UN calls for calm as dozens injured in Mali opposition protest

Malian riot police clash with opposition supporters who had planned to march on a street in Bamako, Mali June 2, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 03 June 2018

UN calls for calm as dozens injured in Mali opposition protest

  • The opposition said some 30 people were hospitalized after security forces fired “live ammunition”

BAMAKO: The UN has called for calm in Mali after dozens of people were hurt during banned opposition protests in Bamako, sparking calls for the prime minister to resign two months ahead of a presidential election.
The opposition said some 30 people were hospitalized — including prominent opposition figure Etienne Fabaka Sissoko who was left “in a coma” — after security forces fired “live ammunition” at protesters on Saturday.
The government rejected the claims outright.
“It is absolutely false to say that shots were fired using live ammunition,” a source close to the security ministry told AFP.
Earlier Sunday, the ministry said the security forces were bound by three words — “professionalism, courtesy and firmness” and that the police had acted to maintain public order.
It denounced the protesters for having injured a policeman in the head.
A “transparency” rally outside the party headquarters of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita attracted several hundred people.
Police fired tear gas and beat demonstrators with batons, according to an AFP reporter at the scene. Clashes also took place in other locations.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who visited Mali last week, called late Saturday for “calm and restraint by all parties.”
“(He) calls on the Malian government to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights and freedom of expression to peaceful demonstrations, including in the context of the ongoing state of emergency,” a UN statement said.
Mali is one of the so-called “G5 Sahel” states — along with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger — which have launched joint operations against militant groups.
Most protests are banned as the nation has lived under a near-constant state of emergency since an attack on a hotel in Bamako in November 2015 left 20 people dead.
“In a dozen places, unarmed protesters were attacked with tear gas and clubs,” the office of opposition presidential candidate Soumaila Cisse said in a statement.
“The headquarters of the ADP (Alliance for Democracy and Progress) was attacked by police special forces, who threw grenades. The prime minister’s security services fired live ammunition at protesters gathered” in front of the building, the statement charged.
“Three opposition leaders were violently beaten on the head with clubs and batons,” it added.
“The intention of the government was clear: to terrorize the opposition and all democratic forces.”
The statement also called for “the resignation of the prime minister.”
The demonstrations come ahead of July 29 elections in which Mali President Keita, 73, will face more than a dozen challengers.
The opposition has called for equal access to public radio and television for campaigning.
“The UN secretary-general regrets the government-imposed ban on the demonstrations by opposition parties,” the UN said.
“(He) urges political actors and the civil society to favor dialogue in order to maintain an environment conducive to the holding of credible and transparent elections.”
Opposition leaders have called for new demonstrations next Friday.


Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

Updated 07 December 2019

Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

  • The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year
  • The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest

NEW DELHI: An alleged rape victim in northern India who was set on fire while heading to a court hearing in the case has died in a New Delhi hospital, officials said Saturday.
The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year, police said. The two were out of custody on bail.
Five men were arrested in connection with the burn attack, police said.
The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest, said Dr. Shalab Kumar, head of the hospital’s burn unit.
Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, said that the case would be heard in a fast track court and that the “strictest of punishment will be given to the culprits.”
Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, faulted the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for failing to provide the woman with security, even after a similar case in the state in which a woman who accused a BJP lawmaker of rape was severely injured in a vehicle hit-and-run incident.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is known for its poor record regarding crimes against women. According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered more than 4,200 cases of rape in the state in 2017 — the most in India.
Government figures for 2017 also show that police registered 33,658 cases of rape in the country. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.
Indian courts also seem to be struggling to deal with these cases. Data shows that more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.
The burn victim’s death came on the same day police in the southern state of Telangana fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian after investigators took them to the crime scene. Their deaths drew both praise and condemnation in a case that has sparked protests across the country.
The woman’s burned corpse was found last week by a passer-by near the city of Hyderabad, India’s tech hub, after she went missing the previous night.
Police took the four suspects, who had not been charged with any crime, to the scene to help them locate the victim’s phone and other items, officials said. They said the men grabbed police firearms and began shooting, and were killed when police returned fire.
The Telangana High Court ordered authorities to preserve the bodies of the suspects and submit a video of the autopsies ahead of a court hearing set for Monday.
Separately, the National Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body within India’s Parliament, sent a fact-finding mission to the crime scene and mortuary where the suspects’ bodies were held on Saturday amid questions from opposition lawmakers about the circumstances of the suspects’ deaths.