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.

Advertisements

‘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 Dutch TV 28 September 2017 video is about the 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.

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.