February 17, 2013

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