Between 27 and 31 March 2022, the Malian armed forces and Wagner Group soldiers allegedly committed a massacre of civilians in the village of Moura located in Djenné Circle in Mopti region during a military operation against Islamist rebels in the area. According to reports, hundreds of civilians were executed and a number of women were victims of sexual violence. Most victims were from the pastoralists Peuhl and Fulani ethnic groups who had lived in fear following a quasi-control of Islamist fighters linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). This report analyses how the event is being commented about by social media users with an IP address in Mali.
Number of social media posts originating in Mali on Twitter and Facebook containing the word ‘Moura’ between 27 March and 14 April 2022.
Background to social media posts
Discussions on social media regarding a military operation in Moura against Islamist rebels picked up following a press release by the Malian military on 01 April. The following day, on 2 April, a few local newspaper social media accounts reported on the press release, mostly framing it as a successful military operation against Islamist rebels. At the same time, a social media account with a wide following shared a Le Monde article published on 2 April consisting of witness accounts of the massacre. Public attention increased further after 5 April when Human Rights Watch published an article that detailed the violence and the Malian military issued a press release that denied the ’unfounded’ allegations.
Social media users with IP addresses in Mali did not use facebook or twitter to share evidence about the massacre. There were only a few voices on social media with direct connections to the victims. No posts mentioned incidents of sexual violence during the massacre, as had been reported elsewhere.
Many social media posts were written in relative eloquent language using full sentences and a varied choice of vocabulary. On social media, the massacre in Moura was mainly discussed in relation to its ‘strategic significance’. Few posts expressed shock or sadness. Opinions were not generally shared through single words or the use of emojis.