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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid