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Pressure Mauritania To End Protection For Perpetrators of Ethnic Cleansing Campaigns And Restore Citizenship for All Mauritanians

Created by Hawa Sall

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My story

Between 1989 and 1992, the government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania launched an ethnic cleansing campaign against its Black African populations that affected the lives of tens of thousands of Afro citizens. My family was a direct victim of this violence. In 1989 the Mauritanian security forces brutally rounded up my family, tore up our Mauritanian identity documents and expelled us to Senegal where I was born in the refugee camp of Dagana.


Although my parents were forced to leave everything behind, including property, my family was fortunate compared to thousands of others as we did not suffer any loss of lives.

About the Mauritania Government

International Rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, report that by the end of the terror campaign:

  • The Mauritanian government had expelled more than 60,000 of its Black citizens to Senegal and Mali after revoking their citizenship and confiscating their property.

  • The Mauritanian government sent thousands of Black African service members and civil servants to the death camps of Inal, Azlat, Tiguint, and Jreida to be tortured and killed. 20% of the detainees lost their lives through lynching and other violent ways. The most symbolic act of the ethnic cleansing came on Independence November 28 Day 1990. To celebrate the day at the death camp of Inal, the Mauritanian government randomly picked 28 of the Black detainees and lynched them in front of all the inmates.

  • The Mauritanian government stationed Army bases around Black African villages in the predominantly Black south. Officers intimidated locals to self deport, raped afro-Mauritanian women and randomly killed Black farmers and herders before burring them in undisclosed mass graves, the total number of which is unknown. In the process, the Mauritanian army emptied more than 270 Black African villages.

The government of Mauritania has not only promoted the alleged perpetrators to higher ranks within the security forces, it has also provided them legal protection. Current Mauritanian law (number 93-23) states that “full amnesty is accorded to members of Defense and Security Forces who committed infractions between January 1, 1989, and April 18, 1992 relative to the events that occurred within these forces and which engendered armed actions and acts of violence” and that “any legal case and any investigative document relative to this period and concerning a person benefitting from this amnesty will be immediately closed.”

The government of Mauritania is a recipient of U.S. assistance, including the military. It is a moral responsibility for the US Congress to ensure that no Mauritanian officers with blood on their hands benefit from U.S. assistance.



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We will be asking Congress to demand accountability in Mauritania by calling for:

  • A repeal of the pro-ethnic cleansing law number 93-23

  • An independent investigation into the 1989-1992 ethnic cleansing operations.

  • The restoration of the citizenship of all Mauritanians who were denied this basic right.

Please support our efforts to hold the government of Mauritania accountable.

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