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Mauritania: March to Commemorate the Passing of Rights Activist

Civil rights organisation Touche pas à ma nationalité TPMN (Do not interfere with my citizenship) has called for a large march on September 27, 2012, in the capital Nouakchott, to commemorate the passing of anti-racism activist Lamine Mangane.

Mangane was killed a year ago by authorities in the town of Maghama during protests against a census that marginalized black citizens of Mauritania.

In memory of Lamine Mangane

Who was Lamine Mangane? His father Moussa Abdoul Mangane recalls the memory of his son [fr] on the blog Mauritanides:

Lamine, âgé de 19 ans a été tué par balle pendants les manifestations contre l’enrôlement à Maghama. Nous avons déposé une plainte au tribunal de Kaédi afin que justice soit faite. Malheureusement, nous n’avons, jusqu’à maintenant, pas eu aucune réponse en retour. L’assassin de mon fils circule librement et ce, avec la complicité de nos appareils judiciaires. Il a même pour toute sanction, une affectation [..] A travers la mort de mon fils et les blessés à Maghama, suite aux manifestations contre l’enrôlement raciste, c’est une fois de plus la communauté négro-mauritanienne qui est brutalisée, blessée, meurtrie

Lamien was 19 when he was shot to death during the protests against the census in Maghama. We have filed a complaint at the Tribunal of Kaedi for justice to be served. Yet we are still waiting for a response from our inquiry. My son's killer is still at large with the implicit approval of our judicial system. His only sanction was to be re-assigned to a different location [..] With my son's death and all those wounded in Maghama following this racist census, it is once again the black Mauritanian community that is brutalized, wounded and hurt

A video by Siteflere [fr] gives more background on Lamine Mangane and shows people marching a year ago after learning about his death:

The association l’Initiative pour la Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste en Mauritanie IRA- Mauritanie (in English:  the Promotion of the Abolitionist Movement Initiative in Mauritania) gave the following statement [fr] in the blog Info de la Rue:

La mort de Lamine Mangane ne peut en aucune manière rester impunie. Si l’autorité perçoit cet assassinat comme un acte de dissuasion, elle se trompe lourdement, il risque au contraire d’envenimer la situation et de semer le chaos

The death of Lamine Mangane cannot remain unpunished. If the authorities believe that this assassination would dissuade us, it is highly mistaken. To the contrary, it might make matters worse and bring chaos.

A history of racial tension 

Lamine Mangane is not the lone victim in the continuing racial tension between blacks and arabs in Mauritania. The Movement for Justice and Equality in Mauritania (M.J.E.M) states that 25 year-old Bakary Bathily, a rights activist and a student at the University of Nouakchott’s School of Law and Economics, has been missing since February 22:

The authorities initiated a massive manhunt to arrest the young activist and prevent him from advancing the cause of the oppressed Black Africans in Mauritania. In Nouakchott alone, dozens of black students have been arrested this year. Others have been harassed and tortured by the Police [..] Bakary’s family has not seen him or spoken with him since February 2, 2012. Numerous Human Rights organizations in Mauritania have been demanding the government to call off the manhunt…

The blog Flere reminds us of the long history of clashes [fr] between arabs and blacks in Mauritania:

Arrestations de militaires en octobre 1987 à la suite d'un prétendu coup d'Etat militaire : trois exécutions, 23 condamnés entre 5 ans et la perpétuité, près d'un millier de militaires noirs chassés de l'armée après avoir subi toutes formes de tortures et d'humiliations. Des tortures et mauvais traitements qui allaient entraîner la mort de 4 prisonniers politiques à Waalata. Au mois d'avril 1989, des centaines de Noirs (700 au moins) sont massacrés á Nouakchott, à Nouadhibou et dans plusieurs autres localités mauritaniennes, avec la complicité des plus hautes autorités de l'Etat.

Soldiers were arrested in October 1987 after an alleged coup: 3 were executed, 23 sentenced to years in prison (from 5 to life sentence). About a thousand black soldiers were thrown out of the army, some of them after being tortured and humiliated. Some of those tortures led to the death of 4 political prisoners in Waalata. In April 1989, at least 700 hundred blacks were killed in Nouakchott, Nouadhibou and others cities, with the implicit support of the hightest state authorities.

Abdoulaye Yero DIA argues that this situation cannot last any longer [fr]:

une chose est claire et confirmée tout le long de l’Histoire : la durée de vie de l’oppression est très réduite à l’échelle de l’Histoire. Cette injustice doit s’arrêter. Que les dirigeants sachent une chose : en continuant à se comporter comme ils le font, ils sont entrain de nourrir la haine envers leurs propres enfants et de donner aux opprimés d’aujourd’hui des arguments pour justifier un désir de revanche

One thing is certain as history has shown throughout its course: oppression is always on borrowed time. This injustice must stop. The authorities must know that with their behavior, they are planting the seeds of hatred towards their own descendants and give the oppressed the arguments for a yearning for vengeance.

Abdoul Birane Wane gives the details of the events [fr] scheduled prior to the march:

Mercredi 26 septembre, un grand concert au 5eme arrondissement à partir de 18heures.
- Jeudi 27 septembre à 11heures , sitin devant le ministère de la justice pour exiger le jugement des coupables.
- 17heures, meeting au 6eme arrondissement.

- On Wednesday, September 26, a large concert will take place in the 5th district from 6 PM.
- Thursday, September 27 at 11 am, a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Justice to demand that the culprits be sentenced.
- At 5 PM, a general meeting in the 6th district.

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