French “cities campaign” in support of reporter held hostage in Mali
On the initiative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 12 large and medium-sized French cities are going to join Paris in displaying huge photos of Olivier Dubois, a French journalist who has been held hostage by an armed group in Mali for the past six months.
The aim of this “cities campaign” is to show solidarity with Dubois, who is currently the only French citizen held hostage anywhere in the world. A correspondent for Libération, Le Point and Jeune Afrique, he was abducted while out reporting in the city of Gao, in northeastern Mali, on 8 April.
Following the City of Paris, which began displaying a large photo of Dubois over the entrance to the 10th arrondissement town hall in July, the city of Bayeux, in Normandy, unfurled a banner in support of this French journalist earlier this week. Bayeux was chosen to start this new campaign because it was the first French city to be liberated in 1944 and is currently hosting a week of events that accompany the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Award for war correspondents.
Eleven other cities – Marseille, Lyon, Nice, Nantes, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Rennes, Reims, Pau, Fort-de-France and La Rochelle – will follow suit tomorrow, six months to the day after Dubois was taken hostage.
“Mobilising all these cities across the country – including Marseille where part of Olivier’s family lives, and Fort-de-France in Martinique where he is from – sends a powerful message of support and solidarity with this journalist, who was taken hostage while doing his job,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We will continue to press tirelessly for Olivier to be freed so that he can go back to keeping us informed. And we take this opportunity to thank all those who are working for his release.”
In a short video released on social media on the night of 4 May, nearly a month after his abduction, Dubois was seen confirming that he had been abducted by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), a coalition of armed Islamist groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda. Neither his abductors nor the Malian or French authorities have provided any further news about him since then.
RSF organised an earlier show of support for Dubois in Place de la République in Paris on 8 June, the day he completed his second month in captivity. Those attending included six journalists who have been held hostage in the past – Philippe Rochot (in Lebanon in 1986), Jean-Jacques Le Garrec (Philippines in 2000), Georges Malbrunot (Iraq in 2004), Florence Aubenas (Iraq in 2005), Roméo Langlois (Colombia in 2012) and Edouard Elias (Syria in 2013 and 2014).
On 6 August, Dubois’ 47th birthday, RSF and the news media he works for posted a video message of support on social media.
Mali is ranked 99th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.