Guinea: Conde’s State Security Busy Ransacking, Assaulting, Arresting Opponents and the Journalists Covering Them
If you followed Guinean politics in the lead-up to the 2010 presidential election, you will recall that Guinea’s state security forces spent zero time protecting the right of citizens to cast a ballot. They were too busy before, during, and after the election beating up, arresting and committing summary executions of supporters of Cellou Dalein Diallo, head of the UFDG party who was Alpha Conde’s opponent in the second round of the election which Conde stole. Below are two articles — three years later, with the same state repression and intimidation, except now Conde is commander-in-chief.
Bate FM is located in Kankan, a town 700 kilometres north of Conakry, the capital.
The soldiers forcibly entered the studios, manhandled and threw out the journalists before closing down the radio station. Subsequently, Sorel Mady and Moro Sidibe, host and producer respectively, were arrested and grilled by the local police.
The MFWA monitor in the country reported that on August 16, 2013, the angry soldiers besieged the radio station after a campaign tour by President Condé was marred by boos from the inhabitants of Kankan.
“Though the soldiers were aware of Bate FM’s live broadcast, they accused the station of deliberately airing the instance where the crowd hooted at the President,” the monitor said.
Meanwhile, two days after the soldiers stormed Bate FM, supporters of the ruling RPG based in Kankan took a cue from the soldiers’ attack and also attacked the radio station, vandalizing equipment and properties.
Equipment worth thousands of dollars including microphones, console, antennae, and voice recorders were destroyed and taken away by the supporters, the monitor reported.
The director of the radio station, Moussa Diawara, has fled the country to neighbouring Mali following threats to his life while the radio station has since been off air.
The MFWA is worried at this barbaric behaviour of the soldiers and the RPG supporters. We call on the Presidency, leadership of the RPG, and the Head of Police to publicly rebuke the culprits and act swiftly to ensure the equipment is returned to the radio station.
Realising the growing impunity and attacks on the media by security officers and supporters of political parties, the MFWA opines that the media profession is guaranteed by law, therefore, no individual or group has the right to interfere or adversely affect the physical integrity of journalists.
Four days after attacking and closing down a radio station for covering a presidential rally, soldiers belonging to the security detail of President Alpha Conde, have attacked and brutalized a number of journalists belonging to privately-owned media organizations.
This recent assault occurred during President Conde’s visit to Labe, a village about 450 kilometres north of Conakry, the capital, on August 20, 2013. The President’s visit is part of the ruling party’s (People’s Rally of Guinea) campaign tour towards the upcoming parliamentary elections on September 24, 2013.
According to the MFWA’s monitor, the angry soldiers who were heavily armed, charged at the journalists and beat up any one who tried to cover or report on the President’s tour.
A reporter from the privately-owned Espace Television, Abdourahmane Diallo, was severely beaten and his camera seized by the soldiers.
“The red berets threw us out. They told us that we journalists are crooks and that what happened at Kankan shows that journalists are dangerous,” narrated Ousmane Bah, one of the journalists.
The MFWA is saddened by this incident which is a clear abuse of power and authority in a country where press freedom, has for many years, been rated ‘not free’ by various international and regional press freedom indexes.
We once again call on the leadership of the RPG particularly President Conde, to urgently and publicly rebuke his security, as a personal commitment to press freedom and ongoing peace initiatives in the country.
State-perpetrated attacks against opposition demonstrations and the Guinean media are on the increase and in only this year hundreds of citizens and journalists have been harassed and violently attacked causing injuries to many while others are reported dead.
The MFWA urges your government to improve these ever-deteriorating conditions and safeguard the rights and safety of journalists as enshrined in the Constitution of Guinea.
For more information please contact:
Kwame Karikari (Prof)
Tel: 233-0302-24 24 70
Fax: 233-0302-22 10 84