Mali is well-known as a country, where the different ethnic groups peacefully live together. There have been the incidental Tuareg uprisings in the past, but with the latest peace pact that seemed to have come to an end.
Seemed to, since on January 17th a new rebellion started. And it is all a bit different than previous times. Tuareg rebels returned from Lybia after the fall of the Muammar Khadaffi late 2011. They not just came straight from a war, they came also very well trained and well equipped.
Armed till the teeth and with the war energy still running through their veins, a new rebellion was started. The MNLA – Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad – was founded in October 2011, it being absolutely clear about their goal: autonomy for Azawad.
Azawad is a desert area in the North of Mali, inhabited not only by Tuaregs though, but also by several other ethnic groups such as the Fulani and Sonrhai.
Not only does the Azawad area cover quite a part of the Malian country, it is also suspected to be rich in oil. Regardless of the possible mineral sources, it is hard to imagine that the Malian government and population will agree to splitting the country in two.
However in a way the country is already torn apart. More than one Malian has stated to me over the past few months that all Tuaregs are rebels and that it would be best if they would all be killed, making an end to the rebellions once and for all.
The death of many a Malian soldier has lead to protests and demonstrations by mothers and wives of those wearing uniforms. Some people have grabbed the opportunity to vent their rage plundering shops owned by Tuaregs, burning down their houses and some have even gone as far as molesting them.
Disappointment towards the president and government, hunger and poverty due to the lack of rains, crop and tourists may all be underneath the anger. But, even if they are, they may never be used as an excuse to harm someone. If someone treats you or a loved one bad, it doesn’t give you the right to do the same.
However when the days are filled with worries and the well-being of your family is at stake, reason and tolerance seem to fade away…