Mali people against French neocolonial war

This 10 January 2020 French-language video shows a demonstration in Bamako, Mali against French and other foreign soldiers waging war in Mali.

Three days later, there was another big anti-neocolonial war protest there.

By Alex Lantier in France:

Malians protest to demand departure of French occupation troops

16 January 2020

More than a thousand Malians demonstrated on Monday in Independence Square in the capital, Bamako, to demand the withdrawal of French troops who have occupied Mali since 2013. Anger is exploding against the carnage produced by French intervention and against the official lie that served to justify it: that France would wage a global war against jihadist terrorist networks that threaten to conquer Mali.

As a mass strike breaks out against President Emmanuel Macron and anti-war sentiment rises among the ‘yellow vests’ in France, and protests continue against the Algerian military dictatorship, objective conditions are emerging for an international workers’ struggle against the neocolonial wars waged by France and its imperialist allies across Africa.

Demonstrators in Bamako brandished posters “France Get Out”, and chanted slogans like “France out”, “Down with France” and “The Barkhane Forces must leave.” Operation Barkhane is the official name of the French military intervention in Mali.

Many demonstrators stressed that their anger was not directed against the French but against the foreign policy of French imperialism. “We are not angry with the French people, but against the policies of their state”, one demonstrator told Le Monde.

Likewise, a woman protesting in Bamako said, “France must withdraw its army from our lands. That’s why the Malian people are here, that’s why the Amazon that I am, is here.”

Another demand was to overcome the rivalries between Tuaregs, Dogons, Fulani and other ethnic groups that the French occupying forces and their German auxiliaries are playing on. One protester called for a march on Kidal, a northern Tuareg town at the centre of French military operations: “Soon, we must march on Kidal, in the coming days. If there is no improvement, there will be no change. We will march on Kidal. Even if everyone, all of Mali, dies, we will march on Kidal.”

Another demonstrator pointed to the complicity between Paris and the Islamist or ethnic militias active in Mali: “Despite the massive presence of the world’s largest armies, the terrorist groups continue to operate and are even growing in strength. We must therefore beware of these nocturnal arsonists who suddenly turn into firemen at dawn. These foreign powers use terrorism to control
the immense wealth of the region.”

Vast anger is rising in Mali against the French occupation, following NATO’s war in Libya, where Paris destroyed Moammar Gaddafi’s government with the help of jihadist militias. France then invaded Mali in 2013, supposedly to protect Malians from jihadist militias coming from Libya. In 2020, 80 percent of Malians are critical of the French presence, according to a poll for Maliweb.

The protest in Bamako follows a number of strikes and demonstrations against France and its neo-colonial puppet, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. Malian teachers and railway workers went on strike in 2019 because Paris and Keïta, who are spending hundreds of millions of euros on the war, refused to pay their salaries. And after several protests in Bamako and elsewhere in 2019, another demonstration against French interference took place on January 3 near Bandiagara in central Mali.

These demonstrations defied the slanderous statements of Macron and Keita, who accuse opponents of the French occupation of Mali, that is, the vast majority of the Malian population, of playing into the hands of Al Qaeda and Islamic State [ISIS] militias.

On December 31, in presenting his New Year’s greetings, Keïta said he was “convinced” that most Malians felt a “sense of gratitude” towards the French occupation troops, adding: “This should not be confused with a minority of activists, snipers or centrifugal forces who are trying to play the game of terrorists.”

This slander only reinforces the contempt Malians feel for Keïta and the regime in Bamako. A demonstrator in Bamako told the French press: “The president cannot make himself clear. All African presidents are chosen by France. They are under its domination.”

Even as anger mounts against his presidency and repeated attacks by the police on strikers in France, Macron denounced opposition to the war in Mali, which he called “anti-French.” He declared, “I cannot and will not have French soldiers in the Sahel, as long as ambiguity persists regarding anti-French movements, that are sometimes led by politicians.”

Meanwhile, Macron has intensified the war in Mali in defiance of public opinion in both Mali and France. On Monday, he held a summit with the “G5 Sahel” countries–Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali—to announce the deployment of 220 more French troops to Africa. Le Monde wrote that Paris had convened this conference “to obtain a ‘clarification’ from the countries of the region after accusations of interference and neocolonialist aims.”

Convened in Pau, the five governments of the Sahel signed a shameful statement defending the French intervention opposed by the workers and oppressed masses of the region. In this statement, they “expressed the wish for the continuation of France’s military engagement in the Sahel.” They also “expressed their gratitude for the crucial support provided by the United States and expressed the wish for its continuation.”

Many political questions remain to be clarified in order to build a real fight against the neo-colonial wars in Africa. African Solidarity for Democracy and Independence, … which had welcomed French interference in 2013, joined the demonstration on Monday as well as Keita’s Rally for Mali (RPM). The Group of Patriots of Mali (GPM), whose members are calling for Russian military intervention in Mali, organized the rally.

It is impossible, however, to fight against imperialism and war by calling on one or another capitalist regime.

The best allies of Malian and African workers in the struggle against oppression by France, or other imperialist powers, are the European and American working class fighting against wars and the reactionary policies of their own governments. A broad opposition is developing among these workers to the neo-colonial wars which the imperialist powers have been waging for decades in Africa and the Middle East.

“It is always the same ones who rule everywhere, and it is the same ones who do the same damage everywhere. When you talk to a Malian who tells you about Total and Bolloré, you realize that we all have the same enemy, the same parasites, the same people who are trying to destroy all nations,” a worker who was demonstrating against Macron this weekend in Paris told the WSWS.

Such comments underscore the need to consciously build an anti-war movement among the international working class to end the wars in Mali and throughout Africa and the Middle East.

Mali people demonstrate against French Mali war

This 15 January 2020 video from Kenya says about itself:

WOW!! Malians TELL French Army to LEAVE! #WakeUpAfrica

As Macron was summoning 5 African presidents to France, Malians held HUGE demonstrations demanding a withdrawal of French troops from the country!

More German neo-colonial war in Mali

These 5 April 2019 videos are about a big demonstration in Mali against the massacre of residents of Ogossagou village by a paramilitary gang supported by the pro-French and German intervention government. The demonstrators blamed the French government for that bloodbath.

By Gregor Link in Germany:

German government steps up military intervention in Mali

23 May 2019

Against a backdrop of growing conflicts between the major world powers in Africa, the German grand coalition government (Christian Democratic Union CDU, Christian Social Union, CSU, and Social Democratic Party, SPD) is preparing a massive military intervention in Mali and the entire Sahel region of North Africa.

The intervention is taking place behind the backs of the population and is part of the German government’s Africa Strategy, aimed at advancing its economic and geo-strategic interests on the continent. By relying on military means German imperialism is returning to the colonial and militaristic traditions which caused immeasurable suffering on the African continent in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Two weeks ago, the German parliament (Bundestag) voted by an overwhelming majority to extend the German army (Bundeswehr) missions in Mali, EUTM and MINUSMA, and the involvement of the German navy in the EU mission Atalanta off the Somali coast for another year.

The government has allocated a total of almost 400 million euros for the three operations up until May 2020. In accordance with the two mandates, the Bundeswehr can station a total of up to 1,100 German soldiers in Mali. The West African country has been effectively under joint German and French occupation since 2013.

In contrast to the previous mandate, the German army now has the task of ensuring the “restoration of state authority” in central Mali. Formerly the German intervention was restricted to the north of the country.

The aim of the new mandate is “to ensure the increased presence of armed and security forces to create the conditions for a return of state administrative structures.” This explains the real purpose of the intervention: neo-colonial control and exploitation of the resource-rich country and the police-military repression of growing opposition to the imperialist occupiers and their hated puppet regime in Bamako.

The country’s government is currently experiencing fierce opposition from the working class and the impoverished rural population. At the end of April, the Malian government of Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga was forced to resign following mass protests and strikes.

The trigger for the protests was a massacre in the village of Ogossagou near Burkina Faso, involving the deaths of around 160 people, including women, the elderly and youth. Another 55 people were injured. The protests were directed against the Western occupiers, under whose eyes the massacre had taken place, and against the indifferent reaction of the Malian government. There are now indications that Malian government forces were involved in the massacre. A dozen uniformed persons are alleged to be among the attackers.

The German grand coalition is acquainted with the crimes committed by the Malian troops it has trained. Already last year, the UN Security Council issued a report listing 344 human rights violations involving 475 victims. Malian military and security forces were involved in 58 of these cases. In addition, Minusma has carried out investigations into 44 cases of extrajudicial executions by Malian soldiers. Instead of withdrawing its forces in light of this carnage the German government is expanding its murderous campaign across the entire Sahel region.

The entire parliamentary debate made clear the full extent of the war plans of the German ruling class. In his plea for deployment, the SPD deputy responsible for African affairs, Christoph Matschie, explicitly named the “stabilization” of the Malian government and the enforcement of the “state monopoly on power” as the objectives of the MINUSMA mission. Mali, according to Matschie, is “a state in the Sahel region that has enormous significance for the stability of the entire region.”

The speaker of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Andreas Nick, also pleaded in his speech for an expansion of the mission across the entire region. The country’s “problems” were by no means limited to Mali but concerned “the entire Sahelian zone.”

Nick continued by noting that during the course of [his] trip to Africa at the beginning of May, Chancellor Angela Merkel had again emphasised “the importance of the G-5 states of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger for Germany and Europe, as well as the need for action locally.” Now it was important to “enable our partners in the Sahel to assume even more responsibility for providing for their own security. German and European support for the G-5 countries in financing, training and upgrading the “Force Conjointe du G5 Sahel” is an important step in that direction.”

In the course of implementing its war plans in close cooperation with France, the German government is increasingly coming into conflict with US imperialism. Nick expressed his “great” regret that “the granting of a robust UN mandate under Chapter VII for the ‘Force Conjointe’ had so far failed due to US opposition. The declaration of purely financial reasons and the focus on the purely bilateral work of the US in this region,” Nick concluded, “was not easy to understand.”

To put it more directly: following active participation by the German ruling elite in US regime change wars during the last two decades, it is now criticising US imperialism from the right. A “robust deployment under Chapter VII” requires a brutal combat mission and involving the same murderous and illegal practices used in the US-led wars against Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The defence spokesman for the CDU/CSU, Henning Otte, made clear in his speech that the German government is considering the use of combat drones in Mali and the surrounding region: “We want the use of Heron TP (drone) equipment to continue. Training is already taking place and I say very clearly on behalf of the Union: When necessary we also want to be able to support our soldiers by arming them with the Heron.”

The “debate” over German combat missions in the Bundestag made clear the traditions the ruling class is drawing upon. Speaking on behalf of the far right AfD, Rüdiger Lucassen, a former official at the Ministry of Defense, demanded that the real nature of the operation be revealed to the public: “The entire motion is a document aimed at concealment, full of empty phrases at a time when soldiers need clarity. This is dishonest, cowardly, and deeply irresponsible given the fact that you expose our men and women to this danger.”

In fact, there is no lack of clarity regarding the aims or methods employed by the German government in the Sahel region. The plan is to use brutal force to enforce the interests of German imperialism throughout the region and, as an integral component, erect a kind of “death barrier” to block off “Fortress Europe”.

In addition to the direct deployment of German armed forces and the formation of African units such as the “Force Conjointe”, the German missions involves arming the authoritarian regimes of the Sahel.

Handelsblatt reported that Merkel promised the Burkina Faso government 17 to 20 million euros during her trip to Africa. The money is to be spent on “expanding the capacities of the police and gendarmerie” and “advice from the Bundeswehr” on how best to combat “illegal migration.” During her subsequent visit to neighbouring Niger, Merkel praised the country’s government, stating that it had “undertaken a decisive fight to deter illegal migration” and had “done outstanding work” in recent years.

The “outstanding work” cited by Merkel consists of African regimes with the support of the European Union forcing refugees into the desert where many perish horribly through starvation and thirst. According to reports, EU-trained units have not only secured borders but also occupied waterholes in the Sahara. As a result, the UN refugee agency UNHCR reports that more people are now dying in the desert than in the Mediterranean Sea.

In order to advance their inhuman policies, the ruling class is increasingly conducting covert, illegal military operations. German army special forces are stationed in Jordan, Tunisia, Cameroon and Niger, operating in secret and without any parliamentary mandate. Around 20 naval troops have been training local government soldiers in the Tahoua region of Nigeria for a year.

The results of the votes and the contributions by the opposition parties confirm that there is no opposition to the return of German militarism within the ranks of the ruling class. The Greens and the neo-liberal FDP agreed to all of the Bundeswehr operations by a large majority. The far-right AfD voted nearly unanimously for the EU mission, Atalanta.

The French and German governments are expanding their nearly seven-year-old neo-colonial occupation of Mali and the resource-rich Sahel region of western Africa. At a joint press conference on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz last month, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a new “partnership for the security and stability in the Sahel,” or P3S. The details of the partnership will be released later this year. It will reportedly incorporate more African nations into the occupation of the country, beyond the current G5 Sahel force of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger: here.

This 2013 video is about the UK and France waging war ‘for democracy’ only in countries with gas, oil and gold.

War crimes in French neo-colonial Mali war

French soldier in Mali with skull mask

This photo of a French Foreign Legion soldier, part of the invasion of Mali, shows the real face of that war.

That war is not “against Al Qaeda terrorism” (supported by the French government in Libya, and still in Syria). It is not for women’s rights, human rights or secularism.

It started in support of a military dictatorship.

It brings death, mainly to Malian civilians.

This war is a neo-colonial war.

The French Foreign Legion became infamous in the nineteenth century for its atrocities while imposing colonial rule in Algeria and elsewhere. Now, it plays a role in twenty-first century neo-colonialism as well.

By Stéphane Hugues and Alex Lantier in France:

Ogossagou massacre exposes rising bloodshed in European-occupied Mali

30 March 2019

The horrific massacre in the central Malian village of Ogossagou is exposing the brutal realities of the war in Mali launched by Paris in 2013. Under French and German military occupation, this country—one of the poorest in the world—is being torn apart by a rising wave of ethnic bloodshed.

Just before dawn on March 23, a band of approximately 100 fighters dressed in ethnic Dogon garb and bearing firearms arrived in Ogossagou, a Peul (or Fulani) village in the region of Bankass, near the border with Burkina Faso. They proceeded to shoot or kill everyone they could find, from the elderly down to the smallest infants. Approximately 160 people were killed and 55 wounded.

Eighteen people sought refuge in the house of the village marabout (healer), Bara Sékou Issa, who is known across West Africa, hoping the gunmen would not attack a marabout’s house. Sékou Issa had already welcomed a number of refugees from nearby villages into his home, offering them room and board. However, the attackers set Sékou Issa’s house on fire and gunned down anyone fleeing the house to escape the flames. All of Sékou Issa’s religious students reportedly perished in the flames inside his house.

The attackers slit the throat of the village chief, Amadou Barry, in front of his mother, aged 90, and then executed her, as well.

The village was left devastated, with houses and buildings burnt down and even livestock and domestic animals killed. Ismaïla Cissé, one of the Malian army’s few Peul officers, told the press: “They want to wipe us off the surface of the earth. Otherwise, how can one explain that they killed children, the elderly, and even livestock?”

As reports of this horrific massacre spread, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta traveled to Ogossagou on March 25. “Justice will be done”, Keïta pledged. He also fired the chief of staff of the armed services, General M’Bemba Moussa Keïta, as well as the chiefs of staff of the army, air force, and military intelligence.

Keïta’s sacking of the top military leadership was effectively an admission that the Malian army, which is being trained by French and German soldiers, bore significant responsibility for the massacre. Soldiers at a nearby military base, only 13 kilometers away, reportedly were notified that the killings were ongoing around 6 a.m. However, they only arrived on the scene at 9 a.m., by which time the attackers had left.

Serious suspicions of official complicity with the forces that perpetrated the massacre—on the part of the Malian government and therefore its neo-colonial imperialist overlords—remain. Among the wounded in Ogossagou, the authorities apprehended several individuals they accused of being among the attackers. Nonetheless, they are refusing to divulge their identities.

Mopti prosecutor Maouloud Ag Najim told Jeune Afrique: “We interviewed most of the 45 wounded and their relatives, who are currently being treated at hospitals in Sévaré and Bankass. The military police team deployed in Ogossagou also interviewed some of the survivors. … Among the wounded, five people were identified by the survivors as being suspected attackers. We suspect they were members of the group who attacked the village of Ogossagou on March 23.”

After the massacre, Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga announced the dissolution of the Dan na Amassagou militia. This is an ethnic Dogon militia set up in 2016, after the French-backed government began encouraging the formation of local self-defense militias amid fighting between French troops, Malian government troops and various Islamist militias in northern and central Mali.

The Malian government is refusing to confirm or deny, however, whether the five suspected attackers they have taken into custody belong to Dan na Amassagou, a militia loyal to the central government in Bamako and that flies the Malian flag.

A November 2018 report by the International Human Rights Federation and the Malian Association for Human Rights alleged that donzo hunters making up the militia had tacit state backing: “Many witness statements and well-placed individuals testify to at least logistical and financial support for the donzos from the Malian government, or at least from some of its members. … Many witnesses say they have seen the donzos carry out military operations alongside the Malian Armed Forces.”

Youssouf Toloba, the head of Dan na Amassagou, for his part issued a statement denying that his militia had participated in the massacre and pledging to defy the state dissolution order. He said, “I am informing national and international public opinion: if those who are in the forests [terrorist groups] lay down their weapons, Dan na Amassagou will also. As long as that does not happen, we will not lay down our weapons.”

Over the course of the week, six Dogons were killed in two attacks on the villages of Ouadou and Kere Kere. UN sources wrote that in the night of Monday to Tuesday in Ouadou, “Several houses were burnt and livestock was stolen. An initial death toll lists four dead, including a young woman. The inhabitants took refuge in nearby villages.” On Tuesday, they added, “in the Dogon village of Kere Kere in the Bankass region, at least two women were killed and another wounded.”

In Mali, long-standing ethnic divisions are being inflamed and erupting into horrific violence under the impact of years of imperialist war and military occupation. The French-led war in Mali began in 2013, after mercenary militias fled the NATO war that devastated Libya, attempting to return home to Mali. As one of the world’s poorest countries funneled resources into a French-led war targeting ethnic Tuareg and Islamist militias, social conditions in Mali disintegrated.

Railway workers, teachers and public service workers have repeatedly struck to demand unpaid wages and better working conditions.

France has posted 2,700 troops in Mali and Germany 1,100, making it the German army’s largest overseas deployment, to support the Malian regime in Bamako. Presented as part of a “war on terror”, the occupation has fanned the flames of ethnic conflict, with Peul Islamist preacher Amadou Koufa’s celebrity leading to bitter accusations attacking the entire Peul ethnicity as terrorist. Ethnic violence between ethnic Peul, Dogon, and Bambara forces led to the deaths of 500 people in 2018, according to the UN.

A horrific massacre took place overnight Sunday and early Monday morning in the central Malian town of Sobane Kou. At least 95 of the town’s inhabitants were slaughtered, including women and children, but many more remain unaccounted for. This is the latest in a series of mounting sectarian massacres produced by the predatory policies of imperialism throughout the region, above all France and Germany, and their neo-colonial occupation of Mali and the Sahel: here.

Italian racist mafioso murders refugee from war-torn Mali

This 4 June 2018 video says about itself:

Migrant workers went on strike on Monday in the southern Italian town of San Ferdinando following the killing of a worker from Mali.

Sacko Soumayla was shot dead on Saturday, reportedly while picking up some metal sheeting in an abandoned factory with two other men. They were collecting the material in order to improve the shacks in which they were living. While they were doing so, a man is said to have arrived by car and shot at the three men, killing Sacko.

Sacko arrived in Italy in 2010. He was working as a day labourer at farms in the area and was also part of the Unione Sindacale di Base (USB), a workers’ union. The USB called the strike after his death. On June 16 they are planning a nationwide protest to highlight the poor working conditions of people like Sacko, who often work for as little as €2 per hour in the fields of southern Italy, often in mafia-controlled farms.

One of the protesting migrant workers referred to the new Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has promised to take a harder line on migration into Italy. “Salvini says so, he says to ‘kill all Africans‘. He says this”, the demonstrator stated.

By Marianne Arens:

Italy: Immigrant harvest worker shot dead

9 June 2018

A young man from Mali was shot dead on June 2 in the Italian province of Calabria. Soumaila Sacko, 29, leaves behind his wife and a five-year-old daughter in Mali and friends and colleagues in southern Italy. He worked to bring in the harvest and was also an activist for the grass roots union, USB, which campaigns on behalf of African day labourers.

Soumaila Sacko was one of thousands of workers who work as harvesters and day labourers, earning a pittance on the orchards of vegetable and agricultural farms in the hinterland of Gioia Tauro. The workers are housed in tents, barracks or improvised huts made of wood and plastic sheeting.

The shooting must be viewed in light of the right wing policies of the government in Rome, which was sworn in on the same day. The Lega/Five-Star coalition has announced it will deport half a million refugees within 18 months and imprison all refugees without proper permits in detention centers. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister and the head of Lega, proclaimed a few hours earlier: “We tell all illegals: The party is over!” They should “pack their bags”.

On the same Saturday night, Soumaila was traveling with two compatriots in search of building materials for improvised accommodation. On the site of an abandoned former brick factory, they searched for pieces of sheet metal when a stranger stopped his Fiat Panda and began firing his rifle at them. Scrambling for cover, Soumaila was hit in the head and died on the spot. Another refugee was injured in the leg.

On Monday morning, more than 2,000 harvest workers stopped work in San Fernandino, where Soumaila had lived. Hundreds of workers took part in a protest march. Police responded by barring journalists from the immigrant workers’ accommodation.

A friend of Soumaila gave a speech denouncing “absolute slavery and exploitation”. He said, “Soumaila, like many workers here, toiled for a few euros a day … He was a man and a worker. He was a harvest worker like thousands in Italy. We want to know the full truth, we demand justice. And we demand reasonable accommodation for all workers!”

The deadly incident has drawn attention to the appalling living conditions for thousands of immigrant workers in southern Italy who harvest the oranges, lemons, mandarins, tomatoes and kiwis sold across Europe. They receive about 25 euros per day, from which the foreman usually deducts a pizzo [[mafia] protection money] of five euros. A large proportion of the workers have no employment contract and are hired as day labourers for a few hours and paid for filling boxes with fruit and vegetables.

The medical organisation Medu, which maintains maternity wards for migrant workers, has published reports of their extremely poor living conditions. Doctors complain that employers do not provide mineral water, work gloves or safety shoes. The workers are expected to walk long distances on foot because there is no public transport. As a result of the hard physical labour, workers are often ill and many are malnourished. The workers live together, crammed into mass shelters that lack electricity and running water. The situation with regard to toilets is catastrophic and completely unhygienic.

The town of San Fernandino is in the immediate vicinity of Rosarno, where mass unrest took place eight years ago. At that time, politicians made fulsome promises to improve the housing and conditions for migrant workers but, essentially, only two things have changed: the police presence has increased, and large tent cities have been set up outside Rosarno, where workers live today as miserably as they did before in warehouses.

Most of the young workers come from Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast or Senegal. Many of them have no proper papers and are treated like slaves.

Significantly, several newspapers initially wrote that Soumaila had been shot while attempting to steal. That is obviously not the case, since the crime scene is a brickyard which has been abandoned for years. The fact that Soumaila was an active trade unionist indicates that very different motives could be involved. In any event it is clear that someone shot in deliberate, cold-blooded fashion at the African workers.

On Tuesday, a 43-year-old farmer named Pontoriero was arrested on suspicion of murder. A police sketch, made with the help of the two survivors, and clues regarding the auto involved pointed to his involvement. The newspaper Corriere della Sera writes that the Pontoriero family is alleged to be associated with the Ndrangheta, the mafia branch which dominates much of the vegetable and citrus business in the Calabrian region.

On Tuesday and Wednesday there were strikes and protests by other groups of workers in Vibo (Calabria), Melfi (Basilicata), Teramo (Abruzzo), Cagliari (Sardinia) and Vicenza (Veneto). The USB union, several NGOs and other organisations have announced further demonstrations. The protests are also directed against the new government and its openly racist agenda.

The new prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, was forced to respond to the shooting in his inaugural speech. “We are not unfeeling”, Conte claimed, calling the murder of Soumaila Sacko a “tragic and disturbing incident”. Politicians will “take care of the dramatic situation of these people”, Conte said.

The new government is evidently concerned that protests in the south could link up with strikes and demonstrations in the north. A major demonstration against racism and exploitation is due to take place in Milan on Saturday, June 9.

‘SALVINI IS VIOLATING INTERNATIONAL LAW’ Mayors in southern Italy have said they will defy an order from the new far right and populist coalition government in Rome to stop a migrant rescue boat carrying 629 people from docking. [The Guardian]

Italy blocks migrant rescue ship from docking leaving over 600 stranded in the Mediterranean: here.

A decree by the new right-wing Italian government has prevented a ship with more than 600 refugees from landing in Italy. It is the result of the entire EU refugee policy: here.

‘Illegal’ African saves French toddler’s life

This video, recorded in France, says about itself:

Video of Mamoudou Gassama ‘Spider-Man‘ spectacular rescue of child in Paris wows France

28 May 2018

A Malian migrant has been hailed a hero after he scaled the front of a building in Paris to save a child hanging from a fourth-floor balcony.

Video of Mamoudou Gassama’s spectacular rescue went viral on social media.

In less than a minute he pulls himself from balcony to balcony and grabs the four-year-old as a [presumably Arab] neighbour tries to hold the child from an adjoining flat. …

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also praised the 22-year-old’s heroism and said she had called him to thank him. She referred to him as the “Spider-Man of the 18th”, referring to the Paris district where the rescue took place.

“Congratulations to Mamoudou Gassama for his act of bravery that saved the life of a child”, Ms Hidalgo tweeted. “He explained to me that he had arrived from Mali a few months ago dreaming of building his life here.”

People flee from Mali to, eg, France, because it is a poor country after so many years of French colonialism and military dictatorship. But also because there is a bloody war going on. A war with at least three sides: apart from northern Mali Tuareg people fighting discrimination, involving soldiers from France and other NATO countries, and jihadist products of the NATO 2011 war on Libya; both committing war crimes, causing many Malians to become refugees.

“I replied that his heroic gesture was an example for all citizens and that the City of Paris will obviously be keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France.”

Being an ‘illegal’ ‘sans papiers’ person put Mr Gassama in the crosshairs of President Macron’s hardline anti-refugee policy. Ms Hidalgo is a member of the oppositional socialist party. Will the Macron administration agree with Ms Hidalgo, once the media publicity about Mamoudou Gassama’s heroic act will be gone? UPDATE: at the moment, in this wave of publicity, Macron makes a deportation exception for Mamoudou Gassama.

No human being is illegal. That goes even for human beings who don’t save toddlers from fourth floor balconies, but are, eg, refugees from the Iraq war who try to save a little girl from drowning and are then smeared by corporate media as ‘pedophiles’.

The drama unfolded on Saturday evening on a street in the north of the city. Mr Gassama told journalists he had been walking past when he saw a crowd gathered in front of the building. “I did it because it was a child,” Le Parisien newspaper quoted him saying. “I climbed… Thank God I saved him.”

The Parisian fire service said crews had arrived to find the child had already been rescued. “Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child”, a spokesman told AFP news agency. Local authorities quoted by French media said the child’s parents were not at home at the time.

According to Dutch NOS TV, the saved toddler has only a broken fingernail. His saviour has some scratches and a painful knee. Mamoudou Gassama did not have any experience as a climber before. He says he feels ‘happy’ now. I hope he can stay happy because the French anti-refugee bureaucracy for just once stops their inhuman deportations. Thousands of French people have signed an Internet petition to grant Mr Gassama asylum. He hopes to get a job as construction worker. UPDATE: the fire brigade has offered him a job.

If authorities will now exempt Mr Gassama from deportation, will they then also exempt Mamoudou’s girlfriend, with whom he was walking towards seeing the Champions League football final on TV; when they spotted the toddler hanging from the balcony?

Dutch soldiers killed in Mali, parents sue ‘defense’ department

This 5 October 2017 video says about itself:

The Dutch Safety Board published the final report into the fatal accident during a mortar shell exercise which took place in Mali on 6 July 2016. During this accident, two Dutch soldiers were killed and a third Dutch soldier was seriously injured.

A Dutch TV 28 September 2017 video was about that scandal of Dutch soldiers killed in Mali by deficient United States grenades bought by the Dutch government. Also, three soldiers were injured.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant today:

The parents of two soldiers who died in 2016 at a mortar accident in Mali will next week sue the Ministry of Defense and an unknown number of Defense employees for complicity in killing.

The parents of Henry Hoving (29) and Kevin Roggeveld (24) want the people responsible for the fatal explosion to be found and tried. According to them, the Defense organization promised that for months, but flip-flopped about it in early February.

Until more than a year after their deaths, the relatives of Henry and Kevin believed that they had been killed by a production fault in a grenade, as a result of which the explosive had been activated accidentally. “The military police told that”, says Hoving’s mother. The report of the Dutch Safety Board in September 2017 turned their world upside down. According to the board, Defense bought old ammunition ‘blindly’ and the responsible people never had the material checked. The storage was inadequate, the medical care in Mali did not meet ‘the highest demands of trauma care‘.

Their lawyer Michael Ruperti blames Defense for the fact that the ministry itself does not report and does not want to reveal names of officials who played a crucial role in the run-up to the accident. ‘The report of the Dutch Safety Board mentions many officials who may have acted culpably, such as the Dutch military attaché in Washington, who played a crucial role in the purchase from the Americans of the batch of faulty grenades in 2006, while the sales contract stated that safety could not be guaranteed’, says Ruperti.

He now wants the Public Prosecution Service to investigate who ‘has acted contrary to the Defense regulations, which caused human lives to be jeopardized. That is punishable. If it turns out that former [‘defence’] minister Kamp also acted culpably, then we will sue him as well” says Ruperti. The relatives also want the role of the current Secretary-General Wim Geerts to be investigated. In their view, he has sabotaged research by Defense.

This scandal led to the resignation of Defence Minister Hennis and armed forces commander General Middendorp.

UPDATE: it turns out that even more is wrong with therse grenades, also used by other NATO countries’ armies: here.

Belgian soldiers injured in Malil: here.

Canada’s Liberal government announced Monday that it is deploying up to 250 troops and six military helicopters to the West African country of Mali: here.

United States AFRICOM soldiers killing each other in Mali

This video from the USA says abut itself:

AFRICOM and the conflict in Mali

3 May 2012

Nii Akuetteh: Why did US trained officers organize the coup in Mali?

By Eddie Haywood in the USA:

Murder of US Green Beret by Navy Seals in Mali exposes criminal military operations in West Africa

15 November 2017

Two Navy Seals are under investigation for the June murder of Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, a Green Beret, after he was found dead in a housing complex provided by the US embassy in Bamako, Mali. No charges have yet been filed against the two commandos, but the case is being investigated as a homicide.

The two Seals, Petty Officer First Class Tony E. DeDolph and Chief Petty Officer Adam C. Matthews, were flown out of the country to the United States and were placed on administrative leave.

While the circumstances are not yet completely known, several special operations sources told the Daily Beast that there was an altercation between Melgar and the two Seals at around 5 a.m. on June 4, where the three grappled, resulting in one Seal, believed to be DeDolph, choking Melgar to unconsciousness.

According to AFRICOM officials, the two Seals drove Melgar to a nearby clinic, where medical personnel declared him dead. The two Seals claimed that Melgar had been intoxicated at the time of the altercation, but Melgar’s autopsy examination report noted that no drugs or alcohol were found in his system.

Melgar, along with an unknown number of other elite commandos, were deployed to the West African nation to conduct intelligence and training operations against Al Qaeda-affiliated militants waging war against the US/French-backed government.

Reports from unnamed US officials indicate that the two Navy Seals were stealing cash from a “slush fund” set aside by the US embassy for the purpose of paying informants in the course of tracking down Islamist militants, and that Melgar had discovered the skimming operation and threatened to alert authorities. According to the source, the two Navy Seals offered Melgar a cut of the illicit funds, but Melgar declined.

In a telephone call to his wife in the States, Melgar expressed his suspicions of the two Navy Seals, saying that he had a “bad feeling” about the two, but declined to specify his misgivings, informing her that he would reveal the full story when he returned home.

AFRICOM told the media that officials immediately suspected foul play in Melgar’s death and had dispatched an investigator to Mali within 24 hours of the Green Beret’s death. A military medical examiner declared the death a “homicide by asphyxiation.”

According to the New York Times, military officials said that cash from such slush funds “have a way of going missing.” The officials also said that in Mali’s case, the amount stolen can be as much as $20,000 at any given moment, and that it is relatively easy to skim from the fund as many instances of stealing involve the faking of receipts.

The housing complex in Bamako where Melgar was staying was shared by three other elite soldiers, including the two Seals. While the number of elite commandos in Mali are not disclosed by AFRICOM, the contingent deployed to the country is estimated to be smaller than the 800 elite soldiers in neighboring Niger, and are part of a wider contingent of around 2,000 special forces overall deployed to several countries in West Africa.

For his part, Melgar was officially assigned to provide security for US Ambassador to Mali Paul Folmsbee. His “security” duties included providing intelligence on militant groups directly to Folmsbee, as well as protecting the embassy and other US personnel, and coordinating training exercises with Malian forces.

The murder of a Green Beret by two of his confederates highlights and exposes the broader criminal character of the American military offensive being waged in West Africa.

Far reaching US special operations conducted across the continent are shrouded in secrecy, and were only brought to public attention last month when an ambush by Islamist militants resulted in the deaths of four Green Berets in neighboring Niger.

The special forces troops deployed to West Africa are drawn from elite military units, including Green Berets, Navy Seals and Delta Force, and have conducted some of American imperialism’s worst crimes against humanity. The list of often illegal duties these forces carry out include assassinations, counterterrorism operations, unconventional warfare, psychological operations, and training of foreign forces that Washington desires to utilize as a proxy force for regime change operations.

In Vietnam, elite American troops engaged in torture and mass execution of civilians, including children, and the razing of entire villages. In the recent period, these forces have engaged in torture, rape and murder in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The two Navy commandos currently under investigation for Melgar’s death are drawn from Seal Team Six, the elite unit which was involved in the 2011 raid and assassination of Osama Bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The backdrop to the American military offensive in West Africa is the 2011 US/NATO war conducted in Libya to remove Muammar Gaddafi from power. Enlisting and utilizing Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters to conduct a regime change operation that resulted in Gaddafi’s removal and assassination, the Obama administration oversaw the complete destruction of Libyan society. The Islamist fighters spilled out from the ruins of Libya and scattered across northern African and down into the Sahel.

Washington has its military forces arrayed across West Africa not to “fight terrorism” but to secure by military force the region’s vast economic resources and working class for the profit of American corporations. West Africa possesses enormous quantities of minerals, including gold, diamonds, ore, uranium, and gas and oil deposits.

Washington is also seeking to neutralize the increasing economic influence of China on the continent, with Beijing securing investment deals in nearly every economic sector, including mining, oil and gas, agriculture and infrastructure.

With the Trump administration loosening the restrictions on the rules of engagement for US special forces in Africa, which constitutes an official absolution of any crimes committed by its soldiers, the offensive conducted in West Africa by the American military threatens to consume the region with ever great levels of violence.

Update November 2018: here.

“We Don’t Consider You a Legitimate Journalist” — How I Got Blacklisted by the Pentagon’s Africa Command: here.

Journalist Nick Turse, who has reported extensively on US military operations in Africa, was recently told that he has been deemed “not a legitimate journalist” by AFRICOM, the US military command which oversees operations across the continent: here.

Dutch soldiers’ union questions neocolonial Mali war

This Dutch 28 September 2017 TV video is about a war game by Dutch soldiers in Mali on 6 July 2016. A malfunctioning Dutch grenade, bought in the USA, killed two soldiers and severely injured a third one.

An official investigation has now said that the Dutch government knew these grenades were faulty and dangerous, but sent them with the soldiers to Mali anyway, because they wanted to start their Mali military mission as soon as possible.

In 2011, NATO waged war on Libya. This ‘humanitarian’ war (for oil) caused extremely unhumanitarian bloodbaths, still continuing; brought back slavery, abolished in Libya in the nineteenth century, into the twenty-first century; completely ruined healthcare; ruined Libyan women’s rights, and made Libya the country with the world’s worst child abuse.

That war also caused a chain reaction of bloodbaths in other African countries. Like in Mali: in 2012, an army officer, trained by the United States AFRICOM armed forces, did a military coup d’état. The new regime killed many people who they dumped in mass graves. More bloodbaths: the French Foreign Legion arrived, infamous from colonial wars in Algeria and elsewhere. So did armies from other NATO countries. There are many minerals in Mali which may boost profits of multinational corporations. The German armed forces arrived for the German Big Business share of Mali’s neocolonial booty.

And the Dutch armed forces arrived for the Dutch share of Mali’s neocolonial spoils. The officers (some of them rather controversial) came. The privates came. And the guns and ammunition came. The Dutch government was so scared that the Dutch soldiers would arrive in Mali too late for the scramble for neocolonial spoils that they ‘forgot’ to check the quality of the firearms and ammunition.

That had consequences.

Fist, the deaths and serious injuries for these three Dutch soldiers.

And now, yesterday, the indignation about this scandal has forced the resignation of Dutch Minister Hennis of war ‘defence’ and of the commander of the armed forces.

Anne-Marie Snels, chairwoman of the Dutch soldiers’ trade union AFMP, agreed with these resignations. She also questioned yesterday on the Pauw national TV show whether Dutch military participation in the neocolonial war in Mali should continue. According to Ms Snels, the Dutch government has systematically preferred political [like neocolonial in Mali] interests to the lives of soldiers being safe.

Mali war US ammunition kills Dutch soldiers

This Dutch 28 September 2017 TV video is about a war game by Dutch soldiers in Mali on 6 July 2016. A malfunctioning Dutch grenade, bought in the USA, killed two soldiers and severely injured a third one.

An official investigation has now said that the Dutch government knew these grenades were faulty and dangerous, but sent them with the soldiers to Mali anyway, because they wanted to start their Mali military mission as soon as possible.

In 2011, NATO waged war on Libya. This ‘humanitarian’ war (for oil) caused extremely unhumanitarian bloodbaths, still continuing; brought back slavery, abolished in Libya in the nineteenth century, into the twenty-first century; completely ruined healthcare; ruined Libyan women’s rights, and made Libya the country with the world’s worst child abuse.

That war also caused a chain reaction of bloodbaths in other African countries. Like in Mali: in 2012, an army officer, trained by the United States AFRICOM armed forces, did a military coup d’état. The new regime killed many people who they dumped in mass graves. More bloodbaths: the French Foreign Legion arrived, infamous from colonial wars in Algeria and elsewhere. So did armies from other NATO countries. There are many minerals in Mali which may boost profits of multinational corporations. The German armed forces arrived for the German Big Business share of Mali’s neocolonial booty.

And the Dutch armed forces arrived for the Dutch share of Mali’s neocolonial spoils. The officers (some of them rather controversial) came. The privates came. And the guns and ammunition came. The Dutch government was so scared that the Dutch soldiers would arrive in Mali too late for the scramble for neocolonial spoils that they ‘forgot’ to check the quality of the firearms and ammunition.

That had consequences.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Mother of killed soldier is angry: “Heads should roll here”

Today, 16:37

“What I most annoyed about is that they knew,,” says Greetje Groenbroek, the mother of one of the two soldiers who died in Mali last year through a mortar grenade. “The research report had only red crosses, it was mistake afer mistake, and they had three years to check the mortars when they returned from Afghanistan. That never happened. I think it’s unimaginable.”

The son of Greetje Groenbroek died on July 6 last year, just outside the Dutch military base in Mali. During an exercise a grenade exploded. He and another mortar shooter were killed. “I’m enraged”, Groenbroek said in an interview with RTV Noord regional broadcaster. …

The [government in The] Hague knew this. This is gross negligence.
Greetje Groenbroek, mother of dead soldier

The research report of the Netherlands Security Council (OVV) shows that the Defense Department has been severely deficient in caring fpr the security of Dutch military personnel in Mali. According to the OVV, the ammunition was not safe and the acute medical care was not sufficient.

Groenbroek thinks Defense knows what kind of mortar was used. “The boys themselves did not know, but The Hague knew this.” In the proof of purchase, they could not guarantee that it was safe, and stated that the United States Americans themselves did not use it. They should have learned from that. This is gross negligence. ”

The relatives are planning to take legal action. “Defense is 100 percent responsible for the death of my son. Someone in the Defense Department consciously took the risk and acted contrarily to the recommendation. They will not get away with that as far as we are concerned.”

Whatever will follow from a possible follow-up, of one thing Groenbroek is well aware: “We will not get back our boys. My granddaughter must live her life without her father. I’m angry about that, but at first, of course, I am primarily very sad.”

Previously, the government had lied to the dead soldiers’ parents about the cause of the deaths.

Dutch soldiers’ trade union supports dead soldiers’ parents: here.

Dutch soldier killed in war game in Ossendrecht, colleagues sue government: here.