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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid