Anti-government protests violently dispersed and protesters detained
On 8th April 2017, thousands gathered in the capital, Bissau, to protest against the current political impasse that has led to serious instability and economic troubles in the country. The parliament has failed to meet even once in the last year, creating paralysis and stagnation within the government's main decision-making body. Frustrated demonstrators called on President José Mário Vaz to resign, claiming he has been unable to resolve the country's ongoing political crisis.
The protesters, mostly youth, gathered peacefully in the centre of the city, when police turned on the demonstrators, firing tear gas at the crowd. Seven members of the Movimento de Cidadãos Conscientes e Inconformados (Movement of Conscience and Non-conforming Citizens) were detained and held for several hours for questioning before being released. The next protest is planned for either the 13th or 20th April 2017, though the head of the police has threatened the same violent response should the demonstration take place.
On 9th April 2017, the Liga Guineense dos Direitos Humanos (Guinean Human Rights League - LGDH) issued a public statement condemning the security force's use of excessive force and the arbitrary detention of seven protesters. Augusto Mário da Silva, LGDH president, described the police crackdown:
"There was excessive use of tear gas to intimidate peaceful demonstrators, who did not cause contempt or acts of vandalism...this is a way of limiting the fundamental rights of citizens provided for in the Constitution". (Translated from Portuguese)
The LGDH called upon the government to respect the rights to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly.
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