• Press Release

Leaders Must Respect Human Rights, Release Arrested Officials Following Coup in Mali

March 22, 2012

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 212-633-4150

(Washington, D.C.) — Amnesty International called on the leaders of the military coup against Mali President Amadou Toumani Touré to immediately release the prime minister and other politicians from custody and make sure human rights are protected.

At least three members of the government including Prime Minister Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé, Minister of Foreign Affairs Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, and the minister of the territorial administration, Kafougouna Koné, were arrested on Thursday.

It is thought they are being held at the military camp in Kati, 12 miles from the capital in Bamako.

The president of the Economic and Social Council, the president of the High Council on Territorial Communities, plus former prime minister, Modibo Sidibé, have also been arrested and are reportedly being held at the national police camp.

As the country plunged into a period of danger and uncertainty, Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International's researcher on West Africa said: "With the suspension of all the legal institutions and the curfew that has been imposed, all the basic safeguards for the respect of human rights have been put on hold."

Three people were killed by stray bullets fired by soldiers in the center of Bamako. Their bodies were taken to Gabriel Toure hospital where 28 people injured during the coup are also being treated.

Shops have been looted and vehicles have been seized by soldiers throughout the day.

The coup comes against the backdrop of a two-month rebellion by Tuareg armed groups in the north of the country.

Since the outbreak of this conflict, some 200,000 people have fled their homes, including approximately 100,000 who found refuge in neighboring countries, including Niger, Algeria, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.

The unrest began on the evening of Wednesday, March 21, when a mutiny broke out in the military barracks in Kati. The trigger was the soldiers' discontent about the way the armed conflict in the north was being handled. The soldiers accused the government of failing to give them the means to fight the Tuareg armed groups.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org