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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora