I’m reading news from Mauritania with a growing sense of frustration and concern that only increases each day. Here’s a selection from recent stories to underline my point:
- A young taxi driver was found beaten unconscious near the airport at Atar, who died just as he reached the emergency room. But his cellphone and wallet were still on him.
- A cyclist in Nouakchott robbed and stabbed by unknown assailants..
- Traders were again robbed by unknown gunmen. A couple of weeks ago in the same area one shopkeeper was shot in the knee to prevent him chasing after the robbers..
- Feb 25 Movement reported that unregulated pharmacies are overcharging patients by up to ten times the price for prescription and over the counter medicines..
- A man found hanging from a tree in the remote Western Basin area, the fourth such report in a month, in a country where suicide is virtually unheard of..
A young girl narrowly escaped being abducted and sexually assaulted in a taxi in Nouakchott last week
The government has kept to its word, and done nothing about the kidnapped gendarme, who they say should be prepared to die as a soldier..
- Meanwhile a human trafficking ring controlled by police and gendarmes has been reported in Rosso, near the river border with Senegal, and the culprits “escaped” custody..
- Several students, including at least one with serious injuries, continue to be held in detention after police raided a peaceful sit-in at Nouakchott University..
- Police then arrested “Touche Pas” anti-racism campaign leader Birane Wane and one of his fellow campaigners, and are spreading rumors that he was responsible for planning and provoking seditious acts at the university, including burnign the national flag. I don’t think that is even a crime..
- Two caring lawyers stepped forward to offer to represent the students and Birane, which was very generous of them..
- The next day, I read that the government is working on a secret plan to restrict the powers of the judiciary and isolate judges and lawyers..
- The University went ahead with their plan to hold a conference in which the professor of Sociology presented his thoughts on the “Arab Spring” and his “roadmap” for the future, and had Rachid Ghannouchi there listening to him! All this while students are arrested, beaten, and being refused access to education, and colleges are closed for an unplanned 3 week “holiday”..
Sahara Medias has just been told by an informant that the ministry will no longer be issuing passports.
What does all this sound like to you? To me it’s as though Mauritania is turning into one big prison just like Iran!