The military junta in Burkina Faso, a West African nation struggling to defeat extremist groups, has been forcibly conscripting critics, say human rights organizations.
One Friday earlier this month, just as Dr. Daouda Diallo stepped out of the passport office in the capital of the West African nation of Burkina Faso, four men grabbed him off the street, pushed him into a vehicle and drove off.
Dr. Diallo, a pharmacist-turned-rights-activist who had recently been awarded a prestigious prize for human rights work, has not been heard from since that day, Dec. 1.
But four days later, a picture of Dr. Diallo, 41, wearing a helmet and holding a Kalashnikov rifle, posted on social media, seemingly confirming the fears of his family and colleagues that he had been forcefully conscripted into the army. Dr. Diallo and a dozen other people active in public life had been notified by security forces in November that they would soon be drafted to assist the government in securing the country, according to international and local rights groups.
Then, on Christmas Eve, two men in civilian clothes rang the doorbell of Ablassé Ouedraogo, a former foreign affairs minister and an opposition leader. He was taken away and his whereabouts remain unknown, according to Faso Autrement, his political party.
Burkina Faso, a previously stable, landlocked nation of 20 million, has been torn apart in the past eight years by violence from extremist groups loosely affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
In the ensuing chaos, the country went through two coups in just 10 months, the second last year by a military junta vowing to contain militant groups by any means.