Since the beginning of 2011, there has been an active protest movement in Mauritania, calling upon the government to enact political, economic, and legal reforms. Workers, have also been protesting regularly.
In the early hours of Sunday [July, 15], Guard Forces (police) in Mauritania attacked a group of workers on strike, at the headquarters of the Mauritanian Copper Company [MCM], where they work. The attack led to the death [ar] of a worker for the first time since the sixties of the last century.
It all started with the workers’ strike on July 12, when the deadline they gave to the company's management to execute their demands, came to an end. As a result, the workers closed all entrances leading to the company, and prevented non-foreigners from entering it. Workers at different ranks took part in the strike [ar], namely contractors, porters, and drivers.
There are conflicting reports about the reason for the death. Colleagues, of the victim Mohamed Ould Machdhoufi and eyewitnesses asserted that one officer from the Guard Forces, hit him on the head, which led to his immediate death.
In order to investigate the death causes, an autopsy was performed on the victim's body, in response to a family request. After finishing the autopsy, the Deputy Prosecutor of the Republic asserted that the victim died of natural causes, and that no clear death reasons were found.The victim's mother [ar], on the other hand, affirmed that as it was proved by all testimonies the murder [of her son] was done on purpose. She also stated that she does not look for any compensation, but only asks for equal retaliation for what was inflicted on her son, and that she is ready and asks for the repetition of the autopsy.
The case sparked the interest of Mauritanian activists, whose reactions were all over the web. Once the news about the death spread, a Facebook page called “We are all Ould Machdhoufi”, was created in solidarity with the victim.
Mauritanian blogger, and writer Mohamed Lamin Ould Fadhel wrote about the case on his blog [ar]:
لقد أعلنت الحداد على صفحتي الخاصة لمدة ثلاثة أيام، وكان من المفترض أن أنهي ذلك الحداد في صبيحة الأحد (15 7 2012)، ولكن في صبيحة الأحد استيقظت على فاجعة أخرى راح ضحيتها عامل موريتاني بسيط كان ذنبه الوحيد أنه سعى مع غيره من العمال إلى تحسين ظروفه في العمل، لذلك فقد كان لزاما عليَّ أن أمدد ذلك الحداد ثلاثة أيام أخرى، وأسأل الله تعالى أن لا يجعلني أضطر لتمديده لثلاثة أيام أُخَّرْ.
في يوم الخميس رحل موريتانيون عن دنيانا وكانوا في مهمة لصالح شركة أجنبية، وهي الشركة التي سخرت لها الحكومة كل شيء: طائرات عسكرية، أوامر عسكرية عليا للضباط والجنود، نسبة تفوق 90% من المستغل من معادننا.
Blogger and activist Ahmed Ould Jedou [ar] wrote:
المشظوفي ليس الضحية الاولى ولن يكون الأخيرة في ظل نظام الجنرال عزيز الذي يهوى قمع وقتل وتجويع الشعب.”
Outraged at the incident, and at the ignorance of the workers’ issues, Mauritanian Twitter users reacted heavily:
Activist Baba Ould Hourma wrote:
Mohamed Lemine Ould Echvagha said:
Mohamed Salem criticized the silence of the official media outlets, and their disregard of the murder of Ould Machdhoufi: