Washington, D.C. — The work of independent journalists in Northern Mali has become increasingly dangerous.
On August 5th in the city of Gao, local reporter Malick Maiga, a regular contributor to VOA, was viciously beaten by armed men. The attackers burst into the studios of radio Adar Koima as Maiga was about to broadcast details of a demonstration that prevented Islamists from cutting off the hand of an alleged thief.
Maiga, one of the very few independent journalists still reporting from Northern Mali, was beaten with rifle butts and stomped on until he passed out.
The Voice of America condemns this vicious attack and urges an end to the targeting of journalists. The assault is another troubling sign of the lawlessness that has descended on Northern Mali.
Local residents, who heard the attack live on the radio, immediately banded together and went searching for Maiga, who was found unconscious in a cemetery and taken to a local hospital.
We applaud the local residents that came to the aid of Maiga, who has since courageously given an interview to VOA’s French to Africa Service from his hospital bed. In the interview, he describes how the attackers left him for dead, saying to each other, “he’ll never speak to VOA again.”
This is Maiga’s 3rd beating at the hands of Islamists in Gao, where he has continued to report on the situation since a March coup in Mali, which has triggered a humanitarian crisis and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of refugees.
In the first instance, Maiga was roughed up when Islamists arrived in Gao. He was then beaten for working with VOA French to Africa reporter Idrissa Fall, who did a series of reports from the region in July. During that attack, Maiga’s equipment and money were taken.
We join with the Committee to Protect Journalists and others who have condemned these brutal and senseless acts of violence. All of us at VOA honor and admire Malick Maiga and other independent reporters who risk their lives every day to provide factual information from troubled regions like Northern Mali.