Daddis presidential bid – Letter from Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda (EN-FR)

Daddis presidential bid – Letter from Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Djallon to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda.
New York, May 29, 2015
Dear Madam Bensouda,
Following the announcement of the candidacy of Mr. Daddis Camara in the presidential elections of Guinea, a coalition of 29 Human Rights organizations, including the FIDH and OGDH, made a statement to mark their indignation on this inappropriate bid which is a sign of contempt to the judicial process and to victims of the massacres of 28 September 2009.
On many occasions – by online petitions, memoranda and letters – our organization and many victims have called on you to request the transfer of the 2009 crimes against humanity’ investigation to the International Court of Justice. We’ve regularly kept you informed of the actions and statements of the Guinean government’s obvious denial of justice to the victims. On October 25th, 2014, in a speech in the Soussou language given in the Loos Islands, the Guinean President admitted having asked the “white folks” to put an end to the investigations. That same month, the justice minister, accused those who want that judicial proceedings to be expedited of having hidden political motives.
The culture of impunity is not only a legacy of past state violence in Guinea. It has become a method of governance. With the approach of presidential elections, the Guinean president wants to use the 2009 crimes to sow discord among the Guinean communities. The staging of demonstrations in the town of Nzerekore and the appointment in the government of a supposed ally of Mr. Daddis Camara, Mr. Boubacar Barry, are part of his plans. In addition, the authorities spread rumors of rebellion in the region from alleged accomplices of Mr. Daddis. A concerted effort is being made by the government to entertain the fiction of Mr. Daddis Camara political stature behind which Guinean citizens native of the Forest region would identify. The campaign is an insult to the Guineans from the southern region of Guinea who are strongly opposed to human rights violations which they have always been victims of. The governance by impunity introduced by the Guinean president has made ethnicity a screen to hide grave crimes. The goal – for the purposes of electoral maneuvering – is to make all denunciations of the crimes committed by the CNDD, an attack against local residents. These amalgams have served as cover for state crimes in Guinea and are the framework of perpetuating impunity.
Our organization and the associations of the victims believe that all conditions are met for your intervention. Since the charges made on a few officers in 2012, the Guinean judges in charge of the September 2009 crimes case have made no progress. This laxity is unacceptable. One of its consequences is to have enabled the Guinean government to inject in the electoral process an officer charged of crimes against humanity. Faced with this evident obstruction of justice of the Guinean government, it is the duty of the I.C.C to take up the issue of the killings. The Guinean populations and victims put their hope in your institution of last resort to begin the eradication of impunity in our country. This eradication is the only way to counter the confrontations the government of Mr. Conde has prepared with his policy of political division and legal laxity.
We remain available should you need any further information.
Respectfully,
COMMISSION FOR THE CENTRAL POTTAL-FII-BHANTAL FOUTA-DJALLON

 

Candidature présidentielle de Daddis – Lettre de Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta-Djallon à Madame Fatou Bensouda.
New York, le 29 Mai 2015
Chère Madame Bensouda,
Suite à l’annonce de la candidature de Mr. Daddis Camara aux élections présidentielles de la Guinée, une coalition de 29 organisations de défense des droits de l’homme incluant le FIDH et l’OGDH, a fait une déclaration pour marquer leur indignation sur cette candidature inopportune qui est un signe de mépris du processus judiciaire et aux victimes des massacres du 28 septembre 2009.
A maintes occasions – par pétitions en ligne, mémorandums et lettres – notre organisation ainsi que de nombreuses victimes vous ont interpellée pour demander le transfert des enquêtes sur les crimes de 2009 à la cour internationale de justice. Nous vous avons régulièrement tenue informée des actions et des propos de déni évident de justice aux victimes des crimes contre l’humanité de 2009 du gouvernement guinéen. En date du 25 octobre 2014, dans un discours en langue Soussou aux îles de Loos, le président guinéen a avoué avoir demandé aux « blancs » de mette fin aux enquêtes sur les massacres. Ce même mois, le ministre de la justice, accusa ceux qui veulent que les procédures judiciaires soient accélérées d’avoir des arrière-pensées politiques.
La culture de l’impunité ne procède pas seulement du passé de violence d’état en Guinée. Elle est devenue une méthode de gouvernance. À l’approche des élections présidentielles, le chef de l’état guinéen veut faire des crimes de 2009 un moyen de discorde entre les communautés guinéennes. Les montages de manifestations dans la ville de Nzérékoré et la nomination dans le gouvernement d’un supposé allié de Mr. Daddis Camara, Mr. Boubacar Barry, font partie de ses plans. En outre, les autorités répandent des rumeurs de rébellion dans la région par des prétendus affidés de Mr. Daddis. Cette campagne est faite pour entretenir l’illusion d’une stature politique de Mr. Daddis Camara derrière laquelle les guinéens originaire de la région de la Forêt se reconnaitraient. En soi, elle est une insulte aux guinéens de la région du Sud de la Guinée qui restent fermement opposés aux violations de droits de l’homme dont ils ont été toujours victimes. La gouvernance par l’impunité instaurée par le président guinéen a fait de l’appartenance ethnique un paravent pour des crimes imprescriptibles. Le but visé est de faire – à des fins de marchandages électoraux – de toutes dénonciations des crimes commis par le CNDD, une atteinte aux habitants de la région. Ces amalgames sont la couverture aux crimes d’état en Guinée et le cadre de perpétuation de l’impunité.
Notre organisation et les associations des victimes considèrent que toutes les conditions sont remplies pour une intervention de votre part. Depuis les inculpations de quelques officiers en 2012, les juges guinéens en charge du dossier des crimes de Septembre 2009 n’ont fait aucun progrès. Ce laxisme est inacceptable. L’une de ses conséquences est d’avoir permis au gouvernement guinéen d’injecter un accusé de crimes contre l’humanité dans le processus électoral. Face à cette obstruction manifeste de la justice du gouvernement guinéen, il est du devoir de la CPI de se saisir du dossier des massacres. Les populations guinéennes et les victimes placent leur espoir en votre institution de derniers recours pour entamer l’éradication de l’impunité dans notre pays. Cette éradication reste le seul moyen pour contrer les affrontements dont le gouvernement de Mr. Condé a préparé les conditions de par ses politiques de division et de laxisme juridique.
Nous restons à votre disposition pour toute information complémentaire et vos prions de croire à nos sentiments distingués

Pour la commission centrale de Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta-Djalon

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GUINEA: Journalists Re-Inventing Alpha Conde and Human Rights Groups Ignoring His Human Rights Abuses

Journalists Re-Inventing Alpha Conde
 
Alpha Conde has a pretty good communications team as well as experts from an image consulting firm, who have combined forces to give him a new face to present to the world.  The goal of this re-invention of Guinea’s head of state is to make him appear more “presidential,” to re-brand him as a mining “reformer” and “corruption” fighter and, perhaps most importantantly, to conceal his  terrible human rights record and his deadly policy of targeting those of the Peul ethnic group.  Based on international media coverage Conde has received of late, it’s working.
 
Tony Blair and George Soros, have been instrumental in gaining access for Conde to both political high rollers and influential business people and his communications team have the pictures to prove it.  The invitation he received to the UK for a G-8 Transparency, Trade, and Tax Committee meeting in June, was close enough for his communications people to issue breathless press releases announcing that “Conde is Heading to the G-8 Summit!”  Suffice it to say, Conde never made it to Northern Ireland where the actual G-8 summit was held, but because of the press statements, many believed he did and, in the world of propaganda, this is all that counts. 
 
Conde capitalized on his “proximity” to the G-8 Summit by doing several interviews set up by his image consulting firm.  Suddenly, Conde’s face was everywhere — Great Britain’s Independent Television Network (ITN), Radio France Internationale, and the cover of Jeune Afrique.  He also had an op-ed piece, obviously penned by his image consultants, which made the rounds of all major  international media outlets.  The newfound mining “reformer,” increased journalists fascination with Guinea’s Simandou iron ore project as did the billionaire diamond merchant, Beny Steinmetz, and his shell game to gain control over a part of the iron ore field.  The story was all the more intriguing because of alleged bribes made by Steinmetz to the wife of dying president, Lansana Conte, in order to seal the deal. 
 
And, over the last month, this is how Simandou became the ONLY story journalists pursued concerning Guinea and Conde.  This happened to the virtual exclusion of Conde’s poor management of the country, his ethnic baiting policies which have raised tensions to an all time high, and relentless violent repression meted out by his security forces against opposition supporters. With these kinds of problems festering in Guinea and on the horizon, fraudulent legislative elections likely to cause a civil war, Conde’s image consultants have done a masterful job keeping the press’ attention focused on Simandou, the diamond dealer and the “reformer.”
 
 
Ever since the G-8 Summit, sans Conde,, he and his image makers have continued to score points in the media. One of the best examples is a lengthy article in the “New Yorker” magazine entitled, “Buried Secrets.” The article, by Patrick Keefe, is a corruption thriller in which Beny Steinmetz is the bad billionaire and Alpha Conde is the last man standing to defend Guinea against seemy mining titans and grifters.  
 
When Keefe interviewed Steinmetz he spent most of time trying to get Steinmetz to admit he’s a crook.  Later in the interview an interesting topic surfaces.  Steinmetz raises the issue of Conde’s dreadful human rights record and suggests he has blood on his hands.  Any reporter worth his salt would have said “tell me more,” but Keefe stopped Steinmentz in his tracks and said, “Dadis Camara had blood on his hands, too, yet you invited him to your daughter’s wedding in Israel.”  Most would agree that Keefe’s cloak and dagger thriller would have been infinitely more thrilling had he allowed Steinmetz to talk.  After all, Steinmetz has close ties with Israeli intelligence services which surely have a file of some kind on Conde.  But, Keefe was having none of it.  What journalist would close such a door?  Perhaps, a journalist who is writing an article about a “reformer” expressly for the purpose of covering significant human rights abuses.  
 
The full court press among journalists to re-invent Conde will be around for a while and what is needed are a few good investigative reporters to dig for the evidence about Conde’s theft of the 2010 election and his mounting human rights violations.  Now, a story like that would be far more intriguing than Conde, the “reformer.”  Who knows, someone might win a Pulitzer prize for daring to write the story that others would not. 
 
As you might guess, Keefe was loyal to Conde until the bitter end of his article.  The scene is set with Conde slumped in a big chair at the presidential palace contemplating Guinea’s tricky world of mining and then he muses out loud, “How can we be so rich and yet so poor?”  Only the poor can ask a question such as this.  Conde understands well why the poor have not benefited from the natural resources in the country.  For him to feign ignorance about this is the ultimate insult. 
 
 
Human Rights Groups Ignoring Conde’s Human Rights Abuses
 
NOTE:  The following is written about Human Rights Watch specifically, but criticisms made apply to several international human rights organizations which are significantly less vocal about Alpha Conde’s human rights abuses than they were two years ago, yet today’s state repression and violence are far worse than then.
 
Recently, Claude Pivi, Minister of Presidential Security, was summoned to appear before a Guinean court to answer questions about his involvement in the September 28, 2009, massacre against opposition demonstrators in a stadium in Conakry.   Pivi is long thought to be one of the primary perpetrators of the attack.  Human Rights Watch was one of the first organizations on the ground after the attack to conduct an investigation and to hold interviews with victims.  HRW’s relentless pursuit of truth and justice in the 2009 attack is one of the few rays of hope for victims and their families.  Guinea Oye has repeatedly applauded HRW’s efforts over the last four years to keep pressure on the Guinean court system and Alpha Conde, himself, to make sure the country is responsive to the need to move forward with indictments of those responsible.  An HRW press statement, issued last week, addresses Pivi’s questioning before the court.
 
HRW makes an interesting request in its statement concerning Pivi, whom HRW has long asked Alpha Conde to remove from his cabinet.  The statement asks “Guinean officials” to put Pivi on leave from his post as Minister for Presidential Security while under court inquiry, because of concern that he will use his cabinet level position to exert undue influence on the investigation.  “Guinean officials?”  Anyone in particular?  As a member of the Guinean cabinet, there is only one person who can make Claude Pivi do anything — Alpha Conde.  Why didn’t HRW address Conde directly in its press statement and ask him to do the deed?  There was a time when HRW had no qualms about calling out Alpha Conde on a variety of things, including Guinea’s lack of progress on the September 28 case and his own dismal human rights record.  Why is HRW disassociating Conde from his Minister of Presidential Security?  
 
The most recent news from Guinea is that Alpha Conde has interceded on Pivi’s behalf to get a postponement (indefinite?) of his questioning before the court.  Where is a new statement from HRW calling out Conde for interfering in Pivi’s case by getting his court appearance postponed?
 
If one takes a few steps back, Conde’s behavior concerning Pivi is strange.  Allowing Pivi to remain in his cabinet, claiming repeatedly that Pivi was not at the stadium on the day of the attack and helping him get away from court questioning demonstrates bad judgment on his part, especially for someone who is re-inventing himself.  In any event, their relationship is highly suspect and maybe one of those investigative reporters will dig deeply enough to reveal it.
 
In a recent post, Guinea Oye took particular note of HRW’s odd and prolonged silence concerning human rights abuses which have taken place over the last six months in Guinea.  These abuses run the gamut from extrajudicial killings to rape to mutulation to burning of homes and businesses to arbitrary arrests and all manner of anti-Peul repression.  Not only have state forces been involved in this violence but also Malinke militias, Donzos (mercenaries) and gangs paid for by Conde’s party, the RPG.  Further, HRW has made no comment about a state forces attack on the home of opposition leader, Cellou Dalein Diallo, in which his life was threatened.  Diallo ran against Conde and won the final round of the 2010 presidential election which Conde then stole. The state-sponsored violence committed in the first six months of 2013 mirrors that of what happened in 2009.  HRW’s silence on the latest violence in Guinean is disheartening and puzzling.
 
The close focus by human rights organizations on the the September 28 massacre and the lack of focus on the 2013 violence suggests that the international community’s perceptions about one human rights abuser– Dadis Camara — are quite different from those about another human rights abuser –Alpha Conde.  Anything that could be done to get Camara a one-way ticket out of Guinea was fine.  Courtesy of a bullet to the head, Camara is now in exile in Burkina Faso.  Within the last year, the international community has nearly stood on its head to clean up, cover up, and re-invent Conde to keep him in office.  A shift of focus away from Conde took place in several human rights groups roughly in the same time frame and it is not coincidental.  While a spruced up Conde may be helping an influx of business investors in Guinea, the fact that he is still at the helm of the country is an insult to the people of Guinea.
 
Re-inventing Conde or going silent about his gross human rights abuses may appease an international community desperate to hold legislative elections so it can proclaim Guinea a  “democracy.”  It is the politicians and diplomats who manipulate facts and factors in order to bring about desired results.  Such manipulations can change a country in an instant, as evidenced by Conde’s theft of the 2010 presidential election.
 
So, it is the journalists and the human rights organizations which must play it straight, tell it like it is and carry the banner for the victims of repression.  Falling in line with politicians and diplomats strips organizations of their credibility and, most importantly, it leaves those most vulnerable without a voice.
 
 
  
Human Rights Watch Statement
 

(Nairobi) – Guinea’s domestic panel of judges investigating the country’s 2009 stadium massacre and rapes has taken a significant step in charging a high-level suspect, who is expected to be questioned by the judges on July 4. Given the potential for interference with the investigation, the government should place the suspect on leave and take additional measures to protect judges, witnesses, and victims.

The suspect, Lt. Col. Claude “Coplan” Pivi, is Guinea’s minister for presidential security, a position he also held at the time of the 2009 crimes. Media reports said that Pivi was charged with murder, rape, arson, looting, destruction of buildings, and complicity. Consistent with international law, Pivi is presumed innocent unless tried and proven guilty.

“The judges took a major step for justice for the 2009 stadium massacre and rapes by filing charges against an influential, high-level official,” said Elise Keppler, senior international justice counsel with Human Rights Watch. “Now Guinean officials need to show their commitment to justice by putting Pivi on leave so he won’t be in a position to influence the investigation.”

Pivi appeared before the judges briefly on June 28, 2013, during which time they notified him that charges had been filed. Pivi is expected to appear before the judges again on July 4, for questioning.

Human Rights Watch has extensively documented the 2009 crimes and closely followed the investigation. On September 28, 2009, several hundred members of Guinea’s security forces burst into a stadium in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, and opened fire on tens of thousands of opposition supporters peacefully gathered there. By late afternoon, at least 150 Guineans lay dead or dying, and dozens of women had suffered brutal sexual violence, including individual and gang rape.

Human Rights Watch, a United Nations-supported International Commission of Inquiry, and other independent human rights organizations identified Pivi as someone whose possible role in the crimes should be investigated.

“The sensitive nature of charging such a high-ranking officer brings increased risk for judges, witnesses, and victims alike,” Keppler said. “The Guinean authorities need to ensure the judges, witnesses, and victims are protected against threats.”

The panel of judges has made important progress in the investigation. They have interviewed more than 200 victims and charged at least 8 people, including Pivi and other high-ranking military officers.

Others charged include Guinea’s minister in charge of fighting drug trafficking and organized crime, Col. Moussa Tiégboro Camara, and Col. Abdoulaye Chérif Diaby, the health minister at the time.Another key suspect the judges have charged, Lt. Abubakar “Toumba” Diakité, remains at large.

However, the investigation has been plagued by lack of material support and concerns about security for the judges. The investigation has yet to be completed nearly four years later. Some suspects have already been in pretrial detention longer than the two years permitted by Guinean law.

Human Rights Watch, in December 2012, identified several key benchmarks the Guinean government should meet to support the panel to complete its investigation. They include ensuring the judges have adequate resources and security; establishing a witness and victim protection program; and resolving a two-year-old request to the government of Burkina Faso to interview Guinea’s former president, Dadis Camara, who is living in that country.

The report also urged the government to place suspects on leave from government posts – namely Col. Moussa Tiégboro Camara and Lieutenant Colonel Pivi – where there is a risk they could interfere with the investigation. This is especially important given the prominent role members of the military have played in Guinean society.

On October 14, 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor confirmed that the situation in Guinea was under preliminary examination – a step that may or may not lead to the opening of an investigation. The ICC has closely monitored the situation and played a pivotal role in keeping accountability on the government’s agenda, and fostering progress by regularly visiting Guinea and talking with the local media.

“Victims in Guinea are desperate to see justice for the heinous crimes of September 28, 2009, and the days immediately following,” Keppler said. “Fair investigation and prosecution are essential to bring redress to the victims and to signal a definitive end to longstanding impunity for abuses by members of the security services.”

Guinea is a Rogue State and Alpha Conde is the Rogue-in-Chief

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The Guinean opposition returned to the streets on April 18 for its first protest since the February 27 march. In both events, unarmed, peaceful demonstrators were met with brutal violence by state security forces. In the case of the February 27 march, the state supplemented the violence with mercenaries and ethnic-based militias and, for the next five days opposition neighborhoods, primarily Peul, were ravaged. In the end, hundreds of opposition supporters were arrested, homes and businesses were burned, a major marketplace went up in smoke, several people were summarily executed and no one has been brought to account for these crimes. Welcome to the rogue state of Guinea.

In spite of the atrocities committed and the dangers that lie ahead, the street is where the opposition must be and stay. With the opposition’s ability to turn out hundreds of thousands of people in Conakry alone, this sea of humanity delivers the most compelling message of all — Alpha Conde does not have the support of the majority of Guineans and never has.

Between the February 27 march and the April 18 attempt to march, the opposition pulled out of the dialogue. The two last straws came when Prime Minister Fofana hoodwinked the UN West Africa representative, Said Djinnit, by asking him to sign off on the Conde government’s candidate for international facilitator which Fofana guaranteed was the choice of ALL parties — a bald-faced lie. Payback came shortly when the UN Secretary-General chose Djinnit as the dialogue facilitator. Simultaneously, Alpha Conde issued a decree setting the date of June 30 for legislative elections. The government did not consult with the opposition beforehand and, apparently, not with the electoral commission itself, the CENI. Conde’s decision was sudden, unilateral and seemingly desperate as it was announced on the weekend, late at night, on state TV. Djinnit’s appointment as facilitator and Conde’s decree setting the date for legislative elections are directly related.

As mentioned in a previous post on this blog, there is no other international official who knows more about how Conde operates, what he did to get “elected” and where the bodies are buried, than Said Djinnit. Simply put, Conde cannot afford to have Djinnit in Conakry and much less sitting at his dialogue table in Sekoutoureya Palace. Upon receiving signals that Djinnit would be the international facilitator, Conde knew what he had to do –sabotage the talks. He needed to make a move that was so egregious to the opposition that it would walk out of the dialogue. A unilateral decision on the date of the elections worked like a charm.

Now that the opposition has escaped from the clutches of a duplicitous government and there is little need to pretend, for the sake of the international community, that sitting down with a Conde government will bring peace, justice and prosperity to the country, it’s time to revise its strategy, tactics, rhetoric and communications to help the world understand what Guineans have known for a long time:`Guinea is a rogue state. It is irredeemable and the longer the rogue-in-chief, Alpha Conde, remains at the helm, the deeper the country sinks. Guinea is a broken country where basic freedoms are denied and security forces are the bandits and killers. Shortly, we will take a look at how Conde drove Guinea to its rogue state status, but first, a closer look at Conde is in order.

ROGUE-IN-CHIEF, ALPHA CONDE

Conde, in a very short time in office, has shamefully created a corrupt, human rights-abusing, pariah-like, unstable excuse of a country. Who is the head rogue? The first thing to know about Conde is that his ties with Guinea are few and of short duration. His mother and father (she, a senagalo-malienne and he, a burkinabe) migrated from Burkina Faso to Guinea where Conde was born. At the age of 14, Conde was sent to Paris where he spent the next 59 years, evidently without distinction. While he is addressed as “professor,” accounts of his schooling and teaching background are murky. So what did he do during all those years in France? Rumors over a long period of time suggest that he was involved in a profession that would make him an extremely valuable asset for France to have at the helm of resource-rich Guinea: an informant for French intelligence services.

As preparations began for Guinea’s 2010 presidential election, recall that Bernard Kouchner, former French foreign minister, and a school friend of Conde’s, swooped in to Conakry and played a significant role in steering the overall election process. In addition, the Organization of the International Francophonie took hold of the election like a pit bull with a bone it its jaws. Let’s just say that France was well-represented in planning and “guiding” the election.

It was the OIF which allowed the second round of the election to be delayed four months (contrary to the two-week interval mandated by the constitution), during which Conde pursued heads of state and others in the international community to help fund his campaign. In exchange for this generosity, Conde promised his donors a stake in Guinea’s natural resources after he assumed the presidency. He used the money he collected to “transform” his paltry 18% finish in the first round of the election into a magical “victory” in the overall election. He dispensed much of the money in the form of bribes to a variety of Guinean officials to ensure their cooperation in the elaborate fraud needed to take him from 18% of the vote to 52% in the second round. Were it not for the help of foreigners, Alpha Conde could never have become the president of Guinea.

This is all to say that Conde’s ties to Guinea are threadbare –not only does he not know Guinea, he has no affinity for its people, otherwise he would not command security forces to shoot them. Conde’s allegiance is to French politicos and international high rollers who bring him mining deals from which he will skim millions to take as he is tossed out the door – and, he will be tossed out.

Now that we have unveiled the rogue, let’s see how, in such a short amount of time, he transformed the country into a rogue state.

GUINEA AS A ROGUE STATE

Generally, a rogue state is characterized by authoritarian rule, serious human rights abuses, use of terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. While we can’t apply the last one, the other three fit like a glove.

Alpha Conde is the poster boy for authoritarian rule, partly because of his personality but also because there is little institutional structure to stop him. Conde makes unilateral decisions regularly, with the most important ones enshrined in presidential decrees. Challenges, appeals, clarifications, questions etc., are not allowed. Without a standing parliament he is like a kid in a candy store, swallowing whole the constitution, national laws andn with it, the lives of Guinean citizens.

When it comes to the other two primary characteristics of a rogue state, serious human rights abuse and terrorism, we can discuss these together because, in Conde’s Guinea, one does not exist without the other. Conde came to office illegitimately and criminally, via a grand election scheme designed to intimidate and disenfranchise voters of his opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo, and this was accomplished largely through terror. Part of this plot involved interim-president, Sekouba Konate, who supplied the muscle, weapons and rapists to attack, murder and rape opposition supporters, primarily those of the Peul ethnicity, in cities such as Siguiri and Kourousso. The objective was to terrorize communities likely to vote for Diallo causing people to flee, become displaced, and disenfranchised by making it impossible for them to return to their home districts to vote.

When you come to office by stealing the election, you must use extensive repression just to stay in the job. Since Conde arrived in office, he has violated the constitution, national laws and international laws – a virtual trifecta! His offenses run the gamut from violations of freedom of speech and assembly to ordering the police to use deadly force against unarmed, peaceful demonstrators, to the incarceration of opposition supporters without cause often languishing in jail for long periods of time.

The security and military forces are established entities in Guinea whose existence is embedded in the constitution, national laws and various military-security regulations. Unfortunately, In Guinea these rules and safeguards are not applied generally, and especially, not when it comes to the opposition. The September 28, 2009, massacre and rapes stand out as the worst crimes ever committed in Guinea. Both military and security forces coordinated the attack against opposition demonstrators and were the primary perpetrators of the murder of 200 people, the injury of 1,200 and the vicious rape and mutilation of over 100 women. This was an audacious combination of terror through which every manner of human rights abuse was committed. In the years since, security forces have metamorphosed into bona fide “thugs,” and certainly not the kind of law enforcement officers from whom Guineans would seek help or protection. These guys have access to all the guns they need to rob, rape, and murder, which they do with impunity. This is the result of a license to kill which Alpha Conde gave to both the military and the security forces in the early days of his regime. It is specific to two areas: those involved in opposition politics and ethnic Peuls. When both are combined, this represents the overwhelming majority of Guineans.

Yet, in the September 2009 massacre and rapes, there was another “force” committing heinous crimes that day.— mercenaries from Liberia. Since Conde has been in office he has hired people outside the “military-security forces” framework for operations he does not want attributed to the military and security forces. As we shall see, Conde’s acquisition of “off the grid” killers has widened considerably over the last few years..

In September 2011, the opposition held a protest march which drew huge numbers of people. The security forces were very brutal in their treatment of unarmed, peaceful demonstrators. But, within the march, something very strange was taking place – men stabbing opposition protesters with knives. Later, we find out that the ones doing the stabbing are part of a group that Conde hired from the Forest region, known as Donzos (hunters).

Months later, rumors spread of ethnic-based militias, consisting of young Malinke men receiving training in Angola. Those rumors quickly became fact and now several “classes” of ethnic militias have graduated from training. The militias are being housed in military barracks throughout Conakry.

It is Conde’s procurement of mercenaries and ethnic militias that slides Guinea into its most roguish and dangerous circumstances, primarily because of the increased terror factor. These irregular forces hold no legal status and are not bound by any of Guinea’s laws. Conde regularly supplements security forces with Donzos and more recently, he debuted his ethnic militias. It was mercenaries joined by Malinke militias plus state security forces which tore Conakry apart in the days after the February 27 march. They laid siege in opposition neighborhoods, primarily Peul, for several days ransacking, shooting, stabbing, raping, mutilating, killing, and burning of homes and businesses. This is Conde’s response to a peaceful opposition march.

After Rwanda, the world understands clearly that the only reason to acquire an ethnic militia is to conduct an ethnic genocide, in this case, the Peuls. Conde’s anti-Peul hate speech began during the presidential elections and continues to this day. Verbalizing his hatred of Peuls has become second nature so much so that he told the prosecutor, in the trial of the July 19, 2011, “self-attack” on his home, that the prosecution strategy for the trial should be changed to blame the attack on a “complot Peul,” or Peul plot, a concept already soaked in blood in Sekou Toure’s world many years ago.

Dangerous times are ahead for Guineans and serious instability for worrisome investors. Conde’s rogue state features him as the captain of terrorist attacks – against his own people. He has trained mercenaries and militias on stand-by, he knows where his prospective victims live, and he has the natural resources to persuade good people to look the other way as it unfolds.

The clear message to the international community is that, for the basest of reasons, it supported Alpha Conde as he drove the country off a cliff. Without that support, Conde would have been tossed out long ago in the direction of France, his real home, and the people of Guinea would not have had to endure the humiliation and ravages of a thug at the helm of their country.

PICS-VIDEO: World Bank Meets with Women Marching Against State-Sponsored Violence and Rape in Guinea

Women’s march representatives meet with World Bank official to present him with a “memorandum of justice” which details many years of violence and repression in Guinea, including a massacre in 2009 where 150 people were killed, hundreds injured and at least 80 women were raped.  Not only does the current government of Alpha Conde refuse to pursue those responsible for the massacre, but it commits regularly acts of gross human rights abuse, including extra-judicial killings, torture and rape.  The women are asking that the World Bank, and other international financial institutions, refrain from providing aid and assistance to Guinea as long as it maintains a deplorable record on human rights.

The March

On Monday, hundreds of women gathered in Lafayette Park, next to the White House, to march against state-sponsored violence and repression in Guinea. Of particular importance is a massacre which took place on September 28, 2009. Opposition supporters, who had gathered in a stadium for a rally, were set upon by state security forces who seriously injured over a thousand people, conducted extra-judicial killings of 150 and viciously raped at least 80 women.

Monday’s march in Washington was sponsored by the Women’s Caucus of Pottal-Fii-Bhantal- Fouta Djallon, a group which monitors human rights abuses in Guinea and organizes Guineans to fight these abuses legally. At the rally before the march, the group condemned the current administration of Alpha Conde for not bringing to justice those responsible for the September 28, 2009 atrocities. Perhaps Conde’s most egregious act of impunity regarding the massacre is placing two of the primary perpetrators, Tiegboro Camara and Claude Pivi, in his cabinet!

The International Criminal Court initially investigated the massacre and found that gross human rights abuses had occurred as well as crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, international pressure influenced the ICC to put the investigation on the back burner fearing that it could destabilize the country just as Guinea’s presidential election was about to take place. Two years later, no one has been prosecuted for these crimes. The ICC will only take on a case for prosecution if a country is neither willing nor able to do so. The new head of the ICC and its investigator of the massacre, Fatou Bensouda, visited Guinea recently to encourage the government to proceed with an investigation and prosecution. How long the case will languish in the dark halls of Guinea’s justice system is not known.

World Bank representative with leaders of the Women’s Caucus of Fii-Pottal-Bhanfil Fouta Djallon, sponsors of the march

In an attempt to get some movement on the case and to draw attention to the human rights abuses taking place under the current president, Alpha Conde, marchers stopped at the offices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the US State Department, all of which provide Guinea with aid and assistance. Their objective was to give a “memorandum of justice” to each institution which states that Alpha Conde’s deplorable human rights record must not be rewarded with continued aid. At the Bank, a representative met with march leaders to discuss the serious human rights situation in Guinea and they agreed to keep the dialogue open on the issues of concern. An IMF representative accepted a copy of the memorandum as well.

Unfortunately, the State Department’s new head at its Guinea desk seemed ill-equipped to handle, either diplomatically or substantively, a discussion with march representatives. Being new at his job, he may have received bad advice about the importance of the group and the issues it represents and, in the most undiplomatic manner, he refused to meet. Further, in phone conversations with march organizers prior to the march, he deigned to give advice on protest tactics, stressing repeatedly that “marching doesn’t accomplish anything.” It is not readily evident that he has the experience to provide such advice; more likely he is echoing more bad advice he was given..

As for “marching not accomplishing anything,” ask those who benefit from civil rights guarantees through the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., ask anti-Vietnam war protesters who brought down a war-mongering US president, and ask labor leaders around the world who, through marching, brought working conditions out of the Dark Ages.

Check out Guinea Oye! in the future for more updates on the work of Pottal-Fii-Bhantal-Fouta Djallon activities and yes, marches!


Protest Against Alpha Conde in New York, Three Arrested

GUINEANS PROTESTING CONDE GOV’T. VIOLENCE AGAINST THE PEUHL ETHNIC GROUP OUTSIDE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY WHERE CONDE WAS SPEAKING, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 22, 2011

Columbia Daily Spectator


Friday 23 September 2011 04:44am EST.

Three arrested while protesting Guinean president

by Karla Jimenez

Three people were arrested near campus yesterday at a protest against the attendance of Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea, at the World Leaders Forum.

Justice in Guinea, a group that campaigns against human rights violations and genocide in Guinea, stood outside the Columbia gates at 114th and Amsterdam yesterday morning during Condé’s panel titled “Fighting for Democracy and Prosperity in Guinea.”

The three arrests were confirmed by a community affairs officer at the 26th precinct.

“There was a protest on the presence of the president of Guinea. During the protest they got a little bit out of hand,” the officer said. “They wanted to damage property.”

Aaron Johnson, CC ’14, was present at the protest and saw three men get arrested. Two were handcuffed next to the car, and a third was chased away from the gates to campus by police.

“One person resisted arrest and it became a big thing,” Johnson said. “He started to run and the police started running after him. They chased him under the overpass on Amsterdam.”

Despite its rich natural resources, Guinea is one of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Guinea’s contested 2010 presidential election, which saw the triumph of Condé, exposed a sharp ethnic divide between Guinea’s two largest ethnicities, Peul and Malinke.

Resentment has grown against the Malinke, the group Condé belongs to, because they control a large share of the economy and have held more seats of power in government.

Reni Benson, CC’14, who was at the protest and spoke to people on both sides, said that when Condé’s car rolled out of the Amsterdam gates, his supporters reached the car first, but soon afterward the opponents of the president converged on the car.

“Everyone was crowding in on the caravan. The cops took one person aside and arrested him there,” Johnson said. “The cops took one person down.”

Benson said that the police tried to keep the protesters away from the caravan, explaining that they were easily identifiable as many were in traditional dress and speaking their language.

“The police were yelling, ‘Go away, go away,’” Benson said.

Condé’s opponents said they were there to protest violence that they said had been inflicted upon the Peul by Condé’s government and its supporters.

The group had signs with protests such as “Stop rape and stop the killings.”

The gates were closed by Public Safety, who asked for CUID of anyone entering campus, as NYPD asked protesters to leave the area.

karla.jimenez@columbiaspectator.com

Guinea’s Thug-Soldiers Jailing Children: HRW Demands Fair Trials for Detainees

Of the several photos and video circulating which show the Guinean military detaining people after the November 15 vote announcement, a startling number of the detainees appear to be children under the age of 16.  Hopefully, the International Criminal Court will  take a look at the military’s incarceration of minors and add this violation to the growing list of crimes committed by the transitional government and its state security forces.

Rights Group Demands Fair Trials for Guinea’s Post-Election Detainees

Guinean police detain a young supporter of UFDG presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo suspected of throwing stones and looting in Conakry, 15 Nov., 2010.

Human Rights Watch is calling for fair trials for the 125 men detained after post-election violence in Guinea.

Corinne Dufka, HRW’s Director for West Africa, says there are concerns that some of those detained in post-presidential election violence in Guinea were arrested for ethnic or political reasons.

“We understand that the vast majority of those detained were from the Peuhl ethnicity,” Dufka said, “which concerns us because the violence as far as we are able to determine was between mobs of youth representing both parties and on both sides of the political ethic divide so we are concerned that there has been a disproportionate response on the part of the security forces against members of one community, that is the Peuhl.”

Guineans went to the polls earlier this month to vote in the second round of presidential elections.  The candidates, former prime minister Cellou Diallo and long-time opposition leader Alpha Conde, are members of the country’s two largest ethnic groups, Peuhl and Malinke. And violent clashes between their supporters have delayed this vote several times over the past few months.

Dufka said that in many cases security forces were indeed reacting to these violent clashes and at times trying to protect citizens from this violence.

“Following the declaration of a the election results there were indeed violent protests, and there were indeed attacks against civilians based on their political affiliation or ethnicity so the security forces had a reason to be engaged to be able to protect civilians and to control this unrest,” Dufka said.

According to Dufka, the 125 men arrested are being held in Guinea’s central prison, the population of which has recently swelled to more than 1,200 men in a facility that was built to hold 350.

Dufka added many men claimed that security forces demanded money in exchange for releasing them from detention.

“In many cases in Guinea, detention has become a money-making venture,” Dufka said. “We documented numerous cases of young men being picked up and then being asked for money to secure their release and if they could not pay that money, then they were told that they would be detained in the prison, charged with a crime and detained in the prison, so that also suggests that there is a financial criminal motive on the part of the security forces.”

The 125 men in detention have all been charged with a crime and are awaiting trial, but there are serious backlogs in Guinea’s judicial system due to resource shortages, and the men may have very long waits ahead of them.

UN Secretary-General: Unconstitutional Changes in West Africa, Especially Guinea, Cause Concern

 
 The following article concerns the transmission of a report from the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon on the UN Office in West Africa (UNOWA).  This is a report issued regularly by the Secretary-General and the one made public today covers the time period of July – December 2009.  This report should not be confused with the UN Commission of Inquiry Report on Guinea that was leaked to the press in December, but only the French version.    So far, the Inquiry Report has not been translated into other languages and made public.
 
The UNOWA report addresses several West African issues.   Just below and prior to the article is an excerpt from the “Observations and Recommendations” section of  the UNOWA report that deals with the September 28 incident in Guinea and the subsequent political fall out.
 

EXCERPT from UN Secretary-General report on the UN Office in West Africa, Observations and Recommendations – Guinea, page 14-15

 

56. On Guinea, my Special Representative and UNOWA will continue to support

the mediation process with a view to reaching a solution that will be acceptable to

both parties, will serve the cause of democracy, peace and stability in Guinea and

will enjoy the support of the international community. This is all the more crucial as

any breakdown of law and order in Guinea would have significant repercussions for

other countries in the Mano River region that are recovering from recent conflict

and internal turmoil. The report of the International Commission of Inquiry is a

strong signal that the international community will not tolerate impunity for gross

human rights violations. Further to the statement issued by the President of the

Security Council dated 28 October 2008 (S/PRST/2009/27), which condemned the

violence and human rights violations in Guinea and reiterated the need to fight

impunity and bring the perpetrators to justice, it is critical that the report’s

recommendations be implemented in a prompt manner. This should also serve to

advance national reconciliation and a peaceful transition towards democratic rule.

57. The recent developments in Guinea following the assassination attempt against

Captain Camara and the ensuing reaction of the security forces clearly demonstrate

the fragility of the situation. My Special Representative has been consulting with the

Government of Guinea, the forces vives and other national, regional and

international stakeholders to prevent a further deterioration of the situation, in

particular by urging the Government to ensure that the security forces exercise

restraint and by encouraging the Guinean parties to cooperate with the mediation

process, in line with the position adopted by the international community.

58. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to strengthen the capacity of the United

 

Nations to monitor the situation in Guinea, including through the deployment of a

senior political adviser in Conakry, as part of a support package to the mediation

process funded by the Peacebuilding Support Office. UNOWA has also initiated the

establishment of a joint United Nations security sector reform task force for Guinea

with the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery of UNDP, in support of

ECOWAS security sector reform planning. I urge other bilateral and multilateral

partners of Guinea on security sector reform to coordinate their respective

approaches with the ECOWAS-United Nations supported initiative. I would also

like to highlight the urgent need to support emergency humanitarian preparedness

and preventive action with timely contributions from the donor community and

other funding mechanisms.

59. In the coming six months, UNOWA will seek to improve electoral processes in

the subregion in accordance with its mandate to promote good governance practices

and confidence-building measures. Building on the recommendations of the regional

workshop on security and elections held in Conakry in November 2008, UNOWA

will promote and support initiatives aimed at creating conditions for free, fair and

peaceful elections. It will also continue to support ongoing mediation efforts in

Togo, particularly in terms of helping address remaining contentious issues and

electoral matters.

End of UNOWA Report excerpt

 

UN NEWS CENTRE

Unconstitutional changes in West African governments spark Ban’s concern

6 January 2010 – The recent resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government and other undemocratic practices in West Africa, especially the situation in Guinea, could have negative implications for peace and stability in the region, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cautioned today.

Last September in Guinea, which witnessed a military coup in December 2008, armed forces opened fire on unarmed demonstrators at an opposition rally in the capital, Conakry, killing at least 150 civilians. Aside from the death toll, countless other protesters were raped or attacked by members of the country’s armed forces.

That incident “widened the rift between the ruling military authorities on the one hand and opposition parties and civil society on the other, and led to a significant heightening of tension across the country,” Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report on the UN Office in West Africa (UNOWA), made public today.

The international community’s swift reaction to the deadly crackdown, as well as the widespread support for his decision to set up an international probe into the incident, “are indications of our common determination to put an end to impunity in Guinea and in West Africa in general,” he noted.

Mr. Ban transmitted the report of the International Commission of Inquiry on the incident to the Guinean Government as well as to the Security Council, the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in December.

Also last month, President Moussa Dadis Camara survived an assassination attempt, which led to further violence and human rights abuses by security forces, the Secretary-General said.

He warned that the “deteriorating” situation in Guinea could jeopardize the fragile peace processes underway in the nation’s Mano River Basin neighbours – Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone – as well threaten the stability of the greater subregion.

The report, which covers the period from July to December 2009, pointed out that the holding of peaceful and credible elections, including in States considered to be particularly fragile, is an encouraging sign that democratic practices continue to take root in West Africa.

But it added that several nations in the region, such as Togo and Niger, continue to be plagued by political crises due to contested electoral processes, unconstitutional government changes or other threats to democracy.

To tackle the threat posed by drug trafficking and cross-border organized crime, Mr. Ban stressed the need to enhance UNOWA’s police capacity.

There has been a decline in seizures of narcotics at European airports on flights originating in West Africa. However, that is not necessarily a result of a dip in trafficking, but rather due to a “tactical repositioning” by traffickers, who are no longer using the region only as a transit point.

Traffickers, he said, may be trying to produce narcotics in West Africa, constituting “a most alarming trend and a potentially serious destabilizing factor and threat to West African populations.”