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Mali: Media Workers to Strike in Protest of Journalist Kidnapping

On the night of Thursday July 12, 2012, Saouti Haidara, the 62 year old director of the Malian newspaper L’Indépendant and a veteran of the Bamako press, was kidnapped by masked men, beaten, then abandoned on a road.

MDD has more to say about the circumstances of this kidnapping in Malian news website Journal du Mali [fr]:

Ils sont venus le chercher au bureau. Ils ont tiré en l'air pour intimider le personnel et brutalisé notre patron”, raconte un journaliste. C'était vers 21h30. Ils ont ensuite emmené Saouti Haidara sur la route Sénou vers l'aéroport. Après avoir été battu par ces individus mal intentionnés, l'homme qui a pu être suivi par ses collaborateurs, a été relâché 4h après et transporté à la clinique mère-enfant du Luxembourg. ” Nous y avons passé toute la nuit et ils lui ont cassé une main

“They came to the office looking for him. They fired shots into the air to intimidate staff and they beat up our boss.” explained a journalist. “It was around 9.30pm. Then they took Saouti Haidara towards the airport on the Sénou road.” After being beaten up by these ill-intentioned men, the victim, who could have been followed by his co-workers, was released four hours later and taken to the Luxembourg mother-child clinic. “We spent the whole night there, they had broken one of his hands.”

Malian television broadcast images of the man after his attack. [fr]

One week previously, Abderahmane Keita of Malian newspaper L’Aurore had suffered a similar fate.

Following the coup on March 22, 2012, there has also been an big increase in arrests , including those of Birama Fall of newspaper Le Prétoire and Abdoulaye Barry of television channel Africable.

Newspapers and private radio channels have declared a strike for next Tuesday, July 17, to protest against these assaults on their peers.

MDD, of Malian news website Journal du Mali added [fr]:

Aujourd'hui, c'est l'indignation générale après l'agression du doyen de la presse. Saouti Haidara souffre de plusieurs contusions et d'une fracture de la main. Le président de l’Union nationale des journalistes du Mali (UNAJOM), Ibrahim Famakan Coulibaly et celui de la maison de la presse de ce pays, Makan Koné, ont “condamné” cet acte. M. Koné a annoncé “la tenue d’une Assemblée générale dès ce vendredi matin à 8 heures (heure locale) à la Maison de la presse, qui sera suivie d’une marche de protestation contre cet enlèvement et les précédents”. M. Koné a aussi annoncé “la suspension de toutes les publications au Mali à partir de lundi prochain, toujours dans le cadre de la protestation” [..] L'organisation de défense des journalistes Reporters sans frontières (RSF) s'était inquiétée en mai des violations de la liberté de la presse au Mali depuis le coup d'Etat militaire du 22 mars,

There is widespread indignation today following the assault on the doyen of the press. Saouti Haidara has several contusions and a fractured hand. The president of the Malian National Union of Journalists (UNAJOM), Ibrahim Famakan Coulibaly, as well as the president of the Press House of Mali, Makan Koné, have “condemned” this act. Mr Koné has announced “the holding of a General Assembly this Friday morning at 8am (local time) at the Press House of Mali, which will be followed by a protest march against this kidnapping and previous incidents”. Mr Koné also announced “the suspension of all publications within Mali from next Monday, also as a protest” [...] In May Reporters Without Borders, an organisation protecting journalists, was concerned about the violations of the liberty of the Malian press following the military coup of March 22.

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