Protests against racism overshadow celebrations of 60th anniversary of Mauritania's independence

Crackdowns on protests of widows and orphans of executed victims of racism (Press Release)

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) calls for the immediate release of 36 surviving relatives of victims of racism. They were arrested on Saturday in the course of protests during the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of Mauritania's independence. In their protest, the widows and orphans recalled the execution of 28 dark-skinned officers in the Inal massacre (November 28, 1990) and the forcible expulsion of 70,000 members of their ethnic group from Mauritania in 1989. The dark-skinned inhabitants of Mauritania have been complaining about racial discrimination and lack of rights for decades. "The crimes against humanity and the massacres must not go unpunished. Therefore, the amnesty law of 1993 must finally be repealed. This would be the only way to ensure justice for the victims," stated Ulrich Delius, the STP's Director, in Göttingen on Sunday.

The protests on the sidelines of the official military parade on the country's 60th Day of Independence in the capital Nouakchott – in the presence of President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani – were organized by the Victims' Association COVICIM, which persistently demands an end to impunity for the racist crimes against the dark-skinned population between 1989 and 1991. The biggest hurdle in this regard is the amnesty law passed in 1993. Many human rights organizations in Mauritania support the issue, as the arbitrary arrests, violent expulsions, torture, rape, and illegal executions have left deep rifts and traumas in the country's society.

Although the majority of the people in the North African country are dark-skinned, Mauritania's politics, society, and the economy are dominated by the smaller population groups of the Arabs and Berbers. Only recently, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe officially stated that slavery continues to exist in the country – despite an official ban – and that dark-skinned women suffer the most from this situation.