Rights groups accuse Guinea police of brutality
Human rights bodies on Tuesday condemned Guinea’s police for their brutality in quelling violent clashes between rival political parties, which broke out during election protests in the past week.
Amnesty International said that security forces had fired indiscriminately at unarmed civilians, beat protesters and ransacked homes during the clashes, which caused a run-off presidential vote to be delayed for a second time.
“This ruthless and reckless reaction to the protests is the latest example of violence by Guinea’s security forces, whose brutality habitually goes unpunished,” said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s Guinea researcher.
A statement by Amnesty cited eyewitnesses claiming police had undressed and beaten several protesters in clashes across the capital, Conakry. The organisation also said at least 15 people were shot by security forces, one of whom had died as a result of his injuries.
A prominent human rights activist, Mamadou Aliou Barry of the independent National Observatory for Democracy and Human Rights (ONDH), was beaten when he tried to stop police from attacking a group of youths.
“The Guinean security forces need to make good on their recent promises to instil more discipline in their ranks,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Ethnic and political tensions have risen in Guinea since a first round of voting in June in an historic election meant to return the country to civilian rule after 25 years of military regimes, dictatorship and corruption.
Allegations of fraud and mistrust have led to violent clashes between supporters of the final two candidates, Cellou Dalein Diallo, of Peul ethnicity and Alpha Conde, a Malinke.
A run-off due last Sunday was postponed for the second time as both sides accused each other’s supporters of inciting violence and disrupting the vote.
The two candidates appealed for calm as transitional leader General Sekouba Konate vowed a “zero tolerance” approach to disturbances.
“I will not accept that Guineans feel strangers at home or should be hunted down because of their ethnic, religious or political background,” Konate said in an address on state television late on Saturday.
The brutality of Guinea’s security forces has been highlighted during the country’s deepening political crisis, notably during the massacre of more than 150 opposition supporters in a Conakry stadium in September 2009.—Sapa-AFP.