The Social Revolutions
Mali had begun its growth economically, politically, and internationally into one of Africa’s leading powers. Yet socially, Mali hadn’t advanced at nearly the same pace as other nations around the world. While the caste system had been officially abolished many people still found themselves in the same profession as their parents, many youths remained frustrated and disgruntled with the lack of liberation from social normality, and women faced much discrimination.
The Malian Women’s Organization would be founded in 1960 to push Women’s Rights within Mali. Various marches, protests, and even violence would lead to one major violent clash between protestors, counter protestors, and police would lead to over 100 deaths, and thousands injured. The event would be infamously known as the Bamako Bloodbath of 1982, and the dead martyred. The entirety of 1982 known as the Year of Reactionaries would leave hundreds of women dead, and even for the conservative cause the murder of women, would be considered too much and they would begin to fall back on their protests and demands. This would make the eventual transition and creation of protections by the government easier.
Homosexuality would be a different issue entirely. From the 70’s, Malian knowledge and consciousness of homosexuals really came from ethnic tribes, and events in their allies in America. Out of fear of events like Stonewall in America, different police groups or vigilantes would launch raids on secret gay areas, and meeting spots, with many being brutally killed or attacked. In 1980, Sankara would recognize the aids epidemic being one of the first African leaders to do so. This would; however, have the unintended effects of increased attacks on gays who were blamed for causing “Gods Wrath”. 1982, would once again see increased attacks and violence, the entire year being known as the Year of Reactionaries.
The rights of the disabled in Mali was one of the biggest issue the nation faced. The disabled often were discriminated against or killed forming an underclass within Mali. In a society and culture that had been starting to be built and shaped into emphasizing work, those who were unable or fell behind faced harsh social and economic pressures with many falling into economic poverty. During the Year of Reactionaries multiple hospitals or poor shelters would be attacked with many of homeless, old, or disabled residents beaten or even killed.
The Elderly and Homeless had formed another class of impoverished people within Mali. Called No Collars, like the disabled they would face systematic persecution as the new social classes which were based upon occupation heavily attacked those who were considered lazy, or infirm. During the Year of Reactionaries, homeless shelters would be attacked, and many elderly people harassed by angry middle aged reactionary groups, who had grown tired of taking orders from, minding, and paying for homeless and elderly members of society.
Prostitutes would also face attacks during this period. Mali would have numerous sex workers especially in the major cities of Mali, and mining towns. With the growing aids crisis, retribution attacks upon prostitutes became incredibly common with numerous vigilante groups attacking and burning secret brothels.
As the Year of Reactionary (1982-1983) raged throughout the nation, the Federal Council would know it needed to act. Sankara as Chairman would order the ISB to begin infiltration and bringing down of larger reactionary groups. This included the Group for Social Renewal, Traditional League, and Fundamentalist Front. The ISB and National Gendarmerie would cooperate and have their own members climb higher and higher within the ranks of these groups becoming more well known and meeting leaders of the various organizations. They would organize raids upon these groups leading to numerous high profile arrests of group leaders during the 1986 period.
While their groups would be severely weakened these reactionaries would surge and attempt The Second and Third Year of Reactionaries (1987-1988) and 1989-1990) respectively. This would be in response to high profile arrests, and new laws passed by the Federal Council. To the groups surprise they were quashed by Police (who had been brought to heel by state pressure), state militias, and even large bands of young protestors and paramilitary groups.
With immense social-political pressure these groups began to collapse, less radical members returned to normal life, while hardcore members found their leaders arrested, and their political leverage stunted. These events had a profound affect on Mali, even social conservatives, and apathetic moderates became more positive towards reform, and young people had become radicalized and energized having seen themselves as carrying out a Third Revolution against capitalist social norms.
In 1987, Thomas Sankara with threats, wrangling, and favors being provided was able to secure enough votes to change the Malian Constitution. While the council was forbidden from abolishing the constitution or removing parts of it (this was done to protect economic socialism) they could; however, add amendments as long as it did not contradict anything in the constitution. This amendment would be officially called, The Universal Declaration of Rights and Protections. It would also be more colloquially be called the Sankara Amendment.
Provisions of the Amendment:
Section 1: Duties of the State
•Hereby this amendment is a cornerstone of democracy in Mali. It enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
•The state must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Amendment.
•The rights in the Amendment are subject to the limitations contained or referred elsewhere in the Amendment.
Article 2: Application
•The amendment applies to all law, and binds the legislature, the economic, the executive, the judiciary and all organs of state.
•A provision of the Amendment binds a natural or a juristic person if, and to the extent that, it is applicable, taking into account the nature of the right and the nature of any duty imposed by the right.
Article 3: Equality
•Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
•Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. To promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken.
•The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
Article 4: Marriage and Civil Unions
•Marriage is defined as between by whichever temple, church, or mosque providing the marriage.
•For those who are homosexual or heterosexuals not conforming to a certain religion they may be allowed to obtain a civil union, unless they find a church, temple, or mosque that will provide them a marriage. Such civil unions which may be applied for by homosexual or heterosexual are thus granted the full protections and benefits as marriage.
Article 5: Dignity
•Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.
•Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.
•All work is subject to dignity of labor. All jobs are important and valued in society in their own way. Discrimination against some workers for their employment is strictly prohibited.
Article 6: Life and Death
•Every law abiding, and upstanding citizen deserves and shall be provided the right to life.
•Those who take another’s life unjustly or commit another heinous crime, their life’s may be deprived, up until the point of their release, whether that be through death or release from prison.
•In matters of abortion, women may not have an abortion unless sufficient danger is posed to women’s well being, this including loss of her life, economic ruin or mental collapse.
Article 7: Security
•Everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right –
(a) not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just cause;
(b) not to be detained without trial or warrant
(c) to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources; without just cause
(d) not to be tortured in any way; and
(e) not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.
•Everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right –
(a) to make decisions concerning reproduction;
(b) to security in and control over their body; and
(c) not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without their informed consent.
Article 8: Slavery
•No one may be subjected to slavery
•Those imprisoned may be subject to forms of hard labor.
Article 9: Privacy
•Everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have –
(a) their person or home searched;
(b) their property searched;
(c) their possessions seized; or
(d) the fruits of their labor seized.
Article 10: Freedom of religion, belief and opinion
•Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.
•Religious observances may be conducted at state or state-aided institutions, provided that –
(a) those observances follow rules made by the appropriate public authorities;
(b) they are conducted on an equitable basis; and
(c) attendance at them is free and voluntary.
•This section does not prevent legislation recognising –
(a) Marriages concluded under any tradition, or a system of religious, personal or family law; or
(b) Systems of personal and family law under any tradition, or adhered to by persons professing a particular religion.
(c) Recognition in terms of paragraph must be consistent with this section and the other provisions of the Constitution.
Article 11: Freedom of expression
•Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes –
(a) freedom of the press and other media;
(b) freedom to receive or impart information or ideas;
(c) freedom of artistic creativity; and
(d) academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.
•The right in subsection does not extend to –
(a) propaganda for war;
(b) incitement of imminent violence; or
(c) advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.
Article 12: Assembly, demonstration, Picket and Petition
•Everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions.
•Everyone may also strike when they desire to.
Article 13: Freedom of association
•Everyone has the right to freedom of association.
Article 14: Political rights
•Every worker is free to make political choices, which includes the right –
(a) to participate in the activities of, or recruit members for, a council position and
(b) to campaign for a council position or cause.
(c) Every citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution.
•Every worker has the right –
(a) to vote in elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution, and to do so in secret; and
(b) to stand for public office and, if elected, to hold office.
Article 15: Citizenship
•No citizen may be deprived of citizenship
Article 16: Freedom of movement and residence
•Everyone has the right to freedom of movement.
•Everyone has the right to leave the Republic.
•Every citizen has the right to enter, to remain in and to reside anywhere in, the Republic.
•Every citizen has the right to a passport.
Article 17: Discrimination Protections
•Every minority is protected from persecution whether legal, social, economic, or political.
Politically, Sankara would take massive hits from the so-called social revolutions, Three Year of the Reactionaries, and passing equality legislation.
In 1990 especially Sankara would nearly lose his seat as Chairman, only winning by 251-249. He would; however, not be finished and would prepare executive enforcement of his new equality laws.
Police reforms, ISB and National Gendarmerie expansion, plus increasing social access to lawyers, and lobbyists on their behalf would help Malians such as women or other minorities access new opportunities for legal defense.
Afterthought: Howdy another two days and another post. This one is covering the winding down period of Sankara’s chairmanship. His popularity waning a bit as his reforms are unlikely to be felt until years for now. He’ll retire in the year 2000 from politics, having irrevocably shaped politics in Mali for better or for worse.