By May Carolan, Communications Coordinator on Security and Human Rights Campaigns at Amnesty International,
Policemen came at 3am; their faces were hidden and they had a list. They were calling out names one by one on the list, and were asking the detainees to come with them. Nobody knew what was going on.
A prisoner at the central prison in Nouakchott
On the 23 May 2011, 14 men were abducted from their cells by military police at the central prison in Nouakchott, the capital city of Mauritania. All of them were convicted on charges related to terrorism and at least 6 of the men were tortured while in police custody before their abduction. None of them have been seen or heard from since; no one but their captors knows if they are dead or alive. If they are alive, there are major concerns for their safety.
Immediately after their disappearance, the families of the men contacted the authorities, desperately trying to get information about their whereabouts, but no response was given. Some of the mothers of the disappeared requested to meet with the Minister of Justice. A week after the men were abducted, the Minister of Justice agreed to receive only one relative, who would be allowed to speak on behalf of the others. Marieme Mint El Mostly, the sister of Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Sebty, was chosen by the other families to represent them. However, when she got there he refused to give her any information. Chillingly, on 8 June 2011, the prisoners’ personal effects, including books, mattresses, blankets and clothes were returned to their families with no further explanation.
In just two months it will be a year since the men disappeared. With your help we can make a lot happen in the next two months. We ask that you write a letter to Mauritania’s president, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, expressing your concern for the 14 abducted men. It may seem old fashioned, but letters sent from all around the world, can make the world of difference!
You can find out more about the case by watching the video or by reading the documents below. You can then write your own letter, or if you would rather we have a model letter that you can print out and sign. Whichever you decide, sending or faxing that letter could change the lives of these 14 men and give real hope to their families. Thank you.
General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania Secretary of the President
BP 184 Nouakchott
Fax +222 45 25 98 01