The attack by Malian security forces on teachers who were marching to demand better service conditions is unwarranted and a violation of their right to peaceful assembly.
The march in Bamako on March 11, 2020 had gone on smoothly, only for security forces to attack the demonstrators with tear gas and batons as the teachers turned into the lane leading to the Prime Minister’s Office where they were to present a petition.
Some of the demonstrators were injured and a number of them were arrested and taken away in police vehicles. Some of the marchers reportedly responded by pelting the police vehicles with stones.
In a press release broadcast on national television later that day, the government confirmed that nine protesters were arrested and taken to the police station, adding that four police officers also sustained injuries, with a number of police vehicles damaged.
Meanwhile, the national human rights commission, Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme (CNDH), has condemned the attack and called on the government to respect the right to peaceful assembly.
“The freedom to demonstrate peacefully without disturbing public order is part of the democratic exercise and constitutes fundamental human rights. To this end, the CNDH calls on the Government to observe this constitutional right,” read a statement signed by the Chairman of the Commission, Aguibou Bouaré and issued on March 12, 2020.
The MFWA equally condemns the attack on the demonstrators and demands the release of those who were arrested during the skirmishes. While we call on the government to stop the security forces from the excessive use of force against demonstrators, the MFWA also urges demonstrators to abide by the law even under extreme provocation and avoid excesses.