Prevent a Genocide Against the Fulanis in Central Mali
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Although the conflict in Northern Mali is dominating world news, there is another maybe more serious conflict, akin to the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, developing in Central Mali. Several dozen Fulanis, including women and children, are being harassed and even killed by the Malian army as well as government backed militias that are formed on ethnic basis.
The Fulanis (also known as Fulbe, Peuls, Fula or Fellata) are the most widespread ethnic group in Africa and are found in about 20 countries on the continent. In Central Mali, where Fulanis have been living for many centuries, their cattle herding activities often force them to compete for land against fellow herdsmen who are Arab or Tuareg from Northern Mali or farmers who are usually from other ethnic groups. Since Mali became independent in 1960, this competition for grazing or farming land has caused several violent conflicts along ethnic lines. Despite being estimated to about 14% of the Malian population, The Fulanis have often felt discriminated against the corrupt post-independence Malian government that usually rules in favor the farmers or the Northern Arabs and Tuaregs.
Therefore, when MNLA, a Tuareg rebellion, invaded Central Mali in 2012 and chased the government, The Fulanis felt that their survival was under serious threat. This caused a few member of the Fulani community to join MUJAO, a jihadist group that too, invaded Mali in 2012 and was fighting against MNLA. However, the Fulanis paid a heavy price after the Malian Armed Forces (FAMA) returned to Central with the help of the French army. As reported by Human Rights Watch among others, many Fulani herdsmen were accused by the military as well as pro-government militias of collusion with the jihadists and were thus subjected to numerous abused such as arrests, confiscation of property, beating, imprisonment without fair trial and even summary executions. This is reminiscent of the acts of violence that led to the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994. Considering the presence of Fulanis in so many African countries, it is in the best interest of Mali and the international community to avoid a situation where the Fulanis won’t have any choice but to rise up in order to protect their community against being wiped out. Such an uprising would create chaos in the whole Sudano-sahelian region which would be turned into an even more fertile ground for jihadist activities.
Therefore, we are calling on the government of Mali to immediately:
* deploy enough military personnel and equipment in Central Mali to protect all civilians regardless of ethnic or religious background.
* dismantle all pro-government militias and confiscate their weapons.
* work with credible members of Malian civil society and Human Rights organizations to investigate abuses committed by police and military personnel and prosecute those who are suspected of involvement in such abuses.
* work with credible community leaders to promote intercommunity dialogue and reconciliation and find workable sustainable solutions for management of pasture land.
We are calling on the International Community in general, and the countries that contributed troops in MINUSMA forces, in particular, to make sure that the government of Mali protects all citizens of the country without discrimination.
Should the government of Mali show any unwillingness to fulfill that basic responsibility, the International community should impose severe sanctions to force the government to comply.
God Bless Mali, God Bless Africa !!!!
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