Guinea’s crackdown on protests against Alpha Conde’s candidacy for a third term “has resulted in the deaths of at least 50 people in less than a year,” an Amnesty International report sent to APA Thursday revealed.The figures and facts reported are shivers down the spine. In its new report, entitled “Walk and Die: Urgent justice for the victims of the repression of demonstrations in Guinea”, the human rights NGO points to the “responsibility of the defense and security forces in unlawful killings of demonstrators and passers-by.”
These murders took place between October 2019 and July 2020, during the socio-political tension born of the constitutional reform allowing President Conde to run for a third term.
The presidential election is slated for October 18. Twelve candidates, including the outgoing Conde, his main opponent Cellou Dalein Diallo and two women, are running.
The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC), which groups parties, unions and civil society groups, campaigned against the constitutional revision adopted in March, which it denounced as an institutional coup d’état.
For a large section of the public opinion, the Guinean constitution states that presidents can only serve two terms. But according to some analysts, the new constitution resets the presidential term counter to zero and allows him to run for a third time. This is the point of view defended by Alpha Conde and his party (RPG).
Between October 2019 and February 2020, the Amnesty report says, more than 30 people have lost their lives during protests against the proposed constitutional change. “Of these, 11 were shot dead, wounded in the head, chest or abdomen.”
The NGO also reports 200 injuries, arbitrary arrests and detentions and at least 70 people in secret during the same period. For fear of reprisals, several people who suffered gunshot wounds fled their homes. Hospital authorities have also refused to take in the bodies of victims killed during some protests, the report notes.
This report, Amnesty points out, is based on interviews with more than 100 people and analyzes of official documents, videos and photographs. Thus, it provides proof that the authorities acted “in contradiction with national and international standards.” Defense and security forces “have used firearms illegally in several towns across the country.”
“We spoke to battered families who told us how their children were killed when they were shot in the back, chest, head or neck. Wounded people have shown us their serious after-effects on their arms, knees or feet, caused by guns, tear gas canisters or even vehicles of the security forces,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
“Exercising the right to freedom of peaceful assembly remains dangerous in Guinea, where impunity for human rights violations has remained the rule for the past ten years. Concrete acts are expected from the authorities so that justice is rendered to the victims and their families,” she urges.