Thursday, October 08, 2009

Friends of Guinea statement on the events in Guinea

From: The Friends of Guinea blog

Below is a statement on behalf of the Friends of Guinea board of directors on the recent events in Guinea

As an organization primarily comprising people who've lived in or have some other strong connection to the country, Friends of Guinea is following the unfolding events in the Republic of Guinea with grave concern. We condemn by the massacre of 187 peaceful, unarmed protesters (over 1000 were injured) by the Guinean security forces and are particularly horrified by reports of soldiers publicly raping women.

The country's military leader, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, claims he has no control over the elements within the army and even blamed civilian opposition politicians for leading their followers into a confrontation with that army. In reality, the tension has been caused by Guineans' rightful disgust with corrupt leaders who've misruled and oppressed them with complete impunity for decades, last week's slaughter being only the most bloody example.

Guineans were initially optimistic about the new regime, as Capt. Dadis promised to crack down on corruption and drug trafficking. He also promised not to stand in next January's presidential elections. It was his reneging on that promise that led to the escalation of tension in the country. The brutal suppression, by men in uniform acting in his name, of peaceful protests is only making things worse.

If we are to take him at his word, that he's not in control of the military, then the military ruler must make re-establishing that control his number one task, not running a political campaign. We are heartened that Capt. Dadis says he agrees that an international inquiry into the massacre is merited, but that is not enough. We call on him to keep his initial promise to not run in the upcoming presidential elections and to hand over power to a democratically-elected civilian government. Imposing control over the security forces, implementing the rule of law and establishing democracy would be three of the most important things he could do for Guineans.

The September 28th killings occurred on the 50th anniversary of Guinea's historic rejection of French colonialism. In the lead up to that vote, Guinean leader Sékou Touré said that his countrymen would choose "poverty in liberty over prosperity in slavery." Guineans have seen plenty of poverty but precious little liberty. They are clearly showing how fed up they are with corrupt, autocratic regimes. After half a century, it's long past time they are allowed a leader who reflects their will. We call on Capt. Dadis to allow that to happen.

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