On the morning of Saturday, November 27, 2021, a convoy of the French Barkhane force from Côte d'Ivoire en route to Mali, under escort of the Nigerien gendarmerie, was blocked by demonstrators in Téra, in the Tillabéri region. Violence broke out and the military responded to the stone-throwing with tear gas from the mirages of French troops and live ammunition, causing two deaths from bullets and 18 injuries, including 11 deaths among the demonstrators.
The question arises, therefore, who of the French military or the Nigerien gendarmes fired on civilians?
Criticism of the French military presence is raging in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, raising anger wherever it goes. Populations criticize its ineffectiveness in the fight against terrorists and even accuse it of being an ally of the terrorists. Barkhane leaves the populations with a "feeling of invasion" not to say "occupation". For this reason, the convoy had already been stopped for several days in Burkina Faso last week.
This unfortunate incident has highlighted, once again, the casualness with which the Nigerien authorities have generated the security of its citizens. In his communiqué, the Minister of the Interior, while confirming the number of dead and wounded, refrained from specifying who, from the barkhane force or the gendarmerie, opened fire on civilians. It also failed to say who gave the order to open fire on the demonstrators. These lies of omission reveal that the authorities have things to hide and this attitude contributes to radicalizing the positions of the population already hostile to this foreign presence.
Moreover, this incident comes in a context where the Nigerien army is accused of summary execution of civilians in the Diffa region. These are very serious accusations to which the Nigerien authorities have not deigned to shed any light. If these accusations are confirmed, the army elements implicated would be guilty of war crimes, and those in charge should also be held accountable for these acts.
- Demands without delay, an independent investigation so that those responsible for these blunders are identified and put at the disposal of Nigerien justice. The victims and their families have the right to obtain justice and reparation;
- Calls on international bodies to take a closer look at the violations committed in the Sahel. Human rights must not be sacrificed in the fight against terrorism;
- Calls on Nigerien deputies to conduct a debate in the National Assembly to clarify and discuss the justification for the foreign military presence in Niger;
- Calls on the government to reorganize the defense of the territory and to sanction the military who commit crimes as serious as those committed by terrorists.
Done in Niamey on November 30, 2021
The National Coordinator