EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 60/08/90
UA 390/90 Death in detention 27 September 1990
(See also UA 04/90, AFR 60/01/90, 8 January; and follow-ups
AFR 60/03/90, 6 February; AFR 60/04/90, 21 March; and AFR 60/06/90,
BURKINA FASO: Guillaume SESSOUMA, university teacher
Amnesty International has received unofficial confirmation that
university teacher Guillaume Sessouma died as a result of torture in
early January 1990, within a week of his arrest.
Guillaume Sessouma was not seen after his arrest on or shortly
after on 23 December 1989 and there were unconfirmed reports that he
had been ill-treated while held in secret, unacknowledged detention.
In response to inquiries, the Burkinabè authorities claimed that he had
escaped from detention. Contradictory official statements, however,
led to fears that he was in fact detained and may have been ill-treated.
According to unofficial reports, Guillaume Sessouma's body was
taken by security officials to a hospital in Ouagadougou in early January
1990, but then taken away to the Conseil de l'Entente building, also
in the capital, which has been used as a place of detention. His family
has not been officially notified of his death and his place of burial
is not known. Guillaume Sessouma was married and had three children,
one of whom was born after his death.
Guillaume Sessouma, aged 38, had studied plant biology (physiologie
végétale) at the University in Dijon in France and had also undertaken
research at the University in Groningen in the Netherlands. As well
as teaching at the University of Ouagadougou, he had been Director of
the Institut du développement rural, Institute of Rural Development,
in Burkina Faso.
Guillaume Sessouma was among a group of 31 people arrested in
December 1989 in connection with an alleged conspiracy against the
government (see UA 04/90 etc, as above). Those arrested, both civilians
and soldiers, appear to have been closely associated with former President
Thomas Sankara who was killed in the coup in October 1987 which brought
President Blaise Compaoré to power. Guillaume Sessouma and others among
those arrested were members of the Union de lutte communiste -
reconstruite (ULC-R), Union of Communist Struggle - Reconstructed, a
political grouping which had participated in the government of President
Amnesty International believes that Guillaume Sessouma may have
been a prisoner of conscience, detained solely because of his political