News

After Coup, Mali Tuaregs Fear Discrimination

Nancy Palus

In Mali's capital, Bamako, people from Tuareg and Arab ethnic groups say the soldiers who seized power vowing to lead a more robust response to the Tuareg rebellion must work to avoid renewed discrimination against civilians from these communities.  

Even if Malians were frustrated over what many saw as poor handling of the Tuareg rebellion by the government of President Amadou Toumani Touré, people commended the government’s efforts to spread the message not to equate Tuareg civilians or other light-skinned groups with the rebels.

Protecting rights

Now some Tuareg and Arabs in the capital, Bamako, question whether the soldiers looking to seize power will make it a priority to ensure the rights and protection of these populations.

Even though many Tuareg - one of Mali’s numerous ethnic groups - are in the Malian army and on the front lines against the rebels - there have been reprisal attacks against Tuareg civilians since the latest rebel uprising in January.  But that calmed considerably after a broad campaign against such prejudice, led by government and civil society groups.

One man, a Tuareg living in Bamako, did not want to give his name for his own security.  Since the military uprising started on Wednesday, he says he has heard troubling reports.

"Throughout the day on Wednesday," he said, "we heard rumors that the soldiers who rose up against the government blame some Tuareg officials in the army for defeats the army has suffered in the north, and that the military no longer wants to work alongside them."  He added, "If it turns out this sentiment is real, this would be a huge worry for Tuareg civilians.  We would feel quite threatened."

The man says he wants some reassurance right away from the new authorities.

"We want the new authorities to take into account these concerns on the part of the Tuareg community," he said. He says they must call on the population to prevent any repeat of tensions that arose in February, when Tuareg goods and businesses in and around Bamako were attacked.

One Arab in Bamako who is from northern Mali told VOA, “Light-skinned people are pretty scared right now,” he said.  He did not want to speak further by telephone, or have his voice recorded.  

Waiting for clues

Sidi Ali Ould Bagna is president of the Association of Youth from the Sahel.  He told VOA it is too soon to reach conclusions about the coup, and that it will be important to watch the initial moves and pronouncements of the new military leaders.

"We have to wait and see what the new authorities’ vision and true motives are," he said.  What is sure, he adds, is that "they absolutely must work to ensure that inter-community tensions don’t emerge again."

A university student from the northeastern Gao region pointed out that many Tuareg who fled Bamako in February have not yet returned.

Before midday Thursday gunfire could still be heard throughout Bamako, prompting speculation by some residents that there might be an effort to launch a counter-coup by soldiers loyal to President Touré.  In this situation of uncertainty, people from the Tuareg community have particular concerns.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs