News / Africa

Mali Says Rebel Tomb Desecration a War Crime

Fighters from the Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard during the handover of a Swiss female hostage for transport by helicopter to neighboring Burkina Faso in the desert outside Timbuktu, Mali, April 24, 2012. Fighters from the Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard during the handover of a Swiss female hostage for transport by helicopter to neighboring Burkina Faso in the desert outside Timbuktu, Mali, April 24, 2012.
x
Fighters from the Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard during the handover of a Swiss female hostage for transport by helicopter to neighboring Burkina Faso in the desert outside Timbuktu, Mali, April 24, 2012.
Fighters from the Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard during the handover of a Swiss female hostage for transport by helicopter to neighboring Burkina Faso in the desert outside Timbuktu, Mali, April 24, 2012.
James Butty
The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has warned Islamist rebels in northern Mali that their systematic destruction of revered Muslim tombs in Timbuktu is a war crime, which her office has authority to investigate.  

In an interview with the French news agency (AFP) Sunday, Fatou Bensouda called on Islamist rebels to stop the desecration of Mali’s religious sites.  

The hardline Islamists, who seized control of Timbuktu along with the rest of northern Mali three months ago, consider the shrines to be idolatrous and have destroyed seven tombs. 

Witnesses say the al-Qaida-linked group Ansar Dine targeted the 15th-century Sidi Yahya mosque on Monday, tearing off the entrance door.  The door is considered sacred and was to remain closed until the end of the world.

Hamadoune Toure, Mali’s minister for communication, and government spokesman, said his government is in the process of submitting a request to the ICC to bring charges of war crimes against the Islamist rebels.

“We are planning to see the ICC so that these people can be tried by the International Criminal Court.  At the same time, on the national level, we have also started a procedure to try these people,” he said.

Toure said the request to the ICC is being prepared by a ministerial committee and should be ready as soon as possible.

Butty interview with Hamadoune Toure
Butty interview with Hamadoune Tourei
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X


The attack on the ancient mausoleums comes just days after the U.N. cultural agency put Timbuktu on its list of sites that are in danger. UNESCO's World Heritage Committee urged the African Union and the international community to help protect Timbuktu and its 16 ancient mausoleums.

Toure said the destruction of tombs had nothing to do with Islam, adding that the Malian people will continue to defend their cultural values.

“We know it is something unacceptable; it has nothing to do with religion; it’s a violation of our culture, but they can do whatever they want.  They cannot destroy the links we have with our people who are resting there in peace,” Toure said.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is working on a plan to send about 3,300 troops to Mali, but the group needs international support in the form of logistics.

ECOWAS leaders met Friday in Yamoussoukro to discuss the crises in Mali and Guinea-Bissau.

ECOWAS negotiations with the northern rebels have been led by Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore. Toure said his government has made clear that Mali’s territorial integrity is non-negotiable.

“We just went to Ouagadougou to talk with the mediator.  We told him we had two non-negotiable issues: the integrity of the Malian territory; it’s also a republic; it cannot be an Islamic Republic, and we cannot accept the partition of our country,” Toure said.

During the past week, Ansar Dine and other Islamist groups in northern Mali fought with separatist Tuareg rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, or MNLA. The Islamists succeeded in pushing the MNLA out of the main northern cities of Gao and Timbuktu.

Photo gallery of heritage sites in Timbuktu

Loading...

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: scott from: beijing
July 02, 2012 2:05 AM
despicable maybe, but war crimes? this article makes the ICC look like fools

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid