Montréal, May 16, 2007 – The Coordinator of the highly successful International Justice for Sankara Campaign has received 4 death threats in the last 6 months. The most recent one—phoned in to his home last week—has grabbed the attention of fellow activists and the wider community, and has prompted police action.

 Aziz Fall is the coordinator of a campaign to pressure the government of Burkina Faso to investigate the assassination of its former president, Thomas Sankara, who ruled the West African nation from 1984 to 1987. Heralded around the world as a proponent of daring and profound change in Burkina Faso, and across Africa, Sankara’s brief but remarkably effective presidency was brought to an abrupt end by an assassin’s bullet on October 15, 1987. A dozen members of his government were killed by his side.

 Their deaths prompted an international outcry, but were never investigated. Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara, and his two sons never abandoned their call to the international community to take action to bring his assassins to justice. Ten years ago, the Group for Research and Initiative for the Liberation of Africa (GRILA) answered that call by creating an international team of 22 lawyers to put together a case for a full investigation of the murder. Much of the legal research and drafting were spearheaded by Québec lawyers, under Mr. Fall’s coordination.

 The current government of Burkina Faso, under the presidency of Blaise Compaoré, along with a highly compromised judicial system, blocked all efforts by the Campaign to bring the case to court. After exhausting all possible legal recourse within the country, the Campaign brought the case before United Nations Human Rights Committee.

 Just over one year ago, the UN Human Rights Committee ruled in favour of the International Justice for Sankara Campaign, and demanded that the government of Burkina Faso take action to shed light on the circumstances of Sankara’s death.


 While the government of Burkina Faso has been required to respond to UN queries about Sankara’s death, it has also moved swiftly to muzzle its critics through intimidation.

 On April 28, 2007, Sama K, a well-known and popular radio host in Burkina Faso, received death threats for his celebration of Sankara’s legacy, on the eve of the UN’s final decision and of the 20th anniversary of the leader’s death. (See It should be noted that both Aziz Fall and Sama K are on the guest list to attend international 20th anniversary proceedings.

 In December 2006, Mr. Fall received the first of three letters (the others were received in January and March 2007), ordering him to cease his activities. More ominously, on Tuesday, May 8th, 2007, Mr. Fall—a father of three—received a phone call targeting both him and his family. Someone has also attempted to force entry into his home.

 Montréal police and the RCMP have been apprised of the situation. However, Mr. Fall and his family are still awaiting a clear answer from federal and provincial authorities as to who will take responsibility for their protection and the investigation.  Hopefully the lives of these Canadian citizens—regardless of their colour or national origin—will receive the full protection that is their due in this country.

 Silencing human rights activists by intimidation cannot be tolerated.  All necessary resources must be mobilized to ensure that the Falls are protected and that the culprit is caught.


For more information, please contact:

 Me May Chiu, Tel.: (514) 691-2036

Me Vincent Valai, Tel.: (514) 954-9998

Members of the International Justice for Sankara Campaign




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