Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06NOUAKCHOTT562
2006-05-12 12:37:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Nouakchott
Cable title:  

IN POSSIBLY HISTORIC TURN, MAURITANIANS START

Tags:  PREL PGOV PHUM PINR EAID MR 
pdf how-to read a cable
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R 121237Z MAY 06 ZDK ZUI HSD 0152W
FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5468
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0245
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0284
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 0436
RUEHBAD/AMCONSUL PERTH 0248
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0197
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NOUAKCHOTT 000562 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/11/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR EAID MR
SUBJECT: IN POSSIBLY HISTORIC TURN, MAURITANIANS START
(SLOWLY) TO ADDRESS ARAB-BLACK AFRICAN COMMUNAL RELATIONS

REF: NOUAKCHOTT 279

NOUAKCHOTT 00000562 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: Amb. Joseph LeBaron, Reasons 1.4 (b),(d)

--------------
(C) Key Points
--------------

-- Mauritanians have begun to take the first tentative steps
towards a public discussion of the acutely sensitive issues
of Arab - Black African relations, specifically the communal
violence of 1989 and the return of Black African Mauritanian
refugees now in Senegal and Mali. Such public discussion is
very rare.

-- At a public ceremony held April 25 to mark the anniversary
of the outbreak of communal violence between Moors and Black
Africans in 1989, attendees called on the government to
organize the mass return of the estimated 20,000 Black
African Mauritanian refugees living in Senegal and Mali.

-- In a separate press conference, FLAM-Reform, a new Black
African Mauritanian group, asked the government to bring to
trial those responsible for murder, rape and kidnapping
during the 1989 events. FLAM-Reform members recently broke
away from FLAM, the exiled Black African Mauritanian
opposition group, when they decided to return to Mauritania
to participate in the new political process underway.

------------
(C) Comments
------------

-- This tentative public dialogue on such highly sensitive
ethnic and racial issues is highly significant. These
communal issues have smoldered here for many decades, with
anger and resentment spilling over into communal violence 17
years ago.

-- We sense that it is just possible that Fal is now willing
to help set the stage for a democratically elected government
to take up this sensitive national issue. FLAM-Reform
leaders said at their press conference that they had met with
Colonel Fal April 26 to discuss these issues, although the
discussion had not arrived at any solutions.

-- If Fal is beginning to take on the deeply divisive issue,
he almost certainly will be strongly resisted by senior
military officers and others who fear criminal implication in
the 1989 events.

-- The recent press reports in Europe that the Belgian
judiciary is to consider charges of torture and crimes
against humanity by ousted President Taya during the 1989
events is certain to spook further some Mauritanians here.

-- Embassy intends to do all it can to support and further
this critically important national conversation on
inter-communal relations. Mauritania, whether now or later,
will simply have to deal with the legacy of slavery that
continues to infuse all aspects of society and politics.

End Key Points and Comments.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NOUAKCHOTT 000562

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/11/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR EAID MR
SUBJECT: IN POSSIBLY HISTORIC TURN, MAURITANIANS START
(SLOWLY) TO ADDRESS ARAB-BLACK AFRICAN COMMUNAL RELATIONS

REF: NOUAKCHOTT 279

NOUAKCHOTT 00000562 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: Amb. Joseph LeBaron, Reasons 1.4 (b),(d)

--------------
(C) Key Points
--------------

-- Mauritanians have begun to take the first tentative steps
towards a public discussion of the acutely sensitive issues
of Arab - Black African relations, specifically the communal
violence of 1989 and the return of Black African Mauritanian
refugees now in Senegal and Mali. Such public discussion is
very rare.

-- At a public ceremony held April 25 to mark the anniversary
of the outbreak of communal violence between Moors and Black
Africans in 1989, attendees called on the government to
organize the mass return of the estimated 20,000 Black
African Mauritanian refugees living in Senegal and Mali.

-- In a separate press conference, FLAM-Reform, a new Black
African Mauritanian group, asked the government to bring to
trial those responsible for murder, rape and kidnapping
during the 1989 events. FLAM-Reform members recently broke
away from FLAM, the exiled Black African Mauritanian
opposition group, when they decided to return to Mauritania
to participate in the new political process underway.

--------------
(C) Comments
--------------

-- This tentative public dialogue on such highly sensitive
ethnic and racial issues is highly significant. These
communal issues have smoldered here for many decades, with
anger and resentment spilling over into communal violence 17
years ago.

-- We sense that it is just possible that Fal is now willing
to help set the stage for a democratically elected government
to take up this sensitive national issue. FLAM-Reform
leaders said at their press conference that they had met with
Colonel Fal April 26 to discuss these issues, although the
discussion had not arrived at any solutions.

-- If Fal is beginning to take on the deeply divisive issue,
he almost certainly will be strongly resisted by senior

military officers and others who fear criminal implication in
the 1989 events.

-- The recent press reports in Europe that the Belgian
judiciary is to consider charges of torture and crimes
against humanity by ousted President Taya during the 1989
events is certain to spook further some Mauritanians here.

-- Embassy intends to do all it can to support and further
this critically important national conversation on
inter-communal relations. Mauritania, whether now or later,
will simply have to deal with the legacy of slavery that
continues to infuse all aspects of society and politics.

End Key Points and Comments.


1. (U) At a ceremony commemorating the 17th anniversary of
the outbreak of ethnic violence in Mauritania, key political
parties and NGO's called on the transitional government to
address the plight of the estimated 20,000 Afro-Mauritanian
refugees living in Senegal and Mali.


2. (U) In a separate press conference held May 5,
FLAM-Reform, a breakaway wing of the exiled Afro-Mauritanian
opposition group FLAM (reftel) renewed its call for
government action to address the longstanding refugee issue,
specifically demanding the arrest and trial of those involved
in crimes against humanity. The refugees fled south between
1989 and 1991 -- a period referred to as the 1989 events --
to escape ethnic violence.

--------------
AFTER 17 YEARS, MAURITANIANS DEMANDS ACTION

NOUAKCHOTT 00000562 002.2 OF 003


--------------


3. (U) The 17th anniversary ceremony, organized April 25th by
the Afro-Mauritanian political party, Alliance for Justice
and Democracy (AJD),drew both public and private press,
NGOs, and a significant number of key political parties and
party coalitions. In his opening remarks, AJD President
Cheikhou Cisse asked "why has the transitional government
allowed for the return of the dictator Taya (Mauritania's
former president),but not for the return of these peaceful
Mauritanian citizens?" Cisse discussed the current situation
of the refugees and invited a former refugee on stage who
described the harsh living conditions for refugees "without a
country...and without rights." Cisse said "the refugees will
not return without guaranties (from the transitional
government),because they have watched the others who have
returned and have still not recovered their rights." Cisse
ended his remarks by saying "enough is enough," a theme
repeated by others throughout the day.


4. (U) Prominent speakers representing the Afro-Mauritanian
community included Party for Liberty, Equality, and Justice
President Ba Mamadou Alassane and Mohamed Ould Dellahi,
current President of the Afro-Mauritanian political party
coalition Bloc for Change. These figures joined Cisse in
demanding a transitional government-sponsored mass return of
refugees. Additionally, they called on the government to
return lands, homes, and jobs these Mauritanians were forced
to leave behind, and offer each a "just remuneration" package
for their suffering.


5. (U) Following the ceremony, participants were pessimistic
about the potential for government action. Alassane said
that he "hadn't seen any good will from the transitional
government" on this issue, while former Popular Progressive
Alliance (Afro-Mauritanian political party) deputy Sarr
Ibrahima and FONADH (NGO coalition) president Sarr Amadou
said that the "transitional government won't address this
issue...because it is too complicated." However,
participants held some hope that the "24 Commitments" the
transitional government had submitted to the European Union
on November 30, which included a commitment to "facilitate
the return" of Mauritanian refugees, might force some action
on the part of the transitional government.

-------------- -
FLAM-REFORM CALLS FOR ARRESTS AND PROSECUTIONS
-------------- -


6. (U) In a press conference May 5, FLAM-Reform leaders
called on the transitional government to take action to
resolve the "tragedies of the past period," including the
murder, rape and kidnapping of hundreds, and deportation of
thousands of Afro-Mauritanians. Specifically, they asked the
government to use new genetic technologies to identify bodies
in mass graves, and to bring those responsible to trial. The
group also reiterated their call for a mass return of
refugees, a move they consider "a first step in addressing
the tragedies."


7. (U) At the press conference FLAM-Reform leaders said they
had met with Colonel Fal April 26 to discuss these issues,
but had not arrived at any solutions.


8. (C) Additional FLAM and FLAM-Reform remembers returned to
Mauritania last week after years in exile. While many FLAM
members remain abroad, the return of these figures indicates
a shift in the organization towards a more active in-country
role. Whereas the organization had spent the past years
criticizing Taya from abroad, they now appear to be shifting
towards increased domestic involvement in the political
transition.

--------------
CHARGES AGAINST TAYA
--------------


9. (U) According to press reports, the Belgian judiciary is
to consider complaints concerning alleged torture and crimes
against humanity committed by Taya during the 89 Events.
Marc Libert, counsel for the Association of Mauritanian

NOUAKCHOTT 00000562 003.2 OF 003


Soldiers, Widows and Orphans (AVOMM),which lodged the
complaints, told reporters that Belgian Magistrates said all
the conditions had been met to prepare a case against Taya.
"Federal Prosecutor Philippe Meire received my clients and me
recently, saying Ould Taya's loss of presidential immunity
and the granting of Belgian nationality to one of the
plaintiffs would make the case possible," Libert said.


10. (U) Libert said the examining Magistrate would hear from
the plaintiffs in the coming days, and would then file a
report with the Magistrates' committee, which will decide
whether or not to charge Taya.
LeBaron