The winner of the Burkina Faso Prize promises to continue to defend rights

УАГАДУГУ – For Daoud Dial, the threat of death is constant in the conflict-ridden Burkina Faso.

The 39-year-old, one of the country’s most outspoken human rights activists, has documented more than 1,000 extrajudicial killings by security forces and jihadists since Islamic extremists launched a violent campaign in the country six years ago.

And it made him a lot of enemies.

“We condemn the army, jihadists and local defense fighters,” Dialla told the Associated Press. “That’s why all the armed actors are a danger to me.”

Diallo said he was regularly monitored, his home robbed, and he rarely sleeps in the same place for fear of being killed. Wiping tears from his cheeks, he said it was hard for him, his wife and their three-year-old daughter.

Violence linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has intensified in the once-peaceful West African country, killing nearly twice as many in 2021 and 2020 as in 2019 and 2018. Efforts to control violence by the military and others, according to human rights groups, have seen an increase in abuses against civilians.

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In this difficult situation, Diallo’s work on documenting human rights abuses and protections in Burkina Faso has received international recognition for the Martin Enals Prize, awarded each year by a consortium of 10 international human rights groups.

“Daoud Diallo has investigated and reported serious human rights violations in Burkina Faso, despite threats, in an incredibly risky context,” said Friedhelm Weinberg, one of the jury members and executive director of human rights information and documentation systems. in Geneva. -organization on the basis.

“This award is an invitation to fight harder, to be more serious and more rigorous in our work,” Diallo said. “Burkina Faso is honored and it is a victory for me as a human rights activist and for my colleagues who work with me day and night.”

The previous Burkina Faso government was accused of allowing its military to commit widespread abuses. Now, after last month’s coup, the military directly controls. Although the country new president Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaoga Damiba promises that his ruling junta will respect human rights, he did not specify what steps will be taken to investigate allegations of abuse.

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The pharmacist, who became an activist, in 2019 founded a local human rights group “Collective against impunity and stigmatization of communities.”

Dial has been fighting for the rights of ordinary people for many years, starting as a student leader at the university and then working in a local advocacy group. He said nothing matched the seriousness of the threats he had faced in recent years. For months, photos of him circulated in chat groups of local defense militias – fighters recruited by the government to fight alongside the army – condemning him as an obstacle to fighting extremism and saying he was an accomplice to jihadists and should be arrested or killed, he said. .

The Diyalo organization documents atrocities from all sides, but he said state security forces are among the biggest abusers.

“Soldiers who have to protect the population often threaten the lives of civilians, and this is of great concern to us as human rights defenders,” he said.

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Burkina Faso security forces are trying to stop the jihadist uprising, which has killed thousands and displaced 1.5 million people, and human rights organizations and civilians have accused them of atrocities.

In January, 22 people were allegedly killed and six abducted during government ground and air strikes in the village of Yatakov in the province of Seno Sahel, the village chairman Abdul Qadri Usman told the AP by telephone. Those who saw the killings told Usman that people in military uniforms on motorcycles, cars and planes were killing people, he said. “The military must stop confusing civilians and terrorists,” Usman said.

The AP cannot verify the charges on its own.

A Burkina Faso army spokesman, who was not authorized to give his name, did not respond to specific allegations, but said the AP investigation was launched by the military and that respect for human rights has always been a concern for security forces, including their training. He said it was important to note that none of the accusations had been proven.

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The junta dissolved parliament and the judiciary, leaving several institutions to protect basic civil rights.

“Continued abuses by all parties, including illegal killings, abductions and rapes, highlight the crucial importance of independent and credible voices for monitoring, documenting and reporting on them as the conflict spreads and ruins more and more lives,” Corinne said. West Africa Director of Human Rights Watch.

Diallo promises to continue his work.

“Burkina Faso is going through very difficult times. He is going through a crisis and he is being attacked, ”Diallo said. “I invite all Burkina Faso, all partners and friends of Burkina Faso to support (human rights activists) in their efforts to protect the civilian population. I dream that together we will build a peaceful and prosperous country that respects human rights and dignity. “

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