Guinean Forces Brutally Beat and Tear Gas Women Demonstrating for Democratic Elections: International Community Needs to Pick a Side – the People of Guinea or Alpha Conde and His Thugs
“What happened today is really disappointing, hitting the women who are mothers, sisters, this is the ultimate proof of the dictatorship in Guinea,” said Yarie Briqui of the UFDG.
“Democracy does not move in this country. The gendarmes have struck all women who are parties to the sit-in this morning. They launched tear gas. They beat women with their batons, they stole money and cell phones from the women.” According to Ms. Sacko always, the international community must know that “Guinean soldiers do not protect people, they steal and kill people.”
— testimonies from women at yesterday’s protest, from aminata.com
Yesterday, Guinean women, representing numerous opposition parties, protested in front of the country’s electoral commission, the CENI, to demand the resignation of its president, Louceny Camara because of his penchant for electoral fraud. The plan was for about 1,000 women to show up in front of the CENI. This must have frightened the Conde administration because it set up multiple security cordons around the CENI. Security forces consisted of both gendarmes and police, in full riot gear.
In spite of the tight security, approximately 200 women were able to make it to the vicinity of the CENI office. Security forces were waiting for them. The women were tear gassed and beaten with batons and belts. Many of the younger women were able to run away but were chased down by police who brutalized them with batons. Older women, unable to move, were on the ground trying to protect themselves and security forces trampled many in pursuit of others. Many women had injuries to their faces and some had received such a hard beating to their bodies, they were unable to sit down later.
The international community overlooked much in the lead-up to the 2010 presidential election – ethnic violence and massive fraud – in order to attain a “stable” Guinea. We know that did not work out so well. Opposition leader, Sidya Toure, said, during a recent trip to Paris, “the international community should not be complicit with the government of Alpha Conde.” Yet, the international pressure mounts to hold legislative elections regardless of certain fraud and state-sponsored violence.
To force the final stage of Guinea’s governmental transition with someone like Alpha Conde at the helm is to condemn the people of Guinea to: denial of basic freedoms of speech and assembly, gross human rights abuses, summary executions, and indefinite detentions. Equally alarming are Conde’s plans for ethnic militias, which he has been sending to Angola for training, and will be used for ethnic cleansing of Peuls.
For the international community, nothing written here is a surprise and the perverse nature of Alpha Conde’s approach to governing is well-known. It would be a mistake to wait until ethnic cleansing begins, in earnest, to intervene.
Below are exerpts from testimonies of women who participated in the yesterday’s protest. These testimonies appeared in guineenews.org. Below is a Google translation with editing by Guinea Oye.
A sit-in women of the Guinean opposition, which demanded the reorganization of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was violently dispersed on Thursday by police in Camayenne. Shortly after the crackdown, your daily Guineenews joined on the phone some ladies who were at the heart of the event. “We were abused, beaten and brutalized. Some of us can not even sit down, “said a lady on the phone.
Maimouna Balde (NFD): “The violence of the police was incredible”
“We went to the INEC with our placards that read” Loucény releases”,” We do not want the elimination of the INEC”,” We want the reconstitution of INEC”. We wanted to express our demands in the most peaceful way possible. Once we arrived, the security guards began to throw tear gas at us. They chased us. They caught some of us, while others have managed to escape. But women who were caught were not lucky. Because they were beating some, trampling others with their shoes and hit a third group with their belts. Violence was inexplicable, unbelievable. This is a total disappointment, it’s serious what happened Thursday. Some women have even been injured. Personally, I was struck. Some comrades have taken refuge in some families, but it’s a shame. “
Ms. Hann (UFC) “Our sit-in is a significant success’
“When we arrived at the Camayenne, we noticed that INEC was surrounded. As we understood that any gathering was forbidden, we released our red banners to direct us towards the Corniche. At the Supreme Court, we stopped with a lot of noise. We also directed towards the seat of the NDI. This is where the incident occurred. The police have launched gases, many ran to take refuge in the families in the entourage. Some welcomed us, but others rejected us. We had one of our women who had a broken foot. Another was burned because the gas has fallen on her. Others have been abused, beaten. Three of our women were taken into custody but they were released. But for us, our sit-in has indeed succeeded. We wanted to demonstrate as required by law, we did but the police dispersed us. For us it is a success. We are not asking for rocket science but the restructuring of INEC and the appointment of a consensual president. I appeal to President Alpha Conde, I ask him to settle the problem of INEC. The fight continues and we will not stop halfway. “
Biya Hadja Diallo (UFDG): “We were abused, beaten and brutalized”
“For us, we were parties to the INEC to do a sit-in. We wanted to express our concerns about the electoral process. We initially mobilized near the supermarket until the influx of the other ladies of the Collective and ADP. Meanwhile, the police came to tell us to get away with an unprecedented verbal abuse as if we were vulgar delinquents. So we walked out and down to the ledge. Along the way, we released our banners to stop at the Supreme Court. It has been suggested by singing to the Hotel Camayenne. We wanted to go back to the road of Donka, unfortunately, we were unable. We continued our progress to the small mosque nearby. We took the ramp back up. It is in this corridor, where the officers disciplinary force surprised us to take us hostage. The young ladies have managed to escape, unfortunately, women of a certain age were here and could not run. They fell on the ladies as security forces beat them. Some of them can not sit. They dared to mistreat us, we who have given birth. What a setback for democracy. We were prevented from protesting. We were abused. We were insulted. They brutalized us. It was really humiliating. This is unacceptable and inadmissible, the ordeal we went through today. Fortunately, everything is filmed. We have the images. Yet for us, we just wanted to say that the current composition of INEC does not suit us. Instead, we want a joint INEC and consensual. But we do not know why President Alpha Conde wants to hold Loucény Camara, this activist-RPG Arc-en-ciel in the balance of power. We demand a consensual president and includes the head of INEC. We must reconstruct the INEC. The movement of today is not yesterday’s. We are democrats, we recognize President Alpha Condé. But he has remained silent. If Camara Loucény loves Guinea, if he loves peace, he must leave. “