Mauritania: Security Forces Break Up March, Arrest Activists

Coordinators of the youth opposition organised a demonstration held after Friday prayers on May 18, which saw opposition protestors leave the Saudi Mosque in the capital Nouakchott in a march headed towards the Ministry of Interior.  The demonstration was however forcefully suppressed by security forces using tear gas, which caused breathing difficulties and injuries amongst the demonstrators. They also arrested a number of leading opposition organisers.

In protest against the arrests and repression, leading members of the opposition organised a demonstration outside the commissariat of Tevragh-Zeina in the capital, demanding the release of the activists arrested after Friday's demonstration.

Throughout this protest the leader of the Mauritanian opposition Ahmed Ould Daddah called for the immediate release of the arrested demonstrators and a stop to the repression of those requesting freedom and the end of military rule in Mauritania.  He said “the Mauritanian opposition is firmly committed to peaceful protest despite the brutal repression it faces” and also demanded the immediate release of those arrested during a peaceful march to the Ministry of Interior calling for the end of the current regime.

قمع الاحتجاجات - تصوير صفحة شباب التكتل على فيسبوك - مستخدمة بإذن

Suppression of the protests – image from the Facebook page of the 'youth bloc' – used with permission

تعرض نائب رئيس حزب تواصل للإغماء - تصوير صفحة اخر خبر على فيسبوك - مأخوذة بإذن

The deputy leader of the Tawassoul party fainted – image from 'the other news' on Facebook – used with permission

Netizens shared the following video of the suppression of the demonstration:

The reporter Bloucat wrote this about the march:

مسيرة المنسقية انطلقت من المسجد السعودي في العاصمة منتهجة نهجا سلميا ومرددة شعارات تطالب برحيل النظام العسكري الفاسد وكان على رأس المسيرة نائب رئيس حزب التجمع الوطني للإصلاح والتنمية (تواصل) والأمين العام لنفس الحزب أحمد جدو ولد باهي .

إضافة الى رؤساء منسقية شباب المعارضة “مشعل “.

ولكن المسيرة لم تبتعد كثيرا حتى أتاها حاكم مقاطعة تفرغ زينة يرافقه مفوض في الشرطة وطالبا المتظاهرين بإلغاء تظاهرهم وعبر عن استعداده لترخيص أخرى جديدة في تعارض مع الدستور الموريتاني الذي يكفل الحرية ويقول بأنه على أي شخص أراد التظاهر أن يشعر السلطات وليس لها منعه وقد استخدم الحاكم التهديد باستخدام القوة إن لم يلغى النشاط.

ولكن المتظاهرين المتمسكين بحقهم الدستوري أبوا أن يتراجعوا حتى يرحل النظام وكانت المسيرة تحت عنوان “ضد التعذيب وضد القمع” وعندها انهالت مسيلات الدموع والقنابل الصوتية وحتى إنها استخدمت القنابل الحارقة وهاجمت بها سوق الهواتف المعروف شعبيا في موريتانيا بـ “نقطة ساخنة” لبث الفوضى واتهام المعارضة بالتخريب.

The march began peacefully at the Saudi Mosque in the capital with the demonstrators chanting slogans calling for the end of the current corrupt military regime. The demonstration was led by the deputy leader of the National Assembly for Reform and Development party (Tawassoul), and the secretary general of the same party, Ahmed Jedou Ould Bahi. Leaders of the youth opposition movement ‘the torch’ were also present.
The demonstration did not however get far before being met by the governor of Tevragh-Zeina accompanied by a police commissioner who demanded that the protestors abandon the demonstration. He expressed his readiness to permit a new demonstration against the Mauritanian constitution, which guarantees freedom, saying that it was necessary for any person wishing to demonstrate to inform the authorities and that it was not forbidden, before threatening to use force if they did not stop their activities.
However, firm in their commitment to their constitutional right, the demonstrators refused to back down until the fall of the current regime and marched under the slogan “against torture and against repression”. Tear gas, sonic weapons, and even petrol bombs were used against the demonstrators as well as being used to attack the telephone market, popularly known as “the hot point”, to spread chaos and accuse the opposition of subversion.

The Mauritanian reporter Ad-Dadah Ould Al-Sheikh Ibrahim wrote this about the suppression of the demonstration:

استجوب المفوض ولد سيدي يحيى بعض المصابين في تظاهرة الجمعة المناوئة للرئيس محمد ولد عبد العزيز، وبدأ ولد سيدي يحيى سؤال المصابين عن أسمائهم ومناطقهم إضافة إلى أحزابهم السياسية.
The commissioner Ould Saidi Yahya questioned some of those injured in the protest against President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz held on Friday. He began by asking the injured people what their names were and where they came from before asking about their political affiliations.

The coordinators of the youth opposition group “the torch” called for the demonstration on the front of their Facebook page saying:

منسقية شباب المعارضة الديمقراطية “مشعل” تدعوكم للمشاركة بقوة في مسيرة ستنظمها غدا بعد صلاة الجمعة، انطلاقا من المسجد السعودي باتجاه وزارة الداخلية بمشاركة زعماء المعارضة الديمقراطي.
The coordinators of the democratic youth opposition group “the torch” call on you to take part in a march to be held tomorrow after Friday prayers departing from the Saudi Mosque and heading towards the Ministry of the Interior alongside the leaders of the democratic opposition.

The page of the “youth bloc” had this to say about the opposition demonstration:

دارت مواجهات عنيفة بين الشرطة وشباب منسقية المعارضة المسمى ب ” مشعل” عند نواحي مسجد ابن عباس حين ماكان المتظاهرين يتوجهون مباشرة الى مبنى الداخلية في محيط القصر الرئاسي، وقد اصيب في هذه المواجهات كل من محمد غلام ولد الحاج الشيخ الذي أصيب بإغماء ،شديد نقل على اثره للمستشفى، على الفور وكذلك سقط عمدة كرو مغميا عليه. (واستخدمت الشرطة الموريتانية الغاز المسيل للدموع والقنابل الصوتية من أجل تفريق مسيرة نظمتها منسقية شباب المعارضة الديمقراطية (مشعل).
Violent confrontations between the police and coordinators of the youth opposition group known as “the torch” have occurred in the area around the Ibn Abass Mosque while the demonstrators made their way to the ministry of the interior close to the presidential palace. Mohamed Ghulam Ould al-Hajj fainted during the confrontation and had to be rushed to hospital, as well as the Mayor of Guerou who also fell unconscious. Tear gas and sonic grenades were used by the Mauritanian police to break up the demonstration organised by coordinators of the youth of the democratic opposition movement “the torch”.

This appeared on the Facebook page of “the other news“:

المتظاهرون رددوا شعارات تطالب ولد عبد العزيز بالرحيل عن الحكم . محذرين من تمادى السلطة فى سياستها القمعية تجاه الأصوات المطالبة بالتغيير فى موريتانيا.
The protestors chanted slogans calling on Ould Abdel Aziz to step down from power and warned of the excesses of his policy of repression towards the voices calling for change in Mauritania.

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  • […] ” – Criticism of the NTC”s administrative inefficiency and legitimacy. Mauritania "Mauritania: Security Forces Break Up March, Arrest Activists" – After an initial suppressed protest, opposition members stage another demonstration in […]

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