Burkina Faso — HRW Finds Mass Grave, Union Strikes

  • Human Rights Watch says there is evidence that they were victims of extrajudicial killings by the military. 
  • Defense Minister Moumina Cheriff said the murders may have been committed by jihadist groups who used stolen military uniforms and equipment.
  • The Trade Union Coalition launched yesterday a 48-hour strike against the application of the single tax on wages and salaries.

The remains of at least 180 men were found in mass graves in northern Burkina Faso, according to a Human Rights Watch report. The graves were found in an area where government forces are fighting a jihadist insurgency. The men were buried near the city of Djibo.

Nusrat al-Islam, officially known as Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin’ (JNIM), is a militant jihadist organisation in the Maghreb and West Africa formed by the merger of Ansar Dine, the Macina Liberation Front, Al-Mourabitoun and the Saharan branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. It is the official branch of Al-Qaeda in Mali, after its leaders swore allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The were found under bridges, in fields, and along the main roads in groups of up to 20 people. Human Rights Watch says there is evidence that they were victims of extrajudicial killings by the military.  The NGO is asking the government to find out who transformed the region into what it calls the “killing field.”

Government Says it will Investigate Allegations

The Burkinabe government has told HRW that it will investigate the charges. Defense Minister Moumina Cheriff said the murders may have been committed by jihadist groups who used stolen military uniforms and equipment. “It is difficult for the population to distinguish between armed terrorist groups and the defense and security forces,” said the defense minister.

Burkina Faso has been struggling since 2017 with jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, and nearly a million people displaced by the conflict, which also affects neighboring Niger and Mali.

NGOs criticize the government for being lax about past alleged human rights abuses, despite promises by the authorities to investigate and try those responsible.

Trade Union Strike

General Confederation of Labour of Burkina (CGT-B) is a revolutionary national trade union centre in Burkina Faso. At several times, CGTB and its leaders has been subject to harassment and threats.

The General Confederation of Labour of Burkina (CGT-B) launched a 48-hour strike yesterday against the application of the single tax on wages and salaries (IUTS) on public officials’ premiums and allowances. The reasons given for the strike were the fight against the decline in purchasing power, for freedoms and good governance.

Sidwaya made the observation in some public administration departments in Ouagadougou. Announced since July 4, the two-day strike of the CGT-B began yesterday. Since the application of the IUTS in early 2020, the unions had announced never to lower their guard.

The observation that emerges on the first day in public administration in Ouagadougou suggests a strike certainly followed, but with a minimum service guaranteed. The proof, in certain health establishments like the Yalgado Ouédraogo hospital and the Bogodogo university hospital center, the Sidwaya team found emergency services (medical emergency, trauma, visceral, etc.) in full operation.

When we pass through these places, the nursing staff are on the move and the traditional emergency broom (ambulance) is effective. In these two large hospitals in the capital, the administration works. The same reality was observed also at the level of “La Poste Burkina Faso.” In this state-owned company, of which the union is a signatory to the coalition’s demand platform, service is provided.

One of the heads of the main revenue agency, Jean Robert Tapsoba, claims to have found no absence in his section. “All our counters are open and the various agents are at their posts. Only the staff holding administrative leave is missing,” he said. In the Treasury premises, the team observed a “shy” service.

Of the ten ticket offices on the ground floor, only four remained open. They receive and process users’ files. The twenty minutes spent in front of the counters made it possible to say that the agents present gave their best. However, most of the services which used to be busy have remained closed. These include the post offices selling stamps and registering certain contracts.

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George Mtimba

George clarifies how the news is changing the world, how world news trends affect you. Also, George is a professional journalist, a freelance news reporter and writer who is passionate with current world news.

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