#Mauritania #April25 Opposition MP’s Join Youth at Police Station Protest

26 04 2011

This video was shot today during the ongoing sit-in by the February 25 youth in front of the 4th district police station in Nouakchott where most of their detainees are thought to be held.
The protesters are joined by several opposition MP’s and leaders from the anti-slavery movement.
To an outsider this video is another banal protest, in fact, these very scenes show a new reinvigorated political discourse shaping the youth protest movement. The protesters have internalized the two main clean-break ingredients that allowed the Arab Spring to happen elsewhere:
– A post-ideological culture of civl rights
-A commitment to nonviolence
It’s worth also noting that the youth are camping up as we speak by the police station after they took over the plaza in front of the detention center. According to this blogger’s sources, the police is deliberately avoiding any direct contact with the protesters for fear of provoking a new round of mass protests as yesterday’s.
The government is rattled.




#Mauritania #April25 Detained Youth Leader in his own words

26 04 2011

AhmedJiddou.mp4 Watch on Posterous

Ahmed Jiddou, blogger, and February 25 movement activist speaking about his motives to come out to protest.He remains detained in an undisclosed location since his arrest yesterday during the April 25 Day of Rage.
He is a peaceful, nonviolent Mauritanian citizen who was exercising his constitutional right to express his dissent.
Video courtesy of @lissnup





#Mauritania #April25 Detained Youth Movement Members Pictures

26 04 2011
Freenouakchott7

These are photos of the February 25 youth movement members who were arrested yesterday April 25, 2011 by the Mauritanian government in Nouakchott during the Day of Rage protest in downtown Nouakchott. Some of them are held in an undisclosed location. The government still refuses to explain the reasons for their detention and their whereabouts.
Mauritania’s police has a long history of beatings, torture and mistreatment of political prisoners and detainees.
To date no human rights organization outside Mauritania has commented, covered or intervened on behalf of the protesters.
Picture courtesy of @Mauritanidem1





#Mauritania #April25 CNN iReport

26 04 2011
via @Lissnup, a tip of the hat to her all her work supporting the youth in Mauritania. Twitter is indeed the people’s news agency. On another note, when was the last time Mauritania was cover on any American mainstream media outlet?




#Mauritania #April25 Activist Ahmed Jiddou Arrested

25 04 2011

Ahmned Jiddou seen in minute 1:06 of this video calling for protest, was arrested today. He has been one of the most active promoters of today’s demonstrations.





Lax on Terrorists, Brutal on Journalists

17 01 2010

General Aziz: lax on terrorist, brutal on journalists

As anounced in my previous post, the Mauritanian supreme court examined Hanevy’s case and decided that his conviction was illegal. Shockingly, it ordered a second trial for him and kept him in jail to await a new trial for unspecified charges.

According to his defense team leader Attorney Brahim Ould Ebety, contacted by this blogger via phone, “this is a highly illegal procedure”. As hard as it is to believe, but it is also “the first time in all of Mauritania’s history that a case has been handled this way”. Here is why:

1- No laws sanctions electronic publications/content: Hanevy’s conviction on the charge of publishing “indecent content” is an aberration; no Mauritanian law on the books at the time of the trial sanctions, regulates or covers any electronic publications. Despite the judge’s explicit admission of this fact in his ruling, he still went ahead and convicted him nonetheless.

2- The attorney general violated the constitution and prison procedures: per the constitution, and the rules of procedure, Hanevy should have been released on the day he finished his sentenced because the law says very clearly that for a prisoner to be kept in prison, the warden should receive a duly signed order from a judge to admit a prisoner in. It has to be issued for this action to be taken as orders cannot be retroactively reissued.

3- The attorney general completely disregarded the rules and procedures of filing a motion to the supreme court on a case as it is clearly stipulated that should such a move be undertaken, the defense attorney should be notified in advance and has a a 15 day period to respond, then and only then, the case can be legally reviewed by the supreme court.

The reason for this extensive illegal jockeying is the government’s attempt to coverup its bad decisions, as it knows that it is standing on no legal grounds whatsoever, while still punishing Hanevy. In plain colloquial english, they know they messed up but they want another shot only to get the job done right this time. Let’s be clear here, General Aziz is personally out to punish Hanevy for his unrelenting criticism of his regime and methods.

Incredibly, Mr Ahmedou Tidjane Bal, the head of the supreme court was a former legal advisor to the Burundi UN office , and in more recent times a justice minister. He is seen here blithering a few days before Hanevy’s arrest last june at the UN human rights council in Geneva about human rights progresses in Mauritania. This detail is relevant as Mr Bal has a history of violating laws and procedures to satisfy his boss’ political agenda. The latest was his refusal as justice minister to order a district attorney to release former Prime Minister Ould Elwaghef when he was detained in another political witch hunt last year.

Salvador Dali, could not have imagined a better picture to paint; while General Aziz is unleashing his anger on a news website editor, he is fully engaged in a “dialogue” with terrorists validating the Ali Abdullah Saleh axiom: “lax with terrorists, tough with journalists”

A few days ago, the Mauritanian government through representatives from the justice, interior, and Islamic guidance ministries engaged in a bizarre exercise allowing the tenors of Mauritania’s Salafist movement to dialogue with self-confessed Al Qaeda terrorists including Sidina Ould Sidi arrested for shooting French tourists in December 2007, and for rampaging in Nouakchott after escaping from prison to be captured later by French Intelligence in Guinea.

The subject of this charming discussion has been the theory of Jihad, with the “nice” Salafists trying to convince the Al-Qaeda Jihadists, in the words of Ould Sidina, the killer of at least 5 people:

We have always called for dialogue through press interviews and are not against it, but we shall not give up our ideas until we are provided with proof from the Qur’an and the Sunna showing us any errors we may have committed. Otherwise, the other side should follow our opinions if they are are proven correct.

A guard in Nouakchott’s Central Prison is quoted by Saharamedia saying while his colleagues were busy scrubbing the floor and setting up a podium for the next round of dialogue:

This is the first time ever that a podium is set up in the prison to conduct a dialogue. There is no doubt that this is a historical event. We are setting up the space between Mauritania’s ulema and the terrorist (sic.) this looks like a big deal.

Yes, it is a big deal. Khalid Sheikh Mohamed and his fellow terrorists around the world are getting a raw deal. They are never allowed to speak publicly, nor is their terrorist ideology given a platform.

As you can see, the “new Mauritania” under the rule of General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz is a land where journalists who believe in the rule of law and freedom of speech are crushed, and murderous Al-Qaeda terrorists are free to voice their opinions with the full blessing of said government.

This is an outrage.





When the Magic Turns on the Magician

14 01 2010

Hanevy during his American sojourn

Hanevy Ould Dahah should in theory have his day at the supreme court today (Jan 14) after being suddenly summoned to appear before the highest court in the land. Except that the proceeding will be illegal. Make no mistake, the Mauritanian government did not suddenly discover that it erred in this case, it is merely trying to coverup its already highly illegal treatment of Hanevy. In fact, the authorities may convict him to another sentence!

His lawyers led by veteran human right activist attorney Brhaim Ould Ebetty hit back with a complaint duly filed against the officials involved in Hanevy’s extrajudicial punishment. For the record, they are:

- Ly Amadou Ciré, district attorney at Nouakchott’s regional court
– Ahmed Ould Wely, government attorney at the appeals court
– Mariata Kane, penitentiary service and penal affairs director
– Ahmed Ould Cheikh, the Dar Naim prison facility warden

In an interview on Taqadoumy, Ould Ebetty  is paraphrased explaining this round of government legal jockying:

Whether it yields a release or an additional sentence, the outcome of tomorrow’s hearing is illegal and will not be accepted by Hanevy or his defense [team] we have already shown what the law says on this matter in our last affidavit to the supreme court.

Still according to Ould Ebetty, the defense team is also considering taking Hanevy’s case before international courts in case the Mauritanian supreme court fails in its duties to restore Hanevy’s freedom.

Incidentally, in another twist, the complaint against the officials behind Hanevy’s detention was filed with..District Attorney Ly Amadou Ciré, the very same who initiated this entire mess. He lodged the complaint and delivered the plaintiffs with a receipt, exactly as mandated by law.

Although it is easy to blame Messieurs Ciré et al for their manifest lack of moral courage, they are not the ones to blame. Hanevy’s ordeal is sanctioned by the highest authorities in Mauritania: General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz. The system Mauritanians live under is such that he, and he alone, has the power of life and death on anyone foolish enough to cross him.

Buckle your seat belts and cross your finger.





The RIM Patriot Act

8 01 2010

General Aziz

The RIM Patriot Act: If The Cowboy Had A Mustache

Mauritania’s specialist on the blogosphere, the Moor Next Door and the Sahel blog zoomed on an often overlooked aspect of the rise of AQIM in the Sahel and particularly Mauritania. For instance Kal points out that General Aziz’ ever growing appetite for absolute power marked by the passage by a new Mauritanian anti-terror law:

The government’s claim that it needs a stronger anti-terror law to pursue militants by monitoring their phones and rummage through their homes and belongings with ease does not impress the opposition. These powers recall arbitrary and despotic tendencies, used under the Ould Tayya regime to suppress dissent be it secular or lefist, Ba’thist or Islamist.

As far as Mauritania is concerned, AQIM’s lack of urban infrastructure and operational bases-they are in the desert, let’s not forget-makes it hard to accept wholesale the government’s drive to pass such legislation. Simply put, those measures could be useful and perhaps warranted if we were indeed dealing with an urban insurgency, with extensive recruiting and logistical networks, let’s even say in a 4GW environment like the case in Iraq. In that case, these tools would be useful to collect, analyze the necessary intelligence to defeat the enemy.

A simple glance, even for non-specialist, past a vaguely phrased opening about “the law not contradicting the constituional rights of citizens” one sees a Damocles sword that will be hanging over the heads of any dissenters (my translation):

Article 2: A terrorist crime is, under this law, the crime [sic..] mentioned in articles 3, 4, 5 detailed hereafter: [an act] by nature or context that may constitute a grave threat to the country, committed willingly with the intention of terrorizing the population. or to compel the authorities to act unwarrantedly in a manner they are not compelled to. or with the goal [for the authorities] to not perform [duties] they are duty-bound to perform. or to undermine society’s political values and threatening the structures; the constitutional, political, economical, social institutions of the nation. or [committing acts] destined to undermine the interest of other nations or international organizations.”

Vague and elastic phrasing would allow the government to label anyone who fits under the dubious “undermining of the institutions” or “compelling the state to act or not act” as a terrorist.  now, the law moves from paranoia to dive deeply into the absurd :

Article 3: A terrorist crime is according to the conditions set forth in article 2, is not limited to:

1- Threatening the state’s internal or external security

3- Crimes related to computers: “cybernetic” [crimes]

4- Violations of maritime navigation, aviation and land transportation

So the infamous and unspecific “threatening the state’s internal and external security” charge leveled at any political dissenter worthy of the name in Mauritania’s history is squarely labeled a terrorist crime, so are undefined “computer crimes.”

So say, you are known to not like General Aziz, and that you drive your car recklessly, and that you are stopped and found in possession of illegal software, or an unlocked phone, then the immortal words of Jeff Dunham’s “Achmed the dead terrorist” apply here: “Silence, I kill you!”

The law goes on classifying the illegal possession of weapons as a terrorist crime; it is already a custom tailored charge as most Mauritanian households posses firearms as a matter of tribal custom.

To quote this law, the above few examples are not exhaustive. They are just quickly picked samples of how dangerous and arbitrary this law will be for the freedoms and rights of Mauritanian citizens. Rightly, the law provoked the opposition’s ire.

Foreign observes should remember the following two points:

1- The most devastating terrorist attacks committed on Mauritanian soil were committed during General Aziz’ stint as strongman both under deposed President Abdallahi, and after he overthrew him in August 2008. The General is clearly incompetent on the question, and it is hard to make the case for this new law knowing that the previous 2005 anti-terrorism law already gave the government sweeping powers.

2- General Aziz proved already that he has no regard for the law by detaining Taqadoumy’s editor Hanevy Ould Dahah past the end of his dubious 6 month jail sentence.

The law mentions the making and possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction, ordinary Mauritanians hard pressed for power and clean water are already mocking the General by saying: “get us power and water long enough and we will put the Iranians to shame: we will start world war 3.”

Finally, unlike our American lawmakers who did not read the fine print of our patriot act back in 2001, the Mauritanian opposition is raising hell about there’s.

More to come later.





Aziz: Hanevy isn’t my problem

3 01 2010

General Aziz & his top ally Colonel Kaddafi

Hanevy today has been on hunger strike for a week and his health is deteriorating. Yet, the Mauritanian government remains determined to keep him locked up. General Aziz told members of parliament yesterday:

“Hanevy’s case does not concern me and I will not intervene in it. Hanevy was not arrested during my rule. I have not arrested a single journalist. His case is a matter for the courts.”

Regardless of how disingenuous these statements are, General Aziz did in the past say in a meeting with journalists on November, 1 2009:

“..it is better for Hanevy to remain in jail for his own safety, so that he wouldn’t be kidnapped or killed by the people he writes about all day long..”

As you can see, there is a pattern. The judges are taking their cues from Aziz. They interpreted his November statement and implemented their boss’ wishes: “Keep Hanevy locked up even if his sentence is up” which was what happened on December 24.

Hanevy’s plight is already gathering attention. Tunisian dissident Moncef Marzouki and the head of the Arab Committee for Human Rights Syrian Haitham Manaa, two of the most prominent Human Rights activists in the Arab world are already demanding his releases. They were reached by phone by the head of Mauritania’s journalists union.

Speaking of Mauritanian journalists, they are on strike anyway today; no press was printed today because of the sharp rise in printing costs.

Interestingly, RFI picked a report issued by the Mauritanian Bar Association decrying the conditions  the infamous House of Bliss a.k.a Dar Naim prison where Hanevy is held, the conclusion are devastating according to the report:

-Overcrowded: Dar Naim prison was built to house 300 inmates, now there are a 1000 inmates in because of the excessive use of preventive detention. There are people who have been on preventive detention since 2002,2003, 2004 who still await trail for offenses whose punishment are shorter than the time already spent in.

-Violence, infectious diseases, torture: the prison does not have healthcare services, the overcrowding of cells is ideal for the spread of diseases. Add to that the constant violence among the inmates and the torture practiced by the guards.





Hanevy Starts a Hunger Strike

28 12 2009

The first hunger strike of the decade in his country is by Mauritania’s Hanevy Ould Dahah, director of news website Taqadoumy.com, after he finished his (illegal) 6-month sentence on December 24, the authorities REFUSE to release him and offer no legal explanation whatsoever.

This case generated a lot of protest in Mauritania and was covered by Aljazeera among others. Mauritanian journalists issued a statement holding the government responsible for Hanevy’s health and organized a protest in front of the UN offices in Nouakchott.

Mauritania’s main opposition party (RFD) and the coalition of opposition parties condemned the measure and demanded his immediate release.

Dahah announced his hunger strike in a letter transmitted by his lawyers explaining his motives:

ورغم أنني مستعد لأن أُسلم روحي ثمنا لإيماني العميق بقيم الديمقراطية ورفضي الذي لا يعرف حدودا لجبروت الديكتاتورية وصلفها فإنني أعلن احتجاجي على السجن التحكمي الذي يعتبر أنكي ضروب الاستبداد، من خلال الدخول ابتداء من اليوم الأحد 27/12/2009 في إضراب مفتوح عن الطعام، إلى أن يرفع عني هذا الظلم، الذي لا يبرره سوي الانتقام مني بسبب موقفي المناوئ للانقلاب، رغم أنه أكثر المواقف التي أتشرف بها في مسيرة نضالي من اجل الحرية

“I am ready to pay with my life for my deep commitment to democratic values, and also [because of] my categorical rejection of dictatorship’s oppression and arrogance, I protest my preventive incarceration which is the cruelest form of tyranny. I enter in an open hunger strike starting today sunday 12/27/2009 until I am freed of this injustice motivated by my opposition to the [Aziz led August 2008] coup. My opposition to the coup is the position I am most proud of through my entire struggle for freedom.”

Today is day 2 of Hanevy’s hunger strike and he is reported to have had a glass of juice only.








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