Today’s #m25fev combined protest in Nouakchott scored a massive moral victory over the violence and repression of the ruling military regime. Today was the second anniversary of the mass protest which took place ion Mauritania amid the chain of similar uprising across the Arab world that began in late 2010. Once again, crowds rallied in a piece of ground known as “the blocks”. This square is the symbolic home of contemporary protest in Mauritania, because it is a piece of prim real estate that belongs to the people, but which the Aziz regime sold off to private investors and state-owned operations in a series of opaque deals .
In one glorious act of peaceful but defiant protest to claim their rights, this assembly of youth from several different movements and political opposition groups demonstrated a vital fact for supporters, detractors, or the increasing army of observers: if Mauritania was being governed justly, the state would not resort to the level of aggression being handed out today against peaceful, unarmed protesters.
More than delivering undeniable proof of the regime’s precarious grip on power, and its own lack of self-confidence, what we witnessed was a historic moment for non-violent protest: after attacking the crowds with volleys of tear gas, sound grenades, batons and physical violence, and then dragging a dozen or so protesters to the confines of the local Security HQ for a beating, the police were forced to stand down, because the protesters stood their ground while retaining their dignified, peaceful, composure, even in the face of brutality.
The motto of the day is “right defeats might”.