Guinea killing opposition supporters following presidential election

The use of excessive force by Guinean security force in the weeks following the country’s presidential election, has led to more than a dozen killed including a 62-year-old man presumably from torture, and the arrest of hundreds during protests or police operations in pro-opposition neighborhoods,  Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

President Alpha Condé was re-elected on October 18 for a third term and will be sworn in today. Amnesty International is highlighting new evidence, including testimonies from families of victims, analysis and authentication of images, and a count done with hospitals of the number of people killed, of the repression of demonstrations and dissenting voices between October 19 and the beginning of this month.

“President Alpha Condé’s swearing in today is the culmination of a contested electoral process marred by serious and widespread human rights violations in Guinea, carried out with complete impunity over more than a year. Before, during and immediately after the election, people were killed and injured by the defense and security forces, and despite regular announcements of investigations there have so far been no convictions,” said Fabien Offner, Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

“President Condé has the opportunity, with this new mandate, to break with the country’s repressive past. All suspected killings of protesters and others resulting from the excessive and unlawful use of force, and those of police officers must be investigated, and perpetrators brought to justice.”

Violent protests   

Following the presidential election, protests-some of which were violent- erupted to contest the results. The defense and security forces responded to the protests by using excessive force when carrying out operations in some neighborhouds which resulted in deaths.

According to the judicial authorities, during the days following the presidential election, 20 dead bodies were handed to the forensic medicine department at Ignace Deen Hospital in Conakry “for autopsy”, following the post-electoral violence.

According to the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG, an opposition party) there were 46 “victims of targeted assassinations” between 19 October and 3 November.

At least 16 people have been shot dead between 18 and 24 October, according to a count made by Amnesty International. Between 19 and 28 October alone, one clinic in the capital received 37 wounded people, including 15 with firearms injuries and nine with stab wounds.

Reprisals against residents

Amnesty International has documented acts of violence by the defense and security forces against residents of neighborhouds that favor the opposition in the capital.

In Wanindara, north of Conakry, the director general of the national police reported two “armed attacks by two groups of assailants in the Wanindara market” carried out on 30 November against “police officers”, leaving one officer dead and three injured. The Security Ministry subsequently described the attacks as “terrorist acts” and the police announced “sweeps” operations and a “strong security presence” in Wanindara.

During this period of heightened police and security activity, Mamadou Lamarana Diallo, a young resident of Wanindara, was killed at close range on 1 December without reason, by a group of six police officers who came to search his family home.  The young man presented no immediate danger.

His mother, who was present at the time of the incident, told Amnesty International:

“(..) The police said they were going to search the house (…) They looked at all the rooms and saw no one (…) In the meantime, I called my son. His arrival coincided with the exit of the police officers from the house and they shot him. He died along the way to the hospital. We returned home with the body we buried.”

Wanindara was “surrounded” in the days following the election by the defense and security forces, who “shot all over the neighbourhood,” according to another resident who was beaten with her son on 1 December. She told Amnesty International:

“(..) My 25-year-old son who is a student was going at the university and showed his student card to the police, but they beat him. He came back, and then I walked out to the road with him, greeted the police and asked them if they were the ones who hit my son. At that moment, their officer ordered the agents to knock at me. They ripped my clothes. “

“Authorities’ virulent statements about perceived dissenting neighborhouds in Conakry have intensified since Alpha Condé’s election. This worrying verbal escalation, coincided with serious human rights violations committed by security forces,” said Fabien Offner.

“Nothing could justify security operations that look like punitive expeditions carried out against the inhabitants of an entire neighborhoud. The use of firearms by police is only allowed under international law to protect themselves or others from imminent danger of death or serious injury.”

In the Cimenterie district in Dubreka, north of Conakry, Abdoulaye Djibril Bah died due to injuries sustained to his arm and hip from three bullets fired by defense and security forces on 21 October. He died in the arms of his friend who was threatened by police on his way to the hospital.

According to testimony received by Amnesty International, Abdoulaye had met people fleeing security forces who were in the way he was heading to and was shot in the arm. When he was trying to escape, a second bullet hit him in the leg, and when trying to crawl a third bullet hit him in the hip. Two people who tried to rescue him were respectively shot in the leg, arm and stomach.

“(…) Abdoulaye was conscious when I found him. (…) The police pointed guns at us saying that if we move (…) they would shoot. I cried and told them Abdoulaye was dying (…) I also told them to kill me because I will not let Abdoulaye die. A policeman came and said ‘let them go, he (Abdoulaye) is already a dead man,” his friend said.

Use of bullets by security forces

The director general of the police has repeatedly said police are not carrying arms when maintaining order.

Based on expert analysis and authentication of photographs of shells recovered in a district of Conakry where the defense and security forces were present to repress a demonstration, Amnesty International confirms the use of bullets intended for AK / MPAK-type guns.  These weapons are frequently used by members of the defense and security forces. The bullets may have been manufactured in China.

On 23 October, these types of bullets were used by members of the defense and security forces, who seriously injured 24-year-old Ousmane Barry in the Lansanayah neighborhoud in Conakry. According to witnesses, they killed several people after besieging the neighborhood on that day.

Torture and ill-treatment

Forensic medicine experts at Amnesty International also analyzed and authenticated the photos of the injuries of Ibrahima Sow, 62, arrested on 24 October and who died on 17 November while he was under arrest.

Ibrahima Sow was arrested for “criminal participation in a gathering with violence”, after the attack of an uranium company train during which “three gendarmes, a soldier and a civilian” were killed, according to the Attorney General of the Conakry Court of Appeal.

The day after Sow’s death the Ministry of Justice said in a statement that he had tested positive for Covid-19, then recovered and left the Conakry prison treatment center.

The Ministry said he was subsequently “complaining of diabetes” and was taken to the hospital, where he died. His family and the Guinean Organization for Human Rights (OGDH) accuse the authorities of deliberately covering up a death caused by acts of torture or ill-treatment in detention.

An Amnesty International analysis concluded that “taken together, Ibrahima Sow’s pattern of injuries strongly suggest the infliction of burns using a hot iron rod or a similar object. These injuries are very strong evidence of ill-treatment.”

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

The authorities carried out at least 400 arbitrary arrests, targeting opponents and members of civil society, after the presidential election. On 31 October, the president of the Court of Appeal of Conakry announced that 325 people had been arrested during the post-electoral violence.

On 10 November, the Dixinn district prosecutor announced that 78 people had been brought before a judge and several others were wanted. On the following day, some of them like Ibrahima Chérif Bah, vice-president of the opposition UFDG party, Ousmane “Gaoual” Diallo, MP and coordinator of the UFDG, Abdoulaye Bah, former mayor of Kindia, Etienne Soropogui, president of the movement  “Our common values”, and Mamadou Cellou Baldé, coordinator of the UFDG Committees were arrested.

They were charged with “possession and manufacture of small arms, criminal conspiracy, disturbing public order, looting and destruction, participation in a gathering, and statements inciting violence”.

Etienne Soropogui, who suffered from lung-related health problems, was admitted to hospital on 27 November. He returned to prison on 8 December, but his health condition still requires treatment, according to his lawyer. In addition, a FNDC top official, Oumar Sylla, has been in prison for several months.

On 22 November, the government spokesman announced, “the suspension for health reasons of mass demonstrations throughout the national territory”.

“Challenging President Condé’s reelection, should not become another pretext to muzzle opposition members, ban peaceful demonstrations and protect the impunity of the defense and security forces who have perpetrated violence against demonstrators and passers-by. The new government must urgently end the bloody crackdown in Guinea,” said Fabien Offner.

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