Reporters Without Borders rallies former hostages in Paris, following the kidnapping of journalist Olivier Dubois.
Two months to the day after the French journalist was seized in Mali, RSF held a support demonstration in Paris while another one was organised in Bamako. The 8 June rallies were a message of hope for Dubois. Those present included members of the media organisations he works for, and many ex-hostage journalists who came to show their solidarity.
Dubois was kidnapped on 8 April while on a reporting trip in Gao, in northern Mali. He remains in the hands of an armed group. RSF organised a major rally, held at the Place de la République in Paris, attended by representatives of Libération, Le Point and Jeune Afrique, the publications Dubois works for. Marc de Boni, spokesman for his support committee, was among friends and family who were present, along with ex-hostage journalists: Florence Aubenas, Philippe Rochot, Jean-Jacques Le Garrec, George Malbrunot, Edouard Elias and Roméo Langlois.
“This rally is a message of hope to Olivier Dubois: Hold on, you’re going to get out. French journalists who have been held hostage are here to prove that. Any day now, as soon as possible, you will return to work, you will be reporting again, like all the men and women here,” said RSF General Secretary Christophe Deloire. “This demonstration, organised jointly in Paris and Bamako, makes clear that RSF and Olivier Dubois’ supporters will ensure that all measures are taken to obtain his freedom.”
Florence Aubenas of Le Monde, who was held hostage in Iraq in 2005, said, “We know what it is like to be in the hands of people who hold the power of life or death over you. But we know that you will come back, that soon you will be with us at this site.”
At the same time, in Bamako, the journalist’s support committee gathered several dozen persons at the Maison de la Presse agency. Those present included Dubois’ friends and family. Dubois, who has lived in Mali for many years, went missing during a trip to conduct a scheduled interview with Abdallah Ag Albakaye, a lieutenant in the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a coalition of armed groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda. The journalist was not seen until he appeared in a 21 second video released on 5 May, in which he confirmed that he had been kidnapped by the group.
Mali is ranked 99th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.