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UA 191/94 - Cote d'Ivoire: legal concern / fear of ill-treatment: Guirao Ble, deputy secretary general of the Federation estudiantine et scolaire de Cote d'Ivoire (FESCI) and at least 15 other FESCI members including: Rosalie Kouame, Danthe Apolos, Namina

, N° d'index: AFR 31/001/1994

Up to 30 students members of FESCI were arrested on 15 May 1994 when security forces broke up a peaceful meeting at the University of Cocody. At least 16, including those named above, are reportedly still held incommunicado. At least one student was reportedly severely beaten at the time of his arrest and remains in hospital. AI fears for the safety of all those in incommunicado detention. Most or all of those detained appear to be prisoners of conscience.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 31/01/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 191/94 Legal concern / Fear of ill-treatment 18 May 1994
COTE D'IVOIRE: Guirao Blé, deputy secretary general of the Fédération
estudiantine et scolaire de Côte d'Ivoire (FESCI),
Ivoirian Federation of Student and School Pupils
and at least 15 other FESCI members including:
Rosalie Kouamé
Danthe Apolos
Naminata Ouatara
Meite Nalansana
Orabera Tate
Up to 30 student members of FESCI were arrested on 15 May 1994 when a peaceful
meeting on the campus of the University of Cocody in the capital, Abidjan,
was broken up by the security forces. At least 16 students, including those
named above, are reportedly still held in incommunicado detention; some of
them are believed to be detained at the police academy near the University
of Cocody. According to reports, at least one of the students was severely
beaten at the time of his arrest and is said to have lost consciousness. He
was taken to hospital in Cocody, Abidjan, where he is reportedly still held.
Amnesty International fears that all the detainees are at serious risk of
ill-treatment during this period of incommunicado detention. Most or all of
those detained appear to be prisoners of conscience, imprisoned because of
their membership of the FESCI, an organization which the government claims
has been outlawed.
Since the arrest of these students on 15 May, the security forces have reportedly
been searching for a number of other FESCI leaders who are currently in hiding.
The Ivoirian government is reported to have launched a crackdown on the
activities of the FESCI in recent months. In a televised statement on 10 May
1994, the Minister of Higher Education apparently accused FESCI activists of
terrorizing ordinary citizens and said that the FESCI was in league with the
opposition. The Minister claimed that the FESCI was officially banned in 1991.
However, it is unclear whether there is a legal statute banning the FESCI
or whether the ban was only mentioned in verbal statements by the authorities.
Despite the alleged ban, the FESCI was allowed to hold numerous public meetings
in 1993 and to participate in official negotiations with the government.
FESCI activists have been arrested on several occasions in the past. In March
1994 the police arrested several FESCI members after a demonstration that became
violent on the campus of the University of Bouaké (290 km north of Abidjan).
One FESCI activist, Eugène Gonthy, was subsequently tried on charges of assault
and wilful destruction of public property and sentenced to one year's
imprisonment on 29 March 1994. It appears that the prosecution was unable to
provide any evidence to demonstrate his personal involvement in any acts of
violence and Amnesty International believes that he may be a prisoner of
conscience, convicted solely because of his FESCI activities. At least five
other students arrested with Eugène Gonthy remain in detention without charge
or trial in Bouaké.
The imprisonment of Eugène Gonthy provoked a huge wave of protest at the
University of Cocody in Abidjan where students went on strike to call for his
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release and for improvements in their conditions, including the payment of
grants and regulation of transport facilities. These disturbances led to the
arrest of more than two hundred students on 9 and 11 May 1994, almost all of
whom were released shortly afterwards, apparently because they were not FESCI
members. It has been alleged that the government is exploiting current student
unrest as a pretext to dismantle the FESCI and arrest its leaders. Amnesty
International considers that the arbitrary arrest and detention of FESCI members
who have not used or advocated violence is an abuse of the
internationally-recognized rights of freedom of association and expression
and that those arrested in such circumstances are prisoners of conscience.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes and airmail letters either
in French, English or in your own language:
- expressing concern that at least 16 student members of the Fédération
estudiantine et scolaire de Côte d'Ivoire (FESCI) arrested on 15 May, including
Guirao Blé, Rosalie Kouamé, Danthe Apolos, Naminata Ouatara, Meite Nalansana
and Orabera Tate, are being held in incommunicado detention in Abidjan;
- expressing particular concern at reports that one of the students was severely
beaten at the time of his arrest, and seeking assurances that the other detainees
will not be ill-treated;
- urging that the detainees be allowed immediate access to legal
representatives, their families and, if necessary, medical treatment;
- expressing concern that some or all of the students arrested may be prisoners
of conscience, held solely on account of their non-violent political activities
and urging the authorities to release them if they are not to be charged with
recognizably criminal offences and given a prompt and fair trial.
APPEALS TO
1. President
Son Excellence
Henri Konan Bedié
Président de la République
La Présidence, Boulevard Clozel, Abidjan
République de Côte d'Ivoire
Telegrams: Président Bedié, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Telexes: 23754 PRESID CI or 23169 PRELIT CI
Salutation: Monsieur le Président/Dear President
2. Prime Minister
M. Daniel Kablan Duncan
Premier Ministre
Le Primature, Abidjan
République de Côte d'Ivoire
Telegrams: Premier Ministre, Abidjan, Côte
Salutation: Monsieur le Premier Ministre/Dear Prime Minister
3. Minister of Justice
M. Faustin Kouamé
Ministre de la Justice
Ministêre de la Justice
Boulevard Angoulvant, BP V107, Abidjan
République de Côte d'Ivoire
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Telexes: 23752 MINAFET CI (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
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4. Minister of Interior
M. Emile-Constant Bombet
Ministre de l'Intérieur et de la Sécurité
Ministère de l'Intérieure et de la Sécurité
Boulevard Angoulvant, Abidjan
République de Côte d'Ivoire
Telegrams: Ministre Intérieur, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
M. Saliou Touré
Ministre de l'Enseignement Supérieur
Ministre de l'Enseignement Supérieur
Abidjan, République de Côte d'Ivoire
and to diplomatic representatives of Côte d'Ivoire accredited to your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 29 June 1994.

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