Proteste gegen rassistische Polizeigewalt in Mauretanien
Mauritanian police officers have been accused of “behaving like American police” after kneeling on the neck of a Black man, the same restraint technique that led to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
An image of two policemen pinning the man to the ground circulated over the weekend, prompting an outcry against racism and police brutality in the majority-Black country dominated by an Arab-Berber elite.
Mauritanian activists told Middle East Eye that the incident was a sign that the West African country still had “a lot of work to do before Black lives matter”, echoing the name of the protest movement highlighting racism in the US and worldwide.
According to eyewitnesses, officers arrived at around 11am on Saturday to a street close to the Sixieme (sixth) neighbourhood in the capital Nouakchott to make an arrest. A photo taken by a passerby soon after shows a crowd of people watching as two police officers in fatigues restrain a man lying prostrate on the edge of the road.
One officer is kneeling on the man’s shoulder, while the other is kneeling on his neck, reminiscent of the hold that led to the death of Floyd on 25 May that sparked huge and continuous protests in the United States and several other countries.
Abdoulaye Sow, from the US-based Mauritanian Network for Human Rights, said that image was a “powerful” reminder of racism in the country. (...)
Black Mauritanians have continually campaigned against institutional racism in a country where tens of thousands of still languish in what the United Nations describes as “de facto slavery”.
A 2009 report by the UN found that the society has been “deeply marked by continuing discriminatory practices of an ethnic nature… pervasively present in social structures, the principal institutions of the state, in particular the armed forces and justice system, and attitudes”.