Videos and satellite imagery confirm security forces fired live bullet at protesters in Guinea

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Witness testimonies, satellite imagery and videos analyzed and authenticated by Amnesty International confirm that defense and security forces in Guinea have used live ammunition against protesters after the October 18 disputed presidential election.

Several deaths and injuries have been recorded during protests and riots, which also led to destruction of houses and properties. Internet and phone calls were disrupted or cut on October 23 and 24, and an online news website is still under suspension.

President Alpha Condé
President Alpha Condé of Guinea

Amnesty International has raised concerns about the silence of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) given the scale of human rights violations inflicted on people in Guinea. 

“Authorities must stop the use of firearms. The death of protesters, bystanders and local officials of the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution must also be independently, impartially and effectively investigated. If criminal culpability is found, those suspected must be brought to justice in fair trials before civilian courts,” said Fabien Offner, Amnesty International West and Central Africa researcher.

“President Alpha Condé has repeatedly said he preferred to leave the country in 1993, rather than go into confrontation and ‘govern cemeteries’, as is the case today. We urge the international community to urgently come together and call for the protection of the population and for investigations to be opened.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa is welcomed by President Alpha Condé of the Republic of Guinea on arrival at the Conakry Gbessia International Airport. rrPresident Ramaphosa is on a working visit taking place in the context of strengthening the already existing bilateral, political and economic relations between South Africa and the sister country. 03/12/2019, Elmond Jiyane, GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa is welcomed by President Alpha Condé of the Republic of Guinea on arrival at the Conakry Gbessia International Airport. rrPresident Ramaphosa is on a working visit taking place in the context of strengthening the already existing bilateral, political and economic relations between South Africa and the sister country. 03/12/2019, Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

In a statement read on national television on October 23, the Minister of Territorial Administration announced the requisition of the army to “maintain order wherever needed throughout the national territory.”  Prior to this announcement, the army had been deployed to several towns. This is contrary to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) rules, which state that “as a general rule, military personnel should not be deployed for the maintenance of order during meetings and should only be used in exceptional circumstances, and only in cases of absolute necessity.”

On October 22, the same minister in another television pronouncement claimed that “12-calibre rifles were used by demonstrators to fire at citizens and members of the defense and security forces.’’ While Amnesty International could not independently confirm the use of weapons by the protesters, the organization, based on analysis of satellite imagery and authenticated videos, concludes that members of the defense and security forces used weapons of war in several towns, including Conakry and Labé.

A video taken in  Kobayah (Conakry) on October 21 and authenticated by Amnesty International shows a member of the defense and security forces wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest firing three times and at a very close range in the direction of people supposed to be civilians, without any apparent threat to his life or that of another person, in violation of international rules on the use of firearms by armed forces.

Amnesty International was able to identify and analyze pictures of bullets and bullet shells taken in Labé (Labé region), where soldiers were deployed, according to several testimonies and videos. The analysis shows that these are ammunitions, 7.62x39mm in size which correspond to AK/PMAK weapons. Videos taken in recent days and months also show that these weapons are frequently carried by members of the Guinean defense and security forces, a fact that authorities have always denied.

As of 23 October, nine deaths according to authorities, 27 according to opposition

On October 21, the Ministry of Security announced the death of nine people, including two police officers. The opposition party Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) announced on 23 October that 27 people had been shot dead since 19 October, including 18 in Conakry, three in Manéah, three in Labé, one in Mamou, one in Télimélé and one in Pita. More than one hundred people were injured by gunshots while the house of UFDG leader and presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo has been surrounded by security forces since 20 October.

President Buhari receives in audience President Alpha Conde of Guinea at the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Forum in Sochi on 24th Oct 2019
President Buhari receives in audience President Alpha Conde of Guinea at the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Forum in Sochi on 24th Oct 2019

Diallo had proclaimed himself the winner without waiting for the official announcement of the results by the Independent National Electoral Commission which the opposition considers is under control of the government.

The FNDC has also accused the defense and security forces of having shot and killed Boubacar Baldé and Daouda Kanté, its local representatives in the areas of Sonfonia Gare 2 (Conakry) and Pita (Mamou region) respectively.

Amnesty International is still analyzing the information on its possession but is not yet able to establish a complete assessment, given the scale of the alleged deaths and injuries, and the disruption of the internet and telephone lines. However, the organization has documented, through various sources, the death of at least nine people, mostly shot dead, since 19 October. Information gathered so far on other alleged victims, based on data from some health facilities, as well as figures reported by the media in Guinea suggest that dozens of people might have been killed.

In two health facilities in the capital Conakry, Amnesty International has documented, between 19 and 21 October, at least 29 protesters injured, including several by firearms, or stabbed. The figure is an estimate.

El Hadj Yacouba Diallo, 67, was killed by a crowd on 23 October and his house in Enta-marché area (Conakry) was burnt, according to testimonies collected by Amnesty International.

A witness told the organization:

‘’El Hadj Yacouba Diallo lived here for a very long time. Young people from the ruling political majority came in the middle of the day, armed with sticks, stones and other weapons. When they arrived, Diallo first fired shots, then took refuge in his house. They took him out, stoned him and beat him to death. The compounds close to his have also been vandalized.”

“I left Abdoulaye on the ground and I had to run away”

Abdoulaye “Diomba” Diallo, 18, was shot dead on 19 October in Hamdallaye (Conakry), near the Concasseur crossroads, according to testimonies from a member of his family and a friend. These were also corroborated by a video authenticated by Amnesty International.

According to these testimonies, five gendarmerie vehicles and one from other security forces were present while Diallo was shot. A 20-seconds video shows groups of young men walking on the pavement where tires have been placed. Clouds formed by tear gas can be seen in the background, where the defense and security forces are supposed to be. The end of the video shows some young people running away in the opposite direction, and Abdoulaye “Diomba” Diallo falling on his back as a gunshot rang out. The victim’s clothes, visible in the video are the same as those visible in the pictures of his body, viewed by Amnesty International.

A friend of Abdoulaye carried him on his back until members of mixed security forces threw tear gas, making it impossible to carry his friend to safety. “I left Abdoulaye on the ground and I had to run away,” he said.

FNDC coordinator Boubacar Baldé, was killed on 21 October after being shot in the thigh. According to a family member, his friends took him to a health facility before attempting to transport him to a hospital, but roads were blocked preventing his evacuation.

Salimatou Bah, a nurse trainee in a health facility in the Cimenterie district (Conakry), died on 20 October 20 after being hit by a tear gas canister in the area of Bailobayo while on her way home. “She was buried on 21 October 21,” a relative told Amnesty International.

Frontal attack on freedom of expression

Internet connection and telephone calls to and from Guinea were severely disrupted or cut on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 October with no prior warning from the authorities. The 22 March constitutional referendum had already been marked by cut of the internet in violation of the right to freedom of expression and access to information. 

On 18 October, the High Authority for Communication (HAC) suspended the news website Guinéematin.com for a month, following “the live broadcast via Facebook of the vote counting” from several polling stations, and after the manager refused to stop the live broadcasting. The suspension decision is not only vague but contains legal loopholes with no possibility for appeal.

‘’This new standstill of various means of communications constitutes an attack on freedom of expression and an attempt to silence protesters, human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers,” said Fabien Offner.

“The authorities must immediately lift the suspension of Guinéematin.com news website and the restrictions on access to internet and social media so that everyone can freely express himself and journalists can do their job.”

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Today News Africahttps://todaynewsafrica.com
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