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It’s been just a year and a half this Saturday that journalist Olivier Dubois has been held captive in Mali. This is the longest period of captivity for a French journalist for more than thirty years, according to the association Reporters Without Borders. He was kidnapped on April 8, 2021 in Gao, northern Mali, where he had gone to report on the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (Jnim), a jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda which eventually kidnapped and held him hostage.
Since his abduction, Olivier Dubois has appeared in two videos (May 2021 and March 2022) released by his captors, in which he explains himself to be in the hands of the Jnim and asks “ all who work on his release to continue their efforts. The Malian and French authorities have on several occasions expressed their full mobilization, without going into the details of the actions undertaken.
Pending his release, RFI gives the floor to the relatives of Olivier Dubois who, in his second proof of life, has confirmed that he could hear these messages.
My love, time passes, but silence and distance change nothing. I stand here with unshakeable hope. I do not abandon you and I continue to fight for you. And I love you so much. Never doubt any of this. I will never leave you. I need you so much and you are my reason to breathe. And that’s why you have to hold on, please. I know in my heart how hard it is. But it will all come to an end and you will come home. This ordeal will make us stronger than ever. We will have already been through the worst. Hang on to this, our children and me. You are the person we love the most on this earth. And I know you think the same thing we do. You always said: “when you smile, I’m happy”. All your words resonate in me, all my love too. Thank you for this strength that you give us.
Déborah Al Hawi Al Masri, partner of Olivier Dubois and mother of his children
Hello Olivier, I hope you are doing well. I miss you a lot and while waiting to see you again, I discovered a poem by Henley, one of Nelson Mandela’s favorite poets during his captivity. The poem is called Invictus. Here is an excerpt: “In the darkness that surrounds me / Black as a well where we drown / I give thanks to God whoever he is / For my invincible and proud soul […]. No matter how narrow the path […] I am the master of my destiny / I am the captain of my soul. I hope that these few lines will allow you to have strength and courage. Our love and our tenderness to soften this expectation.
Valérye Dubois, one of Olivier Dubois’ sisters
Hello Olivier, back from the West Indies where, in thought, you have been constantly with me, I send you this new message which, I think, will find you as well as possible. I am responsible for conveying to you the support and expectation of the whole family. We all hope to soon have the opportunity to speak to you in person. I ask you once again to hold on despite the discomfort of your situation. We are wholeheartedly with you and remain positive in view of your upcoming release. I send you big kisses and say see you soon.
André-Georges Dubois, father of Olivier Dubois
Hi bro. Mom, Benjamin and I hope you can still hear us. Sending letters or photos, no means of contacting you from Mali or France is offered to us to date. If you still hear us, would it be possible for you to let us know? Recently, we asked a question to the presidency for which we are still waiting for an answer: “When will Olivier Dubois return to France? More than 500 days after your abduction, it’s time for things to move forward. You say your case is a small thing, but know that to us, you are not. And until the end, we will be there, all three for you.
Canèle Bernard, one of Olivier Dubois’ sisters and her mother
We also do not forget the Malian journalist Moussa M’Bana Dicko, kidnapped on April 18, 2021 in the center of the country. A thought also for all the other hostages, whether journalists or not, detained in Mali or elsewhere.