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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Rights protesters arrested in Mauritania

A police officer told AFP the government had not authorised the protest [AFP]

Date of publication: 29 November, 2020

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40 people were arrested in Nouakchott at a demonstration by widows and relatives of victims of historic civil unrest.

Police have arrested 42 people in Mauritania, rights groups and police said Sunday, after a protest demanding justice for victims of civil unrest between 1989 and 1991.

Tensions between the West African state's black population and lighter-skinned Berber-Arab Moors plagued the 1984-2005 regime of Maaouiya Ould Taya.

A surge in violence included an infamous episode on November 28, 1990, when 28 black Mauritanian soldiers were hanged without charge after being accused of plotting a coup.

No one has ever been tried for the crimes owing to a 1993 amnesty law, although the families have been compensated.

On Saturday - the anniversary of the soldier executions - 40 people were arrested in the capital Nouakchott at a demonstration by widows and relatives of victims of the unrest, according to Lalla Aicha of local rights NGO FONAD.

A further two people were arrested in the southern town of Bababe, on the border with Senegal, she said.

A police officer, who requested anonymity, confirmed the arrests to AFP and explained that the government had not authorised the protests.

Demonstrators were demanding a repeal of the amnesty law, among other things.

"We want to express our mourning, demand our rights to justice and reparations," said Dia Alassane, one of the protest organisers.

Former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who governed between 2008 and 2019, apologised for the events of 1989-1991. Many rights groups continue to demand accountability, however.

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