MFWA Calls for Release of Abducted Malian Journalist

A month after his abduction on June 8, 2024, by some unidentified men in plain clothes, Malian journalist, Yeri Bocoum, remains unaccounted for. Bocoum, who runs a Facebook news page called Yeri Bocoum Communication (YBC), covered a banned opposition march on June 7, 2024.

“He left his house at 2 p.m. on June 8, 2024 and a few hundred meters away, armed men arrested him and asked local people watching the scene to go back into their homes and close their doors,” Kadidia Bocoum told The Associated Press.

Bocoum’s abduction is suspected to be linked to his coverage of the opposition demonstration on June 7, 2024 after which he posted on social media that he was being followed by suspicious individuals.

Known for his passionate criticism of the junta and poor economic conditions in Mali, Bocoum was taken away in his own vehicle. There is widespread speculation that he is being  held by state security forces or pro-government vigilantes, who are notorious for this abduction methods.

The Synergie d’Action pour le Mali, an opposition platform, condemned the incident in a press release on June 12, 2024, revealing that “ill-intentioned and unidentified individuals” are always strolling around the homes of several of its leaders.

In the tense political climate of Mali, where political party activities have been banned, the authorities arrested eleven members of an opposition coalition during a meeting in Bamako on June 20, 2024. The group comprises of a significant portion of the country’s political parties opposed to the current extension of Mali’s political transition. Reports indicate that the arrested individuals were working on internal procedures for their platform and planning joint actions to advocate for elections and a return to constitutional order.

On June 24, ten of the arrested individuals faced provisional detention on charges of “opposition to legitimate authority” and “disruption of public order.” Another detainee, Mohamed Ali Bathily, was released on June 23, due to his status as a lawyer.

The MFWA urges the Malian authorities to urgently investigate the abduction of Yeri Bocoum and ensure his immediate release. Authorities must uphold freedom of expression, allowing journalists to report without fear of repression. It is crucial for the junta to win public confidence in its ability and commitment to protecting the security of journalists and of all citizens.

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