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US State Dept. on Human Rights in Guinea Indicts State-Sponsored Abuse: Too Bad it Punts on Origin of HR Problem – Conde’s Ethnocentric Policies

April 23, 2013


If you combine the human rights assessment on Guinea by the US State Department (further below) with the following remarks made a few days ago by US ambassador to Guinea, Alexander Laskaris, the US is using less than subliminal messages to say that Conde has become a problematic figure for the international community:

“You can tell your government you are satisfied with its work or, at least satisfied it has made progress in the right direction. You can send a message to the government that you have lost or losing confidence in its ability to manage the country, and you think it may be time to give another party a chance to prove its competence.”

Following is the introduction of the Executive Summary of the State department assessment of human rights practices in Guinea for the year 2012. This is the first time the US has dug so thoroughly into Guinea’s vast abuse of human rights record and it’s not a pretty picture. When you read the report, you wonder how Guinea functions and how young people ever hope to escape poverty and repression to follow their dreams. This document is a stunning indictment of Conde’s management of the country.

Unfortunately, one section of the report, underplays the role of ethnocentrism in Guinea and does not properly identify the perpetrator. This is a mistake because ethnocentrism underpins at least 90% of human rights abuses in the country today. To fix human rights it is critical to deal first with the thorny issue of ethnicity.

Alpha Conde re-introduced ethnocentric politics in Guinea during the presidential election when he and others spread a rumor that Peul food sellers had tried to poison his RPG followers. It was a lie, but Conde embellished the story long enough to incite a riot of Malinke youth (and some Guinean security services in plain clothes) into attacking Peuls in the towns of Siguiri and Kourousso where residents were likely to vote for his opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo. The attack was vicious as Malinkes chased their neighbors with machetes. Nothing came out untouched. Homes and business were burned, money and other valuables were stolen and the violence included rape, major injury and murder . This precipitated a mass exodus from the towns attacked and thousands were displaced. Come election day, a few weeks after the attack, none of the residents were able to come back to their home district to vote and were subsequently disenfranchised. This was not a one-time plan. Having worked so well in these two towns, Conde replicated the attacks in other towns against Peul citizens.

Upon Conde’s usurpation of the presidency, he built his cabinet to the near exclusion of Peuls, he removed Peuls throughout prefectures in the country and replaced them with Malinkes. Conde has also incarcerated numerous Peuls without cause, often in the course of peaceful prtoests. Since Conde’s arrival, Peuls have become the majority of victims of robbery, assault, and murder. Conde has also engaged in anti-Peul hate speech and, in a moment of stunning audacity he pulled aside the prosecutor of the ongoing trial of his “self-attack” on his home July 19, 2011, and told him the prosecution strategy should be changed to blame the attack on a “complot Peul,” or Peul plot, an idea that Sekou Toure came up with to repress Peuls and others. It included placing victims in prison camps, the most famous being Camp Boiro, where prisoners were subject to torture and starvation – “the black diet.” Many people were summarily executed, often in public hangings. To resurrect one of the worst times in the country’s history by raising the issue of Sekou Toure’s “Peul plot,” Apha Conde committed the worst ethnic hate speech of all.

The anti-Peul hate speech is also an integral part of the repression exacted by the military and state security forces. If you combine these two forces, about 85% are Malinke. In attacks as recently as after the February 27 march, where security services and RPG militias attacked Peul neighborhoods, almost all victims have reported that forces used vulgar and threatening anti-Puel speech before homes were ransacked, women were raped, and people were shot.

If you remember nothing else, remember this. The constant cheer of Conde’s Malinke supporters throughout the presidential campaign was: “Anybody, but a Foulah (another name for Peul).”

If a candidate of any ethnicity other than Malinke ever made a negative remark in public about another ethnicity during the campaign or after, let the proof surface.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: US State Department Report on Human Rights Practices in Guinea, 2012

Guinea is a republic. In 2010 the country inaugurated Alpha Conde, the candidate of the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) Party and longtime opposition leader, as its first democratically elected president since independence from France in 1958. Observers generally regarded the elections as free and fair; however, repeated postponements of legislative elections, originally expected to be held in 2011, stalled democratic progress. The country has never had a free and fair democratic legislative election. The government made some progress in security sector reform, yet elements of the security forces on occasion acted independently of civilian control.

The most serious human rights problems in the country included restricting citizens’ right to change their government by not holding legislative elections; security force killings and use of excessive force, including rape, on demonstrators; and the government’s failure to punish the perpetrators of such abuses.

Other major human rights problems included disappearances of opposition party members; life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary arrests; long periods of pretrial detention and denial of fair trials; arbitrary interference with family and home; restrictions on freedoms of the press and assembly; corruption at all levels of government; violence and discrimination against women and girls, including female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); discrimination against children, persons with disabilities, and members of certain ethnic groups; human trafficking; and forced labor, including by children.

Impunity remained a problem. The government took minimal steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses during the year and in years past. On October 6, President Conde announced the formation of a new Ministry of Human Rights and Public Liberties but did not specify the ministry’s mandate, and the ministry had taken no actions by year’s end.

Go to full report

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