HRW denounces Mali’s arrest of pro-democracy figures

Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned Mali’s ruling junta on Tuesday for jailing 10 people who called for a return to civilian rule. 

The detentions, which targeted leading opposition figures, mark a further escalation in the junta’s crackdown on dissent.

The arrests occurred during a private meeting held by the opposition in the capital, Bamako. 

The jailed individuals, including signatories to a March declaration demanding democratic restoration, face charges of illegal gatherings and plotting against authorities. 

This comes after the junta banned political party meetings, reflecting its hardening stance against any form of opposition.

“Mali’s junta has systematically suppressed peaceful dissent, opposition voices, civil society, and media outlets since seizing power in 2020,” stated HRW. 

Urging the authorities to uphold freedom of expression and assembly, the rights group demanded the immediate release and exoneration of all wrongfully arrested individuals.

The detainees belong to the March 31 Declaration’s Opposition Platform, which strongly condemned the arrests as a blatant violation of fundamental freedoms. 

Mali, already grappling with insurgency and a separatist movement in the north, has been under military rule following a double coup in 2020 and 2021. 

The junta had initially pledged to cede power to civilians after February 2023 elections, but reneged on that promise in June 2022, leaving the country’s democratic future uncertain.

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