#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 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 Portesters in their own words

25 04 2011




Mauritania’s Bouazizi Died Today

23 01 2011

Yacoub Ould Dahoud, A Mauritanian Folk Hero

 

Yacoub Ould dahoud, the Mauritanian businessman who burned himself on January 17, 2011 in front of the presidential palace in Nouakchott, Mauritania died today.  The 41-year old wast motivated by a desire to depose Mauritania’s President, General Aziz and to democratize his country.

His body was supposed to be flown back today from Morocco where his family took him to receive better medical care. It is not clear yet whether the delay is politically motivated – Aziz’s strongest regional ally – as reports indicate that the Moroccan authorities are insisting on conducting an autopsy to determine the causes of his death.

Many Mauritanians this blogger spoke to tonight are convinced that the delay is an act of active collusion designed to help General Aziz win time to manage a public relations fiasco that could potentially lead Mauritanians to take to the streets. This is in the wake of initial protest in the capital city of Nouakchott and other cities against the skyrocketing prices of essential goods.

His death is fueling anger in Mauritania despite an age-old societal aversion towards suicide. Mauritania’s Taqadoumy news website collected reactions of Mauritanians made on Facebook and other source. They reflect a growing outrage fueled by a perceived smear campaign kicked off  by General Aziz’s earlier declarations describing Dahoud’s action as “desperate because of [General Aziz's] war on corruption as [Dahoud] hails from a wealthy family.”

Dahoud was not a poor man, nor was he unemployed like his Tunisian counterpart. His Facebook profile accessed today by this blogger shows Dahoud followed very closely the events unfolding in Tunisia culminating with Ben Ali’s ousting by his people. He came from a prominent family and many Mauritanians I spoke with agree that he was driven by the same motivation as Tunisia’s Bouazizi: making a statement about tyranny and the lack of freedom in their socieities. Not so much a question of Dollars and cents.

Influenced & Inspired By Bouazizi

Yacoub posted on his Facebook wall a link to a manifesto (also posted it on Google Docs) in Arabic and French in the wee hours of January 17, 2011 explaining his demands. Proceeded with slogans posted earlier in French calling for General Aziz’s ouster (Aziz Dégage.) His list of demands included a call to end of Mauritania’s military meddling in politics, and for the regime of (coup master) Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz to be deposed. Dahoud also denounced tribalism as well as slavery on his Facebook wall. His manifesto also included jabs at France’s meddling in Mauritanian affairs under Nicholas Sarkozy who many Mauritanians blame for the success of General Aziz’s power grab in 2008 by providing the necessary political cover internationally allowing him to conduct fraudulent elections in 2009 to legitimize his coup d’etat.

Contrary to initial reports from Reuters claiming Dahoud committed this act to protest tribal grievances, his was a genuine political act of pre-planned and meditated dissent, in fact his suicide note states clearly that he sought peaceful constitutional reform and a functioning democracy.

Dahoud's Manifesto

His manifesto opens with:

Extremism and terrorist groups are a result of 50 years of poverty and the loss of hope that rulers’ oppression will end.

Then he further clarifies:

Enough corruption, enough oppression. Mauritania belongs to the people, not to the Generals and their entourage.

To get the corrupt army band from power, enough with corruption, enough oppression. We suffered fifty years of corruption and oppression. Do we and the future generations not deserve one month of steadfastness to dash out of oppression, intellectual, material and physical oppression [?]

Dahoud then listst his demands:

- The release of human rights activists in prison [Biram Ould Dah] who are fighting against slavery

- Eliminating all taxes and tariffs on rice, wheat, cooking oil, sugar, milk and monitoring their obscene price hikes

- Replacing taxes and tariffs on basic goods through more taxation on cigarettes, luxury cars and tariffs on European ships that are pillaging our maritime wealth, as well as taxing telecom companies or Mauritania’s income from gold mining stolen by the Army commanders’ band.

- A constitutional amendment to be submitted to parliament in an emergency session containing the following points:

a- No current or ex member of the military shall be eligible to be elected President of the Republic

b- An independent electoral committee that will organize and supervise elections without intervention from the Interior Ministry- the source of all ills undermining freedoms in our country.

c- Imposing that the choice of the prime minister be the prerogative of the parliamentary block holding the majority in parliament

d- The nomination ministers of: justice, interior, finance, education shall be contingent upon parliament’s approval

e- The nomination of judges and the attorney general shall be contingent upon parliament’s approval

f- The nomination of the members of the constitutional council [the highest court of the land] shall be contingent upon parliament’s approval

g- Calling via a presidential decree for legislative and presidential decree within six months from the decree’s issuance

h- calling parliament in an emergency session to ratify: the constitutional amendments, an amnesty law for the General [Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz], members of the High Council [military junta ruling body] and the ministers in his government before and after the 2009 elections

If you do not accept this offer, then you should face the people’s wrath and be forced out as Ben Ali was.

I take this occasion to beg the people of France to force its rulers to accept the Mauritanian people’s right to self-determination.

Our lives are a small price to pay for Mauritania so that our sons can live in a country with social justice, liberty and democracy.

Yacoub Dahoud

A simple citizen demanding legitimate rights.

Hasn’t the time come for the Mauritanian people to chose freely and seriously who will preside over its destiny, and manage its resources that can easily service its needs instead of alms of hostile foreign governments?

 





تضامنوا مع المدونة طل الملوحي

13 09 2010

Free 19-year old Syrian Blogger Tal Al-Molohe

وقفة إحتجاجية أمام السفارة السورية بالقاهرة للمطالبة بالإفراج الفوري عن طل الملوحي

طل الملوحي مدونة سورية عمرها أقل من 19 عاما إعتقلت منذ 11 شهراً من قبل أجهزة الأمن السورية وحتى الآن هي قيد الإحتجاز والتحقيق في المعتقلات السورية في مكان غير معلوم ولايدري عنها أحداً .. أقصى نشاطات طل الملوحي تنحصر في كتابة قصائد شعرية في حب فلسطين
آن الأوان لكشف إنتهاكات حقوق الإنسان البشعة في سوريا وتسليط الأضواء عليها .. وحيث أن أشقائنا أحرار سوريا في الداخل يستحيل عليهم في ظل النظام القمعي العنيف القايام بأي أنشطة تعمل على الكشف على مصير طل .. قرر النشطاء الأحرار المصريون بكافة ميولهم السياسية تجاوز الحدود الجغرافية والتضامن الإنساني مع قضية حقوق الإنسان في سوريا والمطالبة بالكشف عن مصير طل والإفراج الفوري عنها من خلال وقفة إحتجاجية سلمية يوم الأحد 19 سبتمبر 2010 أمام السفارة السورية في القاهرة في 18 شارع عبد الرحيم صبري بالدقي من الساعة الثالثة ظهراً ولمدة ساعتين حتى الخامسة عصراً
قضية الحريات قضية إنسانية تخص كل حر شريف تتساقط معها الحدود الجغرافية .. وأحرار مصر دائما هو أول من يناصرون حرية الإنسان وحقوقه في داخل البلاد وخارجها
الوقفة الإحتجاجية السلمية .. حق دستوري كفله لك القانون .. للتعبير عن مطالبك امام سفارة الدولة المعنية





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.





Haram in the House of Bliss!

11 01 2010

Hanevy on the day he was arrested

The news from the House of Bliss (Dar Naim Jail) is not good; Hanevy fell on his head on his way back to his cell and is semi-comatose according to the latest reports. The government sent a military doctor to asses his status. The verdict is that he needs x-rays to evaluate any possible internal injuries. A great source of concern is that the authorities blocked any visits to Hanevy since his fall which raises grave concerns over his prognosis: What is there to hide?

Interestingly, a cleric urged Hanevy to end his hunger strike because it is a form of suicide. This blogger’s response: is it Haram to combat injustice? Isn’t silence in the face of tyranny a sin?

Today, the head of Mauritania’s opposition, former presidential candidate and chairman of the RFD party, joined a sit-in at Nouakchott’s courthouse. The event was called for and organized by the Journalist Union to demand Hanevy’s release.

Daddah was not the only political leader to advocate for Hanevy, in fact, Noma Bint Mogaye (featured previously on Dekhnstan) among others, demanded his release in an interview where she attacked General Aziz. To them his case is about the future of freedoms and liberties of Mauritanians under the increasingly authoritarian General Aziz.

He was featured extensively during the parliamentary debate over the new Anti-Terror Law. In the process of the debate, private sources in the opposition informed this blogger that the said law is plagiarized from Tunisia’s own anti-terror law with the difference that the Tunisian version had relatively more protections for the citizens. It should be said that while Tunisia is not exactly a model on civil liberties, General Aziz is drawing on the example of some of the worse human rights abusers in the world; it gives observers insights into his real ambitions.

In other news, if you type Mauritania in Google News, or twitter, most of the return hits you will get are about the unfortunate westerner hostages (Spaniards, French, Italian) kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb in November and December of last year. This is a far cry from the content of Mauritanian news sites where the issue has been given minimum attention.

These hostages’ plight deserves our sympathy and our prayers go to them and their families in the hope for their safe return to their homes and families. We also hope that the Mauritanian government will get its act together and wipe out from the face of the earth, once and for all, those terrorists behind these acts.

Unfortunately, the reality is such that Mauritanians are focused on their own domestic problems trying to fight off a tyrannical regime with every legal and peaceful venue amidst international indifference.

While, the world’s concern over the growth of Al-Qaeda in the Sahel is commendable and justifiable, policy makers ought to remember that terrorism is not vanquished only by bombs and guns. The best hope to prevent this criminal gang from growing is winning the goodwill of local citizens by showing-  rather than talking- a commitment to their liberties and freedoms.





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.








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