New Tuareg rebellion: hypothecary burdens of the past?
Since February 2007 new riots are flaming up in the north of the Republic of Niger. Numerous victims and missed people have been counted yet, among those a significant proportion of civilists. Will unresolved conflicts lead to a repetition of the situation between 1990-1995?
Arrestment and murder of three old aged Tuareg civilists by the military in the region of Tezirzayt (this piece of information has been confirmed by several sources in Niger, also by the military itself) and over 250 missed civilists who were arrested brought the conflict to escalation. As an act of revenge the MNJ rebels launched an attack against the military base at Tezirzayt, where 17 soldiers of Nigers military troops were killed, 43 hurt and 70 imprisoned. Directly after the attack, MNJ rebels called the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to ensure medical support for the severely wounded prisoners. June 25 the 30 most heavily wounded soldiers were set free and handed over to a delegation of the ICRC who brought them to Arlit hospital.
Despite of the international attention that those occurrences gained during the last weeks the government of Niger still speaks of ”armed bandits” and ”drug traffickers”. Government refuses to acknowledge the Tuareg rebels and their organisation MNJ, who, after their web-page, works for all the people in Niger, independent of their ethnic belonging. This is why many non-Tuareg people have joined the MNJ-fighters by now. Besides the government’s refusal to acknowledge the rebellion as existent it actively suppresses the free press by massive censoring: July 1 the independent newspaper ”Aïr Info” in Agadez was suspended for three months because of having reported on the actualities in the north. Three other private newspapers in Niamey got threatened. Most recently it came out that the French radio station RFI (Radio France Internationale) was forbidden emission in Niger for one month.
The Tuareg rebels have signalled again and again their willingness for parley with the government, just under the condition that the latter acknowledges their organisation MNJ as a movement of rebellion.
Information has circulated several times (although unconfirmed) following which the government of Niger had asked other countries for military support. The latest information on this was published on the MNJ homepage on July 3 saying that President Mamadou Tandja wanted to buy military helicopters type MI-24 from the Ucraine in order to attack the MNJ camps.
Reasons for the conflict are the ongoing disadvantaging of the north as well as the exploitation of the rich Uranium fields (especially by France and China), which constitute a severe risk for the health of the population as well as for the ecologic system. By mediation of France, Algeria and Burkina Faso in 1995 the last armed Tuareg rebellion was ended by a treaty of peace between the rebels and the Nigrian government. This treaty includes besides encompassing administrative and military decentralisation of the country also increased investment in the northern region, especially concerning the educational and health systems. Moreover, the population of the north, which consists of mostly Tuareg, was granted certain self-governing rights. According to the MNJ these promises from the 1995 peace contract were hardly kept, or not at all, by the government.
Newsgroup Northern Niger
newsgroup.nordniger reports on the latest movements in the north of Niger since spring 2007, especially on the MNJ’s activities and all the according news and background information.
In the newsgroup.nordniger, people from the German speaking area are engaged who took over the task of reporting on news on the situation in northern Niger, the so-called Tuareg rebellion, the activities of the MNJ and everything that is related to it, as there is else only little or no information available.
newsgroup.nordniger is in contact with other groups with the same goal.
E-mail address: newsgroup.nordniger[at]yahoo.de
Internet source MNJ: http://m-n-j.blogspot.com/