilians [June 5], claiming they had participated in the death of 18 soldiers killed in the latest clash. These three victims were elderly, arrested in their village.

Mon. June 18: MNJ attacked Agadez airport on Sun., June 17, to demonstrate that MNJ controls the north.

Fri. June 22: MNJ "undertaking major offensive around Tezirzayt, in response to recent FAN crimes in northern Niger." Results: FAN lost 15 soldiers in battle, 43 wounded, and MNJ took 72 prisoners. FAN was led by Capt. Dauda Nouhou (shot and wounded, taken prisoner). MNJ lost one man.

Tues. June 26: Confession of Capt. Dauda Nouhou: he says he is responsible for the massacre of the three civilians in Tezirzayt, who were executed.

Wed. June 27: 25 men from FNIS have deserted FAN to join MNJ; several senior FAN officers were threatened with arrest for sympathy toward MNJ.

Thurs. June 28: MNJ freed 30 wounded prisoners; Int'l Red Cross took them to Arlit. Appeal to Amnesty International to go to northern Niger and identify the missing civilians and victims of abuses by the army. MNJ has identified more than 253 civilians reported missing following the FAN arrests.

Fri. June 29: Government of Niger accused the highest ranking military officer in Agadez, Commander of zone, Seydou Zada, of intelligence with MNJ and drug trafficking. Thus any officer who shows sympathy to MNJ will be incarcerated.

Tues. July 3: Tandja and Tchanga are using Treasury funds to buy Russian helicopters (MI-24), and recruiting Ukranian mercenaries, helicopter pilots, to shell MNJ bases; these helicopters were used in the war in Chechnya and Sudan.

Wed. July 4: Reminder that Tandja was behind the May 1990 massacre at Tchintabaraden, where 3,200 innocent Tuareg civilians were slaughtered by FAN, and FAN was then *applauded* publicly at the National Conference in Niamey. These crimes were never punished.

Sat. July 7: The FAN weapons recovered at Tezirzayt were Chinese weapons. [China has been supplying weapons to Tandja to help him kill Tuaregs around the uranium mines where the Chinese want to exploit uranium.] Tandja's kinsman who is facilitating uranium permits to China obtained a 30 Billion CFA franc advance, for mining at Teggida n-Tessumt for August 2007. Tandja's family is making the uranium mines a family property. Warning to Chinese companies, no foreigner will be safe. MNJ asks all foreigners to leave the conflict zone in the north, for their safety.

Tues. July 10: MNJ attack on mining company, SONICHAR, as a warning to uranium companies, electricity supply may be interrupted.

Sat. July 14: For several weeks, TV Sahel (dubbed "Tele SaHaine" - Hate TV) has been insulting the Tuareg people. Two government representatives received huge payments to denounce Tuaregs on national television for 3 hours: Sanoussi Jakou and Nouhou Arzika, on Monday July 9. They spoke in Hausa and Djerma, to incite these ethnic groups against the Tuaregs. Paid by Albade Abouba, Minister of the Interior. The government official accused Libya of financing MNJ. MNJ says this is *false.* Keep in mind that Gaddafi has shown support for Tandja, gave him 4 billion CFA for the organization of Maoulid, and weapons, including 24, 4x4 vehicles. [Right after that, Gaddafi sued two Niamey newspapers that claimed he was supporting the rebels; he denies helping the MNJ. For years, Gaddafi has appeared to be making gestures toward the Tuaregs - only because he wants to set up a (Libyan) Islamic state that would include their lands, which the Tuaregs have stoutly resisted.

Mon. July 16: First mention of landmines [same time as the Chinese were giving weapons to Niger] On July 15, a landmine exploded a truck 300 meters from the FAN military base at 8 AM, near Gougaram. It was one of the numerous tracks joining the principal road Agadez-Iferwan at the Gougaram crossroads. MNJ sentinels on Gougaram Mountain notified MNJ that FAN had laid landmines during the night. MNJ began clearing FAN's landmines the next morning. Notice also that MNJ has cleared landmines around Zomo, the area west of Timia, and the area Assodey between Iferwan and Timia. Also, FAN has scattered Chinese landmines in the valleys of the Air. MNJ urged civilians to avoid the nearby military positions, and avoid travel, or travel with convoys of FAN, throughout this territory. FAN has forbidden trucks from the food cooperative at Tchintoulous. FAN has cut food supplies to the northern Air region.

Wed. July 18: FAN Cdt Kindo joined MNJ, along with "dozens of soldiers aboard a score [20] of 4x4 vehicles."

Thurs. July 19: Col. Seydou Zada, area commander of Agadez, accuses senior FAN officers with drug trafficking and intelligence with "the enemy."

Fri. July 20: Clash at Abardok; FAN lost 5 soldiers, several wounded. MNJ defeated FAN. FAN REPRISALS: The army arrested 4 civilians, and their families have no news; FAN burned 2 homes, destroyed 3 civilians' motorcycles. The civilians have no connection with MNJ. Also, Air-Info newspaper was suspended, and 3 others placed on notice; Radio RFI (French International Radio) has been banned for one month because they have been airing news that seems sympathetic to MNJ. Today, one of the officials of the Civil Company at Arlit who was sympathetic to MNJ cause joined MNJ after receiving direct threats. No freedom of opinion or expression in Niger. Tchanga refuses to allow Zada to resume his post, despite pressure.

Sat. July 21: Issiakou Dantani, MNJ in Norway, joined MNJ; call to Nigeriens to join MNJ.

Mon. July 23: Gougaram-Iferwan road: MNJ destroyed FAN truck with an RPG-7 launcher; FAN lost a dozen soldiers died. MNJ also destroyed a 4x4, 15 killed. (date not given; presumed July 23); yesterday [July 20], 5-6 PM, MNJ destroyed a FAN 4x4 using a 14/5, and six soldiers died.

Sat. July 28: Mohamed Abdoulaye Hamadou (Zola Kambessikone) declares his affiliation with MNJ.

Sun. July 29: FAN embargoed Iferwan. Civilians cannot move freely for fear of stepping on one of the landmines that FAN has laid.

Tues. July 31: The FAN laid landmines when they were around Toraya for five days, and wound up destroying a Bilma FNIS vehicle headed to Agadez, and killing 4 of their own soldiers, wounded several others. The FAN leaves landmines all around the places where they camp that even kill other soldiers. More soldiers are joining MJN: FNIS Capt. of Iferwan just arrived with 7 of his men, in a vehicle 4x4. A dozen civilians have been arrested, and there is no news of them. ABUSES: The soldiers at Iferwan stopped a camel rider and beat him before releasing him.

Thurs. Aug 9: MNJ attacked FAN based in Tchirozerine. Following the Iferwan clashes, FAN has dispersed into the population, and MNJ will find them wherever they are.

Fri. Aug. 10: FAN fired 5 shells on MNJ positions on the outskirts of Agadez, and a FAN shell fell on a family (couple) in Oumourdan Maghas. Agadez Youth Association expressed anger over FAN killing a family (a couple) asleep in the open. Agadez citizens also met with the Sultan, who is the Youth Assn. president. The shells used by MNJ are class 106 mm, while the ones that killed the young couple came from the military, who use 120 mm. So now the FAN are attacking and killing people in the cities.

Mon. Aug. 20: FAN has laid thousands of landmines scattered across the landscape in the North; FAN stepped on one of their own landmines around Inbaktan, Agadez, and 4 soldiers died, 3 wounded. "The laying of landmines has become the only FAN tactical defense, and by doing this, they have put civilians at risk."

Tues. Aug 21: Gougaram, 100 FAN vehicles heading out to attack MNJ. Results: At 11 AM, MNJ killed 17 FAN soldiers, and destroyed 2 vehicles. MNJ also destroyed 4 more military vehicles, and killed dozens of soldiers on board. On Aug. 23, MNJ destroyed 2 vehicles (a truck and a 4x4), along with their occupants.

Sun. Sept. 2: Following the fighting in Gougaram, which caused dozens of FAN deaths and the loss of several FAN vehicles, MNJ got reports that several of the civilians had disappeared. They discovered that, as the FAN withdrew, they killed several innocent civilians with their livestock, in revenge. On Aug. 26, the FAN moved along the Iferwan-Gougaram road, firing with heavy weapons on animals and nomads living there. Thus a FAN canon killed a caravan of 11 camels, 5 donkeys and one elderly person (Hitane Takho) from Arlit, whose body was riddled with bullets and poorly buried. All their belongings were washed away and 6 other civilians were reported missing (gives list). Carcasses and the ashes of their belongings were found half a mile from the National Gougaram-Iferwan. These people were coming from Arlit to resupply their camps. (Photos of the destruction)

Thurs. Sept. 6: (Sept. 7) Yesterday evening (Sept. 6) MNJ attacked the military post at Agharous; captured 6 soldiers as prisoners; took ammunition and the vehicle.

Mon. Sept. 10: Hayo Moussa, former FAN [Niger Army] Sargent from Diffa, joined MNJ along with 15 of his men.

Tues. Sept. 11: Issouf ag Maha asks the international community to help the people of Niger in this painful moment of their lives. [TCN's story about Issouf ag Maha, in English]

Wed. Sept. 12: MNJ announced a cease-fire for the month of Ramadan. "This shows the willingness of MNJ to not get bogged down in violence, and enable families to go about in peace this month."

Sun. Sept 16: MNJ discovered a mass grave of 30 camels massacred by FAN, which occurred Aug. 25-26 when FAN was moving from Iferwan. Meanwhile, MNJ apprehended a group of gunmen in 2 vehicles, including one that was stolen from Arlit. MNJ released 14 prisoners of war on Sept. 17, thus demonstrating their commitment to the respect of human rights and willingness to find a peaceful solution.

Sat. Sept. 22: Even though MNJ has released 66 FAN soldiers and called a cease-fire, Tandja has had increasing numbers of civilians arrested and "deported" to Niamey, leaving their families without news. Everybody knows these civilians have nothing to do with MNJ.

Thurs. Sept. 27: Tandja and his government are doing everything possible to spread propaganda saying that MNJ is laying landmines. This is *false.* MNJ is sacrificing itself to defend the future, and develop the country, not destroy it by laying landmines. MNJ has never used such weapons, because they cause harm to civilians in the short, medium and long run.

Sun. Sept. 30: The MNJ announced the names of top Niger government officials who are involved in international drug trafficking and corruption: Albade Abouba (Minister of the Interior), Ben Omar (Minister of Communication), Djida Hamadou (Minister of Defense), Tchanga (FAN Chief of Staff), Abba Malam Yahaya, Boucar, Yan Daka (the current and former Commander of Agadez, and governor), among them - all are paid into a drug trafficking across the Nigerien Sahara, in complicity with Nigerien traders. Tandja himself is the head of this "mafia."

Mon. Oct. 1: FAN massacred 12 Tuareg civilians on the border with Algeria. After making passengers get out of 5 vehicles, they separated the blacks from the non-blacks, and executed the non-blacks. The remaining passengers reported the facts in Arlit and Tamanrasset. Why isn't the UN condemning these racial hate crimes? Are these Tuareg civilians excluded from the "Universal Human Rights" declaration?

Tues. Oct. 2: FAN from Assamaka [border post near Algeria] massacred 22 Tuareg civilians "because of their skin color," while international institutions remain silent, in complicity. MNJ lists 12 more people massacred by FAN. The massacres occured between Innazawa and Tadara, north of Iferwan, on Sept. 27. Two of them were Algerians. They were executed before several eyewitnesses who are now at Tamanghasset and Arlit. How many deaths will it take, before the UN reacts? Since the start of the conflict in Feb. 2007, no civilian of any ethnicity has been threatened by MNJ. Meanwhile, Tandja has appointed Boureima Maliki as Army Inspector General, the same person who committed heinous atrocities on Tuareg civilians in the last rebellion, and was never punished for his crimes.

Fri. Oct. 5: Niamey organizations are calling for ethnic cleansing, spreading propaganda on the Internet in connection with the plan of "elimination" of the Tuareg people of Niger.

Mon. Oct. 8: (Oct. 7) MNJ was disgusted to discover the appearance of a website Toumoujagha.blogspot.com, and suspects the Government of Niger, trying to make it seem as though MNJ is connected with them and wants a separate utopian "Republic of Toumoujagha" - this is *false,* MNJ is not trying to claim a separate country. Moreover, this past Saturday Oct. 6, members of the Niger government participated in an internationally aired radio and television "debate" in which a central government figure, Nouhou Arzika, called for the extermination of the Tuareg people: "The Tuareg have no territory and can be exterminated within 48 hours" he claimed. Such statements could lead Niger into a situation like Rwanda's genocide. The Niger government is spreading ethnic hatred through the radio, TV and Internet. [Radio propaganda was what greatly facilitated the sudden, spontaneous massive killings in Rwanda.]

Mon. Oct. 15: What two prisoners of war confessed, re: the three civilians they had killed at Tezirzayt: (photo included) Lt. Lawaly said that he had received orders in Niamey to execute anyone, and not take prisoners. Orders came in particular from Colonel Pélé (Djibril Hama). "Pélé told us to kill anything that moves, as these people deserve it. Even their livestock should not survive our military campaign. He had told me that if I wanted to become a great officer, I'd have to do it. I have great respect for Pélé, and we were all afraid. . . . Any torture was to be filmed by soldiers and sent to Niamey, because that's what Pélé wanted." Lawaly is very young, like the "child soldiers" in Rwanda. Some of Lawaly's soldiers under him, who were at one time MNJ hostages, said they had done everything to spare the lives of the elderly. This was after torture, mutilation. They dug a common grave and lowered the elders, after taking their personal effects as trophies of war. Lawaly had some of those items, including a photo of one of the victims. One of the young soldiers who denounced the treatment was arrested.

Fri. Oct. 26: MNJ inflicted heavy losses on FAN around Touara yesterday at dawn: MNJ destroyed 2 military vehicles, and 12 soldiers, at least, are dead. MNJ pursued a detachment of the FAN that had killed a family of 7 people, and a herd of 62 camels, around the wells at In'nazaoua. FAN had taken several of the slaughtered camels to distribute to families of military personnel. MNJ appeals to Amnesty International and the Red Cross to visit the scene and observe the massacre. How, in these conditions, can one speak of "democracy"?

Thurs. Nov. 1: The country is in disarray, and the government shows no willingness to implement the Peace Accords signed in 1995. Innocent civilians and their livestock are being liquidated, and there are arbitrary arrests. The government is spreading propaganda, promoting racial hatred, and demonizing the Tuareg people.

Fri. Nov. 9: Skirmish on the Agadez-Arlit road. FAN lost 15 soldiers; MNJ captured 4 other soldiers, destroyed 4 vehicles, including one with a 12 / 7. The head of the FAN mission was captured by MNJ: Lt. Ali Sidi. "Since the beginning of our struggle for justice and good governance, we have always expressed a willingness to find a solution through dialogue. We explained our problems to the government of Niger before Feb. 2007 when the fighting began, but Niger has remained deaf, and they take our restraint and openness as a sign of weakness. We know that some countries are tempted to provide arms and logistical support to the power elites in Niamey - we kindly ask that they do not take this step. We have no external enemy, and we respect all countries that are friendly to Niger's people. Henceforth, we inform the public and the international community, that any person who uses the roads Tahoua-Agadez, Zinder-Agadez, Agadez-Arlit, Agadez-Bilma, is traveling at their own risk."

Tues. Nov. 6: How did the national army become a Nigerien militia? All Nigeriens know who makes up our national forces. One readily notices that there is a predominance of one ethnic group, and that other ethnic groups are not represented. [Zarma/Songhay are the predominant ethnic group in Niger's armed forces, and they are a small percentage of the population. The 1995 Peace Accords specified that Tuaregs would be incorporated into FAN to balance the ethnic representation.]

Wed. Nov. 14: Food Aid Diverted by Niamey. Libya sent humanitarian food aid to help 500 displaced families in the Air region, specifically around Iferwan and Tabelot, but the government of Niger refused to allow an airlift of the emergency food from Tripoli to Agadez. These families have been victims of abuse by the Niger army and were forced to leave their home villages last week. The power elites are holding the food in Niamey, which they will sell or use for their own profit. We are calling on international organizations to establish local offices in the Air to help the families.

Tues. Nov. 13: The Chinese continue to collaborate with Tandja, and are building a new bridge in Niamey, as a favor in return for an additional contract to mine uranium at Azelik in Tuareg regions, instead of building a school, hospital, university or roads in the undeveloped uranium mining region in the northern Tuareg regions. Is it too much to ask, for respect for the indigenous people who own the land there?

Mon. Nov. 12: MNJ confirms that it is in no way linked to recent terrorist activities in neighboring countries. MNJ's purpose is to fight for justice in Niger. World powers should be informed that it is the high political and military authorities in Niamey who are close to these terrorist groups - their ties could threaten peace in the world.

Sat. Nov. 24: Executions of civilians - Black Friday: Arrests, Killing and Mourning in Northern Niger. The government of Niger has extended its "mis en garde" (high alert) in the North for three more months, giving the military full power, without restrictions, to continue killing innocent civilians. FAN came to Agadez this Friday and summarily executed four civilians: Mohamed Atchawar, Maniko Kane, Almoctar Bachir, Hamad Moussa (a clergyman). Their bodies were unceremoniously dumped into a mass grave at Tchintibizguinte, 10 miles from Agadez. Also, more than 500 civilians have been arrested and detained in Agadez. At least half of them have not returned to their families.

Sun. Nov. 25: A long list of the Tuareg civilians slaughtered by the FAN.

Mon. Nov. 26: Skirmish at Tiguidit: FAN lost 3 soldiers, several wounded.

Tues. Nov. 27: Aweyderer: MNJ skirmish with FAN resulted in 14 soldiers dead, 17 wounded. MNJ discovered medical kits among the FAN soldiers containing hypodermic needles and illegal drugs, amphetamines meant to keep up the soldier's morales. They had also seen them at Tezirzayt. One of the hostages taken by MNJ, Capt. Nouhou Dauda, told MNJ: "Every soldier is entitled to a weekly injection, to be at the peak of performance." Tandja's regime is drugging the army. Tandja was calling the MNJ "bandits"; now he has upgraded to "terrorists," in order to gain money and weapons from certain world powers. MNJ invites all journalists and advocates of democracy, to visit the frontline and testify on the government's lies. Since the beginning of the conflict, Nigerien reporters have been restricted by fear, and some remain in prison, for interviewing the MNJ.

Thurs. Nov. 29: MNJ destroyed 1 FAN vehicle; 4 soldiers killed, several wounded, 2:30 PM. On Tues., Nov. 27, MNJ skirmish with FAN resulted in 14 soldiers killed, and 17 others wounded at Aweyderer.

Fri. Nov. 30: URGENT: Massacre of civilians. (Photo of mass grave, of the four civilians executed by FAN on Nov. 22 at 11 AM) Each victim was shot systematically in the ear, face and heart. An article published Nov. 29 by Voice of America correspondent Phuong Tran is included. She had traveled with the MNJ for 11 days and communicated her report to VOA by satellite phone. The article made international headlines. She said that Tandja held a meeting three days ago, to discuss how to "finish off" the rebels quickly. She explained the Tuareg situation clearly. The government refuses to negotiate peace. Also included is an interview with Aghaly Alambo, leader of the MNJ; he clearly explains the problems that MNJ is fighting for a solution.

Sun. Dec. 2: Statement by Ma Kambassikone, MNJ representative in the U.S.: Tandja keeps making a distinction between "people in the West" and "northerners" [Tuaregs] and forbidding "the west" to sympathize with MNJ. However, the "people of the West" are joining forces with MNJ, "to end the dictatorship of the anarchist Tandja." The Front: The MNJ has the FAN's 100 vehicles encircled at Gougaram.

Tues. Dec. 4: MNJ has broken FAN's momentum. FAN had brought 100 vehicles to resupply Iferwan and resume their attacks on Tezirzayt. Results: MNJ encircled the 100 vehicles; heavy casualties; FAN lost 9 vehicles and their occupants; MNJ chased FAN all the way to Arlit over a period of 3 days. The official FAN report (aired on RFI) was 3 soldiers dead; MNJ says it was tenfold that number [more like 30]. The government of Niger is still propagandizing against Tuaregs and making appeals to "people of the West." MNJ says: "There are no 'people of the west,' and as for those of 'the north,' there are only Nigeriens. MNJ is a movement involving citizens from all over Niger.

Thurs. Dec. 6: Tandja's special "priority investment fund." Account of Tandja's embezzlement of public revenues, placed in foreign bank accounts and used to purchase expensive foreign real estate ("capital flight"). The funds were supposed to be used for the country's development -- the uranium income, in particular, was supposed to be used to ameliorate conditions in the north.

Sun. Dec. 9: Two more Tuareg civilians slaughtered by FAN.

Mon. Dec. 10: Seven civilians summarily executed by FAN, two were Libyans. These were well-known merchants. They had taken the precaution of alerting the FAN and getting directions on what route to take. A surveillance airplane followed them. The FAN stopped them, separated the blacks, and executed the ones that were not black, then buried them in a mass grave. FAN claimed the men had gotten into the line of fire with MNJ, which was not true. Their families came to see the bodies: their vehicles had no impact bullets, showing no crossfire; victims had been shot at close range, not in a fight; all of their valuables and considerable sums of money were stolen. [Later, the government of Niger said it was "an accident."]

Wed. Dec. 12: The public should avoid going to the festival at Tahoua on Dec. 18, because the FAN have been laying landmines in cities now. MNJ is saying that Tandja's regime has Salafist groups under the control of the military.

Fri. Dec. 14: Ethnic Purges. For some months now, Tandja's soldiers have been engaged in crimes targeted against a particular ethnic group, the Tuaregs. They are slaughtering Tuareg civilians, all members of the family, so there will be no witnesses. Two days ago, they killed a family of four near Arlit (list of family members). Each one had three bullets. The mass graves have multiplied.

Sun. Dec. 16: MNJ inflicted heavy losses on FAN. 12 soldiers dead, 15 injured, 3 vehicles destroyed. FAN is now placing landmines in public places in several cities across Niger.

Mon. Dec. 17: Commander Kindi Zada, Capt. Adamou Djibo, along with 12 commissioned FAN officers, have joined MNJ, to restore justice to Niger.

Thurs. Dec. 20: FARS joined the MNJ. (FARS = Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Sahara). Statement by Bocar Mohamed Sougouma (Warabe). Also: MNJ asks Nigeriens to be more vigilant about the movements of FAN soldiers day and night, because they are laying landmines.

Thurs. Dec. 20: The Niger government accuses the MNJ of laying landmines in urban areas hundreds of miles to the south, in Tahoua and Maradi, where several civilians were recently killed when they drove over them. However, the MNJ *denies* this, and says it is the Army that has been setting the mines in urban centers. They say they have information that the Army recently held an internal meeting to create a committee to investigate the disappearance of 9 landmines from the Tondibiya military reserve near the capitol, Niamey, which indicates the urban landmines have been the work of the Army.

Fri. Dec. 21: Tandja is seeking to purchase MI-34 Russian combat helicopters, and get Ukrainian pilots to fight MNJ.

Mon. Dec. 24: The countdown has begun for Tandja Mamadou. Tandja has oppressed Niger for 8 full years now: from Dec. 23, 1999 to Dec. 23, 2007. (Photos of MNJ members.) Exclusive Temoust interview with Ahmed Akoli, political secretary of MNJ. Ahmed Akoli clearly articulates MNJ's demands. (TCN translation of Ahmed Akoli's interview in English).

Thurs. Dec. 27: Why is the national media praising the government's refusal to open a dialogue with MNJ? Why is the government condemning freedom of speech, which is what has prompted some journalists to denounce the government's crimes against humanity and the government's arrests of journalists in Niger? Who is profiting from this situation, where innocent civilians are killed, and the media is forbidden to report on it? Is it to maintain a certain trafficking, for the benefit of an economic elite and its officers? Who are the real authors of the trafficking that MNJ is blamed for? If it is true that the situation in the North is "under control," then why aren't journalists allowed to go there? Is this Tandja's "democracy"? Niamey has confounded "autocracy" and "democracy," for sure. It's time to wake up and face these cold-blooded political monsters. If the national media is making apologies for crimes against humanity, where is the path for Nigeriens to escape this black hole? They applaud the merits of a Chief of State who lacks the ability to manage a situation which escapes him completely, like the country he is supposed to be leading, with his eyes closed and his head bowed. The political parties, too, have taken his stance of refusing a dialogue with citizens who are opposed to his politics. How many soldiers have died for Tandja's decisions? How many deaths will it take, in order for Tandja to understand that his stance is wrong? All this time, the national army, incapable of fighting, has been attacking the homes of civilians in the region of Iferwan, pillaging their household goods and killing their livestock. We also know that the businessmen (Sidi Ghamar Atoumane) murdered by the army at Agadez were victims of a plot organized by the political-military elites in Niamey. All of this has happened because of Tandja's boat, which is capsizing with him and his cronies, like the Titanic. This entire situation is the result of the personal interests of a few individuals and their supporters in the Niamey regime, who place themselves above the national interests which they serve.

Fri. Dec. 28: The government has published falsified/technically manipulated videos showing FARS members turning in their weapons at Dirkou, when in fact, FARS fighters have joined MNJ. [FARS = Forces armées révolutionnaires du Sahara] Tanjda and Iboun Gueye, you cannot deceive Nigeriens!

2008

Tues. Jan 1: The New Year's speech of MNJ President, Mr. Aghali Alambo (view TCNs complete translation, in English, HERE). Eleven months after the start of our struggle, we are satisfied with the results, and we reaffirm our commitment to the welfare of our people and our respect for human value. The fight for justice has just begun. Long live Niger!

Wed. Jan. 2: MNJ wants to remind Nigeriens that the landmines are the work of a small group of government officials who are spreading them to the cities, to legitimate their power [the state of alert that gives the military extra privileges]. The mines shown on national television belong only to the army, and we have no landmines in our possession. We say NO to laying mines in urban centers! NO to the massacre of civilians. We have always complied with Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, and Amnesty International can count on our compliance with this requirement.

Thurs. Jan. 3: Skirmish west of Iferwan: MNJ's Troupes d'Intervention Rapides (TIR) have intercepted a military detachment of 14 vehicles that were extorting the populations 7 km. west of Iferwan and killing their livestock. Results: MNJ destroyed 4 vehicles and their occupants.

Wed. Jan. 9: Operation "RIGAKAHI" organized crimes: MNJ firmly denounces the assassination of the Director of RM Radio in Niamey following a landmine explosion, and we present our condolences to the family of the deceased Mr. Abdou Mahamane on the occasion of this odioius assassination. Following the imprisonment of journalists, today the Niamey regime is killing them. This regime which has lost its sense of orientation is spreading landmines everywhere, and gratuitously accusing the MNJ combattants of justice who have condemned the use of landmines everywhere against citizens. Examples include Tahoua and Tanout. We are also reminded of the republican guard who was falsely accused of planting a landmine at Tanout and was denounced on several radio stations -- a plot that was hatched by the local administration, representatives of the state. Today it was Niamey's turn, and as if by chance, this government attack has targeted journalists, the first private radio station in Niger, RM Radio. After censoring the media, Tandja has now shifted into high gear, threatening them with death. What are you trying to prove? The MNJ has always encouraged journalists who want to report on the battle, although the current regime condemns them to death sentences or murders them. It is also a way for the government to show that it means its threats of execution; after the arrest of two French journalists, sentenced to death, it has established a specific mechanism to take care of "agitated journalists," called "The Rigakahi" ('prevention,' in Hausa), conducted by the Police. Why did the landmine kill a radio director, and not a member of the government? It's because the government is responsible for the landmine. Nigeriens know the answer and are not fools. The country's democratic achievements, which used to be our pride, have been violated, and bring us back to the 70s and 80s, where those who spoke out were executed. The MNJ affirms that it condemns the use of landmines, and has no connection with the landmine events at Tahoua, Tanout, and Niamey. Our combat is face-to-face, on the ground, and opposes the current system, especially the Nigerien army. It is time for political parties to cease their murderous complicity with the current regime. This silence on the part of Nigerien political officials does not honor our country and the sacrifices of Nigerien which began Feb. 9, 1990 with the assassination of dozens of students by the MNSD at the time. History will demonstrate, and the People also, that Mahamadou Issoufou and all the other Presidents of close political parties, actively participated in the assassination of several hundred civilians (in the Air, Tahoua, Tanout, and Niamey). He who says nothing, is in agreement.

Tourayate: Jan. 2, the inhabitants of Tourayate witnessed a sad spectacle. Expelled by force from their homes by an army patrol and assembled in the village marketplace, they were obligated to swear on the Koran, with a gun to their heads, that they were not MNJ sympathizers. This, following the army's practice of killing civilians, arbitrary arrests, slaughter of livestock, and harassment of the population -- which are crimes against humanity: the perpetrators must be arrested and tried according to international law.

Fri. Jan. 11: Ben Omar's official Jan. 9 declaration (on national TV) is more than an admission of the government's failure in recent military campaigns. He is out to prove that the MNJ is the origin of the landmines that exploded in urban centers, reflecting the collective fear of all government officials who see the Combattants of Justice "everywhere." "They are everywhere!" Ben Omar confided to Mohamed Fima on the national television station. And Ben Omar added: "Nigeriens everywhere must create Popular Vigilance Brigades to spy on all suspects!" commonly known as "yan banga." Where is the country headed? The government has resigned in the face of the powerlessness of its army to confront the Veterans of Justice, despite the means at their disposal. Now citizens are expected to ensure their own safety. These statements are incomprehensible contradictions. We are headed back to World War II, when the Nazis encouraged the French to denounce all Jews: this is institutionalized tattling! Unable to fight on the ground, the army is awaiting the arrival of helicopters and tanks from China or Russia to take up their lost battles. What State practices the popularization of national security, if not a "no man's land"? The government cannot escape the fact that the best weapon is dialogue, and not a race to weapons in the World's Poorest Country, in which many of its citizens are the victims, as in the case of the RM journalist. This regime wants to pit Nigeriens against one another at all costs, and take them to arms in place of the military, even if it means a descent into civil war. Their sole purpose is not the national interest, but preserving the power of a group of "gurus" with Ben Omar as its spokesman.

Terrorism: One also hears the word "terrorism," meant to demonize MNJ's struggle which involves all groups in Niger. "Terrorism" is a word this regime uses without knowing what it means, only to rally the Western powers who are combatting evil in the world of the "axis of evil." After managing to get Niger in the lowest rank of the world's poorest countries, Tandja wants to finish his mandate by getting Niger listed in the axis of evil. Clearly we are in a banana republic. In any event, MNJ will not permit this regime to characterize MNJ for what it is not. The MNJ will not permit any country or group whatsoever to run a trafficking network in the Nigerien Sahara, let alone leave the region open to the mercy of some political or religious group. Our combat for Justice is that of the Nigerien People, and we do not accept any interference in a domestic dispute that the current regime wants to internationalize, although countries such as Sarkozy's New France, Hu Jintao's China, and Putin's Russia have officially offered a strong helping hand to Tandja with their military aid! This will only prolong the suffering of Nigeriens, for the current regime has no sense of responsibility!

Sat. Jan. 12: Niger has finally reached top ranking! Honorable mention for Tandja's regime: "Niger, the foremost predator on freedom of the press," affirms the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). For once, we are "first" in rank, even if it means being classified relative to violations of basic rights that are fundamental to democracy: freedom of expression, and in particular freedom of the press. Yet Tandja's regime shouts that it is "democratic." And we also recall that Amnesty International has condemned the Nigerian army's extrajudicial executions and all the landmines laid in the cities, which we also condemn without reservation. This evaluation brings up another one: that of the violation of human rights, for more than one hundred civilians have been executed in 2007 by the current regime.

Tues. Jan. 15: Areva, and the financing of dictators! "The sale of EPR Reactors (Physical Extinction of Races) has blossomed recently, and Anne Lauvergeon has sold a lot of them!" confided Yves Dufour at an election this weekend, after signing the agreements in Niamey. All that interests Areva is the number of EPRs of the new generation, already sold to Libya, Algeria, China and the Arab Emirates. Areva has no place in human dignity, concerning the populations to which belong the lands on which it wants to install its third destructive factory, following that of Aomair and Cominak, which have disposed thousands of tons of heavy metals in the Nigerien landscape. Article 10 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights stipulates: "Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation of the people shall take place without the prior consent -- given freely and informed of choices -- of the indigenous peoples concerned, and an agreement on just and fair compensation, and where possible, with the option to return." The agreement that was just signed between the Niamey regime and Areva violates this article. The signing of this agreement only helps prolong the conflict, as it contributes to the war efforts of the current regime, rather than to the development of the North. [MNJ lists its requirements, including MNJ's part in the decision-making, compensation to the people, plans for environmental safety, and jobs].

Wed. Jan. 16: Stop the Theatrics: FARS denounces all the theatrics that have taken place in Niamey, where road bandits and highway robbers have been displaying weapons that belong actually to the Nigerien Army, claiming to be members of FARS. [FARS = Forces armées révolutionnaires du Sahara]. FARS confirms that these individuals in Niamey are no no way connected with FARS. It is in fact a stage-drama carried out by Tandja's regime, following FARS' official announcement that they have joined MNJ.

Mon. Jan. 21: Attack on Tanout: MNJ carried out an attack on the village of Tanout [halfway between Agadez and Kano] in the region of Zinder at 6 PM today. The town finally fell into the hands of the MNJ at 9:20 PM. Results: 11 prisoners (including the Prefet of Tanout; FNIS officers: Captain, Lieutenant, Adjutant, and 4 others; 3 gendarmes). 7 dead among the FNIS and Gendarmes. Large quantities of ammunition and weapons were taken, along with the Prefet's vehicle. Reason for the attack: The Prefet's subversive behavior and anti-republican actions. The prior week he had called a meeting of all the local dignitaries in Tanout in order to threaten them and encourage an atmosphere of informing against civilians, accusing them of belonging to the MNJ. He showed too much zeal in the exercise of his function, while Nigeriens are edified about a regime that wants to oppose Nigeriens against one another. It was also an occasion to remind dignitaries of this village that MNJ is watching their behavior; everyone knows they are informers.

Tues. Jan 22: Skirmish at Touraya: Following the attack on Tanout, the army was dispatched to try and intercept MNJ on their return mission. MNJ's TIR (Rapid Intervention Troops) fought the army. Results: 3 soldiers dead. 1 4x4 vehicle destroyed. 1 VLRA vehicle destroyed. There were no casualties or wounded among the MNJ's TIR at Touraya. We take this opportunity to remind RFI (Radio France International) that there were *no* MNJ casualties at Tanout, which they had announced on the radio in their African edition this morning. It would be more appropriate for reporters to consult our blog first before risking an erronious announcement about the conflict, or else contact our MNJ spokesman in Europe.

Sat. Jan. 26: Communique No. 0270108. Regarding prisoners of war, MNJ has responded to Amnesty International's appeal. Unlike the rulers in Niamey, MNJ is not a barbaric movement: we have high regard for human rights, as the prisoners of war we have liberated can testify; none have mentioned any torture. Human rights is one of the basic reasons for our struggle: All Nigeriens without exception must be restored to their dignity and rights. The Prefet of Tahoua assured BBC that he is well treated by his MNJ brothers; this is proof that we respect the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war. As we have said, the arrest of the Prefet followed his actions threatening national unity: he was fomenting plots against peaceful citizens and arbitrarily imprisoning them. Furthermore, the MNJ did not arrest the Prefet of Tanout in his role as Mr. Garba Kona [civilian], but in his position as Prefet of Tanout [government representative]: so stop the cleverly manipulated confusion! He is therefore a symbol of state power, and moreover an accomplice to the current regime; one who executes orders from Niamey, just like the military, and he acknowledges, without any coercion or threat whatsoever on our part, of organizing the conspiracy to lay the landmine at Tanout, an act of which peaceful citizens were accused. It is no secret that the current regime in Niamey arrests and tortures innocent people, including women and children. If it is true that Amnesty International isn't biased ["one pound, two measures"], then why isn't Amnesty taking responsibility for reporting on these most recent arrests: Asso Grezar, Susu Hima (12 years old), Amina Abdousalam (Bougouma's daughter), and her friend Ahandaka (Hadijia Tubuwen's daughter)? Unlike the current regime in Niamey, the MNJ respects freedom of speech, and that is why all of the prisoners are free to talk with journalists and with their families, every week, whereas the state deprives most of these innocent civilians they've arrested of their liberties. The only thing that's motivating Tandja is the acquisition of more weapons, as if victory depends on material means, such as the 35 armoured vehicles from China that are supposed to transport the Army to Mount Tamgak.

Thurs. Jan. 31: International Red Cross visits prisoners of war: MNJ authorized this visit, faithful to its moral code and respect for international law, to show how prisoners are being treated. Since the beginning, we have allowed military prisoners and the Prefet of Tanout to freely talk with their families by telephone. The Red Cross, and all journalists who want to see the condition of prisoners, can visit them as much as they please, since the Niger government allows them to enter Niger from the North. MNJ is concerned with respecting human rights and freedom of expression, and reassures prisoners' families that it is providing the best treatment for them. MNJ does not imitate the exceptional practices in Niamey, where a human no longer has any value, where the only thing that counts is profit and the conservation of an "ethnic elite policy." We are all Nigeriens, and it is up to us to construct our future today, for the current regime isn't thinking about our country; it is only concerned with continuing to rule outside the laws. This regime is incapable of appreciating Nigerien youth who want to see a change - new policies, new rulers. Enough of the old rulers who keep the status quo, those who maintain oligarchy under the pretext of stability. Look at the countries around us that have rejuvenated, unlike Niger. We want a Niger where all Nigeriens can love one another, not through [clan] interests, but for love of the country. Where all the citizens feel like working for the country, not to fill the pockets of a military general, government official or the President, but so that the country can find its place in the company of nations making progress, and stop being the "last" country in the world. MNJ has taken up the challenge of national unity, and of all Nigeriens who are working together to ensure that all Nigeriens are equal in rights and duties, in their [geographic] regions, and in accordance with their [ethnic] identities: "Unity in Diversity."

Dialogue and Democracy: Today the politicians are maintaining complicit silence while the national fabric is deteriorating, all of them hoping to draw political advantages. The opposition has chosen to hold on tight until the elections. After they openly opted to engage in dialogue, the political parties were subjected to threats by the state, requiring each of them to remain silent or lose their freedoms. Who among them would dare say to the rulers that they were wrong, in characterizing the MNJ [political movement] as something it is not ["bandits"]? No one. Political [debate] no longer exists in Niger; it has vanished under a tissue of lies that it regurgitates, and its survival instinct facing a dictatorship! No one can speak out for fear of being crushed by the current regime which only accepts one discourse: that of refusing a dialogue. The current regime is leading the country in a ship that's short-sighted, without a future. And yet, it's the political responsibility of a leader to reconsider his decisions when he realizes his bad choices. It is the duty of the opposition to denounce violations of human rights, and not to cover up crimes of the state. But today, Nigeriens know what the obstacle to dialogue is. The day will come when all Nigeriens can talk to each other and listen, but today it's the deaf ear, or rather the politics of the ostrich, of an aging, selfish political class. They hide the truth as long as the day dawns. Peace is gained through Justice, and development is gained through Peace.

Fri. Feb. 1: Release of prisoners: MNJ released 2 prisoners of war to the International Red Cross, for serious health reasons: Sargent Ibrahim Mano Mamane and Corporal Abdulaziz Boubacar. They are now on their way to Agadez. MNJ, faithful to its principles and respectful of international law and the conventions regarding prisoners of war, respects the lives of Nigeriens of all origins. Families of prisoners can be reassured that the best treatment is reserved for military prisoners, because we are sons of Niger. We wish them a safe return to their families and speedy recovery.

Tues. Feb. 5: Unfair dismissals: MNJ just learned that Areva has dismissed 15 indigenous employees at Imoraren [uranium mine]. We have already condemned this practice several times, but this time we find that it's the same individuals who are continuing to practice ethnocentric recruiting policies at Somair and Cominak. This is unacceptable. The Chief of Operations Alain Nero and Chief of Statt Ibrahim Souley are partly responsible for this situation, which we strongly condemn on the basis of international law regarding employment of indigenous people, in the exploitation of wealth from their lands. As for Ibrahim Souley and Alain Nero, they are now considered public enemies who are contributing to the injustices suffered by the indigenous peoples of northern Niger over the past 40 years. In the face of such turmoil, the MNJ will handle its responsibilities.

Tues. Feb. 12: Butchers of Iferwan: The Niger army [FAN] is continuing its abusive practices against the autochthonous populations in the Air. Thi smorning around 9:30 AM, ten camels under the care of an innocent young shepherd were slaughtered when they came to drink at the wells of Iferwan. The MNJ condemns these abuses that take away the indigenous people's only means of survival: livestock.

Wed. Feb. 13: Desertions from the Niger Army [FAN]: MNJ notes the desertion of several soldiers from the Niger army who have just joined the Front of Justice [MNJ]: Corporals Souleymane Ali, Mamane Awache, and Abdoulkader Abdu. They have joined the MNJ in its fight against inequality where the victims are Nigeriens. Among the soldiers who are joining us, many have refused to execute orders coming from Niamey requiring them to assassinate innocent people. We also recall that to this day dozens of men and women (the regime is a threat to women, too!) have been arbitrarily detained in Niger's prisons under the false pretext of intelligence with MNJ. What is even more serious is that these civilians all belong to the same ethnicity [Tuareg].

Communique No. 02022008: The FARS (Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Sahara) announces the following clarification through their interim president Mohamed Sougouma Bocar (Warabé), following the recent declaration by former leaders of the Resistance Front [1990s] on public channels in Niger: (1) the peace agreements signed in 1995 do not apply to FARS, because of the cowardly assassination of our members in Madama by the Niger army, (2) FARS signed additional agreement in Algiers on Nov. 27, 1997, but 11 years later, the terms of those agreements are not being implemented by Niger, despite our repeated appeals, (3) Barka Wardougou who signed the Algiers agreements never set foot in Niamey, and much less expected to be involved in the development of Kawar/Manga. Our people are still suffering as they were before the earlier agreements, and they are regarded by the current regime as second-class citizens in Niger, because they have not been guaranteed the minimum subsistence, despite [revenues from] mineral resources. The development of the Kawar/Manga region is the main reason we entered this struggle; we cannot remain blind to the misery of these people today. That is why we continue to fight in alliance with MNJ, to establish: (1) Equitable distributio of wealth in our country, for all Niger's peoples, (2) true justice for everyone, and (3) development without discrimination for all of Niger. -- FARS, Mohamed Boubacar Sougouma (Warabé), Acting President.

Mon. Feb. 18: France supports dictatorships: France is supporting Tandja Mamadou's genocidal military dictatorship. Today it is well-known that France has acknowledged its support of the Chadian regime to repel the rebel offensive outside Njamena. We also know that in the past [early 1900s] France accomplished a veritable ethnic cleansing in the Air, following the fierce resistance of indigenous peoples faced with colonial penetration in northern Niger, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, decimating whole tribes. Today, once again we are faced with France's military contribution in the conflict between Nigeriens of all ethnic groups against the dictatorial regime of Niamey. One would have thought we would see a political "break," as French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised; but instead, it's a "return to the old order." The interests of France seem to be above the sum of interests of the people who live in Niger, Chad and elsewhere, so much so that France gives itself the right to intervene militarily against any international order, to safeguard its [economic] "interest" [e.g., the uranium mines]. It is a violation of the right of peoples to self-determination, a failure to respect the right of indigenous peoples. The United States, on the other hand, has given a strong signal by refusing any official contact with the current regime which is not even on the list of visited countries, as demonstrated by the current visit of the American President in Africa [Bush's tour of Africa]. Today, several French officers are in Agadez to train Nigerien Army militia (FAN) in various fields, while furnishing them with material [e.g., equipment]. MNJ denounces this practice, because we have always provided alerts about the inhuman practices of the current regime, and we condemn any interference by France in a dispute that concerns Nigeriens. We will not allow France to do what it did in Chad, by eventually invoking a "logistics" accord [e.g., bilateral military cooperation agreement]. All French military presence is considered illegal by MNJ. Instead of sowing warfare and dictatorships in the world, France would do better to occupy itself with its own problems, and with the image it is sending -- a deteriorated image, an emergency power -- which is why it insinuates itself with African regimes that practice oligarchy. MNJ knows that France only has "interests" and not friends, but we are engaged in defending, at any price, our Dignity and above all, our Rights. If France can do nothing to restore "a JUST order" in Niger, they should leave Nigeriens to wash their "dirty laundry" among their own family.

Fri. Feb. 22: On national TV, the Niger government broadcast a "staged" desertion of men from MNJ, using Niger army men to represent MNJ members. The government continues to ban freedom of the press (e.g., Moussa Kaka's continuing detention in jail), to conceal ethnic cleansing of Tuaregs in northern Niger. MNJ invites journalists to visit the north and report the truth of what is happening. The TV news mascarade is part of a scheme to prolong the conflict, postpone upcoming elections, and provide more time for the Niamey power elites to line their pockets, including Boureima Moumouni (Tchanga), Salifou Modi, and Captain. Djibril Hima (Pele), who prefer to allow the country to sink while they are receiving payments. This regime will pass, another will arrive, but MNJ will fight against oppression until justice is done.

Wed. Feb. 27: "The Genesis." A collage of photographs depicting "The Origins of the Conflict: The 7 Capital Crimes" -- (1) Profits: the mining company Areva's uranium exploitations over the past 40 years [photo of Areva logo and its CEO, Anne Lauvergeon]; (2) Government corruption, avarice, and the rapture of power [photo of Tandja superimposed on a schwastika]; (3) Poverty [photo of Tuareg women drawing water from a well polluted with radioactive waste from Areva]; (4) Injustice [photo of democratically-elected Niger president Mainassara Bare, who was assassinated in 1999 by the current power elites according to MNJ]; (5) Ethnocide [photo of the bodies of four innocent Tuareg men who were extrajudicially murdered and dumped in a mass grave by the Niger army in 2007]; (6) Recurring Famine [photo of Tuareg mother and a very thin, malnourished baby]; (7) Illicit enrichment [photo of gold bars, representing the country's resources extracted for the enrichment of the elites].

Sat. March 1: Crimes in the Aïr. The Niger army killed 3 innocent camel herders at Gougaram. MNJ blames the power elites in Niamey, who control the army.

Sun. March 9: MNJ released 25 military prisoners, including the Prefet of Tanout, on the occasion of MNJ's one-year anniversary, with the mediation of Libya's Muammar Ghadafi. MNJ's prisoners were taken on the battlefield, not like the Niger army, which pursues innocent civilians in their homes to arrest and kill them.

Thurs. March 13: Dictatorship of the Airwaves. The current regime's ban on freedom of the press tarnishes the efforts of Nigeriens who have fought to achieve a democracy. On March 12, the Niger government suspended FM radio broadcasts by Radio France International (RFI) in Niger for 3 months, because of RFI's Day of Solidarity support for imprisoned Niger journalist Moussa Kaka. [RFI is the main source of impartial news for Nigeriens, since few Nigeriens know English to capture the broadcasts of BBC and VOA]. All internal Niger news is heavily self-censored and manipulated by the government. Despite all this, Niger continues receives support from its development partners in the European Union. RFI also broadcasts in shortwave, but the Niger government would have to go into people's homes and confiscate their shortwave radios. Mali has adopted a different approach to the problem, and indirectly criticized Niger for it's failure to compromise in order to achieve peace and development.

Mon. March 17: MNJ at Bani Bangou. At 7 PM on March 16, MNJ attacked a military post at Bani Bangou, 125 miles north of Niger's capital at Niamey. Results: 3 soldiers killed, 1 policeman taken prisoner, 2 army vehicles taken, along with all of the weapons at Bani Bangou. MNJ remained after the attack to talk with the local people, who thanked them.

Tues. March 18: Constitutional Lies of an Illegitimate Regime. The current regime in Niger is a regime based on crime: they came into power by the criminal assassination on April 9, 1999 of the people's democratically-elected leader, Mainassara Baré, and then absolved themselves of the assassination in the new Constitution they wrote, making themselves immune to prosecution. Those in power in Niamey now, including Tandja Mamadou, are the unpunished assassins of the legitimate president, and therefore MNJ does not recognize the current regime as legitimate. MNJ has tried every democratic avenue, and formally attempted to pursue justice through democratic means, without success. Members of the current MNSD-party regime did not follow democratic means when they shot Mainassara Baré on the tarmac at the military airport in Niamey; they did not try to reach agreement with Baré's political party, the RDP; they did not wait for elections at the end of his term. The entire Nigerien political class is supporting Tandja, because they all benefit from the profits of corruption. They are an army of criminals. MNJ is a popular movement, and will continue to fight for justice. We will bring our confrontation to the heart of the country, to the heart of this monster that eats the soul of a democratic country, to emerge as the "power of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Thurs. March 20: Fighting Underway. MNJ's Rapid Intervention Troops (TIR) are currently engaged in face-to-face battle with the Niger army at Tamazlak in the Aïr Mountains (68 miles north of Agadez, about 10 miles from the Agadez-Arlit Road). Results so far: 4 vehicles destroyed/burned, including 3 Army 4WD vehicles and one Army fuel tanker; soldiers inside the vehicles were injured/killed; no losses among the MNJ.

Fri. March 21: Scorched Earth Policy. Niamey ordered the military post in Agadez to send reinforcements (several 4WD vehicles and 6 tanks) to Tamazlak, not to confront MNJ fighters, but to burn the homes of families at Tamazlak, in revenge for their defeat yesterday.

Sat. March 22: A Horde of Bandits, Thieves and Criminals! The Niger army carried out further destruction on innocent civilians today. In addition to the 7 homes they burned in Tamazlak yesterday, they also murdered two Tuareg youths, Liman Houdane and Toukane Assale, and burned the Land Rover of a Tuareg transporter. The army's goal is certainly to drive Tuareg populations out of their villages to refugee camps, as they did at Iferwan several months ago. Further, the army burned 4 homes at a neighboring village, Sakafat. Before burning the families' homes, the Army pillaged their personal possessions -- money, blankets, swords, and even their teapots, which the army stashed in their vehicles before setting fire to the homes. Then the soldiers proceeded to Tidene [where the relatives of deceased Tuareg hero Mano Dayak live], and stole 13 lambs from an elderly Tuareg shepherdess, loading them into army trucks. The army also arbitrarily arrested several elderly Tuaregs, including Saghidan Bilal, the brother of tribal chief Isouf Bilal.

Sun. March 23: Abuses in the Air: The Niger army committed abuses on [Tuareg] civilians for several days. In the valley of Sakafat, the army burned 10 homes, extrajudicially executed 2 civilians, and 1 civilian "disappeared" following the army's rampage. In the valley of Tidene, the army burned 7 homes and a farm plot, executed 2 civilians, and left land mines everywhere in their wake. In addition, 4 elderly people were abducted by the army, and tortured a farmer named Mohamed Rhissa Imolane by breaking his legs. These crimes were committed with the support of French officers based in Agadez who are offering military strategy assistance to Niger, as well as several Chinese military strategy experts who accompanied the Niger army in these attacks.

Tues. March 26: Fight at Dabaga: MNJ's Rapid Intervention Troops (TIR) intercepted the Niger army soldiers in the area of Dabaga who had attacked civilians last Sunday. Results: 2 military vehicles destroyed, at least 15 Niger army soldiers killed.

Thurs. March 27: Epitomy of Cowardice, the Niger Army Out of Control: Yesterday [Wed. March 26] the army retaliated by attacking Dabaga; the army killed 5 civilians, including Ikizaba Attoulel (51 years old), Mouhmoud Alane (40 years old - had his throat slit ['egorge'] by Niger army soldiers), Mouhamed-Hada (50 years old), Rhissa-Guinadane, and Abdousalam-Malam (Boughoul). 2 other civilians were "missing" after the rampage. The army looted and stole the personal possessions from 43 civilians' homes, then burned their homes, including the home of the Mayor of Dabaga and a municipal councillor of Dabaga. The army also burned 1 vehicle and 12 motorbikes owned by the farmers of Dabaga. The army burned the village's vegetable market stalls; the army also extorted 700,000 CFA francs from the women who run the farmer's cooperative and then burned down the cooperative building. The army completely destroyed 6 vegetable gardens and killed 60 livestock belonging to civilians at Dabaga. The true "bandits" in Niger are those in Niamey who are perpetuating the lie that Niger is a "democracy."

Sun. March 30: In Memory of Civilians Killed by the Niger Army: "Tebade" (Uprising), a poem. "O People, awaken! stand up! against these evils, against these atrocities, that are committed against you. We will never forget, the day of the massacre at Tidene, Sakafat, Tamazlak, and Dabaga. Our people's men are standing up, they no longer accept such cruelties, carried out by foolish people (the Niger army!). Tell these fools that there will be a day of reckoning with these facts. Today they will pay for the evils they have committed."

Sun. March 30: Gougaram Under Control by MNJ: MNJ fought with the army all night and gained control over Gougaram [village on the west side of the Air Mountains]. Results: 4 army vehicles destroyed, along with their occupants. The MNJ flag now flies over Gougaram. The army killed innocent civilians and burned their gardens. It is an army that practices throat-slitting on civilians, a practice known to be specific to terrorist networks around the world. This practice has never been seen before in Niger; it was announced by Albade Abouba, the Minister of the Interior, and reveals the Niger government's plans for ethnic cleansing.

Tues. April 1: Pathetic, Sad and Insidious: Military spokesmen in Niamey are deliberately spreading lies, fabricated disinformation, through the media. They who have built cozy villas in Niamey on the backs of the people, and their mentors, the military-political oligarchy criminals in Niamey, have destroyed our country. [The government-supported media] are reporting that the army attacks MNJ bases and "their accomplices," but Nigeriens know that the victims killed by the army were civilians. Is this a warning, a prelude to the liquidation of a people hoping for a better tomorrow? Niamey talks about "professionalism and discretion in strict accordance with the relevant provisions of international law," even though Niger army soldiers are sent with instructions to sow terror and destruction on innocent civilians in the villages and countryside of the North, where the army kills and slits the throats ['egorge'] of men and women, and even elders and children, pillaging their goods systematically! How can they dare to speak of "international humanitarian law" and "the laws and regulations of the Republic," where the Republic and the law are based only on the interests of predators and kleptocrats who have confounded the State (in the sociological sense of the term) with their own personal fulfillment? The people of Niger heard the government spokesman deny charges of "using civilians as human shields" and the use of "anti-tank mines," but Nigeriens know that the intended effect is to move the international community to provide more support for the government's assassination scheme. People of Niger know that all the crimes of this regime can only be attributed to the leaders and their sponsors. MNJ also assures Nigeriens and people all over the world, that despite government pretensions, no MNJ fighters were killed or taken prisoner in these operations.

Wed. April 2: Announcement by FARS (Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Sahara): Today FARS held a meeting of the high command, headed by its interim president, Sougouma Bocar (Warabe). We found that MNJ's claims and reasons for fighting are the same as our own. MNJ is a Movement in Niger struggling for equity and good governance, supported by the entire population of Niger, recognized by the international community, promoting justice and equality among all the sons of the country, and entered a rebellion to gain value for the mineral resources being exploited by foreign companies in the North of our country. We lend our support - moral, physical and military - to our brothers in MNJ and to Aghali Alambo, president of the Movement, for the final battle.

Fri. April 4: The Conduct of a Routed Army! The Massacre at Oradour sur Glane. [Note: On June 10, 1944, the village of Oradour sur Glane in France was destroyed by the Nazis, who systematically murdered 642 men, women and children, without giving any reasons for their actions.] The massacre at Oradour sur Glane is characteristic of the behavior of a routed army! The announcement by Lieut-Col. Goukoye is a confession of the Niger Army, as a result of crimes committed in northern Niger. -- These crimes have demonstrated to the world that the Niger army is engaged in ethnic cleansing, killing innocent civilians because of their ethnicity, in a struggle which concerns the whole population. But what is most worrisome is the "glory" that these soldiers seek for their summary executions, which Amnesty International has not failed to report. It is sad that Amnesty International is the only voice that has denounced these crimes, which have left dozens of civilians dead over the past several months. Such an army cannot pretend to be "Republican," even less the commanders of these massacres, the regime at Niamey. In their assessment, it is clear that the military did not count the livestock (goats, camels) that they killed, plunging numerous families into misery and grief. The army cannot boast of having destroyed MNJ bases without producing photographs, especially for a regime that is fond of propaganda in a state of emergency. The governor of Agadez, Abba Malam, said that several dignitaries in the Agadez region claim the army is doing a good job. How can a responsible leader of the region take such an attitude about the people he governs, who have been massacred? This proves that he is an accomplice to the army's actions. How can we understand this indifference, in the face of "a silent ethnocide"? Such crimes cannot result in peace, as was the case after the "Flame of Peace" in 2000. A Peace signed with impunity (like Tchintabaraden in 1990) is simply an indefinite postponement of the ills that divide a people, including injustice. And today we are witnessing other crimes, with no response from the Nigerien political class. No elected official has renounced the crimes. What is the role of Nigerien politicians? Are they under the influence of "local anesthesia"? Is their role reduced to the electoral promises that Tandja made to Mahamadou Issoufou, about his choice for a successor? This is reminiscent of the way the regime denied the [2005] famine that ravaged entire villages. Clearly, what it boils down to, are the two mandates of the MNSD [dominant political party, Tandja's party]: No famine, and no problems in the North! Everything is fine! The MNJ, for its part, will continue unabated, to struggle against "the forces of evil." The Veterans of Justice will be able to charge the militia with all their crimes they have committed!

Sat. April 5: Paranoia and Arrests In Niamey: Mr. Amadou Abdoulaye, the Director General of Public Security, at the Ministry of the Interior, in Niamey, was just arrested upon his return from a mission in Burkina Faso. On April 1, after giving his mission report to Albade Abouba, Minister of the Interior, Amadou Abdoulaye was sent to the Gendarmerie National [jail]. When he returned to the Ministry of the Interior, Albade Abouba said "How did they let you come back here?" The police summoned Amadou Abdoulaye on April 2, and then summoned him again on April 3 at 2 PM. After that, there was no more heard from him! Sources in Niamey say that Amadou Abdoulaye's crime was that he is from the same village, Kollo, as MNJ Commandant Kindo Zada! Amadou Abdoulaye's family and relatives, faced with increasing threats against them, have had to flee Niger to take refuge in neighboring countries. This regime of rampant terror has vowed to take it out on any relative of an MNJ member. It is the new strategy of the predators of human rights in Niamey. But, since all Nigeriens have at least one relative in MNJ, the only people who will be spared are the nuclear families of those in power at Niamey who have decided to strangle Niger for their own personal interests. Already, informed circles in Niamey are expecting more "collaborating" ministers and senior officials to be arrested in coming days, accused by those thinking that through treachery they will escape, in the folly of paranoid power. In the middle of this great evil, has history not shown that the snake ends up biting its own tail? Some will soon learn, at their own cost!

Tues. April 8: The Combattants of Justice are installed in the East of our country. The Justice and good governance that we value for our country. we want for all Nigeriens, whether South, North or West. To this effect, a detachment of Combattants of Justice issued principally from FARS/FDR have attacked the Niamey power elites' military in the bed of Lake Chad, from Saturday April 5 to Sunday April 6 around 6 PM. Despite all the heavy arms at their disposal, and of which they have blindly made use, the Niamey power elites' military registered the following losses: 7 soldiers killed, 6 others captured. -- Bocar Mohamed Sougouma

Fri. April 11: The difference between the MNJ and the criminal army in the pay of a power quick to disseminate despicable lies. On Friday, the Niamey power elites claim their army killed five "armed bandits," seized their weapons, and destroyed their Toyota vehicle during a clash with MNJ. Everyone knows that Niamey is trying to discredit MNJ by calling them "armed bandits." What really happened is that the Niamey military and actual armed bandits (not MNJ), settled outside the areas of our control, clashed in the area of Touraiyate. The 5 bandits fled in a Toyota pick-up. They were pursued by the Niamey military using a helicopter that was giving their position to soldiers, who intercepted them at Emdigra. The bandits gave up to the soldiers without resistance; they were severely tortured and killed. Three others who went near the area suffered the same fate. MNJ learned of the event, traveled to the scene, and found a mass grave containing 8 bodies: 5 bandits and 3 peaceful citizens who were also murdered in cold blood. The Niamey military, on their return to Agadez, stopped at Indoudou, just a few hundred meters from the camp of Gousmane Bilal (50 years old). He feared for his life and tried to move out of the way, and the soldiers killed him. For the MNJ, it is indisputable that we must avoid and prevent any development of banditry in the interest of the conflict that opposes us against the "voyou" power of Niamey. But no one has the right to assassinate anyone in cold blood; the right to judge and impose a penalty is solely the responsibility of the Law. It is in conformity with this principle that the MNJ has arrested bandits and criminals (and continues to do so), but takes no liberty with the legal process, does not treat them inhumanely, and does not kill them: MNJ will turn them in to the law, which will decide their punishment. The power of Niamey and its army must also respect this principal, and they know they must also report on the crimes for which they are responsible from the beginning of this conflict. The power of Niamey and its army should also be aware that their imprisonment of innocent journalists, and their threats against Human Rights organizations (as, for example, a few days ago, against Amnesty International, which drew attention on crimes committed by the army in the North), will not hide their atrocities, and will not prevent the world from being informed.

Tues. April 15: Attack at Dabaga. The MNJ lodged an attack at 3 AM on a detachment of FAN [the Niger army] stationed at Dabaga. MNJ inflicted heavy losses, before the soldiers could retreat into the civilian population to use them as human shields. At the moment our combattants have the area surrounded and are continuing their operations.

Tues. April 22: Independent Parliamentary Inquiry. On April 12, ANDDH [Association Nigerienne de Defense de Droit de l'Homme] asked the National Assembly to conduct an independent investigation into the conflict in the North and to become involved in negotiations to find a solution, and a rapid response to the critical humanitarian situation in the North and its consequences for the rest of the country. MNJ supports the investigation, provided that it is truly independent. [Abbreviated] Photographs of the MNJ combattants with prisoners, including the Prefect of Tanout: MNJ is civilized, as evidenced by these photos, and does not subject prisoners to abuse or degrading treatment. [In one photo, the Prefect of Tanout appears to be smiling for the camera, next to smiling MNJ fighters.] These photographs are in contrast to the (included) photographs of destruction wrought by the Niger army (see photos).

Wed. April 23: Our Identity is NIGER. We are not an independence movement, not an ethnic, religious movement, or even less, in the service of any third party: the MNJ poses no territorial claims, nor racial or religious ones. Although we are composed of mainly Tuaregs, the MNJ also includes other ethnic groups in Niger and *is not a Tuareg rebellion* as some would like to present it. MNJ remains open to all Nigeriens who aspire to the ideals of Justice and National Unity. We refuse to put Nigeriens in opposition to one another on the basis of ethnic groups in order to achieve political goals, like the current political system does in Niger. No leader, and no country, can take over the MNJ for its own purposes. MNJ is *not* a continuation of the 1900s rebellion. MNJ emerged as the result of bad administration and bad governance on the part of Niger. MNJ emerged because there were no other avenues to put an end to the Niger Administration's criminal practices: they have remained deaf to all appeals, preferring each day to give some an advantage through favoritism, clientelism, organized theft of national resources, neglecting education, and perpetuating misery, with impunity -- in brief, injustice. In sum, a series of reprehensible actions, whose negative consequences appear today in broad daylight as FAN, an army that is not Republican and therefore is no longer qualified to assure the security of the country. The MNJ claims are partially posted on this blog. The MNJ carries the aspirations of a people ravaged by decades of injustice. MNJ wants an equitable sharing in Niger of the following: (1) political power: at the central level, by a beter representation of national components; at the regional level,and through effective decentralization, by a political system suitable for outlying areas, where officials really know the people and are able to take into account their real concerns. (2) national resources: better reward (50%) for the producing regions of Niger (not just the North), including Agadez (uranium), Tillabery (gold, iron, phosphorus), and Diffa (oil); better distribution of resources between the different regions of Niger of 50% of the income. MNJ makes it clear that MNJ has no intention of replacing the state of Niger in its relationship with our country's business partners, including mining companies, but requires Niger to take into account the local populations in projects that affect their lives: it is unacceptable to allow a company to go exploring or exploiting a space where people are living, virtually unannounced, without involving the inhabitants in their plans; it is unacceptable for a company to shake their permits at people and ask them to leave their homes because the Niger government has decided they should do so! -- Not to mention the fact that most of the funds disbursed by the company that are supposed to go into the national treasury disappear into the pockets of the Niamey power elites! A government must assume the responsibilities conferred by the state that it represents, and if it doesn't, it is guilty of high treason against the People. In the case of prospecting permits, government representatives must negotiate compensation for the people who have to leave their homes and lands where they make their livelihood, and negotiate for the mitigation of adverse effects on ecosystems and the environment. MNJ stresses that it has no problems with Niger's mining partners, neither Canadian, South African or Chinese companies, or even AREVA. Some of these companies' governments are supporting the Niamey power elites in their campaign against Nigerien peoples. MNJ cannot stand by and watch the plundering of our resources and the misery of our people. MNJ wants to alert the mining partners and multinationals so that they do not fail in this respect, because nothing will happen in the North before the conflict is resolved. This requires some critical analysis and an understanding of the basis of the political problems. The people responsible for directing MNJ have a clear vision of the objectives they have set, and they will not negotiate a fictitious peace as others have done in the past. This peace must be negotiated in the context of an international framework, to guarantee transparency. MNJ is making these points for two reasons: (1) in spite of our appeals to order, there are people who continue to give interviews with the media in the name of MNJ, without our objectives, our claims, or our political perspective. (2) the Niamey power elites continue to create confusion and undermine the legitimacy of our struggle by trying to make the mining partners see MNJ as their enemies. Also, the MNJ wishes to clarify that all MNJ interviews should be only with members of MNJ; In Europe, in particular, MNJ urges that any interviews should be with a member of the European MNJ Political Unit, by agreement with other members of the unit who are permanently tied to the central unit at Tamgak. Also, MNJ has no problem at all with Niger's mining partners, but would like to draw attention to the fact that in this state of conflict where MNJ is opposed to the power of Niamey, no exploitation of our resources or extraction activities is guaranteed. -- Aghali Alambo, President of MNJ

Tues. April 29: The MNJ is prepared for peace, but a true and final peace. Niger must be a modern country, and find its place among the concert of nations characterized by Fairness, Good Governance, Justice and Economic Progress - 4 core values that Nigeriens have always lacked, because of a political system that cultivates political patronage, exclusion, organized theft of national resources, and especially, impunity. Nigeriens have been so deprived of these 4 values to the point that they doubt their real existence. Nigeriens have been so discouraged with this chaos that the only way they can reclaim the true meaning of citizenship is to take up arms to ensure that an oligarchy will not thrive at their expense. MNJ has always preferred the path of negotiations and has fought against the position that a military solution is necessary to resolve the conflict. MNJ has ambitions for the welfare of the entire population of Niger. The battle for order, justice, and good governance is the foundation and rationale for MNJ's existence. The power elites want to remain in their comfortable armchairs while the Nigerien people go to hell. The government of Niger through the media have characterized the MNJ as "armed bandits in the pay of foreign powers," "drug traffickers," "traitors," and so forth, all in an effort to discredit MNJ's claims. MNJ holds the same principles it has held since the beginning of the conflict. At the annual meeting of the Traditional Chiefs of Niger in Dosso, President Tandja said that "the success of this initiative [dialogue for peace] requires first that these citizens lay down their arms and release their hostages." At the same time, the Nigerien Minister of Communications went to Western leaders and said that his regime categorically will not negotiate with the MNJ. For us, national reconciliation is a sacred formula that requires the commitment of all, and without a half measure, that peace is a mindset that we have a duty and moral responsibility to build together in mutual respect and in the interest of our country and our people. This is particularly true because we are all obliged to bequeath to future generations, a united and prosperous Niger forever rid of injustice, favoritism, and impunity that have always undermined the Republican foundation and the social and political climate of our country. We summarize by saying: If Niamey thinks a military solution is possible they are deluded, because on the ground, MNJ is more cmfortable than ever. MNJ reaffirms its commitment to peace in our country, but a true and definitive Peace, which can only be obtained through dialogue and negotiations. MNJ was forced to take up arms to find solutions to the ills of Niger, when no other way was possible, and accordingly, MNJ has a duty to follow up with our claims, including Equity and Justice that are negotiated and accepted around a table and within an international framework to guarantee transparency and results. MNJ reminds Niamey that a peaceful dialogue and negotiations requires conditions that reassure Nigeriens, including lifting the state of emergency in Agadez, an independent inquiry into the massacres of civilians, the release of people who have been arbitrarily detained, the end to intimidation and kidnapping of citizens, and other violations of human rights perpetrated by the military and police forces throughout the country. MNJ calls upon the government of Niamey to stop this pathetic litany of "putting down arms and come back to the sheepfold," and strongly reminds Niamey that the laying down of arms (which would translate into a truce for the duration of the negotiations), and the release of prisoners of war, will only be decided during the negotiations that will lead to the final and true Peace. -- Aghali Alambo

Wed. April 30: They talk of Serenity and Peace, but at the same time they are arresting folks! On the evening or Tues. April 29, Ezambe Ichahid, chief of the Abalane district in Agadez Department, was arrested and transported to the military installation at Agadez, where it is forbidden for anyone to visit. His family has remained without any news of him.

Sun. May 4: Fighting at Gougaram. On May 4th MNJ is fighting against the military at Gougaram. It began around 12:30 Midnight, and ended around 6 PM. The provisional assessment is as follows: Niger Army: 5 dead, 7 seriously injured; a microlight aircraft type was shot; the occupants were not found in the wreckage of IULM but our fighters surrounded the area and actively searched for them. MNJ side: No loss of life or equipment. The truth and determination continue to be on the side of those who fight for the welfare of Niger. -- Aghali Alambo.

Tues. May 6: Review of Fighting this day, May 6, 2008. The fighting began around 12 AM Midnight and continued until 5 PM. Niger Army: 15 soldiers dead, many wounded, 3 vehicles destroyed, 1 battle tank put out of use. The military column that was attempting to advance toward Iferouane was stopped by our fighters about 10 kilometers east of Gougaram where we deprived it of its reconnaissance aircraft and logistical support. MNJ recovered confidential documents that the pilot of the plane carried with him, and burned the aircraft (the government issued a statement saying that the aircraft was recovered). MNJ looks forward to the next exit of the 2nd ULM parked in Agadez to show how effective our anti-aircraft defense is. -- Aghali Alambo.

Thurs. May 8: Another new feature: Always a committee, and useless, too! On May 6, Niger created a committee to help the government with the security problem. It includes: The Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Defense, their deputies, Kalke Bacharou, Brigi Rafini, Cherif Abidine, the deputy of Bilma, the High Commissioner charged with Restoration of the Peace, the President of the National Commission of Social Dialogue, the Minister Akotey Mohamed. Their next meeting is on Saturday. Voila, Niamey's new windfall! But what good does it do? Apparently, the Niamey power elites understand nothing, they just pretend to. They don't understand that their committees, commissions and bogus staging are just more of a mess for Nigeriens? Really, what is the aim of this committee? Is it a unit charged with elaborating on military and sociological strategy so awaited? This, and more -- President Tandja declares (again) that he will finish with MNJ in two months. When will the Niamey power (Tandja) give up his illusions and realize that the solution to this conflict which opposes the entire people of Niger can be achieved only through dialogue and negotiations conducted through a credible framework, guaranteeing the decisions and resolutions that parties end up with -- thus, an international framework? When will he conclude that his artifices are a waste of time that the country does not need? When will he understand that his fashion of seeking solutions from the angle of regional and ethnic portions makes the situation more critical than a military solution? When, finally, will he understand that those who are central to his political system only have value in his eyes. and it is only he who believes in his strategies and men of confidence. -- Aghali Alambo

Tues. May 13: Review of the Nth "final assault" of the Niamey army on the MNJ bases. The end of the recent Nth "final assault" of Niamey's army has just arrived. In our previous releases we gave the balance sheets of fighting through May 6, 2008. The Nigerien people have a right to know what Niamey wants to keep them from knowing: the military's situation on the ground. The military column, heavily armed, left for their assault on our positions, putting in 8 days between Gougaram and Iferouane, 100 kilometers. Harrassed without stop by our fighters, the Niamey military, having left to undertake an offensive, were limited uniquely to defensive actions after the reverses they suffered, particularly on May 6 at Gougaram. It was thus that they also lost 4 vehicles on May 7. They decided to abandon their objective of coming to conquer our positions and having drunk of shame, they "courageously" tried to regain the companies they came from. On May 10, they were intercepted by one of our units at Tarinkite (about 15 km north-east of Gougaram) where we destroyed 1 of their trucks and severely damaged 2 other trucks that they were dragging back to Arlit. The military opted for a defensive battle and then turned back! Why? Under any analysis, the soldiers realize they are fighting for the interests of a clan [Tandja's] comfortably seated in Niamey, a clan that had no concern for their fate or that of the People. The soldiers were the last to finally realize it and probably refused to put their lives unnecessarily at risk.

Wed. May 21: Our Commitment to justice for the benefit of the people of Niger is measured only by the determination of our fighters. VIDEO (go to website to view video.) Views of MNJ fighters in action.

Thurs. May 22: The case of Mr. Alhadji Ahmoudou Ehalaweye. From reliable sources MNJ has learned of the purchase of arms by Niger civilians that were being sold to the army and to the current government at Niamey. Thus we have learned the identity of the persons implied in the acquisition of arms, as well as their meeting place where the arms were supplied. Thus it was also revealed that Mr. Alhadji Ahmoudou Ehalaweye who has already posed several defamatory acts against MNJ was alleged to be the author of the sale of said arms. The merchandise ready, Mr. Alhadji Ahmoudou Ehalaweye left to take them into his possession. MNJ immediately sent a mission to the site to apprehend him with his arsenal. MNJ condemns the acts and not the person in the case of Mr. Alhadji Ahmoudou Ehalaweye. MNJ has compassion for an individual who was naively abused by a Machiavellian scheme which aims to pressure citizens to become informers, to generate ethnic and tribal war, and to prosper in trafficking of all kinds. MNJ was not impressed by the statements of certain human rights associations condemning MNJ, including the CNDH/FL (Commission Nationale des Droits de l'Homme et des Libertes Fondamentales), who are known for their affiliation to the power elites in Niamey and who are not responsive to the interests of the peoples in conflict areas massacred under their complicit and absolute silence. These associations, including the one of which Mr. Alhadji Ahmoudou Ehalaweye is a member, say they are acting on behalf of Human Rights, but really they are busy acquiring weapons in order to discredit MNJ. The MNJ will ensure that Mr. Alhadji Ahmoudou Ehalaweye can take advantage of the political mess that has plunged the Niamey power elites, so that he can live in peace like any ordinary citizen: he is not involved in a conflict between us and the government system.

Sat. May 24: Case management, Elhadji Ahmoudou Ehalaweye. The MNJ are very concerned about the situation of civilians, whether they act voluntarily or under duress for the power of Niamey, treats them with respect and humility, and does not deprive them of their liberty. For this reason, MNJ has surrendered Mr. Elhadji Ahmoudou Ehalaweye to the ICRC (International Red Cross), today, 25 km east of Agadez. During his stay with us, we freely discussed the scope of his acts, which do no honor to a person of his status, and he seems to have understood. We wish a safe return home to Mr. Elhadji Ahmoudou Ehalaweye, and may he live in peace with his own.

Sun. May 25: The Carnage at Tadak. For 3 days, the most fanciful rumors have been circulating about the alleged dismantling of our bases at Tadak. The Minister of Defense's pretentious statement has a tangled skein, and prevents people from knowing the truth. For transparency, the MNJ has the duty to report any clarification on what actually happened and put an end to what the government in Niamey wants to present as a great feat, in its thirst to at least one victory over our movement. In its determination to always tell the truth and the whole truth and nothing but the truth, to Nigeriens, and especially in all circumstances to refuse to engage in dis-information, as do the power elites in Niamey, the MNJ will again tell exactly what happened this Thursday, May 22, 2008. A column of the Niger army camped at Iferouane decided to go out as usual and arrest peaceful citizens living around where they were camped. They left the wells of Tadak (about 10 km north of Iferouane) where they came upon some nomads camped around these wells: they burned these camps, along with the school at Tadak. Thus they summarily executed 7 civilians - all herders - among which were people between the ages of 50-80 years old: Mama Esaden, Ibrahim GHissa, Boulla Lachi, Hamadi Ghoumour, Idrissa, Lolo, Sidi Moummado. The people who escaped the carnage fled to take refuge in the mountains. Our TIR (rapid intervention) unit on patrol in the vicinity was alerted; it traveled to the scene and attacked the column. MNJ losses: 4 combattants died on the field of honor; Moussa Hamad Ahmad, Idrissa Mamatti, Haroun; 3 others were wounded, including one seriously. Niger army: 5 soldiers dead. MNJ presents its sincere condolences to the families of the assassinated civilians, victims of a regime that is complicit in hatred and assassination of peaceful citizens. We also present our condolences to the families of our 4 combattants fallen with dignity on the field of honor in a fight for Justice for the benefit of the Nigerien People denied their most basic rights. Also, MNJ prays for the peaceful repose of the souls of the 5 soldiers who died for nothing because of the folly of the administrators established at Niamey. MNJ took photographs of the burned villages, which we will upload soon (along with the other photographs we mentioned before) so as to edify the Nigerien People and the International Community about the barbary wich which the government at Niamey glorifies itself. Furthermore, we have it on good information that 7 soldiers of the FNIS - those who were integrated into the Niger army after the 1990s rebellion - were executed on orders from Niamey for having spoken out about the army's destruction of livestock and civilian populations.

Fri. May 30: Release from the MNJ Political Unit in Europe. The MNJ Political Unit in Europe met Thurs. May 29 to discuss the situation in recent days. There is greater worry than before on the consequences of the obstinate refusal of the Niamey power elites to work for Social Justice and the return of Peace. The Political Unit holds the Niamey power elites responsible for the degradation of security and the social-political climate across the country. Also, the MNJ Political Unit demissioned 2 of its members, Chehna Hamate and Caocen Seydou Maiga. Also, the MNJ Political Unit in Europe has proceded to replace its members. Thus, the MNJ Political Unit in Europe is now composed of:
Coordinator: Ghissa Feltou
Charge de la Communication: Issouf ag Maha
Secretaire aux relations exterieures: Ghoumour Moctar
Secretaire executif: Atouwa Egour
Conseiller Militaire aupres de la Cellule Politique: Mohamed Wan Jada ("Tombola")
Secretaire Politique: Ahmed Akoli

Fri. June 6: Communique No. 6/06/2008 FARS (Forces Armees Revolutionaires du Sahara). [MAP Niger, showing red lines between Agadem, and Zinder, Maiduguri, and N'Djamena] FARS has learned with consernation the recent signing of documents for exploitation of oil in Agadem between Niger and the Chinese firm China Oil and Gas development and exploration corporation (CNODC). Also, we are putting the said company at alert against all exploitation during this period of insecurity, of the Agadem Block. We vigorously reject the installation of a refinery at Zinder, N'Guigmi and Diffa. We hodl the government of Niger responsible for everything that happens after there is non-compliance with this caveat. -- Bocar Mohamed Sougouma, President of FARS

Fri. June 6: The division of Niger into "Niger Center" and "Peripheral Parts of Niger" should cease to exist! MNJ is the symbol of national unity and cohesion. MNJ is composed of fighters from all Nigerien communities. MNJ has taken an oath ("urbi et orbi") that fighting will not be directed against civilians , communities or regions. The MNJ is aware that some power elites and others would like the conflict to become an ethnic civil war, but the MNJ will not fall into this trap. MNJ will keep the international community informed, and warns those involved in the scaffolding of a Machiavellian plan they will face international criminal courts for genocide and crimes against humanity. MNJ's struggle is for development, without segregation in any region of Niger - MNJ does not tolerate Niger's management policy of dividing our country into "center" and "periphery," which has increased due to the succession of reckless opportunistic regimes ever since the "independence." MNJ is the logical outcome of such regimes, which have generated legitimate social, political and cultural claims against the government. As everyone knows, Niger has significant mineral wealth in gold, oil, uranium, phosphate, and many others. MNJ reaffirms that Niger's foreign business partners who can help us extract these resources while at the same time respecting our population's needs and environment, are welcome. In any case, such cooperation with foreign business partners: (1) cannot be undertaken in the current conflicted situation of our country, because there is no possibility for a "win-win" contract without negotiations with a regime that has established good governance. (2) must be based on respect for Niger's cultures and development interests, and specifically, the people affected by the consequences of mining processes on their environment must be taken into consideration. (3) must make sure that the extraction and treatment facilities will be located in the same areas where they are extracted, to provide jobs for the local people, and not relocated to "central" areas, depriving people in the "periphery" of jobs.

Sat. June 7: Government's attempt to malign MNJ's objectives: MNJ has disovered a media release from Niger's minister of security claiming that MNJ attacked civilians at Takoukoute! The media release said that the assailants "sent three letters to the inhabitants of Takoukou saying they were MNJ bandits." MNJ vigorously denies being associated with or behind what happened at Takoukoute.

Wed. June 11: The remarks of Niger's spokesman, the Minister of Communications, at Dakar give us less confidence than ever about the current regime in Niger. Having failed to incite a civil war, the power elites have focused on the excessive militarization of the north, under the pretext of guaranteeing military protection to mining companies, while trying to find a new way to pit the international community against MNJ by labelling us terrorists and traffickers. Niger's current leaders have the dark intention of prolonging their term in power through illegal means, and is trying to use our struggle to achieve this end.

Fri.. June 13: The Scan: The Case of Uranium, 40 Years and 4,000 Billion CFA! MNJ believes that Niger's independence rests on gaining control over the political-military groups in power who have been usurping our rights since Independence. We must bring justice and equity to bear on widespread government corruption. We must have access to safe drinking water, health, education and a clean environment - this remains a real concern. The Niger government continues to assert the fallacious notion that MNJ are drug traffickers. It is true that a drug trade developed across West Africa over the past 15 years, before MNJ emerged in Feb. 2007. The drugs are coming from the Americas, probably from Colombia. The South American drug traffickers have taken advantage of high-level complicity among both military and government administrators of several states in the sub-region [south] of Niger. These narcotrafficants have established mafia-like networks to move their criminal goods from the coast of West Africa to the Mediterranean. And it is no secret to anyone that the highest government leaders of our country are in the sub-region, and among them, the authorities the most invested in this traffic, offering cover to the narcotrafficants. MNJ remains convinced that the path out of underdevelopment is the development of Niger's mineral wealth and oil, and transparent procedures at all levels in the exploitation and marketing of these products. MNJ decided to put an end to the unsound management of profits generated by the uranium industry, which has lasted for 40 years now, at the expense of the people. From 1968 to late 2008, around 110,000 tons of uranium have been mined at Arlit, a value of $4,000 Billion francs CFA. -- 40 years, and 4,000 Billion francs -- but what economic, health, environment, social and security benefits has the country gained, particularly in the [Tuareg] regions where the uranium is mined? (1) The economic impact in the region of Arlit including the surrounding nomad camps and oases has been negative - anyone who doubts it can look at the [contaminated] drinking water situation there. (2) The environmental impact has been the scam of the century - in the semi-desert area around Arlit, the sole aquifer which serves the [indigenous nomad] community around Arlit has been radioactively polluted through uranium mining pumping extraction methods; within 10 years, the entire Tarat water table will be radioactively contaminated; with the proliferation of mining permits handed out by the Niger government, the aquifer will be depleted even more rapidly, creating a very sober situation for the future populations in the region. (3) The refusal to include local indigenous peoples in the uranium mining management, and the refusal to consider compensatory measures for damage to the people's environment, has led many citizens to become in armed revolts, and the pursuit of a military solution by the power elites. Despite the advent of democracy, our government has been characterized by corruption at the highest levels, and our highest officials have taken public funds out of the country to fill their wine-pots in foreign bank accounts, when they should be protecting the interests of citizens and the country.

Sat. June 21: Electoral sham: The government of Niger has launched a false revision of the electoral register, in an attempt to minimize the current problems in our country [by attempting to take a new census and falsely claim fewer Tuaregs than actually live in the north, so that they will have less representation]. MNJ forbids any circulation of census-takers in the regions we control.

Sun. June 22: A year ago, MNJ learned on June 2, 2007, of the disappearance in the Air (northern Niger) of three wise men: Sidi Mohamed Imolane (Kalakous), Abtchaou Kounfi, and Aoussouk Kounfi. A few days later, it became apparent that these three persons, all over 70 years old, were executed in abominable conditions by a detachment of the Armed Forces (FAN) based in Tezirzet, under the command of Capt. Daouda Nouhou and Lieut. Lawali. The authorities in Niger were aware of it, and the highest leader of the country endorsed the army's actions, saying [of the victims], "They got what they deserved." Thus it was MNJ's duty to bring justice on the perpetrators, and on June 22, 2007, our men raided the barracks at Tezirzet, and it has since been under our control. Those responsible for the killings are in our hands. Today, June 22, 2008, the anniversary of taking Tezirzet, MNJ reminds people that the fight has only just begun.

Sun. June 22: [French hostages taken from COMINAK uranium mine at Arlit] Warning! On many occasions, MNJ has alerted our country's mining partners to understand the impossibility of indulging in mining activities. MNJ undertook a commando operation on COMINAK at Arlit on the evening of June 21, to June 22. Our sole objective was to bring the reality of our claims to the mining interests. Our commando unit brought people from COMINAK to our base so that we can explain to them in person what our position is. Their families are advised that they will encounter no danger from MNJ, and we will hand them over to the Red Cross if that is convenient, to return to their families.

Tues. June 24: [Niger sends helicopters to attack] Since this morning, the government has been attacking our camp where we have four hostages, French senior executives from Areva, and military prisoners of war, using two MI-24 combat helicopters they bought recently, while holding up the Red Cross trying to take the hostages. The Niger government has endangered the lives of the French hostages in their attempt to discredit our movement.

Wed. June 25: [Bombing of civilian communities] This morning the FAN have been indiscriminately bombing (1) the outskirts of Iferouane , especially the site of the school at Tadak (which they already destroyed earlier), and (2) the village of Tchin-Touloust, just behind the Iferouane-Timia road. At Tchin-Touloust, the unnecessary bombings resulted in the total destruction of: the town's health center, the truck belonging to the village's farm cooperative, the tractor owned by a local farmer, and the vehicle belonging to someone from the region. This has delayed our handing over the 4 French hostages to the Red Cross. From the outset, we clearly stated that we have no malicious intent toward the 4 French citizens, and just want to deliver a message to Areva [French mining company] and the French government that they cannot remain outside the search for a solution to the current conflict.

Wed. June 25: We have handed over the 4 French hostages to the Red Cross, unharmed. We wish them safe return to their families, in the hope that they will transmit our messages to the French government and Areva.

Thurs. June 26: Beware of Disinformation! We have heard some media say that the MNJ handed over 4 French hostages and a Nigerien [Mr. Idris Wirghis]. MNJ asserts that we never kept Mr. Wirghis hostage. On the contrary, as Mr. Wirghis can testify himself, MNJ saved this man from the hands of bandits who captured him around Bate (region of Tanout), where he lives; these bandits were arrested, and are actually in MNJ's hands at present.

Fri. June 27: Battle at Tezirzait: Today, June 27, 2008, MNJ experienced a fierce offense by FAN, starting very early this morning, around Tezirzait. FAN used 30 tanks equipped with 21mm cannons, 2 helicopters piloted by mercenaries from Moldavia, 2 reconnaissance aircraft, and several 4x4 vehicles equipped with automatic weapons. The toll is heavy on both sides: (1) FAN lost 1 tank and it occupants, 5 vehicles and their occupants, 1 helicopter shot down (it was able to reach Arlit, where it went down between the city and the mining center). (2) MNJ lost 7 fighters, 1 missing fighter, 3 vehicles destroyed. At the moment, FAN has been repelled. We will update in the coming hours.

Fri. June 27: Update on the battle at Tezirzait: (1) FAN lost 26 soldiers. (2) We send a well-deserved tribute to our comrades fighting for Justice who fell this morning on the field of honor in performing their duty. They were sworn in unison behind their commander this morning when they left for combat with the enemy, to return to day after destroying the helicopters piloted by foreign mercenaries. Helicopters these days seem to give hope to the "Nigerien" army. (3) MNJ - 7 fighters have not returned, and the unit commander is still missing, but they have honorably completed their mission: the "Nigerien" army must now continue without helicopters and foreign mercenaries, or else buy more, on the backs of Nigeriens. MNJ's martyrs and their names will be forever etched in history. The MNJ swear in this solemn moment that their names still resound in the very heart of all Combattants of Justice, and that the movement will lead the struggle until final victory. -- Another clash occurred the same day, on June 27, on the Dirkou-Bilma route, where FAN was sending reinforcements to ezirzait, and were intercepted by one of our units. Results: (1) FAN lost 2 vehicles and 11 soldiers. (2) MNJ had no losses, neither human or material.

Sat. June 28: The International Conventions of War recognize and guarantee POWs the right to life and physical integrity. A fighter, like any soldier caught in the battlefield, is a prisoner of war. The International Convention concerning the rights of war is explicitly clear that the prisoner of war has the right to life and respect for his physical integrity. MNJ has irrefutably demonstrated its compliance with the International Convention on the rights of prisoners of war and requires the opposing party to also respect those provisions. During fighting that took place yesterday, June 27, around Tezirzait, 4 of our fighters, including Capt. Asharif Mohamed-Almoctar, fell live in the hands of FAN. We placed a call at 5 PM to the Thuraya satelite phone number of Capt. Asharif Mohamed-Almoctar (+8821655581731), found to be in the hands of a Nigerien officer; he warned us that FAN is threatening to kill these 4 combattants, including Capt. Asharif Mohamed-Almoctar who was taken wounded, who had fallen into the hands of FAN. Also, we warn that any physical liquidation or damage of any nature to the physical integrity of these prisoners will cause incalculable consequences in the wake of the current conflict. [PHOTOS] Stock photos of MI-24 helicopter. 20 milliards CFA francs (20,000,000,000 FCFA) - departed in smoke! 20 milliards for a desperate attempt to destroy the hope of Good Governance, Justice and Equality of the Nigerien People... The acquisition at the expense of the Nigerien people (Budget 2008) who continue to vegetate in misery, of two MI-24 new helicopters, costing 20 Millions of dollars for each unit, demonstrates the lack of concern by the authorities in Niamey before the suffering people of our country. The cost of peace through negotiations could have been much lower! [PHOTOS] The aircraft crashed, killing the pilot and copilot, Moldavians by nationality, along with 2 Nigeriens.

Sun. June 29: Update: On Friday June 27, we announced the fall of one of two MI-24 helicopters, between the town of Arlit and the mining center. For those who doubt it, they can verify it through the populations at Arlit. As for the second helicopter, its wreckage was located at Tamart n-Ibliss, between Gougaram and Arlit, where it currently lies. The region of Agadez will wait some time before they see MI-24s profaning the sky. The power elites in Niamey would have to spend another 20 million for two more helicopters! And, we swear on the honor of the memory of those of our fighters who died victoriously on June 27 that we will fight them this time from their first sortie. Also, we recall the formal notice to respect the rights of the 4 prisoners of war taken by FAN on June 28, including Capt. Asharif Mohamed-Almoctar, who fell live into the hands of FAN. We warn that any physical liquidation or damage of any nature whatsoever to the physical integrity of these prisoners will irreversibly change the course and guidelines in the conduct of this conflict, as well as the demands made so far. And, true to our commitments as everyone knows, we will keep our word if that happens.

Wed. July 2: Communique: Following the clashes of June 27, the FAN have tried to settle and create a position in the immediate vicinity of the village of Tezirzait, which they have not been able to take from the hands of our company established in the valley itself at Tezirzait. We recall that Tezirzait has a school (which is in ruins today), constructed with the help of a foreign partner, for the children of [Tuareg] camps associated with the wells around Tezirzait - camps where the main leaders were assassinated in the early hours of the conflict by the FAN. Through this communique, we inform Nigeriens that the FAM have been pushed back to their base at Iferouane and at this moment, all of the zone around Tezirzait is secured by MNJ. We also inform the public that FAN have poisoned the wells of Tezirzait in reprisal. Also, we warn the populations situated in the zone between Tezirzait and Iferouane to not use the well water where the FAN have passed thorugh, because these wells are certainly poisoned. We also inform the public that the FAN, disorganized after their losses, have dispersed. We have pursued certain FAN elements (3 vehicles) all the way to the border of Niger [prob. Algeria], where the military had no other choice but to intercept them. We also bring to the public's attention that FAN continues to assassinate civilians, notably on Sunday June 29, 2008, in the area of Tidene (more precisely the village of Egandawel), where they killed an individual, Inana Krima, who has been mentally ill for the past 10 years. We also recall that Capt. Asharif Mohamed-Almoctar and three of his companions were taken live by FAN. We warn that any physical liquidation or harm of any nature whatsoever to the physical integrity of these prisoners will irreversibly change the course and orientation in the conduct of this conflict.

Sun. July 6: We recall that Capt. Asharif Mohamed-Almoctar and three of his companions were captured alive by FAN. Therefore, we caution that the physical liquidation of any damage to the physical integrity of these prisoners of war will radically change the behavior that we observed so far vis-a-vis our opponents, but also introduce new requirements before any negotiated solution.

Thurs. July 10: We put the power of Niamey on notice to respect the rights of prisoners of war. [PHOTO] Capt. Asharif Mohamed-Almoctar. (Repeated warning from July 6) This notice should be taken very seriously by the power of Niamey.

Thurs. July 10: Nigeriens who want Justice and Equity for our country will never forget your work. [PHOTO] Mouhamad Silimane (Azawa) You will remain forever engraved on our memories and in the history of the struggle for Equity, Justice and the welfare of Niger. You were fallen on June 27 under the bullets of those who want to make Niger their family meal. They forgot that by this gesture they have made you more alive than alive, in the memory of Nigeriens who dream of their country relieved of injustice and theft of resources. You have left us a bequest of your commitment to justice.

Sat. July 12: Attack of the Military Company and the Governorate of Agadez. During the night of July 10-11, starting at 6:30 PM, we conducted a raid on the military company and the governorate of Agadez. The raid is a prelude to the offensive that we will, in turn, bring against the "Nigerien" army and the power of Niamey, which, it is now clear, are incapable of distinguishing between responsibility and weakness. In effect, MNJ used every means to demonstrate that in spite of the military option MNJ has been forced to take, MNJ has always
worked to involve the least Nigerien families. But, faced with blind rulers who are unable to understand that Nigeriens no longer accept that they will stay in power forever and continue to ruin our country through systematic theft of our meagre resources, we must accept walking on the barracks and relaying to those who want to keep Niger outside of progress. The price will certainly be heavy. But the liberation of Niger's people has no cost for its sons. Also, we invite all civilian populations to evacuate the areas around military barracks, as well as the institutions that represent the power of Niamey, in the interior of the country. With the duty to correct the mistakes and serious breaches under way in our country since its "independence," the ultimate need for adequate land-use administrative planning, and the absolute urgency to find the form of government and territorial administration that's adapted to our realities, the MNJ has decided to serve Nigeriens until the people have been restored all their rights. [PHOTO] [MNJ fighter holding mortar] (Reminder about Capt. Asharif Mohamed-Almoctar)

Fri. July 25: Information: We inform the public that FAN has been bombing from their positions around Tchighozerine. These bombardments with heavy artillary at dawn in the direction of the valley of Tidene and Tafadak and around the area of Tchize Malat have resulted in serious wounds among the [Tuareg] populations inhabiting these areas. Among the wounded are 7 children seriously hurt at Tidene. The populations are very traumatized by inhalation of gas following the bombing, and they don't know where to go. [PHOTO] Capt. Asharif Mohamed-Almoctar, with warning (inset).

Sat. Aug. 2: An elderly civilian from Tanout, Ghissa Wirghis, was abducted by armed individuals last month; MNJ learned of this quickly and intercepted the individuals, rescuing Mr. Wirghis, and putting him in the care of the Red Cross to take him home, the same day we released the four French hostages on June 25. The authorities at Tanout then arbitrarily arrested 10 peaceful citizens there, under the pretext that they were the ones that had taken Mr. Wirghis. The list of 10 Tuareg civilians arrested includes three peaceful chiefs of the Imazwagnan tribe and their sons, who were transferred to Zinder and remain in jail. The arrested individuals were at odds with the family of Mr. Wirghis, whose sons were instrumental in having them arrested. The authorities are thus pitting families against one another in a "divide and conquer" ploy.

Sun. Aug. 3: [Discussion of the former Prime Minister's arrest, and the political machinations that eliminated him from power, pitting communities against one another.]

Mon. Aug. 4: It is the duty of the international community to act on what is happening in Niger, the plight of the people, and the danger that hangs over our nation. Since the beginning of our resistance we have always behaved with dignity and have respected the human dignity of Nigeriens we have taken prisoner, and the Geneva Convention. We have demonstrated our commitment to national unity, the republican nature of the state, and respect and justice and equity for all Nigeriens. The national and international community are aware that we are dealing with an irresponsible government, one that's stuck on the same tune about "armed bandits and drug traffickers," and unfounded accusations. The Niger government has "ten commandments" that involve: refusing to negotiate peace; killing prisoners of war; massacres, atrocities, arrests and deportation of inncent citizens; sysematic denial of humanitarian assistance to encourage the mass exodus of populations; muzzling the press to hide the truth from the people and from the international community; enslavement of political opposition and civil society with regard to the conflict; refusing the good offices of neighboring countries in securing the subregions; abusive use and misuse of State resources under the guise of the war effort; indiscriminate dumping of mining concessions in order to carry out their policy of genocide; creating a division between the political elites and the army, to avoid a burst of patriotism. Today more than ever, we reassure the people of Niger of our determination to follow through in our struggle for restoration of their dignity, for justice and equity among all the sons of the country. For the respect of our fellow citizens and for international opinion, we are making the "Synthesis" of our legitimate claims transparently available to the Nigerien people.

Mon. Aug. 4: "Impunity" is the best way to encourage the repetition of criminal acts. [Discussion of the need to fight against impunity, and the planned execution by Niger's current leaders of the former president, Bare Mainassara, and massacres of Tuareg, including the 1990 massacre at Tchintabaraden.]

Sat. Aug. 9: During the night of Aug. 8-9, since 9 PM, we have carried out a shelling of the military postion at Tchirozerine. We have specifically targeted the position of the FAN in Tchirozerine in order to end their firing of shells on the civilian populations living in different valleys of the commune of Tchirozerine.

Tues. Aug. 19: The MNJ and its president Aghali Alambo listened with horror and disbelief at the Niger government's interpretation of the speech that our movement's president (Alambo) made to Oubari in Libya. To this end, the MNJ provide the following clarification [clarification of the speech, including]: Aghali Alambo nover spoke of liberating prisoners, a cease-fire, or laying down arms on the part of MNJ. MNJ is not, and will never be, a secessionist movement; will never lay down arms, or at least not until our legitimate claims are satisfied. The "Synthesis" [our formal claims] were handed over to his excellency Col. M. Kadhafi, at his request. HERE IS THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENT [What follows are the details of the MNJ claims and demands, somewhat revised from the ones posted in early 2007] . [abridged]

Mon. Aug. 25: On Tele-Sahel [Niger TV station] Bokar Sogoma was shown handing in his weapons without condition, to "return to the fold." We had chased him to Tefrawt on July 6 at 4 PM. He returned to Agadez on a motorbike, after we confiscated his Thuraya (satellite telephone), that had all the numbers of politicians and officers of FAN to which he reported while he was among the MNJ; it turned out he was an informer to FAN. [abridged]

Sat. Aug. 7: After several months of research and investigations, we are today in a position to inform our countrymen of maneuvers which, at Niamey, have led to a stalemate in the conflict that opposes us to the Niger authorities. [abridged]

Sat. Sept. 27: The hegemony of the multinationals [uranium companies] is getting stronger and stronger: after the French, it's now the Chinese who are storming northern Niger. Their bases are already operational with 805 of their workforce Chinese, at the expense of Nigeriens, and despite the promises made to them. As for Areva, the principle is the exploitation of mines in violation of minimum standards of safety and of safeguarding the environment. The financial fallout from the dumping of mining concessions allows the government of Niamey to increase the military tenfold, instead of investing in development. Thus, the government of Tandja has militarized the north, to enable multinational exploitation of our resources. Meanwhile, the political opposition, accomplice in power, excels through its absence on the political scene. Obscessed with promises, it has to negotiate its part in governance. Before this situation, the MNJ reaffirms its determination to continue this struggle, in its commitment to re-establish justice in Niger. Furthermore, we wish to categorically refute unfounded information relating to the so-called departure from MNJ of Commander Kindo Zada (2nd vice-president of MNJ) and all the allegations that have been made in relation to this in some of the media.

Tues. Oct. 7: Attack at Eroug: We suspended all military actions for 2 months, in order to promote diplomacy, with a view to ending the conflict between us and the authorities in Niamey through dialogue. We left the field open to all sources of mediation, who unfortunately ended up seeing for themselves the obstinacy of the authorities in Niamey who do not want the war ended. The power of Niamey had announced that MNJ no longer exists, saying no intermediaries are justifed; Niamey even sent missions abroad for this purpose! Faced with bad faith, and the rejection of any communication toward a negotiated solution, the MNJ is obliged to take military action. Early this morning we attacked the FAN stationed at Eroug, near Gougaram. At 5 PM, the FAN registered the following losses: many dead soldiers, 4 vehicles destroyed (3 Toyota 4x4 and 1 VLRA) as well as their arms, and significant quantities of arms and ammunition, recuperated by the MNJ.









... to be continued