As the 500th day of captivity of French journalist Olivier Dubois, kidnapped on April 8, 2021 in northern Mali, approaches, his family decided to launch on Friday, on the eve of his 48th birthday, a communication campaign to raise awareness. opinion and challenge the French authorities.
Saturday August 6, Olivier Dubois, 48, will spend his second birthday in captivity, almost 500 days after his abduction on April 8, 2021 in Gao, in northern Mali, claimed by the JNIM (Support Group for Islam and Muslims ).
On this occasion, the family of the only French hostage listed in the world launched a new communication operation, inviting to question Emmanuel Macron by means of a postcard, the sending of which to the Élysée is free. As Canèle Bernard, the journalist’s sister, explains, it is “with a very simple object that allows you to give news to your loved ones, to remind the President and the new Minister of Foreign Affairs that Olivier Dubois does not is not on vacation”.
Actions to “not forget”
For his family, these operations are important in order to raise public awareness and “put the subject back at the heart of public debate”. “We hope that talking often about Olivier will make it possible not to forget his case, in a context of very rich national and international news”, estimates the sister of the journalist.
In nearly 500 days, two videos have provided proof of life for Olivier Dubois: the first sent on May 5, 2021, the second on March 13. The latter circulated on social networks, without knowing its origin or the date on which it was shot. But elements would confirm that it is relatively recent, Olivier Dubois referring in particular to certain messages broadcast by his family on RFI.
>> Read also : Mali: only French hostage in the world, Olivier Dubois has been captive for a year
Since then, diplomatic relations between Paris and Bamako have deteriorated sharply and RFI, as well as France 24, have seen their broadcasts suspended, “a cold shower” for those close to him, Canèle Bernard told AFP on April 8. On the occasion of the anniversary of Olivier Dubois’ captivity, a video was released by his family, showing the support of media personalities.
The Quai d’Orsay’s “obligation of discretion” weighs heavily
In this context, it is difficult to know if the situation could evolve in favor of his release, regrets the family of Olivier Dubois, who describes his contacts with the crisis unit of the Quai d’Orsay as “sporadic”. In an interview granted Thursday, August 4 to the daily Liberation – for which Olivier Dubois works –, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, assures that a proposal to meet with the family was formulated this week. She also insists that “no one doubt it”: “Every effort has been made to obtain the release of Olivier Dubois, since his abduction.” The Minister specifies that “in terms of kidnappings, there is only one rule: it is really to respect, as strictly as possible, this obligation of discretion”.
But his relatives regret the strict application of this rule. “We are considered like other French people, my family knows absolutely nothing about my brother’s situation,” says Canèle Bernard. With her mother and her spouse, they had already asked the minister, by registered letter on May 30, to meet her in person, after a single telephone contact with her predecessor, Jean-Yves Le Drian. On July 26, the Quai d’Orsay crisis unit did offer a telephone meeting with its deputy director, “but we have no answer on the possibility of a direct meeting with the minister”, specifies Canèle Bernard. “After 16 months, the crisis unit cannot answer our questions, it is time that we were considered as the family of a hostage and that we were put in the confidence”, insists the sister of Olivier Dubois .
With this new communication operation, which directly concerns the French president, the journalist’s family also hopes to be able to establish direct contact with the Quai d’Orsay. A petition was also launched on January 6, collecting more than 110,000 signatures to date. “This is the number one mobilization action that will run until the release of our son and brother,” said Canèle Bernard. “This petition shows that a lot of citizens identify with him, our family, and care about him, a lot of causes have been heard with petitions.”