The Citizens' Caravan for Peace in Mali (*)

16.01.2013: Declaration of the Malian section of Afrique-Europe-Interact

Our initiative explicitly takes into account the facts that a military intervention will most likely claim even more civilian victims and that the present state of war in Mali must be feared to be a long-term situation. In this sense we are mainly concerned about the length of the military intervention, the strategies used for ending the crisis and the question of the parties involved in the search for the optimal solutions to the territorial unity of the country.

We have been advised to appreciate the military intervention against the jihadists installed in the North of Mali as the intervention has been seen as a security-political necessity to guarantee the survival of the population in the South of the country. But it is too simple to claim that “without the French intervention the islamic fundamentalists would have progressed into the Malian capital within two or three days” (**). Therefor our question is, which signal could be used to end the hostilities and which considerations could be made to include the Tuareg, who have also played a significant role in the outbreak of the current political and military crisis. Evidently the question of representation (of the Tuareg – note by the translator) is a crucial next step towards the restoration of normality in that part of the country. The present state is that the groups of islamic fundamentalists have left the towns which they had formerly occupied. Their logistics are said to have been destroyed but the military counteroffensive has so far already claimed victims among civilians. According to 'Human Rights Watch', on Saturday, January 12th ten people have died, among them three children.

“We want to warn that the rapes which we have to mourn in the occupied areas in the North of the country will most certainly multiply due to the deployment of several thousands of soldiers” and that all this will lead to a forced exodus, to even more refugees and displaced persons.

“We want to warn that the destruction of the socio-economic structure of this region and the food insecurity will most certainly increase under the impact of ongoing air strikes and ground fightings. In particular this will concern the already most vulnerable part of the population.”

“War is extreme violence against the civil population, among them women and children.” With this in mind it is necessary to make our movement sit up to face the Tuareg problem and to request the people to keep an eye on the possible emergence of a permanent state of war. We advocate the end of this permanent crisis with the voice of dialogue. We do this at a point in time when the armed forces of West Africa prepare their intervention and when the foreign intervention, welcomed by many, has followed rashly after the newest offensive of the islamic fundamentalists towards the South.

The role of the sovereign Malian army is to secure the territory, which means that the soldiers need enough weapons to support the population and bear their honorable responsibility.

The Caravan for Peace shares the common demand for the liberation of Mali and therefor wants to appeal to the Tuareg leaders and intellectuals to use this chance and take part in the solution of the crisis in the North. This message addresses our brothers, to appoint new leaders (apart from Ansar Dine and MNLA – note by the translator), who could represent the basic aspirations of the Tuareg people. The joint efforts can lead to a third way to maintain the integrity of Mali.

(*) In reaction to the beginning of the war the original name “White march”, which had aimed at the diplomatic endeavors, was changed into “The Citizens' Caravan for Peace in Mail” (“La Caravane Citoyenne pour la Paix au Mali”)

(**) The citations in this text are taken from discussions within the Malian section of Afrique-Europe-Interact. This method of generating text in a collective way is common in grassroots movements.