Mauritania: Commemorating Inal's Massacre against Black Soldiers

The 28th of November should have been a happy day for Mauritanians as it marks the country's independence from France.

However, it also brings back sad and bloody memories [en], since it reminds them that on that same day in 1990, an ethnic cleansing was perpetrated within the Mauritanian Army. In mysterious circumstances, at least 28 black African soldiers were executed in a remote village located 500km to the north of the capital Nouakchott. So and on Mauritania's 52nd Independence day, a group of Mauritanian activists from more than 17 human rights organizations, headed to Inal [en], where the victims of the massacre lay, accompanied by some of the murdered soldiers’ relatives, to pay tribute to them, ask for justice and also bring attention to this case, which has long been buried and forgotten. The group was first intercepted by the authorities, who eventually freed its members. Last year, a similar visit took place, organized by the same group. Like last year, the group also visited the village of Sori-male [en] in the Brakna region, to commemorate what is known by the “Years of Ash”, during which hundreds of black Mauritanians lost their lives between 1989 and 1990.

Al Watan (the Nation) website featured some testimonies of the parents of the genocide victims, who spoke about their tragedy and the injustice they have been subjected to, demanding punishment for the massacre perpetrators [ar]:

السيدة سالمتا جالو: تحكي أن زوجها وأخاها قتلا هنا وهي مفجوعة بمصيبتين في آن واحد، تحلف بالله إن هذه المجازر وقعت على حين غفلة من الأهالي “وتمت في يوم واحد هو يوم 28 نوفمبر هذا اليوم الذي يحتفل به الموريتانيون عيد استقلال وطني، حوله هؤلاء إلى مأساة تذكرنا كل سنة بهذه المجزرة”، تبدي سالمتا جالو تأسفها على تغاضي السلطات وتراخيها في معالجة الملف، وقالت إن ما قيم به حتى اليوم من صلاة على الغائب في مدينة كيهيدي وإعداد خريطة عن القبور “مجرد تحايل”.
وطالبت المفجوعة سالمتا جالو الحقوقيين وأصحاب الضمائر الحية أن يتحركوا جميعا ً لإعادة العدالة إلى ذويهم بإجراء تحقيق شفاف في ملابسات ما أسمته “المجزرة الجهنمية”.

Mrs Salmta Jalou says that her husband and brother were killed here so she was hit by two calamities at the same time. She swears by God that these massacres happened without the parents knowing and on the 28th of November, the day where Mauritanians celebrate their independence. These (the genocide perpetrators) have transformed it into a tragedy which reminds us every year of this massacre. Salmta Jalou expresses her desolation on the slackening of the authorities in dealing with the case and said that all what has been done so far such as prayers for the victims in Kihidi and talks about mapping the tombs is just a gimmick. Heartbroken Salmta Jalou asked lawyers and those with living consciences to act to bring justice by a transparent probe into what she described as the “infernal massacre”

صورة من المشاركين في قافلة إينال. تصوير الدده ولد الشيخ إبراهيم، استخدمت بتصريح.

Photograph of the group in Inal, taken by Dedda Ould Cheikh Brahim. Used with permission.

Dedda Ould Cheikh Brahim, took part in Inal caravan and blogged about the event, mentioning the harassment the group was subjected to by the security forces, relating as well the atmosphere of the massacre commemoration.

بعد انتهاء الخطب والترحم سار المشاركون في الرحلة على أقدامهم خلف مؤلف كتاب “جحيم إنال” والعسكري الناجي من تلك الأحداث ممدو سي، حيث وجههم إلى أربع تلال مكسوة بالحجار قال إنها المكان الذي دفن في رفاقه بعد تعذيبهم…
كان تحديد ذلك الموقع المجاور لمكان الثكنة العسكرية كفيل بإطلاق العنان للنحيب والبكاء والإغماءات بل وذهب الأمر إلى أبعد من ذلك حيث قام بعض الشباب بالدعوة إلى حمل السلاح لأخذ الثأر بدل البكاء.

After the speeches and the prayers, the participants went on their feet behind the author of the book entitled “Inal Hell” and the surviving solider Mamdou Se, who took them to four hills covered with stones and said this was the place where his friends were buried after being tortured.
The location of that spot near military barracks brought tears to many and caused others to faint. This made some youth to call for carrying arms, and taking revenge, instead of sobbing.

Gerry Adams criticizes the silence of the Mauritanian elites:

في ليلة الذكري الثلاثين لاستقلال موريتانيا نفذ الجيش الموريتاني مجزرة في قرية “إينال” في أقصي الشمال الموريتاني أعدم خلالها, بدون محاكمة ولا حتى تهمة واضحة, 28 عسكريا من الزنوج بعد أن مورس عليهم في تلك الليلة أبشع أنواع التعذيب والتنكيل…. وفي صمت أشبه بالمتعامي عن الجريمة سكت الجميع….. سكت المثقفون والسياسيون وعلماء الدين ودعاة المبادئ…. سكت التقدميون المدافعون عن الضعفاء والمحرومين…. سكت الإسلاميون الآمرون بالمعروف والناهون عن المنكر….. سكت الجميع قبل ذالك وبعد ذالك في ولاته وفي الجريدة و في غيرهما وتوالت جرائم قتل الزنوج الموريتانيين وتشريدهم ونهب أموالهم وهتك أعراضهم علي مرآي ومسمع من الجميع.

On the eve of Mauritania's 30th Independence commemoration. The Mauritanian army perpetrated a genocide in Inal, in northern Mauritania, where 28 black soldiers were executed without trial and not even a clear accusation. They were also subject that night to the ugliest forms of torture. And in a silence close to being blind to the crime, everyone shut up. The intellectuals shut up, so did the politicians and the clergymen and those who call for principles. The progressives who defend the weak and deprived also shut up. There was the same silence from the Islamists, who apply the sharia. Everybody shut up before and after the massacre. And the crimes against black Mauritanians were repeated as well as their displacement, and the confiscation of their money, and their honor was sullied and defiled under everyone's eyes.

On Aswat (Voices), Djibril Jalou wrote a series of blog posts on the crimes which Mauritanian blacks have been subject to. There, we can read testimonies of surviving soldiers:

جانب آخر من الوحشية حين كان الجناة يحتسون الشاي وهو يجلسون على الجثث في انتظار شنق الآخرين، أحد الناجين سمع، الضابط “خطري” يقرأ آية من القرآن وهو يجلس على جندي بعد أن شنقه، يقول هذا الناجي لا أصدق بأنه يؤمن بالرب الذي أنزل هذا القرآن العظيم المقدس.
لقد دام وقت الإعدام شنقا أكثر من ساعة زمانية. كان التعذيب في هذه الليلة جنونيا عقب الإعدامات، لقد ضرب المعتقلون ضربا شديدا. وأطلق الرصاص على بعضهم، لأنهم فقط “تأثروا” من هول ما رأوا. فقد قتل خمسة آخرين في نفس الليلة هم : لي همدي ،ممدو عصمان،جوب بوكر بيلا،صل عمر ،صل أمدو الحاج. يقول الضابط منصور، وهو مطابق لما وردر في كتاب “جحيم إنال”.
بقي في الأذهان أن 28 عسكريا أسودا قتلوا في هذه الليلة ، والحقيقة أن عدد قتلى إنال كثيرون في تلك الليلة ،يقول الضابط الناجي كان منصور، في شهادته المسجلة، وهو يحكي كيف طلب منه أن يعترف أمام “مسجلة” بأنه شارك في الإنقلاب ،  لقد جاء في هذه الشهادة أن كبار الضباط  الزنوج جمعوا في 23 من نوفمبر وبدأ تعذيبهم  وتهديدهم بالقتل وقد توفي أثناء تعذيبهم كلا من :  الملازم صل عبد الله موسى،  الملازم آن طاهير ضرب حتى الموت عند بوابة الزنزانة التي اعتقل فيها الضباط،النقيب لوم ، صل عمر مات وهو يقول منصور اعطني ماءا.لقد عذب حتى فقد جسمه كل السوائل.

Another side of the brutality was when the torturers were having tea while sitting on the bodies awaiting to execute the others, one of those who survived heard sergeant “khotri” reading the Koran while sitting on a soldier after hanging him. The survivor says: “I can't believe he believes in God who gave us this mighty and holy Koran.”

The executions lasted for more than an hour. Torture during that night was crazy in the aftermath of the executions. Detainees got severely beaten and some of them were shot just because they were touched by what they have seen. Five more were killed in that same night: Li Hamdi, Mamdou Osman, Job Boker Bil, Sal Oumar, Sal Amdou el Hajj, says sergeant Mansour. This statement being identical to what is related in “Inall Hell” book.

What remains in the memories is that 28 black soldiers were killed that night and that the truth is that the number of dead in that night is numerous as stated by sergeant Mansour in his recorded testimony where he says how he was asked to admit on a recorder that he participated in the massacre. The testimony also says that on the 23rd of November, senior black soldiers where rounded up, tortured and threatened to death and some of them died under torture, like Sal Abdallah Moussa, An Tahir who was beaten to death at the gate of the prison where Loum was arrested. Sal Oumar died while saying “Mansour, give me water.” He was tortured until his body was fully dehydrated.

Activist Sidi Aly Moulaye Zeine expresses on Facebook his sorrow that Inal massacre took place on independence day:

البعض يستعد للإحتفال ب ٢٨ من نفمبر بينما يحي هذا التاريخ آلام حداد لم يكتمل بعد عند آخرين. جنة الفردوس لشهداء موريتانيا من ضحايا الحكم العنصري و الدكتاتوريات العسكرية آمين

Some are getting ready to celebrate the 28th of November while for others, this date revives the pains of a mourning which has not been completed. Paradise for Maurtania's martyrs, victims of the racist rule and the military dictatorships. Amen

Also, “Don't Touch my Nationality” opposition movement, held a rally asking to punish all those involved in the elimination of black Mauritanians. But the Mauritanian regime met the march with oppression and tear-gas. The movement had earlier issued a list containing the names of members of the Mauritanian army accused of committing crimes against blacks, especially former president Moaouia Ould Sid Ahmed El Tae.

This video has been posted by Al Akhbar website on its Youtube page on Inal Caravane's 2012.

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