Amnesty International, the human rights organisation, claimed in London on Thursday (27 March) that at least eighteen young people have died in Bamako, the capital of Mali, during government attempts to crush student unrest.
SV INTERIOR Richard Reoch, Public Relations Officer of Amnesty International speaking in English, posters publicising organisation (6 shots)
TRANSCRIPT: REOCH: "Since November, that's to say the last five months, there has been an increasing confrontation between the students in Mali and the government. This has led to a position where hundreds of students and teachers have been arrested. There have been students bayoneted and shot to death in the streets, and now the government has admitted the death of the Secretary-General of the National Students Union in prison, and our information is that he was tortured to death."
REPORTER JOHN DARBY: "What do you base these reports on?"
REOCH: "Oh there is no doubt about the confrontation between the students and the governments in the country. This is well-known. Our information about the atrocities that have been inflicted on them comes from journalists, it comes from people inside Mali as well as travellers to the country, Mr Reoch speaking... and it has now been largely confirmed by an independent investigation carried out by the Paris newspaper 'La Monde'".
DARBY: "How long has this situation been going on and why?"
REOCH: "Well in November the government proposed certain changes in the school curriculum and also new examinations for entrance into the civil service. The students protested these and they also called for improvements in school canteens. The students protests were met with extraordinary brutality on the part of the police. For example, students who were arrested at that time had their heads shaved with bottles by the police. Subsequently large numbers of students, something in the region of a hundred, have been forcibly conscripted into the army and sent into northern regions of the country and we have reports of women students being raped before being tortured in prison as well as several fairly clear indications that at least two students have died under torture in prisons in Bamako".
REPORTER: JOHN DARBY
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Background: Amnesty International, the human rights organisation, claimed in London on Thursday (27 March) that at least eighteen young people have died in Bamako, the capital of Mali, during government attempts to crush student unrest. The organisation also quoted eyewitness accounts of police beating large numbers of youths in the streets of Bamako. Visnews reporter John Darby spoke to Mr Richard Reoch, the Public Relations Officer of Amnesty International, about the reports.