Human Rights Watch stated on Wednesday that Burkina Faso’s junta is intensifying its assault on dissent by notifying 12 journalists, civil society activists and opposition party members that they were required to participate in government security operations across the country.The interim military authorities in Burkina Faso claim that the conscription orders are justified under the “general mobilization” plan. This year-long plan was declared on April 13 this year by Captain Ibrahim Traore, Burkina’s transitional president who came to power in a coup, as a measure to combat increasing terrorism in the country and recapture 40 percent of the country’s territory, which is controlled by jihadists.The plan gives power to authorities to conscript people from the age of 18 if needed in the fight against jihadists.  It also aims to give the authorities “all necessary means” to counter a spate of violent acts that are attributed to fighters associated with the Islamic State (IS). The October 2022 coup in which Traore took power led to the removal of the then Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba after he allegedly failed to stem a jihadist insurgency.HRW’s senior Sahel researcher Ilaria Allegrozzi said:The Burkina Faso junta is using its emergency legislation to silence peaceful dissent and punish its critics … The government should not respond to the abusive Islamist armed groups with further human rights abuses but should instead strengthen efforts to protect civilians and uphold basic rights to freedom of expression and speech.Domestic civil society groups, such as the Burkinabe Movement of Human and Peoples’ Rights (MBDHP) have condemned this selective application of the mobilization on domestic civil society groups, media organizations and trade unions.  The “arbitrary” requisitions and “the harassment of citizens who have expressed opinions critical of the transitional authorities” were also attacked by the CGT-B, a significant multinational trade union.According to the figures released by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, five million people have been displaced and over 17,000 civilians and military personnel have died as a result of the Islamist insurgency that sprang out of neighbouring Mali in 2015 and is currently raging in Burkina Faso.

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