Afrique : faut-il ressusciter « l’esprit de Bandung » ?

Par Jean-Jules LEMA LANDU, journaliste congolais, réfugié en France

Le flot d’informations diffusées au quotidien, qui vont dans tous les sens, non seulement nous submergent, mais également nous désorientent. La guerre de l’Ukraine en rajoute, singulièrement pour les pays africains, eu égard à l’esprit de la conférence de Bandung, tenue en Indonésie, en 1955.

Appelée aussi « Conférence du tiers-monde », celle-ci réunit 29 pays africains et asiatiques, en vue de former une union dite des pays décolonisés. Il en découla globalement la mise en place d’une charte de valeurs, comprenant la lutte contre l’impérialisme, le colonialisme et le néo-colonialisme. Mais aussi le principe de « non-alignement », par rapport aux grandes puissances.

À l’évidence, cette grande rencontre, à laquelle d’ailleurs la France participa, représentée par Sédar Senghor, eut un grand retentissement, à travers le monde. Avec plusieurs résultats à la clé, notamment la vertu de pousser, cinq ans plus tard, les colonisateurs à lâcher du lest, en accordant leur indépendance aux pays africains. Cependant, il faut avouer que « l’esprit de Bandung » ne connut que la vie de météorite, les querelles de chapelle ayant apparu dès le lendemain des travaux.

Qu’en reste-t-il aujourd’hui, 68 ans après, face à la guerre de l’Ukraine ? Nous savons que ce conflit a des répercussions à l’échelle internationale, entraînant déjà à la situation des « blocs », comme jadis à l’époque de la « Guerre froide ». L’Afrique, la fragile, avec déjà de grosses fissures d’antan dans ses murs, y échapperait-elle ?

À travers des faits observés, la réponse est non. Pour deux raisons évidentes. D’abord, potentiellement riche, le continent est en pratique très pauvre, au point où, dès le premier effet papillon de la guerre en Ukraine, les Africains ont vite sauté à Moscou pour quémander des céréales à Poutine. Ensuite, profitant de cet aveu de faiblesse caractérisé, les pays nantis ont accentué leur démarche en Afrique afin de se faire, chacun, plus d’alliés.

C’est ainsi que, par exemple, la visite en Afrique du Sud du ministre des Affaires Étrangères russe, Sergueï Lavrov, et celle du secrétaire d’État américain, Anthony Blinken, s’étaient distancées d’un cheveu. Tous deux proposent aux « amis africains » une nouvelle offre de coopération gagnant-gagnant. Paraît-il. Le Mali, la Guinée Conakry, le Burkina et la Centrafrique ont déjà mordu à l’hameçon russe. Le groupe paramilitaire russe Wagner y est déjà présent. Courtisée avec assiduité, le pays de Mandela finira-t-elle par céder à la sirène de ce nouveau coup de charme, exercé de part et d’autre, dont le fond reste à analyser et à comprendre ? 

Union européenne : modèle à suivre

Il n’est pas du tout aberrant de dire qu’avec la guerre de l’Ukraine, le continent se trouve à un tournant de son histoire. Si, hier, « l’esprit de Bandung » fut noyé dans l’inconscience de la jeunesse, l’Afrique libre est aujourd’hui adulte, âgée de plus de 60 ans. C’est l’âge de choix porteurs. Ainsi donc, coopérer avec les pays riches – quel qu’il soit -, n’est en rien anormal.

L’essentiel est de savoir, face à eux, se poser en interlocuteur égal : l’argent contre l’achat du gaz, par exemple, devant être pesé dans la « balance gagnant-gagnant». Sans complaisance. L’heure, pour l’Afrique, est de chercher à acquérir son autonomie, par rapport à la lutte d’hégémonie à laquelle s’engagent les pays dits développés. La première démarche de la Chine, aujourd’hui grande puissance, était de se départir de la « tutelle » de quiconque. C’est un modèle à suivre.

Enfin, il ne serait pas dérisoire, non plus, de redonner chair aux ossements de « l’esprit de Bandung », lequel posa en son temps la thèse de l’union. Et au-delà, avança l’idée de la formation d’un « bloc tiers-mondiste », à l’aune des blocs existants.

À l’heure où les relations internationales tendent à revenir au mode de la division du monde en blocs distincts, l’Union africaine (UA) se doit de renforcer ses capacités. En vue de faire face aux nouveaux enjeux, qui pointent déjà à l’horizon. L’Union européenne (UE), en cela, ne constitue pas moins un bon modèle à suivre. Encore une fois.

Jean-Jules Lema Landou

Woman, Life, Freedom : a misunderstood concept ?

We are now in the fifth month of the women-oriented movement “Woman, Life, Freedom” or the #Jina_Revolution (derived from the name of Jina “Mehsa” Amini). A movement that started in Kurdistan, then included the rest of Iran’s regions and spread to an extent that it attracted the attention of the people of the world. There has been a lot of global support for this movement, both from the people and from the media, from politicians and thinkers.

A kind of support that still continues thus far. The “Charlie Hebdo” magazine also published issues in support of this movement and published caricatures criticizing the oligarchy ruling class of Iranian clergy. But some of these cartoons were against the content and message of the women’s movement of Kurdistan and Iran, and therefore were criticized by some feminist activists, especially the feminists in Kurdistan.

Before addressing criticism towards Charlie Hebdo, I must spend some time to shed needed light on the Jina Movement itself and also explain the mechanism of how “power” functions in modern Iran. For without this short introduction, the critiques towards the Charlie Hebdo magazine could not be properly justified and explained.  

Control the women to control the people

The Jina Movement emphasizes the centrality of women in social change and development. As time passes, the discursive and epistemological nature of this movement deepens even further. But on the other hand, the patriarchal currents that still continue their activities with the same patrimonial reactionary thoughts, generate a serious effort to divert the movement and cut off its progressive and egalitarian features. Some of these currents have tried to reduce the effectiveness of the movement by creating reactionary slogans against the strategic slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” to weaken and even destroy its liberating and radical dimensions.

They only have a problem with the government system established in Iran, and they solely want to replace the current regime with another regime that will protect the interests of the new ruling class. In fact, they are not trying to change the current patriarchal, centrist, mononational and non-democratic social relations, but they just want to take control of power and government without any radical change in the social structure. The monarchists, pan-Iranists and religious fanatics such as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran are among these very groups. Although they do not have a significant following inside Iran, they have taken control of the media outside of Iran and have gained a much bigger voice than their actual weight. But the goal of the Jina Movement is far higher and greater than removing one group from power and replacing it with another group in their place.

In the meantime, it is very important to preserve the true core and nature of the movement, which is based on the complete equality of people on the basis of a women-centered movement. There are many reasons for basing the desire of social transformation on the axis of women, and I will limit myself to mention only two of previous-mentioned reasons :

  • As the French thinker Michel Foucault says, “power” always tries to dominate people’s bodies and applies and imposes its norms on the body through various physical and discursive means; because the control of the body has a direct relationship with the expansion of the sphere of “power”. Foucault sees power as something that is widespread in all relationships and areas of human life, where everything and everyone are in its constant motion[1]. Although, according to Foucault’s definition, power is not only defined in the definition of the government as the governing structure of the society, but without a doubt, government structures are among the most important factors that contribute to the power mechanisms that exercise control over the body. In Iran, even before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the monarchy had comprehensive programs to control the bodies of people, especially women, including the mandatory law of removing the hijab for women and wearing European-styled clothes and hats for men during the dictatorship of Reza Khan, the father of Mohammad Reza, whose government was overthrown in the 1979 revolution. The Islamic government of Iran also opted for the subjugation of the human body and especially women as one of the most fundamental pillars of its power expansion from the very beginning of its formation. This attempt was made through a religious Islamist reading in which women are considered to be a man’s property and honor, and men can dominate women and their bodies in any way they please. The imposition of the compulsory hijab law on the Iranian women’s society and the great effort to assimilate women, both in terms of clothing and in terms of worldview, were among the strategies of the new government to control women. In addition to using coercive and forceful power, they also tried to impose and institutionalize their religion-based laws on the society by using the mechanisms of the modern world such as the media and the education system.

  • On the other hand, the order governing the current world has been formed on the basis of patriarchy for thousands of years and still continues to exist. The main victim of this order has undoubtedly been “human equality“. Because it is based on the supremacy of the male over the female, and despite many legal reforms and social changes throughout history, mankind has still not been able to overcome the patriarchal-based structure. It is this that has led to the subjugation and deprivation of women from equal human rights throughout history, but this has not the only consequence. Institutionalization, postulation, and consequently taking human inequality for granted has exposed the entirety of human natural existence to face serious risks. This idea has made humans – it is clear that its means the male man who has dominated history – consider himself entitled to take any action to increase his power and pleasure. Granting authenticity to Added Value and Gross Domestic Product as a measure of economic development and adopting a Fordist economic approach – unlimited consumption for unlimited production – are one of the results of this inequality-seeking attitude by humans, which has now exposed the environment to destruction. Therefore, it can be said that no effort to overcome the super crisis facing humanity and save the planet will succeed unless it puts the principle of complete equality of human beings at the center of its discourse.

Currently, the social movement of Kurdistan and Iran with the light of knowledge shone on these facts, wants to destroy the current oppressive system and order and take steps towards the creation of a completely new world in accordance with the natural and fundamental human rights. Maybe this statement seems very idealistic, but we have no other way and we cannot save life except by fundamentally changing the way we live in the world.

In addition, the Jina Movement has the ability and capacity to establish such a radical action, because due to the fact that women have been the most oppressed class of human society, also have the greatest potential for human liberation. Insisting on women’s rights will put the movement on the right track of full human equality. All the great turning points in human history were initially considered idealistic and out of reach, so the radicalness of the goal does not mean that it is unachievable.

Furthermore, Iran’s former and current regimes have each tried to expand their power to the smallest layers of individual and social life in different ways. This practice, which was well ongoing in the period before the revolution of 1979, continued with more vigor and in a greater wave during the Islamic regime after the revolution. In current Iran, the process of controlling people has passed through the control of women’s bodies, and the government has tried to introduce women’s bodies as a taboo matter.

From the very beginning, Mullahs and the clergy described the previous government as an immoral and promiscuous regime that kept women away from their “chastity and virginity“. Therefore, they had to establish their rule by restoring their desired religious values to the society, and the most important part of this conquest came back to the issue of women. In fact, the change in the image and role of women in the new Iran became a manifestation of the power of the new regime.

Therefore, compulsory hijab was imposed on women’s heads and bodies, and their roles as household caretakers and mothers were strongly promoted and even sanctified. At first, a part of the women’s community resisted this anti-feminist trend, but they were not seriously supported by any of the political currents inside or outside of the state. The regime severely repressed them and constantly increased its misogynistic laws to even greater lengths.

With the passage of time and under the influence of the government’s ideological system, the society adapted itself to the values of the government for about two decades, and the social space became much more limited and difficult for women. In fact, it was not only the government that restricted and oppressed women, but the society did as well, which had a long history of patriarchy behind it, became a partner of the government in suppressing women. In such a way that in the public mentality of the people, women were a commodity belonging to men and any deviation of women from religious and male-oriented values were considered as an unforgivable crime. These developments intensified and deepened sexist schism and sexist literature and patriarchal behavior, and sexism thus expanded even more in the society. The situation was in such a state that matters pertaining to the issue of women, the opponents of the regime were not seriously different from the regime itself.

In Iran’s religiously-ingrained patriarchal system, the woman’s body became the epitome of vice and inferiority. Every negative thing and attribute is compared to a woman’s body, and a woman’s body is considered only if it fully conforms to the will of the government and the religiously-ingrained society.

A review of the Iran special issue of Charlie Hebdo

Nevertheless, since about two decades ago and as a result of social developments and women’s own struggles, this process in its social aspect slowed down to some extent and gradually the space for opposing the subjugation of women became more open. The women struggle ignited once again and this coincided with the gradual decline of the legitimacy belonging to the Islamic regime amongst its people. In the process of struggle, women correctly recognized that one of their main duties is to fight and reject sexism in all its forms, and they should not remain silent in front of any of the manifestations of sexist attitudes – be it action, speech, law or media representation, or let it pass by with a blind eye.

The experience of the 1979 revolution and its failure to achieve its goals has become a great experience for women. They have correctly understood that any neglect or tolerance towards issues related to women’s rights will lead to the reproduction of the old patriarchal order, and even if the current regime falls, we cannot have much hope for the institutionalization of human equality. This is why the radical part of the Iranian women’s movement made the fight against sexism one of its top priorities.

Thus, in the light of this very brief introduction, it should be considered if all the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo were consistent with the goals of the women’s movement of Iran and Kurdistan?

The cover of the January 4, 2023 issue of “Charlie Hebdo.”

Unfortunately, in some cartoons of this magazine, especially in the most famous of them, it shows the Mullahs and clergy going back into a woman’s stomach through her vagina, and this gives off an unsettling sexist viewpoint. In this caricature, the female body is once again represented as something inferior and low in status, as if the dictator Mullahs are only deserving to live in that low of a place. In another cartoon, Khamenei is shown with his clothes off and it is revealed that he has a female body. The “Tawar Collective”, which is one of the Kurdish feminist women’s collectives, wrote in this regard:

In one of the cartoons, mind you in France, which claims to defend women’s freedom and right to their bodies… Khamenei’s naked body is shown in the form of a woman’s body, which is stripped of its dignity and everyone sees her body (as if he has been dishonored) ). It is as if a woman’s body in itself is a source of shame and should not be seen. In fact, the apparently progressive Charlie Hebdoi directly repeats the Iranian government’s patriarchal discourse about the female body. In another cartoon, to convey the message of the fall of that regime, Mullahs are depicted returning to their mother’s vagina. In addition to the fact that the woman’s body was also targeted here, it was pretended that the European governments had no role in the establishment of this anti-feminist repressive government![2].

Cartoon by James, a UK-based cartoonist. JAMES

It can be safely said that the view of the designers and the editorial board of Charlie Hebdo magazine on the issue of women is still simplistic and lacks any kind of perspective and epistemological depth. They have reduced the support of the women’s movement of Kurdistan and Iran to a purely political support – that too in the everyday sense of politics. The reason for this issue should be sought in the lack or poverty of the epistemological foundation.

Understanding issues related to humanity requires pre-existing knowledge related to that issue, and in most cases this knowledge must be obtained from several branches of scientific approaches. Maybe they thought to themselves that in contrast to the mandatory hijab policy of the Iranian regime, a woman’s body should be shown without a hijab and naked, and we should not shy away from portraying female genitals. Even if we tolerantly accept this simplistic notion with the benefit of the doubt under the title of “de-tabooing the female body“, we still cannot ignore their lack of knowledge about the way it was represented. The meaning hidden behind the above-mentioned caricatures indicates the continuation of the sexualized look at the female body as a low and inferior thing.

Showing a naked woman alone cannot lead to the removal of taboos from the female body, but this work must be done in a non-sexist and positively contextual setting. It is questionable whether the people involved in Charlie Hebdo basically have any knowledge of the concept of sexism? If they have, then why have they reproduced the same attitude view?

Maybe their idea of a struggle is based on the logic of armed war; in war, whichever side has most and more effective weapons and ammunition will win. Does Charlie Hebdo think that with more and more blatant sexism, they can go to war against the sexism of the Mullahs and the clergy regime and win?! Don’t they really know that the logic of this struggle is very different from armed war and conflict, and repeating any sexist ideas or action will lead to the increase and reproduction of sexism in turn?

Such support for the women’s struggles of Kurdistan and Iran will not serve their movements best interests, but will in fact only strengthen the other anti-feminist authoritarian currents that are in opposition of the regime as well. The currents that, tomorrow after the fall of the Islamic Republic, will implement the plan to control human bodies and especially women’s bodies with complete authority, and thus the void cycle of the birth of a new dictatorship from the heart of the old dictatorship will continue. The Jina movement is still developing its discourse, because even some women and activists within the movement are still unable to recognize its true content and sometimes fall into the trap of conservative currents.

The progressive and radical composition of women activists in the Jina Movement have made a continuous and very challenging effort to institutionalize its basic concepts and to face the deviations and dangers ahead. We should not add to their problems under the title of “solidarity and support”, any kind of support for this movement first of all requires a complete understanding of its foundations and goals. This is not solely a protest movement against the status quo, but a radical social movement that wants to uproot the foundation of inequality and destroy the opportunity to reproduce oppression in newer forms. The Jina movement, which obviously has universal dimensions, is one of the great chances of mankind to understand the current multiple super-crises and find ways to deal with them.

Therefore, even when having daily comments and conversations about this movement, one should be very sensitive, because slipping and diverting from its foundations will lead to the reproduction of misogyny and the strengthening of the movement’s enemies and opponents.

The problem of the editors of Charlie Hebdo is not that they have a bad intention behind supporting this, but that they have no knowledge of the history of Kurdistan and Iran, and they have not understood the historical and philosophical roots of “Women, Life, Freedom” as they should. Furthermore, there is another universal problem, which is the weakening of philosophical and radical visions to change the human world. For several decades, the world order has been teaching us that there is no way to transition from the current order and that it is only within this order that it is possible to think about any change.

This limitation has caused humanity to no longer have big dreams and aspirations and to accept a set of incomplete hypotheses that are inconsistent with the principle of “human equality” as definitive and proven issues. For this reason, people often think about human phenomena with an incomplete mentality and stereotypical world view. Charlie Hebdo is one of the publications that has a high profile and has a significant impact on its audience, for this reason, the managers of this publication should first of all think more in-depth and sensitively about their subjects. Second of all, they should gradually strip themselves of the conservative covering and clichés and dare to think radically. Undoubtedly, the history of French thought can provide an opportunity for such a courageous act on their part!

Adnan Hassanpour


[1]. For information about this theory, go to:

Michel Foucault, Histoire de la sexualité, Paris, Gallimard, 1994 [1976]

[2]. https://www.instagram.com/p/CnCc0x3Nrjn/

URGENT. Le journaliste et ancien résident de la MDJ Mortaza Behboudi capturé en Afghanistan

Ce matin 6 février 2023, la nouvelle de la détention du journaliste Mortaza Behboudi en Afghanistan il y a 30 jours, alors qu’il effectuait un reportage seul, a été rendue publique. Reporters sans Frontières et 14 médias français s’indignent de cet enlèvement et réclament sa libération immédiate dans une tribune, de même que la Maison des journalistes.

Mortaza Behboudi retenu à Kaboul

Selon les dernières informations de Reporters sans Frontières, le journaliste est détenu à la prison de Kaboul depuis le 7 janvier 2023, alors qu’il était arrivé sur le sol afghan seulement deux jours plus tôt. L’organisme indique dans son communiqué de presse avoir « épuisé toutes ses ressources » pour libérer Mortaza, bien qu’ils aient réussi à « établir un canal de communication » avec les Talibans. Il ferait l’objet d’une accusation d’espionnage. Journaliste-photographe depuis 2012, Mortaza Behboudi a travaillé pour les médias Ava press, Bakhtar news et pour son propre journal Bazar

© QUEMENER YVES-MARIE

Il avait dû fuir l’Afghanistan en 2015 après une tentative de reportage sur sa ville natale, dans la province de Wardak. Il avait alors été arrêté par un groupe de Talibans, qui avait confisqué son matériel et ses papiers d’identité. Inquiet pour le contenu de ses pellicules qui pouvaient lui attirer des représailles, Mortaza s’était enfui en Iran de crainte pour sa vie. S’étant déjà rendu en France au nom de l’ambassade afghane basée à Paris, le journaliste photographe avait été invité la même année à l’événement Paris International Model United Nations, où il en profita pour faire une demande de visa et d’asile en France. Il avait alors été accueilli à la maison des journalistes fin 2015.

Un professionnel de l’Afghanistan depuis son plus jeune âge

« Nous appelons le régime des Talibans à mettre un terme à cette situation insensée. Mortaza Behboudi est un journaliste réputé, respecté et apprécié de ses consœurs et confrères. Nous espérons que notre message portera jusqu’à la capitale afghane dans les bureaux des autorités qui ont pris la décision de son arrestation et qui détiennent la clé de sa libération », a déclaré Reporters sans Frontières ce matin. « Il collabore avec de nombreux médias français et francophones : France Télévisions, TV5 Monde, Arte, Radio France, Mediapart, Libération, La Croix, notamment. Il est coauteur de la série de reportages « À travers l’Afghanistan, sous les Talibans », publiée sur Mediapart et qui a été primée en 2022 par le prix Bayeux des correspondants de guerre et le prix Varenne de la presse quotidienne nationale. Il a contribué au reportage « Des petites filles afghanes vendues pour survivre », diffusé sur France 2, qui sera également récompensé en 2022 au Prix Bayeux », peut-on lire sur le site de France Info.

Choquée d’une telle détention arbitraire, la Maison des journalistes apporte son soutien inconditionnel à Mortaza Behboudi et appelle à sa libération immédiate.

La fin de l’espoir pour les journalistes afghans ?

Alors que l’actualité en Ukraine et en Iran accapare l’attention des médias, les journalistes afghans ayant fui au Pakistan après la chute de Kaboul espèrent toujours un visa occidental qui les mettrait tout à fait hors de danger. Or d’après un récent règlement pakistanais, certains pourraient être renvoyés aux mains des talibans à partir du 31 décembre.

Le mois d’août 2022 a donné l’occasion à nombre d’organisations de journalistes de faire un bilan pour la presse de la gouvernance talibane. Du fait de la censure et de la fermeture de près de 220 médias sur 547, « 60% des 12000 journalistes exerçant avant août 2021 ont cessé leur activité », précise Christophe Deloire, secrétaire général de Reporters sans Frontières (RSF)… Et des centaines, parce que leur profession est parmi les plus exposées à des représailles, ont fui le pays.

Le journaliste afghan Ramazan réfugié en France continue de recevoir des menaces de la part des talibans sur son téléphone. Il a longtemps documentés les violences talibanes sur la population gazara, et était visé depuis de longues années par les talibans.

Depuis août 2021, la Fédération internationale des journalistes (FIJ) a reçu près de 9000 demandes d’aide. Le groupe de travail « Afghanistan » créé par le Syndicat national des journalistes (SNJ) dès le 15 août 2021 a quant à lui demandé au ministère français des Affaires étrangères l’évacuation urgente de centaines d’entre eux. Et de fait, près de 250 journalistes ont été accueillis en France avec leurs familles.

Mais quid des autres ? Marzia Khodabakhsh, 27 ans, était productrice de l’information à la télévision Ariana News, média aujourd’hui contrôlé par les talibans. « Mon employeur m’avait depuis longtemps fourni une voiture blindée, parce que j’avais reçu des menaces de mort, et il changeait souvent mon
planning pour que les talibans ne repèrent pas mes horaires.
» Elle a fui au Pakistan en février 2022, et a demandé un rendez-vous à l’ambassade de France dès son arrivée. « Je n’ai même pas reçu de réponse à mon mail », témoigne-t-elle, angoissée par le silence des autorités françaises.

Lors d’une rencontre, fin octobre 2022, au ministère français des Affaires étrangères (MAE), Nicola Edge, une militante du SNJ a de fait cru sentir un désengagement des autorités françaises sur le dossier afghan. « Ils nous ont dit “Vous n’êtes pas sans savoir qu’il y a aussi l’Ukraine », raconte-t-elle, dépitée, ajoutant que le SNJ avait évoqué les très longs délais d’attente de rendez-vous auprès des ambassades de France au Pakistan et en Iran. Les journalistes afghans auraient plutôt besoin que les pays qui en août 2021 avaient fait de grandes annonces sur la nécessité de sauver les défenseurs des valeurs démocratiques et la liberté de la presse déploient plus de moyens pour leur venir en aide.

Or, nombre de journalistes au Pakistan n’ont, comme Marzia Khodabakhsh, même pas eu de réponse à une demande de rendez-vous envoyée il y a six à dix mois. Et ceux qui ont eu le précieux rendez-vous attendent aussi leur visa, tandis que leur situation économique se détériore. « Certains sont dans une extrême précarité, sans ressource aucune, témoigne Nicola Edge. Il y a des femmes seules à la rue au Pakistan, si démunies que quelques-unes ont fait des tentatives de suicide. Elles campent dans des parcs et ont vu leurs tentes lacérées par la police pakistanaise. »

Samiullah Jahesh, 33 ans, un autre journaliste d’Ariana News, est arrivé au Pakistan en janvier 2022 avec sa femme et son fils de trois ans. Il a pu déposer sa demande de visa à l’ambassade de France le 28 juin et n’a pas reçu de réponse. « Je suis acculé financièrement, j’ai épuisé toutes les possibilités d’emprunt auprès de ma famille et de mes amis, le loyer, l’électricité coûtent cher, et le Pakistan ne nous permet pas de travailler. » D’autres témoignent qu’ils rationnent le pain sec et ne mangent plus à leur faim.


Des menaces continues

Mais Samiullah Jahesh craint surtout pour sa vie. Depuis qu’il est à Islamabad, il a reçu des menaces de mort via WhatsApp, et a changé trois fois de domicile afin « de ne pas être repéré par des Pachtouns du Pakistan qui pourraient indiquer ma localisation aux talibans ». Ces messages inquiétants sont le quotidien des journalistes. Marzia Khodabakhsh en a reçu aussi. « Dans un message vocal, un taliban me disait “Où que tu sois, on te trouvera et on te découpera en morceaux”. Ma situation psychologique et morale s’est détériorée, j’ai très peur », dit-elle la voix tremblante. Les menaces emploient aussi d’autres canaux.

Mohammad Eivaz Farhang, 33 ans, travaillait pour le quotidien Hasht-e sobh (« Huit heures du matin », en français) publié en ligne depuis l’étranger. Il s’est senti encore plus menacé lorsque les talibans ont fermé le domaine Internet du journal, et que le porte-parole de l’Émirat islamique d’Afghanistan, Mujahid Zabiullah, a tweeté pour dénoncer les « dizaines de nouvelles que nous entendons dans les médias occidentaux, et des journaux comme Hasht-e Sobh », en concluant: « notre peuple connaît les ennemis de cette nation ». Ces menaces directes ou voilées amplifient le sentiment de danger chez les journalistes, qui savent qu’ils ne sont pas les seuls à être désignés comme « ennemis de la nation » : les militants, artistes, politiciens, juges y ont droit aussi.

En attente d’un visa français depuis des mois à Islamabad, les journalistes afghans se réunissent souvent ensemble pour travailler ou faire avancer collectivement leurs dossiers.

Mais les journalistes connaissent le lourd tribut qu’ils ont payé dans l’exercice de leur profession : chacun a eu un ou plusieurs collègues tués par balles ou dans l’explosion de leur voiture, et un grand nombre connaît des troubles de stress post-traumatique… Retourner en Afghanistan n’est donc pas une option, mais rester au Pakistan non plus. « Se retrouver en exil dans un pays dans lequel le régime qu’on est en train de fuir a des correspondants, c’est-à-dire des gens qui peuvent exporter la répression, c’est extrêmement périlleux, et c’est le cas pour le Pakistan s’agissant des journalistes afghans, car on sait les liens étroits entre les talibans et ce pays », alerte Christophe Deloire, de RSF.


Un prochain visa pour l’enfer

Mais si les portes d’un autre exil restaient fermées aux journalistes, l’option « rester au Pakistan » leur sera aussi bientôt interdite. Le ministère pakistanais de l’Intérieur a en effet annoncé le 29 juillet dernier un durcissement de sa politique à l’égard des étrangers, indiquant qu’après le 31 décembre 2022, « des actions seront engagées contre les étrangers en séjour prolongé dépassant plus d’un an », et qu’une peine de trois ans pourra être prononcée pour les étrangers en séjour irrégulier. Ou l’expulsion.

« La durée de mon visa pakistanais est courte, s’alarme Samiullah Jahesh, et si l’ambassade de France ne me donne pas un visa rapidement, le Pakistan me renverra aux mains des talibans. Et vous savez ce que ceux-ci me feront », conclut le journaliste, qui se dit rongé par la tension morale.

D’une manière générale, tous les journalistes ayant dénoncé dans leurs reportages les actes terroristes des talibans sont exposés à des représailles. Et ce n’est pas le récent bilan de la Mission d’assistance des Nations unies en Afghanistan (Unama), qui va pouvoir les rassurer, qui a déclaré le 2 novembre avoir enregistré « plus de 200 violations de droits humains à l’encontre des journalistes depuis août 2021 ». Des chiffres qui incluent « arrestations arbitraires, mauvais traitements, menaces et intimidations ».

« Du fait de cette date butoir pakistanaise, l’attente du SNJ lors de la dernière réunion au ministère français des Affaires étrangères était la délivrance en urgence de visas par la France, raconte Nicola Edge. Mais nos interlocuteurs ne semblaient pas vouloir prendre de mesure particulière. »


Sortir de l’impasse

Le 20 novembre, une vingtaine de journalistes afghans a donc envoyé une lettre au ministre français de l’Intérieur, Gérard Darmanin, lui demandant « d’accélérer le processus de délivrance de visas ». L’un d’eux, Tariq Peyman, qui a fui la ville d’Hérat avec sa femme également journaliste, n’a cependant qu’un maigre espoir que le président français « conformément à ses engagements, sauvera la vie des journalistes afghans en danger. »

« C’est pourtant la responsabilité des démocraties que de défendre ceux qui représentent la démocratie », déclare Christophe Deloire. Mais il invite aussi le Pakistan à exercer ses propres responsabilités. « Quels que soient ses liens avec le régime des talibans, ce pays se déshonorerait à renvoyer des journalistes dans un pays qu’ils ont fui parce qu’ils étaient en danger. »

Du côté du groupe Afghanistan du SNJ, on sent que la tension monte chez les journalistes. « Certains nous écrivent tous les jours, ils n’en peuvent plus », témoigne Nicola Edge. Elle rappelle que notre pays a évacué environ 4000 Afghans depuis la chute de Kaboul, tandis que l’Allemagne en accueillait 15000 et que ce même pays vient de lancer un programme qui prévoit 1000 évacuations par mois pendant trois ans. « On aurait aimé que la France engage un programme de ce genre », regrette pour sa part Patrick Kamenka, du SNJ-CGT.

« Si on n’aide pas les journalistes afghans, une génération complète disparaît avec les compétences qu’elle a développées depuis vingt ans », relève Elyaas Ehsas, un reporter afghan en exil en France. « L’avenir du journalisme en Afghanistan, ironise-t-il, est-ce un groupe de talibans paradant sur un plateau télé ? » Il ajoute: « Toutes ces puissances qui ont occupé l’Afghanistan pour, selon leurs dires, y instaurer la démocratie, pour aider la société civile à s’organiser, vont-elles abandonner à leur sort ceux qui ont fait vivre ces valeurs pendant vingt ans, ceux qui portent la voix d’un peuple entier, privé pour l’heure de presse libre ? » Marzia Khodabakhsh, Samiullah Jahesh et leurs collègues attendent désespérément à Islamabad une réponse à ces questions.

Frédérique Le Brun, avec Elyaas Ehsas.

ALGÉRIE. Djamel Bensmaïl ou le Alain de Monéys algérien

Au XIXe, un village de France a connu un événement similaire à celui que vient de secouer la localité kabyle de Larbâa Nath Irathen en Algérie. A 150 ans d’intervalle, Alain De Monéys et Djamel Bensmail ont en commun d’avoir été lynchés à mort par des foules. Et d’être innocents. Mise en perspective.

En cette journée du 16 août 1870, beaucoup de monde est venu assister à la foire annuelle aux bestiaux du paisible village de Hautefaye en Dordogne. L’atmosphère chaude et lourde pèse sur les esprits. Un mois plus tôt la France avait déclaré la guerre à la Prusse, ce qui lui avait valu des pertes humaines non négligeables.  Alors que la foule grouillait dans la foire comme une fourmilière, soudain un cri se fit entendre : « Attrapez-le, c’est un Prussien ! » Le doigt accusateur pointe le jeune Alain de Monéys, noble et grand propriétaire terrien, venu comme tout le monde faire son marché. Le jeune homme proteste et affronte les insultes. Mais, très rapidement, les premiers coups pleuvent. Les chroniqueurs rapportent en détail comment le persécuté tombe à terre avant de se relever et de chanceler puis de tenter de fuir. Le désir ardent de la foule de participer à ce châtiment collectif et la crainte de voir sa proie lui échapper, exacerbent sa férocité et son hostilité jusqu’au paroxysme. Reconnu comme Prussien,  Alain de Monéys représente aux yeux des gens présents l’homme porteur de menaces pour la sécurité de la France. Il doit périr de la manière la plus abjecte comme le clame ouvertement un de ces quidams qui prend une part active  à cette kermesse punitive qui, plus est, suivie par le reste de la population. 

Alain de Monéys qui sait qu’il va mourir demande aux gens qui l’assaillent de le fusiller. Mais il essuie un refus catégorique. Accéder à cette doléance équivaudrait à abréger les souffrances du supplicié et à empêcher ceux qui se prennent pour des justiciers d’assouvir leur vengeance contre la Prusse qui a tué beaucoup de Français. Ce serait également priver les gens du plaisir qu’ils éprouvent (l’espace d’un instant) à exercer le pouvoir absolu des maîtres ayant droit de vie ou de mort sur leurs sujets. Aussi, use-t-on fièrement de coups de poings, d’aiguillons et de pieux pour l’élimination du « Prussien ». Ces personnes qui ne savent pas encore qu’elles sont des assassins, ressentent une joie jubilatoire à l’idée de défendre la France et son Empereur. Piétiné, Monéys qui traîne une « tête comme un globe de sang » succombe sous les coups de ses assassins.  Alors qu’il gît inerte, la foule continue de le battre. Le « Prussien » est certes mort, mais il faut maintenant détruire son corps pour que l’anéantissement soit total et pour qu’il ne puisse jamais reposer en paix. Un ennemi  ne mérite pas de vivre, encore moins d’avoir une sépulture. Le cadavre est tantôt traîné sur le dos, tantôt  face contre le sol, la tête ricochant sur le chemin.  La mort physique est ainsi redoublée d’une mort symbolique dont la cristallisation induit la destruction intégrale ou partielle du corps. Aucun souvenir de l’être exécré ne devrait subsister parmi les vivants. La dévastation des traits de la victime, les offenses et les supplices qu’on lui fait subir, valent déchéance de son humanité. Ainsi, on jette le cadavre sur les pierres comme s’il s’agissait d’une bête inanimée n’inspirant plus aucune compassion. Aussi, une dizaine de personnes déclenchent-elles le massacre ultime. Après avoir amassé du papier et de la paille, elles en font un bûcher sur lequel elles placent la dépouille de Monéys. On se presse alors pour attiser le feu. Nombreux sont les gens qui prennent plaisir à remuer les restes carbonisés de la victime. Certains même s’amusent à en extraire des tisons pour allumer leur cigarette. On se gausse du reste « d’avoir fait griller un fameux cochon ». Ce crime commis par ceux qui pensent agir en justiciers, est conçu comme un juste châtiment. Les meurtriers agissant en toute conscience, pensant bien faire. Exultant de joie, ils sont persuadés de leur bonne action en faveur de la France et de l’Empereur en danger. Cette mise à mort publique, bien assumée, est mue en réalité, principalement par des ressorts politiques et non pas psychologiques ou pathologiques, comme on aurait tendance à le croire.  A peine quelques heures après ce forfait, les gendarmes arrivent pour mener l’enquête.  Quand il fut établi qu’Alain de Monéys était un Français et qu’il n’avait aucun lien avec la Prusse, on arrêta les meurtriers qui furent, après leur emprisonnement, condamnés à la peine capitale et guillotinés. 

Le lecteur averti saura que l’histoire dont je viens de rappeler les péripéties vient d’être revécue en Kabylie, presque dans les mêmes termes. Le crime de Hautefaye entre en résonance avec celui de Larbaâ Nath Irathen survenu le 11 août 2021. Cela soit dit en passant, le hasard a voulu que les deux forfaits, séparés par un siècle et demi d’intervalle, se fussent déroulés au mois d’août. Au-delà de la différence de culture et d’époque qui eût pu constituer une barrière, ces crimes survenus respectivement en Dordogne et en Kabylie, présentent des traits communs.  Les spécialistes de la foule ont, du reste déterminé des lois régissant les comportements collectifs. Gustave Le Bon,  cerne bien la question lorsqu’il affirme que la foule criminelle se forme généralement sur la base d’une suggestion puissante. Les personnes qui se mettent à tuer sont convaincues, explique-t-il, qu’elles ont obéi à un devoir, c’est tout le contraire du criminel ordinaire qui agit de son propre gré.   

En Kabylie, en proie à de gigantesques incendies, tous les éléments concouraient pour accréditer l’idée que les feux ont été causés par des actes volontaires. La communication du gouvernement, fort anxiogène, avait du reste distillé l’information selon laquelle les incendies sont d’origine criminelle. De ce fait, conditionnée, la population n’attendait que de lyncher les pyromanes au cas où elle parviendrait à mettre la main dessus.  La puissante suggestion dont parle Le Bon est donc actée. Elle est même accentuée par le comportement de la police qui embarque à bord de l’un de ses fourgons un jeune homme originaire de Meliana, ville située hors de la Kabylie. Si la police l’a arrêté, c’est qu’il a été pris en flagrant délit. En tous les cas, la nouvelle se propage comme une traînée de poudre, « on a attrapé un pyromane !»  La personne qui va incarner le rôle de Monéys est désormais Djamel Bensmaïl, un hirakiste, de surcroît artiste, qui s’était porté volontaire pour aider à éteindre les feux.  Certes, comparaison n’est pas raison, mais il est intéressant de retrouver dans l’événement récent ce que le passé lui a déjà réservé. Mon propos n’est pas d’affirmer que l’histoire est répétitive, mais d’en souligner les écarts. Ce qui différencie le crime de Larbâa Nath Irathen de celui de Hautefaye, réside dans son caractère préfabriqué : Djamel Bensmaïl fut livré à la foule par la police. Ce dernier se serait, d’après des sources policières, mis sous la protection d’une patrouille de police après qu’il a été accusé par certains villageois de pyromanie. Embarqué, Djamel est emmené au commissariat de police dont le siège jouxte la place où s’est amassée une foule nombreuse, qui plus est, chauffée à blanc par  la chaleur des incendies et les informations que font circuler les autorités à ce sujet.  Au lieu d’éviter tout ce qui peut nuire à la sécurité de leur protégé, les policiers garent leur véhicule au milieu de l’attroupement. Ils ne s’avisent pas d’user au préalable de leurs talkies-walkies pour s’enquérir de l’unité de police la plus susceptible d’accueillir Djamel dans les meilleures conditions possibles. Ainsi, sitôt le véhicule immobilisé parmi la multitude, il est pris d’assaut par des gens déchaînés. C’est à ce niveau qu’interviennent les smartphones inconnus du temps de Monéys. Car les vidéos postées sur les réseaux sociaux fournissent les détails de la molestation.  Après que les agents de police ont cédé, Djamel est frappé et battu jusque même à l’intérieur du véhicule de police. La victime est ensuite poussée vers la sortie où elle est rouée de coups répétés et nourris. Ballotté entre de nombreuses mains, son corps meurtri est traîné sur la place avant d’être brûlé. 

L’assassinat de Djamel Bensmaïl marque ainsi le passage de la foule intelligente à la foule meurtrière. Tout se passe comme si le crime de Larbâa Nath Irathen survenait pour gommer d’un trait les foules intelligentes et pacifiques du Hirak qui n’avaient eu de cesse, depuis maintenant presque trois ans ,d’ébranler les assises du régime. En outre, sur un registre plus sécuritaire, les services algériens chargés de l’ordre public semblent ignorer les enjeux criminologiques dès lors qu’ils se permettent de faire l’économie d’une anticipation des conséquences qui découleraient du fait de livrer en pâture à la foule une personne qu’ils sont censés protéger.  Pourtant, l’histoire de Monéys, et il en existe probablement d’autres, fait partie d’un corpus de criminologie devenu classique. N’empêche, si l’on veut voir par une sorte de grossissement comment prend fin l’histoire de Djamel en comparaison à celle de Monéys, le moins que l’on puisse dire est qu’elle s’achève en queue de poisson. Les assassins de Djamel dit la version officielle ne seraient pas les véritables assassins. La main qui les a armés, serait celle du Mouvement pour l’autodétermination de la Kabylie (MAK), lequel aurait été appuyé par le Maroc et Israël ! Ainsi, même la guerre avec l’ennemi trahit-elle un aspect fictif puisque le Maroc et Israël réunis ne font pas la Prusse. Il est évident qu’au moment des faits, l’Algérie ne faisait pas la guerre au Maroc, pas plus que le MAK ne prenait les armes contre lui-même.     

Larbi Graïne https://i0.wp.com/www.oeil-maisondesjournalistes.fr/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/logo-rond-twitter.png?resize=36%2C36&ssl=1

Journaliste algérien établi en France

D’autres articles 

IRAQ. Abduction and disappearance: Powerful weapons to intimidate protests activists

On February 22, 2020, at around 8 p.m., the young protester “Muhammad Ali” (a pseudonym) was waiting alone near Kahramana square in central Baghdad, for a taxi to take him to New Baghdad in the south-east of the capital, where he will continue his way home on Palestine Street, but the vehicle he took moved him to another world that changed his life forever.

 

  •  Ahmed Hasan, Iraqi journalist resident at the MDJ (Maison des journalistes). Translated by Walaa Rayya

The cold and the darkness surrounded the place near the Chevrolet Car Company office, which is about several kilometers from Tahrir Square, the center of the popular protests when a white Kia car with four passengers in it stopped, they were unsuspicious. Muhammad slipped in it quickly as he exchanged greetings with them before silence prevailed.

A few minutes later, the car changed its way and was headed towards Abu Nawas Street on the Tigris River, when one of the passengers pointed his gun with a silencer placed under his jacket at Muhammad and said “Shut up if you want to live.” With these words, his kidnapping journey had begun and ended with a troubled life, isolation, paranoia, and great fear.

Muhammad (23 years) has been unemployed and was seeking work since graduating from the University of Baghdad’s Faculty of Political Science in the summer of 2019. Amid the wave of protests demanding reform in October 2019, he quickly became involved in supporting the protest movement and contributed to the establishment of the student sit-in tents on Saadoun Street leading to Tahrir Square. For months, he has worked passionately in fundraising to provide essential supplies of food, bedding, medicines, and face masks against deadly gas bombs.

“Hopes of ending corruption and reforming the political system were filling his soul before it all ended the moment he rode that white car that carried darkness into his world and turned his dreams into nightmares,” mentions one of his friends.

In early February 2020, after only four months of protests, the National Centre for Human Rights in Iraq reported the abduction of 72 people (22 of them was released.) , as well as 49 assassination attempts of 22 activists, journalists and bloggers. But the numbers escalated in the subsequent months.

Fadel al-Graoui, an OHCHR member, revealed, in early June 2021, what he termed the “numbers of missing persons,” and he said that all but 18 of the 76 disappeared persons have been identified.

Death alleys

With successive crackdowns of repression along with arrests and kidnappings, activists preferred not to ride in a car in areas near Al Tahrir Square that were known as “death alleys” and were turned into sites for masked gunmen who made it a field of abduction and murder away from the eyes of security agents and protesters.

Abbas, a twenty years old brown man and Tuk-tuk car owner, who for months has been transporting protesters from the protest center “Al Tahrir “ to the Kahramana square, says: “It was a necessary step for protection against targeting in Al Tahrir square, but armed groups linked to the power parties, for which the demonstrations were considered a danger, began to kidnap activists from Kahramana after tracking them carefully.”

During November and December 2019, at least 103 attempted killings and abductions took place in the streets of Al-Saadoun, Al-Nidal, and Abu Nawas, according to the testimony of 10 groups’ leaders, as well as the testimony of security agents of the Establishment Protection Service, which is responsible for inspecting those entering Tahrir Square.

For almost a year, the protesters, who were thousands in Tahrir Square or gathering around it, used to watch the death and fall of their comrades with live bullets, gas canisters, and sniping weapons. According to government numbers, more than 560 people were killed and over 20,000 were injured.

Identical abduction tales

On the night that Muhammad was kidnapped, Abbas had taken him on his bike with two of his companions (Wael and Maysara). In Kahramana, the three friends broke up, and Muhammad was alone for minutes, using his cell phone and waiting for a car to pick him up. Armed groups would have preferred “to hunt activists alone to facilitate their kidnapping with no witnesses,” Abbas says.

A year after his kidnapping, in a small room in the family home, Muhammad agreed to receive us with his father and sister and several preconditions: “No cameras, no phones, no recording devices.”

The young man kept looking at us for minutes as he tried to figure out our intentions while his father was talking about the difficult days they lived through then he said: ” That night they took me to an abandoned orchard in the Dawra area south of Baghdad, just near the oil refinery. They acted quietly, pulled my phone, and they did not blindfold me to pass through security checkpoints normally. At one checkpoint, they said they were affiliated with the National Security Service.”

“On the way, they told me that they were from the demonstrations room and they wanted to verify the sources of the funds that I collected to support the demonstrations, but after passing the presidential brigade checkpoint, at the exit of the “AL Tabikayen” bridge overlooking the presidential district, and before passing a crossroads leading to “Al-Zaafaraniya” and “ the new Baghdad”, they entered a dirt road that included a checkpoint in which two agents in military clothes stood next to a Toyota pickup, on which the flag of the Popular Mobilization was raised. The barrier was rapidly removed and the car was allowed to pass. After a few minutes, that seemed to me very long I was immersed in thinking about the fate that expected me. We ended up in an orchard.”

Muhammad says: “When we got there, the kidnappers beat me, and one of them grabbed my shirt and pulled me out of the car hard and I fell to the ground. There were four people with beards waiting for me while they were carrying batons. I woke up late at night and found myself locked in a small, windowless room with a filthy bathroom. The room was completely isolated, and I didn’t know when it was morning or night. The hours passed by slowly, interspersed with brief sessions of repeated questions, insults, and physical torture committed by men in their late thirties, all dressed in yellow shirts and green pants.”

Death threat, ransom, and conditional release

After eight days and no news about him, the security services that Muhammad’s family contacted had the same answer “Your son is not detained by us.” Muhammad’s father, who works as a government employee, received a message from the kidnappers via the Telegram application asking him to sign a white paper to prevent his son from participating in student sit-ins and collecting donations in exchange for his release and to not disclose to anyone any information about what he was exposed to.

Several days later, Muhammad came out, after a complicated release mechanism, which included the intervention of a Shiite cleric who lives in the Zaafaraniyah area, and act as a mediator between the families of the victims and the kidnappers and he received thousands of dollars in each operation.

We looked at the messages exchanged between Muhammad’s father and the mediator, in addition to voice calls and photos of the kidnapper with signs of torture on all parts of his body up to his face. The mediator received five thousand dollars in two payments. “Thank God my son survived and returned, but he became introverted. For weeks after his return, he refused to meet his friends and even his brothers.” Muhammad’s father says.

The protests stopped, but the kidnappings didn’t

At the peak of the demonstrations between October 2019 and January 2020, hundreds of activists were subjected to arrest, kidnapping and torture, and these attempts continued after the protests declined and stopped in some areas with the formation of the new government. Jaafar al-Khasib (a pseudonym), is one of the Basra activists, who preferred to change his name to avoid tracking him. In October 2020, he fled to Sulaymaniyah in Kurdistan Province and went to Turkey after a kidnapping attempt in central Basra, where he nearly lost his life.

The activist tells us the details of the kidnapping attempt: “It was in mid-September 2020, on Algeria Street, minutes after I left the house and while I was passing near a parked white Toyota pickup, I was surprised by a loud sound from its engine, I turned and saw someone pointing his gun at me. I was standing in front of one of the shops. Scared and without thinking, I entered the place screaming and jostling with the employees in it, while the sound of gunfire went up.”

“I was lucky because the shop had a back door overlooking a public street that I came out of and I went to a garage next door. I begged people to help me, one of them directed me into the bathrooms, I stayed there for about a quarter of an hour, I was almost paralyzed, and I didn’t know what to do, the death was stalking me. They told me then that the gunmen had fled after one of the workers had been shot in the left leg.” The activist says.

The group that chased Al-Khasib was composed of three persons. They were planning to kidnap him, not kill him.

Hours after the incident, the local police inspected the place and the home of al-Khasib family and conducted a formal investigation after the owner of the shop reported the incident. The activist submitted his statement to the investigating officer who blamed him for his participation in organizing the demonstrations and held him responsible for what happened.

“He also said that my family was suffering because of me, and he told me clearly that the police could not protect me and it will best for me to leave Basra quickly. Then he whispered in my ear a name of a well-known figure in Basra who has been pursuing activists and protesters.” He explains.

Homicide for treason

Throughout the months of documenting the kidnappings, activists informed us that between September and October 2020, many of them received information about the “intentions” of a specific group to execute activists in the demonstrations and that they had “fatwas” legalizing the murder of “traitors” working for America, Britain and the Gulf countries.

In the same period, journalists received information from security parties close to the Prime Minister’s office, that there is a list of about 70 names of journalists and activists threatened with death by armed groups close to the parties in power. The charges are “communicating with countries hostile to the resistance factions”.

Security services, which were unable to protect protesters from armed factions, “believe that the protests are a conspiracy to threaten their existence.” It seems that they preferred not to be a partner in the crime, so they leaked the names of activists and journalists who are threatened with kidnapping or murder.”

This information was leaked days after four of Basra’s most prominent activists were subjected to assassination attempts, Reham Yaqoub (she was murdered on August 19) and “Tahseen al-Shahmani” (he was murdered on August 14), while both Ludia Raymond and Abbas Subhi managed to escape.

291 assassination attempts

The kidnappings and assassinations that took place after the “October Movement” 2019 were not limited to Baghdad and Basra, but also included nine provinces, according to a document that mentioned the names and dates of the assassinations and showed that most of the operations took place between four o’clock and eleven in the evening and were carried out with a variety of machine guns, including silencer weapons.

n officer in the National Security Service who was contacted several times before agreeing to meet with us in a cafe in central Baghdad, said, on the condition that he not be identified, that the assassinations took place based on “an organized action carried out by an armed group that was operating under the watchful eye of the Ministry of Interior and with the support of Shiite political parties.”

The document counted 291 attempted murders directly or after the abduction, as a result, 80 activists and demonstrators were dead, 122 others were injured, and 89 survived without injury, in Baghdad, Babylon, Karbala, Najaf, Diwaniya, Muthanna, Nasiriyah, Missan, and Basra.

The special room

The officer reveals a “Protest Suppression Chamber” was formed under the chairmanship of Interior Minister Yassin Elyasri: “When the demonstrations intensified, they formed the Chamber to confront it, for them the demonstrations were an organized and funded operation to target the authority and the influential parties that have armed groups.”

He states further: “Its meetings included representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the Intelligence Service, officers in the National Security, the Popular Mobilization Forces, and influential actors of the partie.”

The officer in the National Security identified the party concerned with suppressing the demonstrators and prosecuting the activists: “We knew that there was a special operations room called the “Dealing with the Demonstrations” room. It seems that elements of it were planted within the riot police, and they were the ones who were throwing live bullets and tear gas bombs to kill and intimidate the demonstrators.”

This information intersects with statements by Yahya Rasoul, spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, about the involvement of elements of the Ministry of the Interior (the Forces of Order and Riot Control), in using live bullets and tear gas to kill demonstrators. He accused the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi of these crimes.

Nasiriyah: From a protest center to a kidnapping square

For more than a year, Nasiriyah remained the center of the largest protests in southern Iraq. Kidnapping and assassination attempts were taking place in it to force the participants to withdraw from it.

Activist Ali Mehdi Ajil, who was subjected to two assassination attempts, the first one was on 28 November 2020, says “I was driving to the town police station in Nasiriyah to release the protesters who were arrested following clashes as a result of the burning of sit-in tents in Al – Habubi Square. On Prophet Ibrahim Street, I saw a large motorcycle following me with three hooded men on board. I quickly headed to the hall intersection. I knew the bike was chasing me.

A few days earlier, masked men on a motorbike fired three bullets, also on Nabi Ibrahim Street, one of which hit the windshield of his car.

Ajil, who survived the two attempts, ruled out the involvement of the Sadrist movement’s “Saraya Al-Salam” in the attempts. He believed that an armed political party affected by the demonstrations “sought to take advantage of the dispute between the demonstrators and Saraya Al-Salam and carried out a campaign of assassinations to sow discord and push the demonstrators to accuse the Sadrists who attacked the sit-in square and burned the tents after Al-Sadr called for an end to the sit-ins.”

The story of disappeared Sajjad

About months after the spread of the Coronavirus, which affected the momentum of the demonstrations, but did not end the sit-ins in Baghdad and Nazareth in particular, and the formation of the new government, the demonstrations ended.

On September 19, 2020, the young activist Sajjad Al-Iraqi was kidnapped in Nasiriyah, and his fate is still unknown.

Hajji Basem Falih, who was with the Iraqi during the kidnapping attempt and became a witness to the operation, said: “We were five persons in the car, heading to visit a friend who was injured in the protests. We discovered that two cars were chasing us, so we stopped. Four armed men wearing masks got out and asked us to remain silent and not move And they asked Sajjad to come down and go with them.”

In a quick quarrel that happened during the kidnapping attempt, the witness recognized one of the kidnappers by his voice, Idris Al-Ibrahimi.

According to Hajji Basem, Idris Al-Ibrahimi is an important figure who belongs to the Badr Organization led by Hadi Al-Amiri. He is a Dhi Qar Governorate resident and works as an employee of the Prisoners and Martyrs Foundation. He was formerly a prominent fighter in the Popular Mobilization Forces.

The witness called Idris Al-Ibrahimi for help, by his nickname: “Haji Abu Zahraa, please leave Sajjad.”

That did not work, and Ibrahimi became irritated and told the witness to remain silent, he broke the side window of the car with his pistol, while another gunman, who was carrying a pistol with a silencer, forcibly dragged Sajjad from the back seat and put him in the kidnappers’ car before returning and shooting Hajji Bassem because he identified Ibrahimi, but he miraculously survived after being transferred to Nasiriyah Hospital for treatment for a severe injury.

The incident sparked a wave of outrage among activists and forced the government to force the Counter-terrorism Service to search for Sajjad, to release him, and arrest the kidnappers after unsuccessful attempts to communicate with parties to which the kidnappers belong, but it completely failed and Sajjad remained disappeared, while the security services kept secret the identities of the kidnappers and the details of the operation.

Sajjad’s mother says that she knows the actors involved in the kidnapping of her son, and they are affiliated with an influential party: “There is no investigation. The case has been neglected and put on hold, so there is nothing new and the security services did not inform us of anything. Rather, we are the ones who provide them with information. The kidnappers names are recognized. Four witnesses have conclusive evidence that a person was involved in snitching on Sajjad and he has disappeared after the incident.”

Nine months after the incident and dozens of promises made to Sajjad’s mother by senior officials, the mother does not hide her despair of knowing the fate of her son, “I don’t know if he is dead or alive, nothing is more difficult than that.”

Endless wait

For nearly a year, activists have been waiting for the results of a fact-finding committee to uncover those involved in the killing and kidnapping of protesters, and the investigation committees that were formed after each operation did not identify the persons or parties involved. It’s an endless waiting to forget the causes, as activists see.

With the silence of the government, voices emerged among protesters pointing fingers directly at power parties and armed factions associated with the Popular Mobilization Forces. They note that factional media – specifically Kataeb Hezbollah and Asaeb Ahl Hak – shared statements, comments, and writings that attacked the protests and questioned activists’ motives, accusing them of employment, treason and receiving money from abroad.

Stalking Activists’ Families

Many activist homes have been attacked with firearms and sound packets, like the house of activist Hussein Al – Ghrabi in Dhi Qar, while other have received threatening messages through their phones or contact with their relatives.

Activist Ali Mahdi Ajeel confirms that the armed groups do not hesitate to do anything to stop the protests. “They hung a hanging and bloodied baby doll on the door of my house. It was a clear message that they know me, they know my house and the children, and they can kill anyone if I don’t withdraw.”

Malik al-Tayeb, whose brother, a prominent activist in Diwaniyah, Thaer al-Tayeb, was assassinated in mid-December 2019, says: “A while ago, while I was my car returning from work, near Al-Hussein Hospital, a motorcycle driven by a masked person followed me and he asked me to stop. He asked me to drop the lawsuit about revealing my brother’s killers because that’s a enormous risk to my life. He said his words and sped off. I tried tracking him down, but he went into the narrow alleyways and disappeared. ”

Will the killers be held accountable?

Even after the arrest of several members of the “death gang” in Basra accused of carrying out a series of killings, including the assassination of journalist Ahmed Abd Al-Samad and his colleague, the photographer Safa Ghali in January 2020, prominent activists question the accountability of those involved and believe that impunity will continue to prevail.

But a member of the Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee and representative of Basra, Bader Al-Ziyadi, shows some hope, and sees that the arrests of some members of the “death gang” as “a message of reassurance to the people of Basra that the security services can arrest the criminals, even after a while.”

He didn’t hide the fact that some security commanders requested to move the accused from Basra to Baghdad “so that there will be no pressure on the security services and no change of testimony under any internal influence or outside interference”.

Al-Ziyadi, who expressed his hope that the investigations will show “more and greater results about the motives behind these assassinations, and the nature of their members’ affiliations,” says that “the Parliamentary Security Committee will open the file and obtain accurate information from the security services to solve the murders”.

Yahya Rasoul asked to give chance to the intelligence effort to complete the investigations.

The head of the Supreme Judicial Council and Al-Kazemi’s office also rejected the claim of Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s government that there was a “third party” involved: “This is fake information and has nothing to do with the truth. There are two parties, the security forces, and the demonstrators.”

In November 2019, the former Defense Minister, Najah Al-Shammari, announced the presence of a third party accused of killing protesters.

“We are fighting a losing battle”

Under a powerless government that has been infiltrated by political groups with armed wings, Tishreen movement activists are almost unanimous in the impossibility of holding those involved in the kidnappings and assassinations accountable, and they doubt that the results will lead to effective detentions and trials and they mentioned the failure of the agencies to arrest suspects living in Iraq, and others will get out and this will be justified by the absence of evidence.

A renowned journalist in Basra, who refused to answer our questions many times, before accepting on condition that nothing indicating his identity be revealed: “We do not speak because we fear death, we do not trust the security services, they are infiltrated and helpless, and the militias have the final say. They arrested a few people here who are just tools while all the Basra agencies were unable to arrest the head of the group who was present in Basra. . And who says that these persons will be tried, there is pressure, and we may wake up one day and hear about their release due to insufficient evidence or their escape! We are in a losing battle.”

The despair over the possibility of achieving change through the elections and holding the perpetrators accountable pushed the “National House”, one of the forces emanating from the Tishreen movement, to announce its withdrawal, along with other Tishreen forces, from participating in the elections. Hussein Al-Ghurabi, one of the founders of “National House”, says: “It is useless under the government’s inability in front of the power of the militias and their weapons… How can I compete with them while they have all the cards in their hands?”

Abdul Qahar al-Samarrai, a member of Parliament, agrees with activists’ opinions on the government’s failure to identify the culprits: “Replacing Abdul-Mahdi’s government with this government was useless.”

He adds: “what the demonstrators were hoping for was not done by this government, so they are more resentful today than yesterday… and the forces that operate outside the state are increasing the street tension.”

He further states that “restoring confidence to the angry people comes from revealing the identities of the criminals, and this is a priority for the government, otherwise it will be described as its predecessors.”

The disappeared son and the murdered father

On March 10, 2021, Jaseb Hattab Al-Heliji,  father of the kidnapped lawyer Ali Jasp, was assassinated in the city of Amar, Missan province, hours after his participation in the commemoration ceremony of the murder of t Abdul Quddus Qassem, a prominent activist in Missan.

Jaseb is an old man known for his participation in the March protests and his activity on social media, after the kidnapping of his son, who was a lawyer and a civic activist, on October 8, 2019, in front of the Al Rawi Mosque in central Amara. Since then, he has been disappeared.

According to a relative of Jaseb, he was killed in Al-Amara, Al-Fiqa’i Al-Khaid, after he paid his respect to the Abd Al-Kuddus family.

Hours later, the police announced that they had arrested the culprit, “Hussein Abbas,” and that the motive was a clan dispute. Meanwhile, the Supreme Judicial Council reported that “the accused stated in his confessions that the victim (who is his uncle’s husband) was accusing him of kidnapping his son, which led to disputes and he filed a complaint against him. The pressures he was subjected to prompt him to kill the victim.”

However, the Jaseb family seemed unconvinced and demanded to reveal the identity of the entity who pushed the perpetrator to commit the murder and the one behind the abduction of their son Ali.

For about a year and a half, Jaseb has been trying to raise the disappearance issue, he participated in protests, raised a picture of his kidnapped son and his orphaned grandchildren, and demanded to reveal the fate of his son.

“Despite evidence in telephone calls and text messages, persons accused of kidnapping have been called as witnesses, not as defendants,” said Jaseb in a video.

Jaseb’s wait to know the fate of his gone son ended with his death, but his two grandchildren will grow up in a circle of waiting and revenge without a father or grandfather, while Sajjad’s mother will burn her remaining days between the pain of losing him and the hope of seeing him. She says: “I want to know his fate, whether he is alive or dead. His burial place. We do not deserve all this torment.”

Ahmed Hassan. © Karzan Hameed. 2021.

Ahmed Hassan © Karzan Hameed. 2021.

Ahmed Hassan, journaliste irakien résident de la MDJ

Contact : ahm_198950@yahoo.com

D’autres articles sur l’Iran

La France en passe de lâcher le gouvernement de Brazzaville ?

Anatole Collinet Makosso

Une forte délégation gouvernementale du Congo-Brazzaville, conduite par son premier ministre, Anatole Collinet Makosso, arrive à Paris le 23 août pour faire la manche. Mais selon des observateurs avertis de la vie politique franco-congolaise, des nuages épais qui planeraient sur les deux pays, et d’autre part la crise socio-économique et sanitaire que traverse l’Occident, ne militent pas en faveur de cette délégation qui risque de percevoir au cours de son aumône moins de dividende que ce qu’elle espérait récolter.

Nonobstant leur hold-up électoral perpétré le 22 mars 2021 et les relations diplomatiques entretenues entre le Congo avec la Russie, la Chine, la Turquie, mais aussi les dons et legs reçus çà et là, M. Sassou et ses lieutenants n’arrivent toujours pas à sortir le Congo du gouffre. Ce pays traverse une période de récession sans pareil. Tous les indicateurs financiers sont au rouge. L’arrivée de la mission gouvernementale congolaise à Paris en France va-t-elle permettre de débloquer certains accords financiers remis aux calendes grecques depuis belle lurette ?

Pour « déblayer » le terrain, quelques lobbies et autorités politico-administratives congolais et des ministres Antoine Nicéphore Fylla Saint-Eudes et Thierry Lezin Moungalla, sont déjà à Paris. La tâche est difficile car, selon certaines indiscrétions, ces deux mousquetaires et autres sont en France non pas seulement pour prendre des contacts préliminaires avec les autorités françaises concernées par la mission du premier ministre congolais, mais aussi pour des soins médicaux. Si cette dernière thèse est vérifiée, il est normal que ces deux hommes politiques congolais s’y rendent, car, le Congo-Brazzaville est dépourvu des plateaux techniques médicaux complets.

Ces hommes politiques qui ont développé, depuis leur entrée au gouvernement, un penchant à se considérer comme le centre du monde, brillent par l’indifférence notoire vis-à-vis des difficultés et des souffrances auxquelles les populations sont confrontées avec beaucoup d’acuité. Ce n’est un secret pour personne. Ces nouveaux riches n’hésitent pas à faire main basse sur les fonds publics pour satisfaire leurs intérêts égoïstes. Pour se requinquer, ils sont admis dans les hôpitaux de renom d’Europe. Et souvent, leurs séjours médicaux répétés sont rendus possibles par l’argent du contribuable congolais.

Par ailleurs, les lobbies maçonniques, mais aussi d’affaires, qui devaient influencer certaines sphères de décisions grâce au congolo-zaïrois, Nick Fylla, sont en déroute depuis le départ du pouvoir de Nicolas Sarkozy, du Vénérable Très Grand Recessime Maitre Jean François Stifani y compris les rivalités fraternelles auxquelles des adeptes des loges sont exposés qui les caractérisent actuellement.

Il en est de même pour Thierry Lézin Moungalla et sa patronne, Claudia Lemboumba Sassou Nguesso, chargée de la communication et des relations publiques à la présidence de la République du Congo. Claudia Sassou-Nguesso et Lézin Moungalla n’ont pas pignon sur rue. Ils peinent à vendre l’image de leur pays, malgré les millions d’euros qu’ils sortent du trésor public congolais, et les manœuvres intempestives et maladroites de propagande qu’ils mettent en place pour redorer le blason terni de Sassou et du Congo à cause de certains problèmes qui fâchent. Ensuite, les deux communicateurs en chef de M.Sassou doivent solder le contentieux qu’ils ont créé, en refusant aux observateurs occidentaux et à certains journalistes, dont Florence Morice de RFI, d’avoir un œil sur déroulement de la présidentielle de mars 2021.

Ce scrutin a été purement et simplement, pour une énième fois, un hold-up électoral. Il a emporté, le même jour, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, challenger de Sassou Nguesso. La dépouille mortelle est toujours en dépôt à l’Institut médico-légal de Paris, depuis le 22 mars 2021 pour des recherches approfondies sur les causes de son décès. 

Du coup, les minimes chances de succès de cette délégation gouvernementale reposent désormais sur les épaules des ministres, Denis Christel Sassou NGuesso, soutenu par quelques membres du MEDEF, Roger Rigobert Andely, qui n’est pas trop pointé du doigt dans des scandales. Mais, les business français ont-ils vraiment oublié le scandale de 2010 concernant les détournements de fonds de la Banque des États de l’Afrique centrale et des obligations de la BSCA (Banque sino-congolaise pour l’Afrique), où il a été respectivement, vice-gouverneur et président du Conseil d’administration ?

Une nouvelle chance pour le Congo ?

Oui, la mission est difficile et délicate, mais, rien n’est impossible à celui qui croit. Certains hommes politiques congolais se disent confiants à l’issue heureuse des rencontres qui auront lieu. Un haut responsable du Quai d’Orsay qui s’est confié à nous, a exprimé également son optimisme quant à la réussite de la mission congolaise. Il avoue que la France, stratégiquement, n’a aucun intérêt à perdre le Congo, après les tensions qui ont été récemment observées en Centrafrique, au Mali, etc. En Afrique centrale, le Congo-Brazzaville est, économiquement, le 3ème client de la France avec un solde commercial excédentaire en 2020, estimé à 215 M euros. En sus, le patronat français qui est plus ou moins indépendant devrait donner une nouvelle chance au Congo, par le gouvernement Makosso, s’il s’engage à assainir le climat des affaires et à œuvrer pour la réduction des dépenses de prestige. D’ailleurs, le chef du gouvernement actuel qui est bien connu dans des milieux français, pour ses publications littéraires et scientifiques, mais aussi par ses différentes initiatives en faveur du rétablissement de la paix dans plusieurs pays, bénéficie donc d’une forte admiration.

Les institutions internationales, comme la Banque Mondiale, l’Unicef, l’Unesco, par exemple, qui l’ont accompagné pendant qu’il était ministre de l’Enseignement connaissent bien l’homme. « Pourvu que la lutte contre la corruption et la dilapidation des fonds publics soit une grande priorité pour son gouvernement, y compris l’éradication de la pandémie Covid-19 », a renchéri ce cadre du Quai d’Orsay.

Certes, Anatole Collinet Makosso est un homme de dialogue. Il voyage, constamment, dans des vols commerciaux, entre Pointe-Noire et Brazzaville, une manière pour lui de respecter, tant soit peu, la règle d’orthodoxie financière. Mais, tout homme sorti du moule de Sassou Nguesso est un potentiel danger. La preuve, voyons comment Collinet Makosso opérera sa transmutation. Restera-t-il comme le bois qui ne se transforme pas, même après un long séjour dans l’eau ? Laissons le temps au temps. Ses prédateurs sont en ordre de bataille, parce qu’ils souhaitent son échec. C’est un secret de polichinelle. Selon nos indiscrétions, ils se donnent déjà des tacles et militent pour faire échec à cette mission au MEDEF, auprès de l’État français et à l’union européenne.

Ghys Fortune BEMBA-DOMBE, journaliste congolais, ancien résident de la Maison des journalistes (MDJ). Auteur du livre “De l’Enfer à la Liberté” (2019)

 

D’autres articles sur l’Afrique