Amnesty International raises red alert over killing of four civilians followed by arrests and detentions by military junta in Mali

Amnesty International on Wednesday raised concerns over the killing of four unarmed civilians in Mali, followed by series of human rights violations by the military junta that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Tuesday.

Mutinous soldiers from the National Committee for the People’s Salvation (CNSP in French) stormed the home of President Keita on Tuesday, and arrested him along with several other officials.

Hours after his arrest, Keita was forced to resign, and read a speech saying his resignation was immediate.

Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director Samira Daoud said the organization is concerned by loss of lives and human rights violations documents on the day of the coup.

He said: “We are concerned by the military junta’s detention of several government officials, including President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cissé. All those arrested during the coup must be immediately released or charged with a recognizable criminal offence. We call on coup leaders to guarantee that the rights of all the population including the detainees are protected, including by granting them access to lawyers of their own choice, to their family, and clarifying on which legal basis they have been detained. 

“We have also documented the deaths of four people yesterday evening and injuries to 15 others. All the victims were hit by bullets in unclear circumstances and were dispatched to the Gabriel Touré hospital in the capital Bamako. 

“We call on the CNSP to investigate the conditions in which these deaths and injuries occurred and, where there is evidence of crimes and other human rights violations, to ensure that those responsible are held accountable through fair trials. 

“Amnesty International is closely monitoring the situation in Mali and exhorts the military authorities to respect and defend human rights and international human rights law and to account for all the individuals arrested during the coup.”

Mali has been contending with a wide protest movement calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, led by the Mouvement du 5 Juin-Front patriotique de résistance (M5-RFP) since June. The demonstrations of July 10 were brutally repressed by the security forces, leading to at least 14 deaths and 300 injured. 

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been mediating with the parties for a solution to the political crisis, caused by the proclamation of the legislative results in April 2020. It is in this tense political context that the coup occurred.

A mutiny began in the Soundiata Keita military camp of Kati on August 18. In the middle of the afternoon, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was arrested at his home in Sébénikoro (Bamako), together with the Prime Minister, Dr. Boubou Cissé by the mutineers. Both were taken to Kati.  

According to reports, several other officials were arrested by the soldiers in the morning, including the Minister of Finance Abdoulaye Daffé, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Tiébilé Dramé and the Minister of Defense General Ibrahim Dahirou Dembelé.

During the evening, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announced on TV the dissolution of the government, of the National Assembly and his resignation, stating: “I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power.”

While ECOWAS the African Union, and the UN have condemned the coup, coup leaders have called for a civilian-led transitional government and new elections. 

In a statement, ECOWAS suspended Mali from all its decision-making bodies, announced the closure of borders with Mali, and called for the immediate implementation of sanctions against the coup leaders and their collaborators.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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