Burkina Faso Suspends BBC, VAO After Broadcasting Alarming Human Rights Report

Burkina Faso Suspends BBC, VAO After Broadcasting Alarming Human Rights Report

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

Burkinabe authorities on Thursday suspended the Voice of America and BBC Africa after the media outlets broadcast a Human Rights Watch report that accused military personnel in the West African nation of killing 223 civilians.

The junta-led nation says the media outlets will be suspended for two weeks. For more, VOA’s Linord Moudou spoke to Sadibou Marong, the Head of Reporters Sans Frontières’ Sub-Saharan Africa Office.

The country’s Superior Council for Communication (known by its French acronym CSC) announced late on Thursday that “the programmes of these two international radio networks broadcasting from Ouagadougou have been suspended for a period of two weeks”, adding that BBC Africa and the United States-funded VOA had also published the report on their digital platforms.

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HRW’s report contains “peremptory and tendentious” declarations against the army likely to create public disorder, CSC claimed, adding that it had “hasty and biased declarations without tangible proof against the Burkinabe army”.

It said that the country’s internet service providers had been ordered to suspend access to the websites and other digital platforms of the BBC, VOA and HRW from Burkina Faso.

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Burkina Faso’s communication spokeswoman, Tonssira Myrian Corine Sanou, warned other media networks to avoid reporting on the story.

“VOA stands by its reporting about Burkina Faso and intends to continue to fully and fairly cover activities in the country,” the network said in a news article reporting on its suspension.

HRW said the “massacre” appeared to be part of a “widespread military campaign” against civilians accused of collaborating with armed groups.

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Soldiers killed at least 44 people, including 20 children, in Nondin village, and 179 people, including 36 children, in nearby Soro village, according to its report.

HRW interviewed dozens of witnesses between February and March and analysed videos and photographs shared by survivors. It also reportedly obtained lists of the victims’ names compiled by survivors and geolocated eight mass graves based on satellite imagery from March 15.

Last year, Burkinabe authorities suspended French TV outlets LCI and France24 as well as Radio France Internationale and the magazine Jeune Afrique. The correspondents of French newspapers Liberation and Le Monde have also been expelled.

The West African country is run by a military government led by Captain Ibrahim Traore who seized power in a coup in September 2022, eight months after an earlier military coup had overthrown the democratically elected President Roch Marc Kabore.

Civilians have been caught in the crossfire as violence has escalated between the army and armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS). The country’s military leaders have cut ties with former colonial ruler France and turned to Russia for security support.

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