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 Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid