Violent Repression Claims Lives in Southeastern Senegal as Protests Erupt

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The municipality of Khossanto in southeastern Senegal experienced a gradual restoration of calm on the morning of September 12th, 2023, after security forces violently cracked down on a protest the previous day, resulting in two fatalities and eight gunshot injuries. Young residents organized the demonstration in response to a recent prefectural decree that had altered the recruitment process for local personnel by mining companies operating in the region. In light of these events, various human rights organizations are now urging an independent investigation.

At the heart of the discontent in Khossanto, situated in the southeastern part of Senegal, lies a prefectural decree aimed at modifying the recruitment process for unskilled laborers by mining companies in the area. In essence, the decree shifted the responsibility for selecting such personnel from a commission composed of village chiefs and local authorities to the prefect himself. This decision raised concerns of potential nepotism and favoritism in the allocation of positions that are traditionally reserved for individuals affected by gold mining activities in the region.

These positions represent several thousand jobs, a critical factor in a municipality with a population of over 13,000 residents.

On September 11th, roads were barricaded, and tires were set ablaze in protest. According to multiple eyewitnesses, the gendarmerie responded with live ammunition, resulting in two fatalities and eight gunshot injuries. Those injured are still hospitalized as of this morning.

Subsequently, the contentious decree was suspended. At midday, the Minister of the Interior and Mines was expected to arrive for an emergency meeting at the site of the protests.

Several human rights organizations, including the Senegalese League of Human Rights, AfrikaJom Center, and the African Meeting for the Defense of Human Rights (Raddho), are demanding an independent and impartial investigation. Amnesty International’s Seydi Gassama emphasized that it is unacceptable for a protest to be met with live gunfire, underscoring the need for accountability in such incidents.

Soukaina Sghir

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