Sep 26, 2022

Haratin : IRA-Mauritania Activists Imprisoned as Government Reneges on Pledges for Democratization

Five activists of the Resurgence of an Initiative for the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania, or IRA-M, have been detained by the Mauritanian government on September 21st, 2022, in Nouakchott. The five were working for the Re-foundation and Global Action political wing of the NGO headed by one-time presidential candidate Biram Dah Abeid, who has campaigned for Haratin rights and democratization in the North African country for years and been imprisoned himself.

According the information received, the five detained, Messrs. Salma Dia, Ghamou Achour, Cheickh Vall, Hassan Mokhtar and Mohammed Ali, were deprived of food, sleep, and ability to change clothes or clean themselves. The ruling Union for the Republic party, now called Equity, seems to allegedly influencing these arrests. IRA Mauritania, a well known organisation working for the eradication of the slavery in Mauritania, has indicated that Equity "continue the smoke and mirror tactics required to disrupt upcoming elections". The current President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ghazouani, failed to condemn the acts and stands to benefit from the event.  

The arrests and overall blowback against the group is a step-back in the promised democratization process that Mauritanian officials were committed to honoring. A negotiated end to the criminalization of opposition groups had occurred when in December 2021, IRA-M was allowed to register itself legally in Mauritania and there was a committed effort to engage with the opposition.  

However, the arrests bade by the Mauritanian government ahead of protracted elections can be interpreted as a blatant assault of the democratization process. The Executive Bureau of the IRA-M reacted by calling for NGOs and governments around the world to pressure the Mauritanian government into the release of the detained and re-commitment to democratic processes. 

The Executive Bureau also called for protests this Wednesday 28th September between 12.00 and 14.00 CET. UNPO joins their call for protests and international pressure on the Mauritanian government.