Guinea: Fears of more arrests as at least four killed in protests 

Responding to the killing of at least four people during today’s demonstrations against a potential revision of the Constitution that would allow Guinean President Alpha Condé to run in next year’s elections, Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher François Patuel said:

“The widespread use of tear gas and live ammunition during clashes between protesters and the security forces in Conakry today has left at least four killed and several wounded according to human rights groups observing the protests. The security forces must refrain from using excessive and deadly force. The authorities reported at least two deaths including a gendarme in the central town of Mamou.

In an already tense political climate, today’s killings and the arbitrary arrests of at least 14 people over the weekend are only adding fuel to the fire in a country where more than 100 people have died during protests over the past 10 years.
François Patuel Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher

“The use of lethal force against protestors and bystanders and the arrest of the protest organisers are a shameful attempt by Guinean authorities to stifle dissent by any means necessary. These acts should be investigated independently, and suspected perpetrators brought to justice in fair trials.

“In an already tense political climate, today’s killings and the arbitrary arrests of at least 14 people over the weekend are only adding fuel to the fire in a country where more than 100 people have died during protests over the past 10 years.

“Given this disastrous track record, the authorities must take immediate steps to break the cycle of violence before it spirals out of control. They should start by ensuring people arbitrarily arrested for organising the protests are released immediately and unconditionally and take all the necessary means to facilitate peaceful protests and ensure people can express peacefully without fearing reprisals.”


Background

At least 14 individuals, including members of the National Front for the Défense of the Constitution (FNDC in French) and some of their relatives, were arrested over the weekend ahead of today’s protest against the revision of the constitution in Guinea. As of midday today, they had not been formally charged.

On 12 October, the police interrupted a meeting held at the residence of the FNDC national coordinator Abdourahamane Sanoh and arrested him with at least five other people, including Abdoulaye Oumou Sowh, the Secretary General of the Association of the Bloggers of Guinea (ABLOGUI in French), the general administrator of the Balai citoyen movement Sekou Koundono, and the coordinator of Tournons la page (TLP), Ibrahima Diallo. The brother of Abdourahmane Sanoh was arrested as he was searching for him at different detention centers. After they met with their lawyers on 12 October, they were taken to an unknown detention center.

On 13 October, seven other people, including the Secretary General of the Youth of the Union of the Republican Forces (UFR in French), Badara Koné, were arrested at his house in the neighbourhood of Matam. They are detained at the Research Brigade in the neighbourhood of Kenien.

On the same day, the prosecutor of Dixinn Court accused the FNDC of “making grave statements against public security” and announced that legal proceedings were being brought to “arrest anyone who conducted acts or maneuvers to compromise public security or leading to serious disturbances of public order.”

Local human rights groups observing today’s protest are reporting clashes between protesters and members of the security forces, with at least four people shot dead and several injured by live ammunition in Sonfonia and Wanindara, two neighbourhoods in the capital Conakry. In a public statement, the Guinean authorities reported two deaths, including a man in Sonfonia and a gendarme in Matam.

The current Guinean constitution bars president Alpha Condé from running for a third term.