Oct 01, 2013

Haratin: Peaceful Sit-In Violently Broken Up By Gendarmerie

On Monday 30 September 2013 police and gendarmerie units came to attack a peaceful sit-in in the city of Boutilimit.

Below is an article from IRA-Mauritanie

Today September 30, 2013, in the city of Boutilimit, 150 km to the east of the capital Nouakchott, a unit of the gendarmerie and police came to attack a peaceful sit-in that began the 09 September 2013. This sit-in was organized by IRA in protest against the refusal of the Mauritanian authorities, particularly the head of the gendarmerie Boutilimit, the prefect of Boutilimit and the Prosecutor of Rosso, to prosecute, in accordance with the law criminalizing slavery, siblings of one family including three brothers (Amar ould Sidi, a dignitary of the ruling party and close to the head of state Mohamed ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, Cheikh ould Sidi, businessman and Mohamdi ould Sidi), four sisters (Deyda mint Sidi, Vatma mint Sidi, Miha mint Sidi, Aicha mint Sidi) and the wives of two of the men (Amy mint Ahmedou and Mounaya mint Mkhaitiratt).

Indeed, IRA-Mauritania received, 09 September 2013, a request for support and assistance from Noura mint Aheymed, age 18, a slave of the family by descent whose members are listed above. This girl, a slave, claims to have been torn from her mother since the age of 4 years and claims to have suffered all kinds of forced labor, rape, corporal punishment, and deprivation, including deprivation of schooling. So she lived as a slave and beast of burden in this family until the day before September 09, when she escaped and decided to contact the president of IRA-Mauritania Biram Dah ABEID. IRA then assisted the victim, sought and obtained the advice of a lawyer and  they then filed a complaint, in good and due form, for the practice of slavery and other abuses.This complaint has been filed with the Minister of Justice, the Prosecutor of Rosso, the Brigade and the Prefect of Boutilimit. All these authorities have said that the accused people fled and claimed to have issued international warrants for their capture for the charge of slavery but also for the offense of fleeing the authorities.  Previously, these same authorities released people immediately after being arrested and plead that it is an order of the president of Mauritania because these people are his political allies. 

This act blatantly demonstrates the complicity of the highest authorities in Mauritania with the Arab-Berber segment of population that continue to base their lifestyle on the practice of slavery, which is a crime. This has led IRA to organize a permanent sit-in in front of the gendarmerie and the prefect of Boutilimit to demand the implementation of the law criminalizing slavery and to implement the international conventions ratified by Mauritania.

The police and security authorities of Boutilimit started harassment of those peacefully gathered in the square next to the buildings of the police and the prefect in the following ways:

- A large tree in the middle of the square, whose shadow served as shelter from the scorching sun, was cut by the police under the orders of the prefect;

- The IRA activists set up a tent instead of the tree to protect their members from the sun and the order came again to the police to remove the tent by the use of force;

- The IRA activists have been outdoors under the blazing sun with temperatures upward of 110 degrees and were deprived by units of police and gendarmerie to the supply of water through the surrounding fountains.

Today, Monday , September 30, 2013,they suffered an attack by dozens of members of the police and gendarmerie who used batons, kicking boots and tear gas. After beating them, police arrested five activists of IRA: sabbar oild Elhoussein, Zubair ould Mbareck, Slama ould Seyyid, Taghi ould Beydar  and Abdallahi oild Hamdy. Following their arrest several members were taken to the hospital for injuries sustained in the beatings.

The IRA prisoners crime was to peacefully protest against the impunity that the Mauritanian government grants to members of the dominant Arab-Berber community who base their lifestyle on the slave trade in Mauritania.

IRA said that Mauritania has once again demonstrated the bias of the judiciary and its subordination to the executive. This bias and subordination are an act of racism in favor of the Arab-Berber class.

IRA will continue its sit-in in  Boutilimit, until the implementation of the law criminalizing slavery against the family members named by  Noura mint Aheymed, the  victim, in her testimony;

IRA denounced the violent and arbitrary arrest of its five members. They call for their immediate and unconditional release and calls for national and international mobilization for these non-violent activists and human rights defenders.

IRA reiterates its unwavering commitment to non-violence and legalities both national and international despite persecution and the use of violence by the Mauritanian authorities.

The Executive Office