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December 05 2012

Mauritania: Commemorating Inal's Massacre against Black Soldiers

The 28th of November should have been a happy day for Mauritanians as it marks the country's independence from France.

However, it also brings back sad and bloody memories [en], since it reminds them that on that same day in 1990, an ethnic cleansing was perpetrated within the Mauritanian Army. In mysterious circumstances, at least 28 black African soldiers were executed in a remote village located 500km to the north of the capital Nouakchott. So and on Mauritania's 52nd Independence day, a group of Mauritanian activists from more than 17 human rights organizations, headed to Inal [en], where the victims of the massacre lay, accompanied by some of the murdered soldiers' relatives, to pay tribute to them, ask for justice and also bring attention to this case, which has long been buried and forgotten. The group was first intercepted by the authorities, who eventually freed its members. Last year, a similar visit took place, organized by the same group. Like last year, the group also visited the village of Sori-male [en] in the Brakna region, to commemorate what is known by the “Years of Ash”, during which hundreds of black Mauritanians lost their lives between 1989 and 1990.

Al Watan (the Nation) website featured some testimonies of the parents of the genocide victims, who spoke about their tragedy and the injustice they have been subjected to, demanding punishment for the massacre perpetrators [ar]:

السيدة سالمتا جالو: تحكي أن زوجها وأخاها قتلا هنا وهي مفجوعة بمصيبتين في آن واحد، تحلف بالله إن هذه المجازر وقعت على حين غفلة من الأهالي “وتمت في يوم واحد هو يوم 28 نوفمبر هذا اليوم الذي يحتفل به الموريتانيون عيد استقلال وطني، حوله هؤلاء إلى مأساة تذكرنا كل سنة بهذه المجزرة”، تبدي سالمتا جالو تأسفها على تغاضي السلطات وتراخيها في معالجة الملف، وقالت إن ما قيم به حتى اليوم من صلاة على الغائب في مدينة كيهيدي وإعداد خريطة عن القبور “مجرد تحايل”.
وطالبت المفجوعة سالمتا جالو الحقوقيين وأصحاب الضمائر الحية أن يتحركوا جميعا ً لإعادة العدالة إلى ذويهم بإجراء تحقيق شفاف في ملابسات ما أسمته “المجزرة الجهنمية”.

Mrs Salmta Jalou says that her husband and brother were killed here so she was hit by two calamities at the same time. She swears by God that these massacres happened without the parents knowing and on the 28th of November, the day where Mauritanians celebrate their independence. These (the genocide perpetrators) have transformed it into a tragedy which reminds us every year of this massacre. Salmta Jalou expresses her desolation on the slackening of the authorities in dealing with the case and said that all what has been done so far such as prayers for the victims in Kihidi and talks about mapping the tombs is just a gimmick. Heartbroken Salmta Jalou asked lawyers and those with living consciences to act to bring justice by a transparent probe into what she described as the “infernal massacre”

صورة من المشاركين في قافلة إينال. تصوير الدده ولد الشيخ إبراهيم، استخدمت بتصريح.

Photograph of the group in Inal, taken by Dedda Ould Cheikh Brahim. Used with permission.

Dedda Ould Cheikh Brahim, took part in Inal caravan and blogged about the event, mentioning the harassment the group was subjected to by the security forces, relating as well the atmosphere of the massacre commemoration.

بعد انتهاء الخطب والترحم سار المشاركون في الرحلة على أقدامهم خلف مؤلف كتاب “جحيم إنال” والعسكري الناجي من تلك الأحداث ممدو سي، حيث وجههم إلى أربع تلال مكسوة بالحجار قال إنها المكان الذي دفن في رفاقه بعد تعذيبهم…
كان تحديد ذلك الموقع المجاور لمكان الثكنة العسكرية كفيل بإطلاق العنان للنحيب والبكاء والإغماءات بل وذهب الأمر إلى أبعد من ذلك حيث قام بعض الشباب بالدعوة إلى حمل السلاح لأخذ الثأر بدل البكاء.

After the speeches and the prayers, the participants went on their feet behind the author of the book entitled “Inal Hell” and the surviving solider Mamdou Se, who took them to four hills covered with stones and said this was the place where his friends were buried after being tortured.
The location of that spot near military barracks brought tears to many and caused others to faint. This made some youth to call for carrying arms, and taking revenge, instead of sobbing.

Gerry Adams criticizes the silence of the Mauritanian elites:

في ليلة الذكري الثلاثين لاستقلال موريتانيا نفذ الجيش الموريتاني مجزرة في قرية “إينال” في أقصي الشمال الموريتاني أعدم خلالها, بدون محاكمة ولا حتى تهمة واضحة, 28 عسكريا من الزنوج بعد أن مورس عليهم في تلك الليلة أبشع أنواع التعذيب والتنكيل…. وفي صمت أشبه بالمتعامي عن الجريمة سكت الجميع….. سكت المثقفون والسياسيون وعلماء الدين ودعاة المبادئ…. سكت التقدميون المدافعون عن الضعفاء والمحرومين…. سكت الإسلاميون الآمرون بالمعروف والناهون عن المنكر….. سكت الجميع قبل ذالك وبعد ذالك في ولاته وفي الجريدة و في غيرهما وتوالت جرائم قتل الزنوج الموريتانيين وتشريدهم ونهب أموالهم وهتك أعراضهم علي مرآي ومسمع من الجميع.

On the eve of Mauritania's 30th Independence commemoration. The Mauritanian army perpetrated a genocide in Inal, in northern Mauritania, where 28 black soldiers were executed without trial and not even a clear accusation. They were also subject that night to the ugliest forms of torture. And in a silence close to being blind to the crime, everyone shut up. The intellectuals shut up, so did the politicians and the clergymen and those who call for principles. The progressives who defend the weak and deprived also shut up. There was the same silence from the Islamists, who apply the sharia. Everybody shut up before and after the massacre. And the crimes against black Mauritanians were repeated as well as their displacement, and the confiscation of their money, and their honor was sullied and defiled under everyone's eyes.

On Aswat (Voices), Djibril Jalou wrote a series of blog posts on the crimes which Mauritanian blacks have been subject to. There, we can read testimonies of surviving soldiers:

جانب آخر من الوحشية حين كان الجناة يحتسون الشاي وهو يجلسون على الجثث في انتظار شنق الآخرين، أحد الناجين سمع، الضابط “خطري” يقرأ آية من القرآن وهو يجلس على جندي بعد أن شنقه، يقول هذا الناجي لا أصدق بأنه يؤمن بالرب الذي أنزل هذا القرآن العظيم المقدس.
لقد دام وقت الإعدام شنقا أكثر من ساعة زمانية. كان التعذيب في هذه الليلة جنونيا عقب الإعدامات، لقد ضرب المعتقلون ضربا شديدا. وأطلق الرصاص على بعضهم، لأنهم فقط “تأثروا” من هول ما رأوا. فقد قتل خمسة آخرين في نفس الليلة هم : لي همدي ،ممدو عصمان،جوب بوكر بيلا،صل عمر ،صل أمدو الحاج. يقول الضابط منصور، وهو مطابق لما وردر في كتاب “جحيم إنال”.
بقي في الأذهان أن 28 عسكريا أسودا قتلوا في هذه الليلة ، والحقيقة أن عدد قتلى إنال كثيرون في تلك الليلة ،يقول الضابط الناجي كان منصور، في شهادته المسجلة، وهو يحكي كيف طلب منه أن يعترف أمام “مسجلة” بأنه شارك في الإنقلاب ،  لقد جاء في هذه الشهادة أن كبار الضباط  الزنوج جمعوا في 23 من نوفمبر وبدأ تعذيبهم  وتهديدهم بالقتل وقد توفي أثناء تعذيبهم كلا من :  الملازم صل عبد الله موسى،  الملازم آن طاهير ضرب حتى الموت عند بوابة الزنزانة التي اعتقل فيها الضباط،النقيب لوم ، صل عمر مات وهو يقول منصور اعطني ماءا.لقد عذب حتى فقد جسمه كل السوائل.

Another side of the brutality was when the torturers were having tea while sitting on the bodies awaiting to execute the others, one of those who survived heard sergeant ”khotri” reading the Koran while sitting on a soldier after hanging him. The survivor says: “I can't believe he believes in God who gave us this mighty and holy Koran.”

The executions lasted for more than an hour. Torture during that night was crazy in the aftermath of the executions. Detainees got severely beaten and some of them were shot just because they were touched by what they have seen. Five more were killed in that same night: Li Hamdi, Mamdou Osman, Job Boker Bil, Sal Oumar, Sal Amdou el Hajj, says sergeant Mansour. This statement being identical to what is related in “Inall Hell” book.

What remains in the memories is that 28 black soldiers were killed that night and that the truth is that the number of dead in that night is numerous as stated by sergeant Mansour in his recorded testimony where he says how he was asked to admit on a recorder that he participated in the massacre. The testimony also says that on the 23rd of November, senior black soldiers where rounded up, tortured and threatened to death and some of them died under torture, like Sal Abdallah Moussa, An Tahir who was beaten to death at the gate of the prison where Loum was arrested. Sal Oumar died while saying “Mansour, give me water.” He was tortured until his body was fully dehydrated.

Activist Sidi Aly Moulaye Zeine expresses on Facebook his sorrow that Inal massacre took place on independence day:

البعض يستعد للإحتفال ب ٢٨ من نفمبر بينما يحي هذا التاريخ آلام حداد لم يكتمل بعد عند آخرين. جنة الفردوس لشهداء موريتانيا من ضحايا الحكم العنصري و الدكتاتوريات العسكرية آمين

Some are getting ready to celebrate the 28th of November while for others, this date revives the pains of a mourning which has not been completed. Paradise for Maurtania's martyrs, victims of the racist rule and the military dictatorships. Amen

Also, “Don't Touch my Nationality” opposition movement, held a rally asking to punish all those involved in the elimination of black Mauritanians. But the Mauritanian regime met the march with oppression and tear-gas. The movement had earlier issued a list containing the names of members of the Mauritanian army accused of committing crimes against blacks, especially former president Moaouia Ould Sid Ahmed El Tae.

This video has been posted by Al Akhbar website on its Youtube page on Inal Caravane's 2012.

November 30 2012

Mauritania: “Don't Touch my Nationality” March Broken by Police

On November 28, 2012, Mauritanian police dispersed [ar] a march organized by “Don't touch my nationality” movement and arrested their coordinator Birane Wane [en]. The opposition group was asking for the trial of all those involved in the killing of black officers in the Mauritanian army in the 90's during the ruling of former president Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya.

The march took place on the country's independence day. Mauritanian journalist Mohamed Naji Ahmedou followed the event closely and tweeted:

@ouldhmedoumedna “لا تلمس جنسيتي” تشتبك مع الأمن قرب العيادة المجمعة..

Don't touch my nationality, clashes with security forces near the clinic

November 29 2012

Time for Civil Rule in Mauritania

Mauritanian blogger Ahmed Jedou calls [ar] says it is high time his country had civil rule. He blogs:

“Today it is obvious that the military look at us as if we are a ball they are playing with. Our war should be for the establishment of a civil state which fights all the remnants of military rule and French guardianship, through a transitional period, which should be lead by civil society forces.”

November 26 2012

Mali: Mauritanian Preachers Killed by the Army

Mauritanians woke up on September 10, 2012, to the news of the killing of 16 members of Jamaat al Daawa wal Tabligh (Society for spreading faith), a movement active in spreading Islamic faith, by the Malian army. Twelve of those killed are Mauritanian citizens. According to the news, the army killed these clerics after two hours of arrest and investigation. The victims were on their way to participate in a conference held in the Malian capital, Bamako, before their car was intercepted by the border guards in the Malian city of Jino.

The news was like a strike for the Mauritanians, who considered what happened as an insult to them by neighboring state army. The relatives of the victims held [ar] a protest in front of the presidential palace denouncing the sad fate the Malian army inflicted to their beloved. They were surprised by the silence of the Mauritanian government, asking it to assume its responsibility in this regard and open a prompt probe in the incident to find more about its circumstances and to bring the perpetrators to justice and punish them for their act. Moreover, various political parties, issued statements [ar] condemning the killing and asking for punishing the culprits.

صورة لأحد الضحايا نشرها علال هالي صديقه على فيسبوك

Photographs of one of the victims posted by his friend on Facebook where we can read: “The Martyr Omaneh Ould Ailt, May the Lord accept him and his friends in heaven along with prophets, good-doers and martyrs”

Mauritanian activists and bloggers reacted the incident. Nasser Weddady, for instance, criticized the Mauritanian President's stance on the case. He tweeted:

@weddady ولد عبد العزيز يتنمر على القاعدة عندما تهدد مصالح فرنسا، لكنه قط وديع عندما يذبح الموريتانيون،المسألة مسألة بيع وشراء لا غير #موريتانيا

Ould Abdel Aziz slams Al Caida when it threatens France's interests (in Mauritania) but he is a timid cat when Mauritanians are slaughtered. The incident is just a sale and acquisition issue and nothing more.

He adds:

@weddady الحق علينا، من نحن لكي نزعج فخامته؟ وقته من ذهب ولا ينبغي أن نشغله عن جني الأرباح لشركته الرئاسية #موريتانيا #السمسار

It's our fault. Who are we to bother His Excellency? His time is so precious and we shouldn't disturb him from reaping the revenues of his presidential company.

Activist Haydara Ould Mohamed Lehbib expresses his anger towards what happened:

@mhaydaraa دماء جديد وحياة المواطنين في خطر مرة أخرى… طبعا لن يحدد المسؤول أحرى أن يحاسب… رحم الله شهداء الدعوة والتبليغ

More blood and the lives of citizens are once again in danger. Of course no one responsible shall be held accountable. May the lord have mercy on the martyrs of Al Dawaa wal Tabligh.

Tah Ould Habib criticizes the silence of the government:

@tahabib في #موريتانيا تقتل قوات الأمن المالية 15 مواطنا مسالما ولم ينبس أي مسؤول حتى الآن ببنت شفة

In Mauritania, the Malian army kills 15 pacifist civilians and no official has uttered a word so far

Bab Ould Hourma mocks the weakness of Malian army facing Al Caida and his bravery facing unarmed preachers:

@bHourma الجيش المالي: أسد على الدعاة الموريتانيين العزل وفي الحرب على القاعدة ومقاتلي الطوارق نعامة!!

The Malian Army: A lion on unarmed Mauritanian Preachers and an ostrich during the war and facing Al Caida and the Touareg

Writer and blogger Abbas Braham also commented on the incident:

‏@abbassbrahamإضافة إلى أن قتل الدعاة ربما يكون جريمة حرب فمن الأرجح أيضا أنه نمطية وعنصرية (يعني قتل على المظاهر وقتل على الهوية)

In addition to the fact that killing the 4 preachers might be a war crime then most probably it is racism (killing them because of their looks and identity).

Activist Ali Ag Al Azwadi denied rumors which claimed that the Malian Army shot the preachers because they didn't stop at their patrol:

@ALIUF حتى في الأفلام ! لا يتم إيقاف سيارة “عصابة” بتصفية 18 شخص دفعة واحدة ! “الجيش المالي أنت أكذوبة”

Even in movies! A gang isn't arrested by eliminating 18 persons in a raw. Malian army, you are liars!

Activist Mohamed El Amine Nagi calls for a protest in front of the Malian Embassy:

@lemine_nagi لم لايتم التظاهر أم سفارة مالي ومحاصرة السفير عدة ساعات،،السفارة تقع عل شاعر المختار قبالة المخبزة بجوار مطعم الطازح وسفارة اليمن

Why don't we protest in front of the Malian Embassy and surround the Ambassador for a few hours? The embassy is on Al Moukhtar street facing a bakery near Al Tazeh Restaurant and the Yemeni Embassy

Ahmed Ould Bah asks to recall the Mauritanian Embassy in Mali:

@ahmedbah أيها الجنرال ألم تستقبل جماعة الدعوة والتبليغ قبل عدة أشهر وأعلنوا ولائهم لك.. أضعف الإيمان استدعاء السفير في #مالي. #موريتانيا

General, haven't you received Jamaat al Daawa wal Tabligh months ago and they have proclaimed they allegiance to you? The ambassador in Mali should be summoned

Mohammed Ould Jedou tweets:

@mohdjedou إن مافعله الجيش المالي لايغتفر فقتلهم لأ طهار كل همهم تعليم الناس الخير لهو وحشية وهمجية تستنكف عنها عاد وثمود

What the Malian army is doing in unforgivable because their killing of pure people who only care about teaching good to others is an act of brutality

Mustapha Ould Bab Ahmed fears the exploitation of the case by the Mauritanian President:

@mstaphab للأسف ربما الأفضل أن تصمت الدولة في قضية#مذبحة_الدعاة. لأنها حين تتدخل سيكون الهدف استغلالها واستخدامها من أجل سواد عين الرئيس “المعتصم”

Unfortunately maybe it is better for the state to keep quiet in the case of the #massacre_of_the_clerics because when it will interfere, the objective will be to exploit the case and use it for the interest of the president

The opposition February 25 movement published a statement on its Facebook page, condemning the incident:

لقد طال صمت الحكومة الموريتانية أكثر من اللازم كعادتها عندما يتعلق الأمر بمصالح المواطنين، ومنها في هذه الحالة إدانة ما جرى، والكشف عن حقيقته للرأي العام، واتخاذ التدابير اللازمة لتسوية آثار الفعل الإجرامي المنكر مهما كان من يتحمل مسئوليته، وجبر الخواطر المكسورة لذوي الضحايا. ليس الأمر مستغربا بالنسبة لنا من نظام لا ينشط إلا في خدمة الطغمة الفاسدة من أركانه.

The silence of the government has lasted more than enough as usual when it is about the interests of the citizens like in this case in condemning what is happening and reveal the truth to the public opinion and adopting the necessary measures to fix the impact of this criminal act and appease the victims relatives. But we are not surprised by a regime which is only active in serving his corrupt members.

Wishah blog (Scarf) reports the protests in Mauritanian cities against what the Malian army committed:

طالب سكان مدينة فصالة الجيش الموريتاني بالتدخل والانتقام لذويهم، والثأر، وهدد العشرات من أهالي شهداء جماعة الدعوة والتبليغ في فصالة بالانتقام لذويهم إذا لم يبادر الجيش الموريتاني بالانتقام.
وفي باسكنو أيضا بدأ السكان يتظاهرون احتجاجا على تأخر السلطات في اتخاذ موقف حازم ضد الجريمة البشعة

Fassala residents asked the Mauritanian army to intervene and take revenge for their relatives. Dozens of the martyrs' relatives in Fassala threatened to take revenge on their own in case the Mauritanian army doesn't. In Bassiknou as well, the citizens started protesting against the delay of the authorities to take a firm stance against the ugly crime

Alegcom also presented its condolences to the parents of the victims:

وبهذه المناسبة الأليمة فإن مدونة “ألاك كوم” إدارة وعمال تتقدم بتعازيها إلى كل الشعب الموريتانى وإلى سكان ولاية لبراكنه بشكل خاص وإلى أسر الضحايا راجية المولى عز وجل أن يتغمد الشهداء بواسع رحمته ويسكنهم فسيح جنانه ويلهم ذويهم جميل الصبر والسلوان وإنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون.

On this sad occasion Aleg Com blog, administration and staff presents its condolences to all the Mauritanian people and to the residents of Brakna region in particular and to the relatives of the victims, praying to God to grant the martyrs his mercy and place them in his heaven and grant their relatives patience. ‘Surely we belong to God and to Him shall we return

Mauritanians Protest French Interference

Photo of the protest posted on Facebook by one of the organizers

The coordination of Mauritanian Opposition held a massive rally on Wednesday [November 21] asking France to stop interfering in the country's politics.  The protesters also reiterated their demands to end the military regime in Mauritania.
(more…)

Mauritania: “Knowledge for All” Campaign to Collect 30,000 Books

A group of Mauritanian activists initiated a Facebook campaign entitled “Knowledge for all” [ar], which aiming to gather 30,000 books before Mauritania's Independence day [Nov 28] and hand them to the National Library. The campaign was met by great enthusiasm from Mauritanian intellectuals and figures, who praised the campaign and and donated many books. Hussein Ould Mohammed Omar blogged about the initiative [ar]:

The group started their campaign by a Facebook announcement on the page dedicated for the event for those who would like to donate books. After that they suggested visiting important figures in the culture sector. The group members were leading the campaign by donating old books themselves. The Egyptian Cultural Center, which is an active cultural party in Mauritania, also contributed by donating some of their special magazines.

November 22 2012

Mauritanian Teachers Break into Education Minister's Office

[Note: All links are in Arabic]

A group of secondary school teachers broke into and entered the office of the Minister of Education in protest against the arbitrary transfer of 120 teachers to other schools. The transfers were made to punish teachers who participated in last year's strikes demanding the improvement of the conditions of employees in the education sector. The teachers considered this act a punishment for a strike they held to demand of their rights and also a violation of civil service law in Mauritania.

For his part, Mohamed Ould Rabani, Secretary General of the independent syndicate of secondary education teachers, slammed the transfer as a dangerous precedent in the history of Mauritania and asked his colleagues not to conform to the ministry's orders. In the same context, another group of arbitrary transferred teachers, held a demonstration in front of the Education Minister Ahmed Ould Bah's office, denouncing the decision and demanding its immediate retreat. Some of them also protested in front of the presidential palace in Nouakchott and threatened to resign from their posts in case the decision is not retracted. It is worth mentioning that the ministry had suspended the salaries of hundreds of teachers after their participation in the strikes organized by the syndicate.

Photograph of the protesting teachers posted on Twitter by

@mejdmr

The National Syndicate for Secondary Education issued a statement condemning the arbitrary transfer:
قدمت وزارة الدولة الموريتانية للتهذيب الوطني الأسبوع الماضي على التحويل التعسفي لعشرات أساتذة التعليم الثانوي بسبب مشاركتهم في إضرابات مشروعة، وهو ما يعد انتهاكا خطيرا للحقوق النقابية، وخاصة الحق في الإضراب المكفول بموجب المادة 14 من الدستور ولاتفاقيات الدولية التي وقعتها بلادنا، مثل اتفاقية منظمة العمل الدولية رقم 87 المتعلقة بالحريات النقابية.

The Mauritanian Ministry of Education arbitrarily transferred dozens of secondary education teachers because of their participation in legitimate strikes which is considered a dangerous violation of the rights of syndicate members, especially the right to demonstrate, which is guaranteed by article 14 in the constitution and by the international agreements signed by our country, such as the the International Labor Convention number 87, which is related to syndicate freedoms.

Tiguend blog posts a testimony of one the teachers effected by the transfers, entitled “This is why I deserve the sanction” where he speaks of the injustice of that decision:

منذ عشر سنوات وأنا أزاول مهنة التدريس في ولاية الترارزة، ولم أحصل طيلة تلك السنوات على تقويم سنوي أقل من 17 نقطة، وعملت مع مديرين مختلفين، ولم يعلق راتبي طيلة هذه الفترة إلا بسبب واحد وهو المشاركة في الإضراب، وليس لي سجل في الغياب ولا التهاون في أداء مهنتي ولله كل الحمد على التوفيق.. إلى أن جاء المدير الجهوي محمد السالك ولد الطالب وبتقرير منه شخصيا ولمدير إعدادية روصو رقم 1 الذي يخضع له ليمنحني درجة بائسة لا تتجاوز 6/20 وليزيد بي “سبحة الوشاية والنميمة” التي يعلقها منذ وصوله غير القانوني للإدارة، ثم ليجعل كل ذلك سببا في تحويلي تعسفيا ضمن 16 أستاذا في ولاية الترارزة لم يكن لهم من ذنب إلا أنهم أضربوا – والقانون يكفل ذلك والدستور يحميه – من أجل حياة كريمة وتعليم أكثر كرامة.

I have been teaching for 10 years in Trarza region and never during those years have I got less then 17 points [out of a total of 20] on my evaluation. I have worked with various directors and my salary has never been suspended except this time because of my participation in the strike. I have no record of absence or slackening in my duties and everything is fine, thanks God, until the director Mohamed Ould el Talib came and sent a report to the Rousou School director to whom he reports, asking him to give me a 6/20 grade and to accuse me of snitching and gossip, which he has been bragging about since his illegal nomination as head of administration. All this was a reason to transfer me arbitrarily along with 16 other teachers in Trarza whose only fault is to have taken part in the strike knowing that the law guarantees this right and the constitution protects it for a noble life and a more dignified education.

Mauritan.net says that the transfer is a result of a complaint, accusing the teachers of “inciting strikes and exercising politics”:

قد جاء نقل الاساتذة بناء على تقارير المدرين الجهويين عن طريق الولاة، وكانت رسائل الولاة تتضمن أن هؤلاء الأساتذة “يحرضون على الإضراب، ويمارسون السياسة”.

The transfer of the teachers was based on directors reports via the governors and the letters of the governors' letters stated that they are inciting strikes and practicing politics.

Dedda Cheikh Brahim criticizes the way the Mauritanian regime is dealing with teacher's protests:

@dedda04 في ديمقراطية العسكر الاحتجاجات لها عقوبتها والأساتذة يدفعونها الآن بطريق قانونية #موريتانيا

In the military democracy, protests are punishable and the teachers are now paying for it in a legal way

He adds:

@dedda04 الأساتذة تم تحويلهم بعد أن قرروا المطالبة بحقوقهم. لك الله أيها الموريتاني

The teachers were transferred after they decided to demand their rights. There is God oh Mauritanian

Mauritanian journalist Mohamed Ould Salem also slammed the Minister of Education for creating a crisis in the education sector:

@medsa20 لا يتنفس ولد باهية الأكسجين العادي وإنما يعيش من صناعة الأزمات والظلم ولذلك قرر عقاب 108 من خيرة الأساتذة لأنهم شاركوا في إضرابات مرخصة

Ould Bah doesn't breathe ordinary Oxygen but lives from making crises and injustice. This is why he decided to punish 108 of the best teachers because they participated in legal strikes.

He adds:

@medsa20 موعد جديد مع عام مأزوم في التعليم 108 أستاذ يرفضون التحويل العقابي ونقابات تعليمية تتعهد بإسقاطه، ووزير يبدع في صناعة الأزمات ومراكمة الفشل

A new date with a year marked with a crisis in the education sector with 108 teachers refusing punitive transfer and education syndicates promising to make the decision fall and a minister who is very creative in making up crises and accumulating failure

Nasser Al Hachemi tweets:

@n_nasser56 إنه الإذلال والتعسف. قلبي معكم يا حَملة النور

It is humiliation and tyranny. My heart with you oh you holders of the light

Activist Mejdi Ahmed also had his word about the matter:

@mejdmr الأساتذة إعتصمو بالأمس في مباني وزارة التعليم لمطالبة السلطات بالعدول عن قرار تحويلهم والذي وصفوه بالجائر

The teachers protested yesterday in the Education Minister premises asking to renounce the decision of transferring them - a decision they judged unfair.

Al Cheikh Ould Horma also tweeted:

@Cheikh_Horma في #موريتانيا: الأساتذة يصرون على أدلجة الصراع مع الوزارة التي تصر بدورها على أدلجة مطالب الأساتذة !

In Mauritania the teachers insist to ideologize the conflict with minister who in turn insists of ideologizing the teachers demand

He concluded:
<

a href=”https://twitter.com/Cheikh_Horma/status/251075845123366914″ target=”_blank”>@Cheikh_Hormaالسنة الدراسية على الأبواب في #موريتانيا والمعركة تبدأ من جديد بين الوزارة والنقابات.. حرب بسوس !

The academic year is about to start in Mauritania and the battle starts again between the Minister and the syndicates. A dire war

November 18 2012

Mauritanians Protest in Solidarity with Gaza

Photo of the march posted on Twitter by @mojteba

After Friday Prayers, hundreds of Mauritanians took to the streets of the capital Nouakchott on November 16, 2012, in a solidarity rally with Gaza residents after the city became the target of heavy Israeli bombing.
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November 16 2012

What Role for the Army in Africa Today ?

[All quotations have been translated from the French and can be viewed in the original post]

The army has often held a crucial but ambiguous role in the running of the political process in Africa. Between the years 1950 and 2000, 53 African countries have suffered 85 military coups leading to regime change. After a period of respite in the 1990s, the African continent was once more that with the most military coups in the first decade of the 21st century with 27 takeover attempts. Being both a factor in consolidation or destabilisation of regimes [fr], the army is blamed in many countries and does not seem to know how to adapt to this change in people’s mentalities.

l'armée entoure Rajoelina lors de la prise de pouvoir en mars 2009 - Domaine publique via Topmada

The Army of Madagascar supported Rajoelina during his seizure of power in March 2009 - Public Domain via Topmada

A Question of Competence and Remuneration

In Mali, the lack of resolution in the conflict in the North of the country was the main reason invoked by Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo to remove Amadou Toumani Touré from power. However, since the military coup of 22 March 2012, the army remains powerless regarding reclaiming North Mali and seems resigned to wait for help from international armed forces to chase the Islamic groups from the area. If Captain Sanogo gives the impression of having left the civil authorities and the interim president, Dioncounda Tractor, to assume leadership of the country, he is nevertheless a major figure of the current transition and remains at the head of the CNRDRE military junta.

Captain Sanogo, Leader of the Military Junta, photo via @Youngmalian

Captain Sanogo, Leader of the Military Junta, photo via @Youngmalian

Captain Sanogo began his military training in the Kati Military Academy in Mali then continued it in the United States, firstly in Lackland,Texas then at Fort Benning, Georgia and Fort Wachica in Arizona. During Sanogo’s brief period at the head of the country, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, MNLA, linked to various Islamic groups including the AQMI, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, conquered half of North Mali and declared independence for Azawad. If there is a debate about Sanogo’s military competences, there is little doubt that he has not acquired the necessary political competence in light of his multiple interference and unilateral decisions regarding the management of the country. Here is a video interview given by Sanogo after having handed power to the interim president by MrMaliweb [fr]:

 

In Madagascar the army played a crucial role in the advent of the ongoing political crisis there. A video captured during Rajoelina’s takeover tells of the unfolding of the military coup and the army’s role in the taking of power:

 

The Tananews website wrote of how the army of Madagascar sacrificed its mission [fr] all because of a problem with remuneration:

Money and corruption have played a significant role in supporting this interminable crisis.
Under the eyes of the whole world, the army of Madagascar will have much to do to restore its tarnished image.
A number of officers have preferred to sacrifice their honour and pride to accede to positions which are here today, gone tomorrow! Are they proud to wear their new stripes, attributed to them by an illegal power?
Let’s hope they ask themselves the question […] To save our country, there are no two ways about it:
Either the army of Madagascar takes itself in hand and comes to swell the ranks of the Vahaoaka;
Or the army of Madagascar continues to act as puppets..

Juvence Ramasy, political scientist in Madagascar, published an article on the role of the armed forces in political and democratic stability for CODESRIA, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa. He explained [fr]:

In order for the political neutrality of the army to be really effective, the demilitarisation of political power must be achieved, because the retreat of military personnel from the direct exercise of executive power and the subordination of the military to civil decisions is not sufficient to assure this political neutrality. This retreat has been achieved through the third wave of democratisation. However, the transition goes wherever the militaries go.

Mathieu Pellerin, researcher at the French International Relations Institute, IFRI, explained that during each crisis, political players in Madagascar try to curry favour with the armed forces [fr]:

The army of Madagascar has a legalistic tradition […] This is not to say however that the army plays no part, quite the opposite. I would describe it as the force of deterrence because of the threat that it poses. Each side knows it will have to submit to its will. In 2002, the development of Marc Ravalomanana’s reservist forces has weighted the balance of power. [..] Andry Rajoelina has surrounded himself with military personnel, including the general of the retreat, Dollin Rosoloa, who was Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Antananarivo, Madagascar’s largest city, and generals Blake and Organes who used to serve under Marc Ravalomanana. They should therefore have an influence on certain sections of the army of Madagascar.

In his book “Madagascar, le coup d'Etat de mars 2009” [fr], Professor Solofo Randrianja explained the mechanism of the army’s corruption [fr] during the current crisis:

Rajoelina gives various benefits [to the military] to ensure their support and loyalty. The granting of loans of 3.2 billion ariary across the armed forces during 2009 Independence Day celebrations is a product of this mindset […] to ensure that this clientelist redistribution does not continue, it is necessary that the institution of the military be under democratic control and no longer under civilian control.

 

An Army often Divided and Under Pressure

In Côte d'Ivoire, after a civil war which has left scars, the army, Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire, FRCI is still under pressure from militia faithful to the old Gbagbo regime. Confrontations took place in August 2012 [fr] near the capital, Abidjan, leading people to fear a reduction in public safety. Richard Banegas, professor at Ceri-Sciences-Po, stated that the disturbances were justified [fr]:

Many of the Gbagbo ex-militia are still at large, in Ghana or Liberia, even in Abidjan, in relative secrecy. The most radical have a Messianic warmongering mindset sowing a ‘rhetoric of return’ of their leader. […] What is more, reforms for a national army are well underway, but sometimes hide growing numbers of soldiers who have come from the pro-Ouattara rebellion, to the detriment of an ordered and therefore more just hierarchy.

In Guinea, the military coup of December 2008 led Captain Moussa Dadis Camara to power. His regime came to an end during the country’s first ever democratic elections in 2010, but not before a bloody suppression in 2009 which killed more than 1,000 during an anti-junta demonstration. Internal divisions within the army are still palpable with regard to current tensions.

In Mauritania, leading figure in the 2005 and 2008 military coups and current president Mohamed Ould Aziz was recently shot at, which led to his evacuation to France. Rumours abound regarding the origin of these shots and measures that soldiers could take if Aziz’s convalescence abroad lasts longer than predicted.

The return of Pretorianism, that is, corrupt military despotism, is an unmentionable fact in many African countries. As Juvenal Ramasy stated, demilitarisation of politics coupled with depolitisation and professionalism of the army must take place urgently in these countries where democracy is still fragile.

November 14 2012

Mauritania: RIP Constitutional Institutions

صورة من الجنازة الرمزية للمؤسسات الدستورية في موريتانيا

A photograph from the constitution's mock funeral shared on Twitter by @tahabib The sign in Arabic reads: Here lie the constitutional institutions

Various opposition groups held a demonstration in front of the Mauritanian Parliament in protest against the constitutional void that the country is witnessing with the Mauritanian president out of the country for treatment.

(more…)

November 12 2012

Coalition of African Nations Agrees to Send 3,300 Soldiers a year to Northern Mali

Seven African nations of ECOWAS namely Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Togo have agreed with Malian government [fr] to send 3,300 soldiers a year to Northern Mali to take back control of northern Mali from Islamist fighters. Other nations outside the ECOWAS might also send in troops.

November 05 2012

A Mauritanian Blogging Week Against Foreign Mining

A group of Mauritanian bloggers launched a blogging campaign under the theme “Against foreign mining companies” at the beginning of October.

For the bloggers, this campaign was intended to share their opinions about the issue of foreign companies, accused of looting Mauritania's mineral wealth. This campaign was inaugurated by publishing a series of posts at the same time, and continued for a week.

The Mauritanian bloggers interacted very well with this campaign, and until the moment of writing this article, many bloggers wrote many entries that monitored violations committed by those companies. In addition to blog posts, bloggers engaged on Twitter, under the hashtag #Against looting our minerals. The campaign's news, postings and logos were widely circulated among Mauritanian users of Facebook and Twitter.

The participating posts in the campaign focused on the detection of the foreign companies' violations of environmental laws, and destruction of the surrounding areas.

Moreover, they unveiled the low percentage of profit given by these companies to Mauritania, that reach at the best 4 per cent of the price of mined gold and copper. They also highlighted the discrimination policies pursued by the foreign companies against their Mauritanian employees.

Many writers and journalists interacted with the idea of the bloggers, and in turn wrote many articles to support the campaign.

Mauritanian blogger Sidi Weld Mohamed Lamine participated in this campaign publishing a post he entitled “I want my friend alive”, in which he talked about the death of his friend because of the toxins used by these companies. He writes:

In any self-respecting government that sanctifies the lives of its citizens, does give up playing its natural role in protecting the country, her sons, animals, trees and wealth. And if it has to waive our wealth let it be. But it has to protect the human lives that work amid an inert volcano that can explode at anytime to reap lives without mercy - just as what had happened with my deceased friend.

Prohibiting cyanide so that the only child of my deceased friend grows up, and who was born after his death, and that he will be threatened while playing or if he touches or inhales this damned material and dies immediately does not console me.

Revealing the truth behind the death of my friend by the company does not console me.

And Mauritania's taking of greater revenues of copper and gold does not console me.

Also the Mauritanian author Abed Arhman Widadi participated in the campaign launched by the bloggers, talking in his blog “Raja Elsada” (Echo) about the proportion given by the foreign companies to Mauritania :

The mines of Taziazat and Akjojet are a blatant testimony to the gravity of the catastrophe as only 4% of copper and 3% of gold revenues are given by these foreign companies [to Mauritania]. Yet those two firms deny the employees' rights and shamefully use toxins.

It is shameful that all this happening after nearly four decades of the nationalization of Miverma company that was providing the best ratio. The decision of nationalizing this company was taken by Mokhtar Weld Dadah, God's mercy on him, despite the harsh conditions that Mauritania went through during the seventies and the absence of national competencies, and the impact of French domination that was angered to the extent of threatening of military intervention.

The blog “Alrai El Hor” [Arabic for Free Opinion] discussed the danger poised by these foreign mining companies on the Mauritanian environment, and the discriminatory policies against Mauritanian employees working there:

Voices are rising day after day to demand the reduction of the environmental pollution caused by these companies, whether by workers found on site - one of whom one told me about the segregation practiced there. He said some Western employees isolate themselves in well-protected areas while they distribute local workers in cantons that lack the lowest level of protection - or by some experts in this field such as the former engineer and director of environmental supervision Mr.Khalil Weld Ahmed Khlaifa who was sacked from his job as result of unveiling the tremendous risks that effect the Mauritanian environment.

Sidi Al Tayeb Weld Almujtaba adds:

Can our minds believe that 500 Mauritanian citizens died in the northern region in the last five years as a result of radiological activities carried out by these mining companies …However these companies continue to kill and assault without any supervision or punishment.

Any arrogant person today cannot ignore the spread of these malicious diseases and fatal cancers in the northern cities as result to the spread of toxins that move through natural elements (wind, air, sediment, and even reach down to the groundwater table).

The Mauritanian state recognizes this tragedy very well, which is acknowledged by all the names of the victims, living and dead, and the details of their injury circumstances, and even the beds they died on. Despite all this, it turns a blind eye and abides to silence.

Below are some reactions from Twitter.

Blogger Abdallah Weld Jeilany accused some politicians of receiving bribes from these foreign companies:

@AbdallahJeilany: Some politicians reacted with the crime of looting Mauritania's wealth and defended it. They legitimized it though laws, which they passed for a handful of bribes

And Saifuddin Alchankity criticized the complicity of media with these companies:

@Saifuddin: Our Media solicit the looting of our wealth by (our partners in development) who are in fact (devils residing in development)

Blogger Taha Alhafedh warned from the exhaustion of the country's mineral wealth:

@TahaAlhafedh: The problem in Mauritania is that when the people wake up, our wealth will be exhausted due to the systematic looting, and till the people wake up, I hope we have a homeland left

And Alhoussain Weld Amor as well talked about the lack of benefits to the Mauritanian people from its mineral wealth:

@houmar83: From the very beginning we understood what is said in the radio, and we heard about the validation of projects to extract minerals and licenses, but our luck from all this is death

Activist Sheikh Sharif accused the Mauritanian president of taking commissions from these companies:

@cheikhchrif: Of course these companies are not able to loot our mineral wealth without permission from the general, and for sure, this deal is not for free

Blogger Badereddine Eldari wrote :

@baderdine1: Mauritania: a country that has the second biggest gold mine in the world. However, its people live in dire poverty where rights are only a privilege the corrupt

And activist Nasser El Hashem interacted with the campaign saying:

@n_nasser56: What's happening is theft. You might buy the silence of some pens, but the crime's traces condemn you. The hills out there have witnessed your crimes

A full report on what Mauritanian bloggers wrote about foreign mining companies appears on Paparazzi blog.

October 20 2012

October 15 2012

Mauritania: Confusion Reigns over “Accidental” Shots that Wounded President Aziz

@weddady: The official version on Aziz being “wounded lightly” was completely nonsense. He is seriously injured à la Dadis Camara.. #Mauritania

Twitter update from Mauritanian activist Nasser Waddady upon hearing official reports that Mauritanian president Aziz was accidentally shot (video of Aziz at a Nouakchott hospital). Aziz was then airlifted to a Hospital in Clamart, France for treatments (video).  Mauritanian blogger Vlane wonders why Aziz did not seek treatments in neighboring countries instead of France [fr].

October 03 2012

Mauritania: Destructive Gold Mining

From Mauritania, Ahmed Jedou writes [ar] about the the abuse of multinationals of gold mining in his country. Despite having the world's second largest gold mine, he says government corruption means Mauritanians benefit very little from the operation. Jedou also highlights the environmental impact of mining.

Mauritania: Quran Teachers Turn Children to Beggars

Across the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, at junctions and under trees, you will see children known as Al Mudat [ar], aged between 4 and 14 years, carrying empty tomato cans begging pedestrians for some money. These children are not begging for money for themselves. Instead, they want the money to be able to pay their Quran teacher. They do so because their parents do not have the means to pay him in exchange for teaching them.

Meanwhile, their parents allow the abuse of their children by begging like this which exposes them to many risks like drugs. Often they turn into criminals and end up in jail. It is also noteworthy, that the only thing these children know to do is street begging.

صورة لأحد الأطفال وهو نائم في الشارع نشرتها مدونة الكاشف

Photo of one urchin sleeping in the street, published under permission from Al Kashiv blog

 

أ

Mauritanian blogger Mohamed Abdou [ar] wrote a photo report about those children:

قابلت الكثيرين منهم، ممن يتجولون بداية من ساعات العصر وحتى ساعات متأخرة من الليل يحملون عبوات طماطم فارغة يجمعون فيها مايحصلون عليه من التسول في الشارع، هم مجموعات أطفال أعمارهم بين 4 و12 سنة يرسلهم معلمهم الذي يدرسهم القرءان للتسول وايصال ما جمعوه له بعد نهاية الجولة، “الحسن، عالي، آمادو…….. ” وغيرهم من الأسماء قابلتهم واستفسرت عن بعض تفاصيل حياتهم في ظل الظروف التي يعيشونها.

I have met many of them, wandering in the streets. They start from the early hours of afternoon until late at night, carrying empty tomato cans where they collect whatever they can from street begging. They are a bunch of children, aged four to 14 years, sent by their Quran teacher to beg and hand him their income. “Al Hassan, Ali, Amadou ….” and many more whom I have met and inquired about some of the details of their life and the conditions they live in.

In Stolen Dreams blog [ar] we can also read about that topic:

ان الشارع المدرسة الأم والرصيف الكرسي الذي جلسوا عليه لتلقي علم التسول… والأساور ملاذا لنوم يطارده الخوف والجدران كهف لأحلام تصارع البقاء.. يموجون في جناح الليل بين الأزقة يلاحقون سيارات فاخرة لترمي لهم دراهيم تدفع البلاء ومتجولون ضعف الطالب والمطلوب.. أوعيتهم لا تحمل ما يسمن من جوع أو يغني من عطش.
في الصباح يبدؤون رحلة الشتاء والصيف في أحياء العاصمة, تري في عيونهم قسوة الحياة وطفولة شابت قبل حصادها , وبراءة أجهضت قبل مخاضها ,ثيابهم البالية التي لا تقيهم حرارةالشمس تكفي لمداومة دون إدارة.

The street is the mother and the school and the pavement is the chair they sat on to learn street-begging … its fences are a retreat for a sleep haunted by fear and the walls are caves for dreams struggling for survival … they wander at night between streets, running after fancy cars so their owners would throw them some coins that would repel misery, their clothes do not show any sign of satiety or hydration. In the morning they commence the journey of winter and summer in the capital's street. You see in their eyes, the cruelty of life and a childhood that became senile even before it matured. An innocence that was aborted before its labor. Their shabby outfits do not protect them from the sun.

Ali interviewed by Al Kashiv blog, photo used with permission

Ali interviewed by Al Kashiv blog, photo used with permission

Mohammed Al Amine Ould Yeyha [ar] resorts to facts and figures:

قد أشار تقرير منظمة حقوق الإنسان الموريتاني في تقريره لسنة 2009 إلى (وجود حالات استمرار للرق والمتاجرة بالأشخاص، تشير إلى أطفال صغار دون السن 15 يسمون (Talibes) ويعرفون في الأوساط الاجتماعية بـ”آلمودا” يأتون من داخل البلاد وكذلك من مالي ومن السنغال وقال التقرير أنهم يتعرضون لسوء المعاملة من قبل معلمي دين يجبرونهم على التسول).

A report by the Mauritanian Organization for Human Rights in 2009, observes that there are still human trafficking cases and children under 15 years old called Talibes and known in social milieus by Al Mouda who come from within the country as well as from Mali and from Senegal. The report states that they are subject to mistreatment by religion teachers who force them to beg.

He adds:

وبالرغم من وجود هذه الظواهر التي يجرمها القانون وينتقدها العرف الموريتاني وتحرمها الشريعة الإسلامية، فإن الدولة الموريتانية ما تزال عاجزة عن توفير آلية جديدة تحد من انتشار هذه الظاهرة وتأمين حاجيات هؤلاء المتسولين أو فتح مراكز إيواء لحضانتهم، من اجل خلق إطار لتمدرس الطفل وتوفير الظروف الملائمة له.

Despite the existence of the phenomena penalized by the law and criticized by the Mauritanian traditions and forbidden by Shariaa in Islam, the Mauritanian state is still unable to provide a new mechanism to limit its spread and to provide for the needs of those street-beggars or to open centers to shelter them so as to establish a framework for schooling the child and providing the proper conditions for them.

 

September 05 2012

Mauritania: A Diplomat's Take on the Azawad

Mauritanian writer and diplomat Mohamed Mahmoud Weddady writes a series of posts in his blog entitled: “Papers about Azawad” [ar], about history and people of Azawad region. This post, for instance, focuses on the relationship between the Azawad and Libya.

August 22 2012

Mauritania: Landslides Leave Residents Homeless

Landslides resulting from recent heavy rain left hundreds of families homeless [ar] in different parts of Mauritania [in July]. After destroying their homes, the landslides left hundreds of families in Kaedi [ar] (Southern Mauritania), Makta'a Lahjar and Aleg (Central Mauritania), and Nema (Eastern Mauritania), without roofs over their heads.

The heavy rains came after two years of decrease in rainfall, which led to droughts all over Mauritania that almost threatened to decimate  the animal resources upon which the people of Mauritania highly depend on in their lives, in addition to 700.000 citizen facing the danger of starvation according to the report of World Food Programme.

صورة من أثار السيول نشرها حساب @RimtodayRim على تويتر

A photo showing the effects of the floods published by@RimtodayRim account on Twitter.

Alegcom blog talked about the condition of Magta-lihjar city after the floods:

تعيش مدينة مقطع لحجار هذه الأيام أوضاعا صعبة بفعل موجة السيول التي اجتاحت المدينة فجر الاثنين الماضي وأسفرت عن تشريد ما لا يقل عن ثلاث مائة أسرة، متسببة في قطع طريق الأمل الذي يعتبر شريان الحياة بالنسبة للموريتانيين في وسط البلاد وشرقها.

The city of Magta-lihjar lives these days in tough conditions because of the wave of floods that hit the city last Monday at dawn and resulted in the displacement of at least 300 families, and caused the closure of the Road of Hope, which is considered the lifeline for Mauritanians  in the country's center and east.
صورة لغمر المياه لطريق الأمل في مدينة ألاك نشرتها مدونة ألاك كوم

A photo of water flooding the road of hope in Aleg published by Alegcom blog

The blog also talked about the drowning of a young man from Sankrafah:

توفى عصر اليوم بمدينة صنكرافه أقصى شرقى لبراكنه الشاب ” سيدى محمد ولد أحمد لعياس “غرقا فى المياه الراكدة التى خلفتها الأمطار الأخيرة على المنطقة.

Sidi Mohamed Ahmed Layas died this afternoon in Sankrafah (far eastern of  Brakna), he drowned in the stagnant water that remained from the recent rainfall over the region.

Kankossatoday blog also talked about the displacement of 30 families in one of the villages:

تسببت السيول الناتجة عن الأمطار الغزيرة التي شهدتها قرية كرل فلي على بعد 30 كلم جنوبي كنكوصه والتابعة لبلدية هامد في تشريد 30 أسرة على الأقل بعد أن جرفت منازلهم وقال مسؤول القرية السيد بولاي فلي في تصريح للمدونة إن 24 مسكنا تم جرفها بالكامل وقد استوت بالأرض فيما تشققت 6 منازل وأصبحت غير صالحة للسكن.

The floods caused by the heavy rains that Cerl Fle village (30 km south Kankossa) has witnessed, has resulted in the displacement of at least 30 families after their houses were swept away. Mr Bolay, the village's official, said in a statement to the blog that 24 houses have been swept away completely, while six other houses were destroyed and became uninhabitable.

Mauritanie demain page on Facebook showed solidarity with the homeless in Kaedi:

لا تنسوا إخوانكم في كيهيدي من دعائكم عند الإفطار فقد تضرروا من جراء الأمطار اليوم.

Don't forget to pray for your brothers in Kaedi while having breakfast, they were affected badly because of today's rain.

August 15 2012

Mauritania: Using Twitter to Mock the President

On August 6, Mauritanian President General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz appeared [ar] on national television. During that televised appearance, police assaulted [ar] a journalist while he was covering the arrest [ar] of, and the aggression towards a guest who called upon the General to leave. Mauritanian Twitter users followed the events in real time, and reacted via the hash tag #مسرحية _الجنرال [ar] (The General's Play).

All this took place during a live transmitted and long TV show under the title “Encounter with the People.” The televised appearance [of the President] coincided with the anniversary of the 2008 coup d'état, which led to the overthrow of Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, Mauritania's first civil and elected President.

The President was insulting the opposition, and accused it of serving the interests of foreign parties. He also ridiculed the opposition's demand which called upon the regime to leave. The Movement of Mauritanian Youth [ar] staged several protests against the televised appearance of the General, and called for the fall of his regime. Dozens of I.R.A.[Abolitionist movement in Mauritania] activists staged a protest [ar] in front of the Justice Ministry building, and the Mauritanian Radio headquarters in protest against the President's slavery declarations during the TV show. They considered his statements as a denial of slavery in public, while standing by the side of slave owners in private.

Mauritanian President, photo published by alkachiv blog

Mauritanian President, photo published by alkachiv blog

Activist Abdel Fetah Habib mocked the President's low education level:

@afetah لم يتكلم عن إنشاء جامعات عليمة بل يفهم فقط في التكوين المهني. هذا مستواه #مسرحية _الجنرال

@afetah He did not talk about establishing universities, as he only understands vocational training. That's his level. #مسرحية _الجنرال

Activist Baba Ould Deye echoed similar sentiments. He tweeted about the General's failure to obtain even the lowest educational qualifications:

@babadeye العالم الليلة يتابع حدث نزول مسبار كيوريوسيتي علي #المريخ،ونحن نتابع #مسرحية _الجنرال الذي لا يمتلك شهادة ثانوية #Curiositylands #موريتانيا

@babadeye: Tonight, the world is following Curiosity landing on Mars, and we are watching the play of the general who does not have a high school degree

Writer and blogger Abu Abbass Braham mentioned the General's history:

@abbassbraham مازال الذكي يتهم المعارضة بالانتماء للنظام السابق، رغم أنه كان حارسه مدة عشرين عاما.

@abbassbraham The smart one is still accusing the opposition of allegiance to the former regime, though he was its guardian for 20 years.

Sidi Ettaieb Ould Mojteba commented on the President's lies:

@mojteba الجنرال يتحدى كل من يقول أن في موريتانيا يوجد بها قمع، ويبدو أنه نسي قضية المشظوفي الذي قتل بدم بارد

@mojteba: The General challenges anyone saying there is oppression in Mauritania. It seems that he forgot about the case of Machdhoufi murdered in cold blood.

Khalil Ould Jdoud, Al-Arabiya correpondent, commented on the same thing:

@KHjdoud مسكين مسيلمة وجدنا من يزايد عليه في الكذب، يستحق العريف دخول الموسوعة العالمية وأن تضرب به العرب المثل

@KHjdoud : Poor Musaylimah [known as “the Liar”, he claimed to be a Prophet], now we have someone who lies more than him. The knowledgeable deserves to be included in an international encyclopedia, and to be considered as a role model for Arabs.

Ahmed Ould Ennahoui mentioned a caller who accused the General of lying:

@nahmedou متصل رائع كذب الجنرال #مسرحية _الجنرال #موريتانيا

@nahmedouA wonderful caller, he accused the general of lying

Mejdi Ahmad expressed his lack of interest towards the General's televised appearance:

@mejdmr علي العموم أنا لم اتابع #مسرحية_الجنرال ولا أبحث عن إعادتها إطلاقا !!

@mejdmr: I did not watch the General's play, and I'm not looking for its replay

Mohammed Abdou inquired about the destiny of the young man arrested at the TV studio:

@medabdou شباب هل لديكم خبر حول المعتقلين في #مسرحية_الجنرال البارحة ؟ ماهي أخبارهم هل أطلق سراحهم؟ #موريتانيا

@medabdouDo you have updates about those arrested during the General's play? Were they released?

Activist Bab Ould Hourma pocked fun at the TV host:

@bHourma اللحظة التاريخية يا منت اليلي لم تحن بعد.. يوم تحين تلك اللحظة ستهربين كما فعلت هالة المصراتي!!

@bHourma Oh Ment Elli (TV host), the historical moment is not here yet…when that moment comes, you will run away like Hala Misrati

Journalist Yacoub Ould Mohamed Salem also commented on the TV host's lies:

@YacoubBHD أحدهم اتصل عبر الهاتف.. بدأ ينتقد انقطع الاتصال فاعتذر المقدم لأن المتدخل اختار قطع الاتصال بنفسه #مسرحية_الجنرال #موريتانيا

@YacoubBHDSomeone called on the phone..He started criticizing, and communication was cut. The TV host apologized, and said that the caller willingly chose to end his phone call

August 08 2012

Mauritania: Bribery and String-Pulling … Made in China

On July 29, 2012, Nouakchott residents woke up on the news of the attempt of three Chinese investors working in the fishing industry in Nouadhibou to bribe Mauritania General Director of Taxation El Moctar Ould Djay. But the bigger surprise was when the official locked them in his office and called the police to come and arrest them. His behavior triggered the admiration of Mauritanian netizens, especially since it is the first time anyone reports on bribery in the country's history.

On Alegcom, you can read a blog post entitled “An unprecedented event: Ould Djay refuses a bribery from Chinese and is chosen as 2012′ perfect employee”.

يُشرف مبادرة “ضحايا ضد الفساد” أن تعلن بأنها قد اختارت المدير العام للضرائب المختار ولد أجيه وللعلم وهو من مواليد مقاطعة مقطع لحجار كموظف مثالي للعام 2012 وذلك لأنه كان أول موظف حكومي يتقدم بدعوى ضد أشخاص حاولوا أن يقدموا له رشوة.
“Victims against corruption” initiative is pleased to announce that it has chosen the General Director of Taxation, El Moctar Ould Djay, as the perfect employee for the year 2012 and this for being the first public officer to file a suit against persons who tried to bribe him.

A photo of the Director of Taxation published by the page   وطني أولا  “My Country First” on Facebook

However, the Chinese investors stayed in jail for 24 hours only after which their embassy in Nouakchott intervened for their release.

My country First, page on Facebook posted the above photograph, with the following comment:

تحية إعزاز للمدير العام للضرائب، فهكذا يكون الموظف الشريف
Hail to the General Director of Taxation, this is how an honest employee should be

Twitter users actively reacted to the news. Among them is Mejd, who notes:

mejdmr@:النيابة أمرت بتوقيف الصينيين الثلاثة، وفتحت تحقيقا معهم بتهمة الرشوة، لكن تدخل سفارتهم مكّن من إطلاق سراحهم في أقل من 24 ساعة
The Prosecution ordered the arrest of the three Chinese and initiated an investigation with them, charging them with the crime of bribery. But their embassy's interference led to their release in less than 24 hours.

He adds:

mejdmr: كانت ردّة فعل المدير مفاجئة للمستثمرين الصينيين، فقد إتصل بالشرطة وإستدعاهم ليتم القبض علي الصينيين الثلاثة رفقة موريتاني كان معهم ‎
The reaction of the official surprised the Chinese investors. He called the police asking them to come and arrest the Chinese along with a Mauritanian who was accompanying them.

Mohamed Abdou points out :

medabdou@: نجى الراشون الصينيون من اي ملاحقة قضائية، يبقى من القصة فقط أن هذا أول مسئول حكومي حسب علمي يبلغ عن حادثة رشوة في #موريتانيا
The Chinese accused of bribing escaped any legal pursuit. What matters is, as far as I know, that he is the first civil servant as to report about a bribery case in Mauritania.

Abdel Fetah Habib asks:

afetah@:سمعنا أن الصينيين أطلق سراحهم لكن من قام بذلك؟ ومن تدخل؟ ولماذا تنازل المدعي عن دعواه بهذه السرعة؟ وهل حاولت الصحافة الاتصال به لأخذ تصريح؟
We heard that the Chinese were set free but by whom? Who interfered? Why did the plaintiff abandon his suit so quickly? Did the media try contacting him for a statement?

He pursues his inquires in another tweet:

afetah@: هل حاولت الصحافة أخذ رأي أحد القانونيين عن الحق العام في قضية الرشوة؟ لا أعتقد أن المسألة تتعلق فقط بهذا الشخص فهذه جريمة عامة تمس المجتمع
Did the media try to ask a jurist about the public interest in this bribery case? I don't think it is just about that person. It is a public crime against society.

Dedda Cheikh Brahim recalls:

@dedda04: قبل عام حجز مواطن ‎‫#موريتانيا‬‏ في الصين وتم تعذيبه خارج القانون ولم تتدخل سفارتنا بينما هنا يقدمون الرشاوي ويطلق سراحهم في أقل من 24 ساعة
A year ago, a Mauritanian citizen was detained in China and he was tortured and our embassy did nothing, while here they offer bribes and they are released in less than 24 hours.
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