June 10, 2013

New book, by Tuareg author Ahmed Kemil

A Nomad in Two Worlds

Ahmed Kemil, a young Tuareg man from northern Niger, has written a deeply personal and sensuous account of growing up as a camel herder in the Sahara.  The book is written in English, which will be much appreciated by those who do not read French, since much of the literature on Tuaregs is in French.  He writes about the practical concerns of nomads caring for their precious livestock.  Tuareg nomads love their camels, and the camels also love their Tuaregs; they are like members of the family.  Each camel has a history and a name.  Ahmed gives us very detailed insights into the concerns of pastoralists, their ongoing quest for water and pasture, and their understanding of the harsh terrain and the erratic weather.  He talks about his joys and his fears, including his experiences in a bush school, dealing with extreme thirst and pain, the ravages of flooding and drought, and his tragic accident at the age of seven.  He also talks about the connectivity between camps of nomads, information sharing, and their community interdependency and reciprocity that enables them to survive.  The book is filled with personal stories of Ahmed’s life as a nomad, including the second part of the book where he makes comparisons with his experiences in the U.S.

-- Dr. Barbara A. Worley, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Everyone interested in the Tuareg people should consider buying a copy of this book! Available on Amazon.com as a Kindle edition (you can read it on your computer or iPhone).
Readers do NOT need a Kindle device in order to read a "Kindle" edition - when you buy it, you will see that there are different options for reading it, whether on a Kindle device, your computer, or the Amazon "Cloud." It's easy!

April 14, 2013

Tuareg Refugees Speak Out

Thousands of Tuareg people have been demonstrating at the Mbera refugee camp in Mauretania, where they fled from the armed conflict in Mali, the racialized hatred, and the atrocities of the Malian army.  It has been really hard for them to survive in the Mbera refugee camp, because there is not enough shelter and food for everyone, and the children cannot go to school. 

Bamako recently sent representatives to tell the refugees to go back to Mali so they can vote.  But the refugees have refused for two reasons:  (1)  there have been ongoing arrests, torture, and killings by the Malian army of innocent Tuareg civilians, and (2)  the elections are not fair - for years, now they have been hijacked by government officials who are in cahoots with the narco-traffickers and jihadists.  They also pay people to vote for their candidates.  The Tuaregs want democracy and fairness.

The refugees are speaking out about the injustices going back fifty years, and the crimes of the Malian government and army against their relatives and ancestors. 

The two boys in the video are asking, "Why is Mali killing our people?" and "Why are Europeans and Arabs and other people free, but not the Tuaregs?  Why are we treated differently?"  They are saying, "The Kel Tamasheq want freedom and dignity!"

~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Population Estimates for Tuaregs

3 Million is probably the lowest reasonable estimate for total Tuareg populations as of 2013. 

Exact figures for Tuareg populations are not available.  The national census takers in countries where Tuaregs live do not classify population by ethnicity.  Therefore, all figures for Tuareg populations are based on estimates.  Estimates range from a few hundred thousand to seven million – depending on what countries and social classes of Tuaregs are included.  Many Tuaregs feel that the population estimates are usually much too low, and anthropologists generally agree that the estimates are too low. 

The Tuareg population has been in flux geographically for decades, following droughts, conflicts, and political difficulties.  Thousands upon thousands of Tuaregs have died during major droughts, after the governments denied nomads food relief.  Thousands more have died during conflicts. 

Tuaregs live largely in Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso - but also in Chad, Mauretania, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia, and other West African and North African countries, as well as Europe, the U.S., Canada, and many other countries. 

The three major anthropologists who have written extensive ethnographies of the Tuareg people are Johannes Nicolaisen, Jeremy Keenan, and Edmond Bernus.  They all acknowledge that it is difficult to estimate the total number of Tuaregs.  The estimates below go back decades – and populations have tripled or quadrupled since the 1960s. 

Johannes Nicolaisen, Anthropologist (1963)
300,000 “free Tuareg” estimated in 1963
Nicolaisen, Johannes.  1963.  Ecology and Culture of the Pastoral Tuareg.  Copenhagen:  National Museum.

Edmond Bernus, Anthropologist (1981)
“Being nomads, they are difficult to count, and census figures given for them are often underestimated (Bernus 1981:55).”
[Note:  Bernus does not speculate on total]
Bernus, Edmond.  1981.  Touaregs Nigeriens:  Unite culturelle et diversite regionale d'un peuple pasteur.  Paris:  ORSTOM.

Jeremy Keenan, Anthropologist (2004)
Estimates range from 300,000 – 3 Million.   “[The] difference is largely accounted for by definitional confusion of ‘who is a Tuareg’:  many former slaves and other formerly subordinate peoples, who still speak the Tuareg language … are often counted as Tuareg.” (p. 1)
Niger Tuaregs = 1 million probably (p. 1-2)
Mali Tuaregs = 675,000 probably (p. 1-2)
Algeria Tuaregs = 25,000-30,000 probably, based on language surveys (p. 2)
“These … figures … are further complicated by the facts that many Tuareg, especially in Mali and Niger, have been displaced from their former homelands following the pressures of droughts and civil wars in the 1980s and 1990s, and … [migration] in search of employment.” (p. 2)
Source:  Keenan, Jeremy,  2004.  Introduction:  Indigenous Rights and a Future Politic amongst Algeria’s Tuareg after Forty Years of Independence.  IN:  The Lesser Gods of the Sahara.  London:  Frank Cass.  pp. 1-3

The Tuareg themselves claim to be more than three million.”
[Note:  Most Tuaregs include any native speaker of Temasheq, no matter what nationality or social class.]

3 Million is probably the lowest reasonable estimate for total Tuareg populations as of 2013. 

U.S. Embassy cable, Bamako:
“Tuaregs likely account for more than 50 percent of northern Malians, and Songhrai around 35 percent.”
U.S. Embassy cable, Bamako.  April 17, 2008

Examples of estimates from non-anthropology sources:

1 Million plus
“The total Tuareg population is well over 1 million individuals.”
Niger = around 500,000
Mali = 450,000
[Does not include other countries; does not give dates or sources for figures.]
Keith Brown, Sarah Ogilvie, Concise encyclopedia of languages of the world, Elsevier, 2008, p. 152

1.5 to 3 Million
“Although their population of 1.5 million to 3 million spans five countries — Libya, Algeria, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso — the Tuareg are barely represented in any of those countries' capitals.”  Oct. 11, 2011
[Note:  Many Tuaregs in these countries would be agro-pastoralists or nomads living in rural areas.]

2 Million plus
Mali - “Tuareg and Maure 625,000 (5%)”  (2007)
Niger - “The greatest number of Tuareg, around one million, live in Niger, mostly south and west of Air Massif, with smaller populations in Algeria, Mali and Libya.” (July 2008)
[Note:  these numbers exclude all the other Tuaregs in other countries]

3 Million plus
“The Tuareg population in the central Sahara region, which currently numbers more than 3 million people.”

3 Million plus
The Tuareg themselves claim to be more than three million. Yet their number has variously been estimated at some 1.5 to 2 million, with the majority of some 750,000 living in Niger, and 550,000 in Mali. In Algeria they are estimated at 40,000, excluding some 100,000 refugees from Mali and Niger, and the same number is officially admitted to live in Burkina Faso. Proper figures are not established in Libya and other West African francophone countries.”

4-5 Million
These numbers are all estimates, and may exclude Tuareg who are assimilated into the general population of these countries.
Niger: 1.4 million
Mali: 1.5 million
Algeria: 590,000
Burkina Faso: 160,000
Libya: 190,000
Chad: 110.000
[Total:  3,950,000]

Almost 5 Million [plus other countries]
Niger = 1,720,000 (1998)
Mali = 1,440,000 (1991)
Algeria = 1,025,000 (1987)
Burkina Faso = 600,000 (1991)
[Total: 4,785,000]
[Does not mention Libya, Mauretania, Chad, Nigeria, or other countries]
[Note:  These dates are really old; population has increased since the 80s and 90s]
[Princeton links the countries to Wikipedia, but I couldn’t find these numbers on Wikipedia, so don’t know where Princeton got these numbers]

5 Million
“Today the Tuareg population numbers roughly 5 million centered around the countries that ring the Sahara Desert, mainly Algeria, Libya, Mali and Niger.”   
[No further information or source is provided.]
Hoffner, Barry.  Caravan to Class.  Marin Travels With Purpose.  June 30, 2010.  Accessed April 13, 2013.  http://marintravelswithpurpose.wordpress.com/tag/tuareg/

5.2 Million
“In 1995, the governments of Niger and Mali negotiated a peace deal with Tuareg rebel groups that ended a six-year rebellion. The deal offered financial incentives and the broader integration of Tuaregs into positions of importance in the governments and militaries of both countries, where two-thirds of the Tuareg population lives, about 3.5 million people.”
[Note:  This is only for Niger and Mali; other countries are excluded.  If 2/3 of the Tuareg population = 3.5 Million, then the total Tuareg population would be 5,250,000]
Chilson, Peter.  Mali: Limbo Land.  Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.  June 15, 2012.  http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/mali-burkina-faso-border-conflict-nationalism-islam-tuareg-azawad

6 Million
April 30, 2012  The Tuaregs, a Berber people now numbering some some six million, inhabit the northern Sahara regions of Mail, as well as northern Niger and southern Algeria.”
Homeland Security Newswire: 
[2 Million in Mali alone]  “Northern Tuareg secessionists in Mali, who have already seized two-thirds of that country — an area larger than France, but with a mostly-nomad Tuareg population of only two million”
Homeland Security Newswire: 

7 Million
Somebody editing the Wikipedia article on Tuareg people claims they saw a figure of 7 Million, but did not provide a source.
“I also read that the total range of the Tuareg population is estimated at around 7 million (throughout Africa's Sahara/Sahel region). I'll try to find that link on the population figure.”

CIA World Factbook:
[Note:  The national census does not specify ethnicity – these are estimates.]
Niger = Tuareg = 9.3%
Mali – “Tuareg and Moor” are 10%, but Tamacheq language is only 3.5% 
Libya – Lumps Berbers and Arabs together (97%), but does list Tamasheq as a language. 
Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauretania, Nigeria, Tunisia, and Sudan (Darfur) - Do not list Tuaregs as a separate ethnic group.
There are also some Tuaregs in all the other West African and North African countries. 
There are also some Tuaregs in Europe, the U.S., Canada, and other world areas.

March 01, 2013

Anti-Tuareg Propaganda: Cease and Desist

I just posted the following on Bruce Whitehouse's blog article. The propaganda war against the Tuareg people is being fought by people who do not even know them - including the writer of the blog article, who is an anthropologist.

Bruce Whitehouse, you should be ashamed of yourself. You are no expert on the Tuaregs to be saying such misleading and damaging things about them, and you have grossly violated the anthropological code of ethics. No one should take anything you say seriously because it is clear that you have a lethal axe to grind on the Tuareg people, without any authority whatsoever.

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) Code of Ethics says anthropologists have an obligation toward vulnerable populations, to carefully weigh the consequences of what they claim about them. Your statements about the Tuareg people demonstrate your partisan bias against them, at a time when people of Tuareg identity are at high risk for genocidal attacks, in a very sensitive geopolitical situation that is dangerously impacting them. You are in flagrant default of the AAA Code of Ethics and you should be ashamed of yourself for making claims and arguments that are damaging to the Tuareg people. You owe an apology to the hundreds of thousands of Tuareg people that you have disrespected at a time when they are fleeing racialized hatred and genocidal attacks. Your words have added to the propaganda and hatred against the Tuareg people.

For you to say that In Kati, the burning of Tuareg homes wasn’t discrimination, it was “a misunderstanding” is a gross misrepresentation of what happened at Kati. The streets filled with mobs of people screaming “Death to the Tuaregs!” The Tuareg people were chased, robbed, and had their homes burned, and hundreds of thousands of Tuareg people have fled the visceral hatred and horrific abuses against them in Mali. A year later, they are still refugees, having lost their homes and livelihoods. What happened at Kati is emblematic of the abuses and atrocities that Tuareg people have suffered for the past 53 years. Your attempt to softpedal the ethnic hatred that has motivated the government of Bamako and people in the south is insulting and damaging to the Tuareg people. In soft-pedaling the ethnic hatred, you are showing your support for it.

You have tried to shut up the Tuaregs who have posted on your blog, telling them (in French) to keep their opinions to themselves, while at the same time blathering your own racist opinions against the Tuareg people. Tuareg voices have been shut up for much too long. They are indeed “coming out of the woodwork” – your choice of words, a pejorative usage for disgusting things like bugs that “come out of the woodwork.” Your words constitute propaganda against the Tuareg people, and your attempts to shut them up are utterly disgraceful for an anthropologist. The Tuaregs are not bugs, and they are beginning to have their voices heard by speaking out against unjust propagandists such as yourself. You insulted one Tuareg who attempted to write in imperfect English, and claimed you could not understand him – but it is plenty clear that the Tuareg writer is bringing his own argument to bear on your damaging words.

It’s true that you are “no expert on the Tuareg,” and you should not be making arguments against them. You are unable to bring clarity to the problems facing the Tuareg people, and you have no authority whatsoever to be making the claims you are making against them. As an anthropologist, you have exceeded the limit of ethnocentrism and you are actively promoting perspectives that are damaging to a vulnerable ethnic group that you do not even know well enough to discuss responsibly.

-- Barbara A. Worley, Ph.D. (Columbia University) - Anthropologist and Tuareg specialist for forty years

February 20, 2013

Playing the "Slavery Card"

© Copyright Barbara A. Worley 2013

Please type the citation to this article as follows:
Worley, Barbara A.
2013  “Playing the Slavery Card.”  Tuareg Culture and News.  February 20, 2013.  Accessed on the Internet  [date]  http://tuaregcultureandnews.blogspot.com/2013/02/playing-slavery-card.html
Some of the worst enemies of the Tuareg people are Westerners who make their livelihood by spreading fear and hatred for an entire population that they do not know.  Several days ago, USA Today published an article [1] by a young American reporter who wrote that “Tuaregs have long kept slaves,” and implied that Tuaregs are still “taking slaves” today and holding them captive.  This is incorrect.  The Tuaregs do not own slaves today, and do not capture people or hold them as slaves.  The reporter based her article largely on propaganda she heard from one individual in southern Mali. 
The key to understanding why people in southern Mali are spreading such propaganda is contained in the USA Today writer’s own observation:  Human Rights Watch said the Malian army and black African civilians are holding all Tuaregs and Arabs responsible for the recent months of terror and human rights abuses, whether or not they participated in the crimes.”  In order to report truthfully on the situation in Mali, the writer should have taken her cue from the fact that the Bamako government, the Malian army, and various people in the south are vilifying “all Tuaregs,” who live mainly in the north. 
The stigmatization of an entire population of hundreds of thousands of people is a propaganda war.  It can lead to genocide.  In Rwanda, the action began unrolling as Hutus started publicizing hate messages about Tutsis.  The Tuareg people are fearful of genocide. 
The Malian army and government are dominated by ethnic groups in southern Mali that are opposed to the Tuareg people.  Various people in the south have been spreading fear and hatred of Tuareg people in order to gain Western financial, military, and political support – and to justify the Malian army’s gross abuses and atrocities against the Tuareg civilian population., which have been documented throughout this past year by human rights organizations. 
Mali has often played the “slavery card” against the Tuareg people to sway Western support against them.  However, we must keep in mind that raiding, trading, and keeping slaves was practiced by many peoples of Africa, and by ancestors of practically all the cultural groups in Mali.  The predominant Bambara culture in southern Mali was no exception [2].
The “slavery card” is a propaganda tool that is used to stigmatize a people unjustly, to motivate Westerners and others to sympathize with the accusers, and to downplay or ignore the legitimate grievances of the people who are accused. 
Slavery in Mali  was formally abolished in 1905 after the French colonized the region where Mali is today.  Raids by the Bambara, Tuaregs, and others to capture people and enslave them ended in the 1800s, and some slaves left their masters after the 1905 emancipation.  Tuaregs no longer own slaves, and the inheritance of slaves stopped decades ago. 
Some people – in nearly every ethnic group in Mali – continued to maintain slaves for some years during the colonial period.  The term “Bella” is a Songhay term for “slave” that was applied by the French to slaves in every ethnic group in Mali.  The Tuareg term is iklan.  The French did little to enforce the anti-slavery law.  There were few options for slave-status people to obtain work elsewhere.  Slaves were emancipated.  But iklan remained a recognized social status in a residual social system that included nobles, vassals, marabouts, blacksmiths, and slave-status members, all of them considered Tuaregs. 
By the mid-1940s, the majority of emancipated slaves had left their masters and began living independently.  Other freed slaves continued to live in a patron-client relationship with their associated families, who provided them with work and income or payment in kind.  The political turmoil of the 1960s, and especially the drought of the 1970s greatly impoverished the Tuareg populations.  Many Tuaregs fled Mali to escape government oppression and army massacres. Nomad populations, including the iklan, were denied food aid during the drought, and many Tuaregs lost their livestock in the disaster. 
By the mid-1970s, the vast majority of Tuaregs, no matter what their social class,  were living in abject poverty and could no longer afford to support servants.  Members of the “noble” social class were performing domestic chores such as grinding grain and hauling drinking water.  In some cases, descendants of freed slaves continued to live in proximity to the families of their ancestors’ former masters.  They did so by choice, because some Tuaregs treated iklan like friends or members of the family, and the iklan had special roles to play in family gatherings and rituals.
The Tuareg social system has gradually evolved over the past 100 years since the abolition of slavery.  Tuaregs have welcomed the transition to democracy, recognizing that all Tuaregs, including descendants of former slaves, have equal rights under the law.  The social system that recognized “slaves” as a social class is in decline.
In a video documentary titled “Modern Day Slaves - Niger” [3] a Niger government official says it is a falsehood to say that “slavery exists.”  Social status terms like iklan exist as artifacts of the evolving social system, but the practice of slavery does not.  The film also shows that some iklan continue to live with their associated families, in patron-client relationships.  The director of the Niger anti-slavery association Timidria explains:  “You will not find a slave market in Niger; nor will you find a shackled slave, and even less a slave transaction.  On the other hand, what the type of slavery we experience shares with the former slave trade is humiliation, stigmas, the labels of persons who are considered sub-human.” In other words, the practice of slavery does not exist – it’s the stigma of being descended from former slaves that exists, at least in some places.  In the film, a Timidria agent tries repeatedly to coerce a Tuareg family to admit that they are “slaves” working for a “master,” and they repeatedly deny it.  The film’s narrator says, “That has made it a problem for Timidria to prove that there are 870,000 slaves… The central government’s representative here … says there are none.”  The governor of Tahoua then says, “I can tell you that to my knowledge as the Governor of the Tahoua region which I have been leading for almost six years, I have never been made aware that slavery exists in the region.”  The film’s narrator says, “The government has long accused Timidria of inventing claims of slavery, to get money from international donors.”
It is possible to make a comparison with the U.S., following abolition, when slaves were freed but many Americans in the south continued to think in terms of the old social system.  It takes time for a population to make a full adjustment to a major change in social organization.  African-Americans today still feel the pain and stigma of their ancestors who were once slaves, and discrimination has not disappeared. 
Slavery was formally and legally abolished in America over 150 years ago, and in Mali over a century ago.  Social change is an ongoing process, as people continue to adjust to a different social system, and different ways of thinking.  There is a difference, however, between a “slave” social status and “keeping slaves.”  Both are repugnant, and all of the ethnic groups in Mali and Niger are gradually making the transition that Americans and Europeans have had to make to achieve a more truly democratic society.  Democracy is relatively recent in Mali and Niger, since the early 1990s.  The fact is that Tuaregs today do not capture, own, or keep slaves, and they recognize the value of democracy.
The United States, and many European countries, also had a long history of slavery.  Slavery is a sad part of our history that we share with many African peoples.  Like Americans and Europeans, African peoples are making the effort to move past that history.  
Many Tuaregs are dismayed by the falsehoods reported in the USA Today article.  Tuareg voices are being expunged from the media by a powerful propaganda campaign promoted by various political voices in the south, reinforced by Western journalists who do not understand the political dynamics in Mali.  We must help the Tuareg people communicate the truths of their suffering – and the vilification of their population by people in Mali and by Western reporters who do not even know them.

-- Prof. Barbara A. Worley, The University of Massachusetts

[1] http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/NEWS/usaedition/2013-02-15-French-incursion-frees-some-slaves-of-Mali_ST_U.htm


[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfsB5g-R9eQ

February 17, 2013

MNLA Communique No 52 Feb 11, 2013

Bilal ag Acherif

(This English translation is approximate)

1.  The MNLA [National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad] would like to remind everyone that the MNLA was at the outset a peaceful movement that tried to work for a political settlement of the issues through dialogue – and this includes our correspondence addressed to the Malian authorities dated 05 October 2011 [several months before the armed conflict that began January 17, 2012]
2.  The MNLA is asking for the immediate opening of negotiations with the Government of Mali, to lay down the conditions for the exercise of authority, administration, and development in Azawad.
3.  The MNLA is requesting the appointment of a neutral mediator, one who is internationally recognized, and accredited by both parties [MNLA and Mali].
4.  The MNLA does not take issue with the internationally recognized borders of Mali, while clearly keeping in mind that Azawad exists as an entity.
5.  The MNLA recalls that on the eve of the independence of the Sudanese Republic, which is now the Republic of Mali, the populations of Azawad joined Mali's independence but wanted respect for their cultures and their dignity.
6.  Given our commitment to peace, the MNLA is requesting the participation of France, the United States of America, United Nations, European Union, African Union, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, as observers in the negotiations with Mali.
7.  The MNLA reaffirms its commitment to the International Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations, and fundamental freedoms.
8.  Considering the poverty, abandonment, and contempt in which populations of Azawad have always been kept within Mali, the MNLA is asking for aid and development for Azawad:
      a.  Health services (clinics and hospitals)
      b.  Water and electricity
      c.  Food aid - the population urgently needs food
      d.  Reopening the schools throughout Azawad, and support for students to take up their studies again
      e.  The MNLA is asking for amelioration of the degraded living conditions of refugees and displaced populations, and help for them to return quickly to their homes and pasture sites.
9.    The MNLA is asking for the appointment of a coordinator approved by both parties [MNLA and Mali], to restore these basic services in Azawad, and to establish effective procedures to ensure transparency in the management of funds, to avoid corruption and nepotism.
10.  The MNLA maintains its commitment to fight against terrorism and assumes its share of responsibility in this fight, according to its means.
11. The MNLA does not accept a Malian military presence in areas under its control before the end of negotiations.  The MNLA favors a political solution to the issue of Azawad.
12. The MNLA wants to draw the attention of the international community to the many abuses that have recently been committed in areas occupied by the Malian army.  The MNLA  supports the request of Human Rights Watch to start an independent international commission of inquiry into these recent human rights abuses. The MNLA is also asking for the opening of an independent international investigation to shed light on the crimes committed by the Malian army from 1963 to the present day among the populations of Azawad.
13. The MNLA denies any responsibility for the sad events in Aguelhoc in January 2012, and is eager for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to establish the facts surrounding Aguelhoc.  The MNLA is willing to contribute to a search for the truth of what happened at Aguelhoc.  

Written at Kidal, February 11, 2013
President of the Transitory Council of the State of Azawad (CTEA)
Bilal Ag Acherif


Human Rights Report - Moussa Ag Acharatoumane

Written by Moussa Ag Acharatoumane
Toumast Press
Saturday, February 16, 2013 8:35 p.m.

Since the beginning of “Operation SERVAL” in Azawad, the MNLA has continued to bring to public awareness the rights of civilian populations who are facing an outpouring of vengeance that is animating the Malian military and local politicians who are returning to Timbuktu and Gao. These "returnees" are trying to galvanize feelings of vengeance among the local populations.

The National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA) reminds the national and international community that it must remain committed to the principles of international law regarding the protection of civilians.

October 22-27, 2012 – Sokolo[i]:

Eight (08) Tuareg pastoralists were abducted and executed in a camp not far from Diabali in the region of Ségou.  Additionally, other abuses were committed against a nomadic camp between Sokolo and Nara in the middle of that week. We were told about Malian soldiers entering the nomad camp, and leaving with the men, as well as their vehicles and numerous sheep, on the eve of the feast of Tabaski. It is this same Diabali army barracks which was already implicated in the massacre of 16 Muslim preachers the previous month [September 9, 2012].

On November 28, 2012, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon[ii] expressed his concerns about the risk of military intervention in Mali, and he asked the UN Counsel to ensure that the African forces will respect human rights before giving the green light to its implementation.   The concerns of the Secretary General of the UN have now proven a reality that must be addressed.

At the beginning of 2013, during a press conference on Tuesday, January 22, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon[iii] welcomed the "courageous" intervention of France in Mali.  Ban Ki-moon has continued to warn repeatedly about the risks of this humanitarian intervention. UN resolution 2085[iv] advises a political process to resolve the conflict. This resolution should allow for negotiations with the movements that have severed all ties with terrorist organizations.  The MNLA has always distanced itself from such groups and has refused any compromise with them.

Despite appeals to the UN and NGOs, the Malian authorities have turned a blind eye to these very troubling crimes.


Human Rights Watch[v] reports, February 1, 2013:  "
Malian government forces summarily executed at least 13 suspected Islamist supporters and forcibly disappeared five others from the garrison town of Sévaré and in Konna during January 2013.... Islamist armed groups in Konna executed at least seven Malian soldiers, five of whom were wounded, and used children as soldiers in combat.”

According to the Testimony of relatives and neighbors gathered by Human Rights Watch, “Another witness said that on January 22, Malian soldiers took a well-known religious leader from the village of Gnimi-Gnama while he was preparing for prayer. Five days later, his bloated body was found a kilometer away….  Between January 9 and 18 in Sévaré, Konna, and surrounding villages, Malian soldiers also allegedly forcibly disappeared five men, mostly ethnic Peuhl [Fulani].”

Amnesty International[vi] has received several reports indicating that members of the Malian army have committed extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances on January 10 and 11. More than 20 civilians have been arrested in the streets or at the bus station in Sevaré. Bodies were thrown into a well in the neighborhood of Waïludé.

The International Federation of Human Rights[vii] has warned the international community that the situation requires concerned parties to react in order to avoid further reprisals and serious intercommunal tensions. Responding to this information, the French Minister of Defence appealed to the Malian army to be "extremely vigilant" against the risk of abuse. "The army must be irreproacable, and there can be no question that we will sanction any actions that we would reproach for the terrorists," the Malian government said in a statement, but all of that remains empty talk.

The Malian army’s vengeance that was predicted before Operation SERVAL began has thus ensued and continues to come to the knowledge of the national and international community – but no perpetrator has been arrested.

These last two months have seen the fury of the Malian army, unable to accept its earlier defeat in Azawad, which is now attacking unarmed civilians – and there is no help from anyone to assuage the Malian army’s hatred.  The Malian army’s abuses and extra-judicial summary executions have continued – under the gaze of a disillusioned international community that is reluctant to express any outrage at the horrors.

According to Russia Today[viii] correspondent Gonzalo Wanchad:

“Concerning the number of victims, the Russia Today correspondant cites the example of a specific case of 25 villages that constitute the Malian district of Konna.  "The final outcome of the liberation effort is certainly deplorable.  According to our survey, the French Air Force reported killing only two rebels.  But it is the civilian population that paid the heaviest price for liberation:  14 civilians were killed by French bombs.”  (Watch the video[ix]).

"At the time of the bombing, I was not home. I was praying when they came to tell me that my family had been bombed. They destroyed everything I had: my family and livelihood,” said Idriss Meiga, a farmer Konna whose wife and 3 children (ages 11, 10 and 6 years ) were killed in the French air raids.

Abdoul Kappo explains that his family had to take in the three children of a mother killed in the bombing. "The little ones came running and told us that their mother had been killed. I have been taking care of them at my home. Their mother died after an hour of suffering. She has left her three children. Now they only have us,” said Abdoul Kampo.

Olivier Herviaux[x], international journalist, reports:

In the region of Niono other witnesses hve described abuses carried out by the Malian army. The victims include two cousins, Aboubakrim Ag Mohamed, a marabout and farmer aged 37, and Samba Ag Ibrahim, a shepherd aged 50, who were killed at Ceribala, 40 kilometers from Niono on Friday, January 18, 2013.

At Kona, five (05) civilians including a mother and her three young children were killed during the counter-offensive led by the French and Malian troops.

Edifying Testimony offered by Hadija Minetou on BellewarMedia[xi]:

Translation [from Arabic]:  She [an elderly woman, Menatou] arrived at the refugee camp of M'bera east of Mauritania. She was a refugee looking for a safe place, after leaving her two sons in the city after the outbreak of the war. Menatou just recently had information confirming that traitors had taken her sons. The Sahel news agency had this conversation with her:  It was a very moving debate, she remembered with sadness, with her two sons  and a brother she had left in the Mopti region after being forced to leave.  She lost track of their news, and then she learned that they were brutally killed. She was crying, saying: We belong to God and to Him I will return; I swear they were all killed. This elderly woman has not been able to sleep since she had lost contact with her sons and her brother. She experiences extremely difficult moments when she tries to talk about it; she remembers that this war is entering s phase of ethnic cleansing and she wants to know how to save the innocent civilians from this tragedy. This is the story of Aminatou [Menatou], a widow seeking refuge, who spent 10 days on the road between Mopti and Toumbouctou braving difficulties, traumatized by the pain of having been forced to abandon her sons and her brother, whose executioners have no mercy! Who can help her?


The information we collected through our surveys, among witnesses and family members of the victims, all reveal that there is a manhunt for "Tuaregs."  When Timbuktu and Gao were re-taken by Malian and French armies supported by [Hadj Gamou’s] troops from Niger, it was followed by looting, theft, and vandalism against the inhabitants and their property.

Summary Executions:

At Timbuktu, as of February 6, 2012:

Mohamed Ag Mohamed Ousmane Ag Hama Ag Ihalissane (known as “Wagui”), a man aged 65 who was the father of 11 children (6 boys and 5 girls), was arrested by members of the Malian army under the command of Colonel Sangaré and Captain Konate, and they summarily executed him.

Mohamed Lamin Ould Hamoudi, Director of the Nour El Moubine Medersa [school]

Mohamed Ould Tijani, along with others whose bodies have not yet been identified – killed by the Malian army and their Gandakoy militia.

A mass grave was also discovered in Timbuktu, not far from the Hotel Azalai – some bodies have been identified and some remain unidentified.

At Timbuktu, as of February 14, 2012:

One of the most recent atrocities against Tuareg and Arab civilians occurred on Febuary 14, 2012, in Timbuktu. In circumstances that remain to be determined (no independent observer was on site), the Malian army arrested Eljimite Ag Khaked (age 56) and his son Biga Ag Eljimite (age 19). Soon after, the bodies of the two victims were found outside the city.

At Douenza – Ould Douchy

At Ber – Mohamed Ibrahim Ag Hama, known as Daha

At Gossi – February 10, 2012, Imam Mohamed Issouf Ag Attayoub and another person whose name is not yet known.

At Léré – January 15, 2012, the following ten people were killed by the Malian army:

1.  Moctar ag Barha
2.  Oumar ag Ayaye
3.  Ibrahim ag Mossa
4.  Ibrahim ag Halay
5.  Mohamed Balla ag Intamalou
6.  Humaydi ag Intahana
7.  Abdallah ag Matta
8.  Mohamed ag Souka
9.  Iskaw ag Alkher
10.  Amaha ag Elmahdi

In the town of Gossi and around it, the Malian army is blamed by both reporters and witnesses. The number of missing persons [“disappearances”] is estimated at more than 32 according to eyewitnesses who observed their arrests at Gossi. Among these were children and elderly people.  The Malian army is hunting for "red skins," as the soldiers and their guides say.  The 11 names that have been reported among the 32 are either the exact identities of these individuals or else pseudonyms, according to rapporteurs. They were executed a few kilometers from the town, along a pond known as "Ebang I Mallane."


In the region of Gao, at Tagarangabote (circle Ansongo, site of the latest clashes between MUJAO and MNLA), the Malian army detained the entire population at a well, and 22 motorcycles were confiscated from their owners and burned. One man was robbed of his 4/4 vehicle and his satellite phone, then forcibly dragged to Ansongo. In the city of Gao there were also abuses and executions. We note that in each of the towns and villages mentioned here, the Malian army systematically forced people to evacuate their homes, and confiscated their property, ransacking what little was left in the hands of the families.

People reported “disappeared”:

At Gossi:
1.  Alkhalifa Haidara
2.  Bada Lamina Ould Taher
3.  Checkou Kunta
4.  Ahmed Ould Bakaye
5.  Med Aly
6.  Aboubacrine Ag Ayouba (14 years)
7.  Bachir Ould Hammar
8.  Fassil Kountam
9.  Aghaly Ag Sidi
10.  Abdourazack Ould Yahia
11.  Mohamed Ag Issouf

At Toya:  Med Ag Atiyoub, and his brother Abdallah Ag Attiyoub
At Bonus:  Oumar Ag Koukou
At Nara:  National Guard Sergeant Chief Arby ould Chaibani
At Kati:  Sergeant Wani Ould Oumar
At Timbuktu:  Aly Ould Khabadi, a merchant in the Abaradjou neighborhood  (Thursday, 14 February)
At Timbuktu:  Akassam Ag Himna

Many summary executions have taken place, but the details of names and data could not be obtained for all of them, because of the pressure on civilians and the hunt for “light-skinned” people.

We note that in each of the towns and villages mentioned above cons, the Malian army engaged in systematic excavations of homes, involving a rampage of confiscation and looting of the families’ property.

As Mr. Hama Ag Mahmoud, a member of MNLA, announced in October 2012, Bamako must react quickly, very quickly and take clear measures: "Mali must provide evidence that there is a government which oversees the country. We expect an investigation and especially some action. We want evidence of sanctions – not military sanctions but criminal sanctions.”

The MNLA is concerned about the impunity of these  crimes against the civilian population of Azawad, throughout all this conflict (1963-2012) with Mali, and the fact that the perpetrators continue to be political and military actors of Mali who are not subject to any legal proceedings.

International human rights, and people’s rights during war, applies to all armed parties in the Malian conflict.  These laws include Common Article 3, common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions, and the customary laws of war. Common Article 3 and Protocol II specifically prohibit the killing of captured combatants and civilians in detention. Individuals who deliberately commit serious violations of the law of war may be prosecuted for war crimes. 

For this purpose the MNLA, calls National and International jurisdictions to shed light on Mali and that the perpetrators (civilian and military) of massacres of the people of Azawad must be placed under arrest and brought before the International Courts including the International Criminal Court, which has opened an investigation into the situation in Mali. 

Given all of our warnings that were not heeded, and having witnessed the genocide of the 1990s, the opening of a Special Tribunal for Mali is an absolute necessity to shed light on any abuses that took place from 1963 to the present. The MNLA recalls that war crimes committed by any belligerent must be taken into account and punished under the Geneva Convention of 1949.

Moussa Ag Acharatoumane
Human Rights Officer of the CTEA

The original report is in French:


[i] http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20121027-mali-le-mnla-demande-bamako-explications-recentes-exactions-contre-touaregs
[ii] http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20121129-mali-ban-ki-moon-risques-intervention-ansar-dine-lere-mnla
[iii] http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20130123-ban-ki-moon-reserve-un-soutien-onu-operation-militaire-mali
[iv] http://www.un.org/News/fr-press/docs/2012/CS10870.doc.htm
[v] http://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2013/01/31/mali-l-armee-malienne-et-des-groupes-islamistes-ont-execute-des-prisonniers
[vi] http://www.amnesty.org/fr/news/mali-civilians-risk-all-sides-conflict-2013-02-01
[vii] http://www.fidh.org/Operation-de-reconquete-du-Nord-12814
[viii] http://www.voltairenet.org/article177442.html
[ix] http://www.voltairenet.org/article177442.html
[x] http://africamix.blog.lemonde.fr/2013/02/01/mali/
[xi] https://www.facebook.com/BellewarMedia

Human Rights Report - ARVRA

The Malian army has executed or "disappeared" more than 200 civilians in the past month

Report:  Association of Refugees and Victims of Repression of Azawad  (ARVRA)

There have been 200 extrajudicial executions of Azawad civilians by the Malian army  since the beginning of the French intervention!

The Malian army has executed or abducted more than 200 civilians, mostly Tuaregs and Moors, between 11 January and 15 February 2013 in the wake of the French intervention. This figure is 15 times higher than the number of crimes committed by the Malian forces during the three months that were spent in clashes between the Malian army and the MNLA (January-March 2012).

Extrajudicial executions, assassinations, murders and abductions of Tuareg, Moors, Fulani and Songhai people occur blatantly, often during the day and in the presence of witnesses. Soldiers, during operations, publicly rape, steal, and plunder property belonging to members of the above mentioned communities and in some cases supervise the acts of vandalism by black populations on location.  Thus there were reports relating scenes of public looting under the watchful eye of the Malian military the day after the arrival of the French in Timbuktu. According to numerous witnesses, hundreds of cattle were taken from their owners by the Malian military in the area of ​​Gourma, and taken to Sevaré.

All these acts have taken place in places that were re-taken by French forces after they surrendered to the Malian army - since the Malian army had been unable to move around on its own without the protection of French soldiers. Such crimes have taken place in Konna, Sévaré, Niono, Diabali, Douentza, Gossi, Gao, Lere, Gundam, and Timbuktu ....

As of February 15th,  Malian soldiers have executed more than twenty people in various places in the Tombouctou region:  at Léré, 12 Tuaregs; at Echel near Tonka, 3 people; at Tintaboraghen (south of Timbuktu), 9 people – including 6 from the same family.

ARVRA (Association of refugees and victims of repressions Azawad) is making the list available, including the places and the testimony of several witnesses concerning gross and massive violations of human rights.

Therefore, the ARVRA association expresses its deep concern and, to its amazement, the face deafening silence of the French and Malian authorities in the killing of innocent civilians since January 11, 2013. We recall that these people have also been living under the yoke of the obscurantist [Islamist/jihadist] forces and suffered their abuses.

If the fight against terrorism is a just war, it can not overlook all of these war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.

It is imperative that the Human Rights organizations, the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS, and particularly the French and Malian authorities – take their responsibilities in demanding the immediate cessation of acts of violence against innocent civilians.

We are urging France to address Mali concerning these massacres without delay – directly and officially – to cease and desist these atrocities, and to have the perpetrators arrested. The presence of French troops on the ground in Mali and Azawad suggests that it is possible, necessary and indispensable for France to take action.

We call on the ICC [International Criminal Court], in particular, the ICC Attorney General, to exercise diligence and impartiality in challenging the authorities in Bamako and opening an investigation on these crimes.

February 16, 2013

Abdourahmane AG Mohamed Elmoctar

President of ARVRA

Association des Réfugiés et Victimes des Répressions de l’Azawad

200 exécutions extrajudiciaires de civils azawadiens par l’armée malienne depuis le début de l’intervention française !!!

L’armée malienne a exécuté et, ou enlevé plus de 200 civils  majoritairement Touaregs et Maures entre le 11 janvier et le 15 février 2013 dans le sillage de l’intervention française. Ce chiffre est 15 fois supérieur au nombre d’exactions commises par les forces maliennes au cours des trois mois qu’ont duré les affrontements entre le MNLA et l’armée malienne (janvier à mars 2012).
Les exécutions extrajudiciaires, les assassinats, les meurtres et les enlèvements de touaregs, maures, peuls et songhaïs se produisent de façon flagrante, souvent de jour, et en présence de témoins.  Les soldats, en opérations, violent, volent et pillent publiquement les biens appartenant aux communautés sus mentionnées et dans certains cas supervisent les actes de vandalisme par les populations noires restées sur place. Ainsi que le relatent les reportages de scènes de pillages publics sous l’œil bienveillant des militaires maliens le jour suivant l’arrivée des français à Tombouctou. De nombreux témoignages font de centaines de têtes de bétail enlevé dans la zone du Gourma par les militaires maliens et convoyé sur Sevaré 
Tous ces actes se déroulent dans les localités reprises par les forces françaises après leur rétrocession à l’armée malienne, celle-ci étant incapable de circuler toute seule sans la protection des soldats français. Il en est ainsi à Konna, Sévaré, Niono, Diabali, Douentza, Gossi, Gao, Léré, Goundam, Tombouctou….
Pas plus tard que dans la journée du 15 février les soldats maliens ont exécuté plus d’une vingtaine de personnes à divers endroits dans la région de Tombouctou : Léré, 12 touaregs, 3 personnes à Echel, près de Tonka, 9 personnes dont 6 d’une même famille à Tintaboraghen, au sud de Tombouctou).
ARVRA (association des réfugiés et victimes des répressions de l’Azawad) tient à disposition la liste, les lieux ainsi quelques témoignages sur ces violations flagrantes et massives des droits humains.
Par conséquent, l’association exprime sa vive préoccupation ainsi que sa stupeur face au silence assourdissant des autorités Françaises et maliennes dans le massacre des populations civiles innocentes depuis le 11 janvier 2013. Nous rappelons que ces populations ont vécu sous le joug des forces obscurantistes et subi leurs exactions.
Si la lutte contre le terrorisme, est une guerre juste, elle ne peut cependant pas occulter tous ces crimes de guerre, crimes contre l’humanité, voire de génocide.  
Il est urgent que les organisations des droits de l’homme, Les Nations Unies, l’Union Africaine, la CEDEAO et particulièrement, les autorités Maliennes et Françaises prennent leurs responsabilités en exigeant la cessation immédiate des exactions contre d’innocentes populations civiles.
Nous exigeons de la France d’interpeller, sans délai, directement et officiellement, le Mali afin que ces massacres cessent et que les auteurs soient arrêtés. La présence de soldats français sur le terrain laisse croire que cela est possible, nécessaire et indispensable.
Nous interpellons, la CPI, en particulier, la Procureure générale, à faire preuve de diligence et d’impartialité en interpellant les autorités de Bamako et en ouvrant  une enquête.  

16 février 2013

Abdourahmane AG Mohamed Elmoctar

Président ARVRA