Several killed, injured, arrested in protest against the military junta’s “unilateral management of the transition”
Several people killed in protest against military junta
Front National pour la Défence de la Constitution (FNDC), a coalition of political parties, civil society groups and trade unions, called for protests on 28th and 29th July 2022 in Conakry to demand more transparency in Guinea’s transition, as coordinated by the military junta. Protests also called for the establishment of an inclusive framework for dialogue. According to news reports, the military junta deployed the armed forces to maintain public order during the demonstrations, and security forces reportedly used tear gas to disperse protesters, while protesters responded by throwing stones and burning tyres. Some of the protests turned into violent clashes between protesters and security forces, particularly in the neighbourhoods of Bambèto, Sonfonia and on the route Le Prince, and which led to casualties, injuries and dozens of arrests.
While authorities have only confirmed one death, human rights group Organisation Guinéenne de Défense des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen (OGDH - Guinean Organisation for the Defense of Human and Citizen Rights) said their monitors had recorded the death of at least three people, while several people were injured – some by live ammunition – and several people arrested. The organisers of the protest, FNDC, claim that at least five people were killed.
Following these protests, on 30th July 2022, two leaders of FNDC and pro-democracy group Tournons la Page-Guinée – Oumar Sylla, also known as Foniké Menguè and Ibrahima Diallo, were arrested (see details under Association section).
On 13th May 2022, Guinea’s military authorities announced a blanket ban on public protests “until the period of electoral campaigning”. Previously, on 30th April 2022, the leader of the Comité national du rassemblement et du développement (CNRD, National Committee for Reconciliation and Development), the military authority, Mamady Doumbouya, said in an address on television that the military transition period to civilian rule could last 39 months. On 11th May 2022, the transitional period was set at 36 months.
The violence of the protests and the excessive use of force by security forces was denounced by the G5 Guinée in a statement on 31st July 2022, which is comprised of the UN, ECOWAS, EU, USA and France. The group condemned the “alleged use of lethal weapons to maintain order”. In addition, the G5 Guinée called for an inclusive dialogue that would contribute to a participative transition of power.
On 31st July 2022, the FNDC called for new protests from 15th August 2022 onwards, should an inclusive dialogue not be established immediately. A protest initially planned for 4th August 2022 was suspended temporarily after FNDC met with the president of regional organisation ECOWAS, President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau.
One person killed in protest over high cost of living
One young man and bystander, Thierno Diallo, was killed by live ammunition on 1st June 2022 during a spontaneous protest over the high cost of living and high fuel prices in Conakry. Clashes between security forces and protesters were reported. Five people – four officers of the anti-crime brigade and one gendarme – were arrested for the murder.
📢#Communiqué #Guinée 🇬🇳— Tournons la Page (@TournonsLaPage) August 1, 2022
Avec 10 autres organisations, nous condamnons avec la plus grande fermeté l’arrestation arbitraire de @FONIKEMENGUE et d'@DialloIbrem, militants du @FNDC_Gn et de @TlpGuinee.
Activists arrested, judicial harassed
On 5th July 2022, officers of the Repression of Banditry Brigade (BRB) violently arrested activists with FNDC, who are also members of pro-democracy group Tournons la Page (TLP). TLP-Guinée deputy coordinator and FNDC coordinator Oumar Sylla, also known as Foniké Menguè, TLP-Guinée head of youth Mamadou Billo Bah and FNDC head of promotion of active citizenship Djanii Alpha, were arrested, without a warrant and prior summons, while they were giving a press conference on the current socio-political situation in Guinée at the FNDC headquarters in Conakry. They were arrested violently, with officers beating Sylla and Bah, whose clothes were torn as a result. According to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Sylla and Bah were charged with contempt of court and disrespect of justice, while Alpha faced charges for insults. Public Prosecutor Charles Wright had reportedly already initiated proceedings against Sylla and Bah for comments considered as insulting of members of the National Transition Council.
The three activists were acquitted of the charges on 8th July 2022.
Following the FNDC protests on 28th and 29th July 2022 against “the unilateral management of the transition”, which led to several people killed (see under Peaceful Assembly), Oumar Sylla was again arrested at his residence in the early morning of 30th July 2022. Later in the day, Ibrahima Diallo, TLP-Guinée coordinator and FNDC activist in charge of operations, was likewise arrested by hooded and heavily armed gendarmes. The two FNDC activist and a third person, executive secretary of political party Union des Forces Républicaines (UFR) – who was also arrested on 30th July 2022, were charged on 2nd August 2022 with ‘participation in a prohibited assembly, looting, destruction of public and private property, setting fires and intentional assault and battery’.
As reported previously on the Monitor, several FNDC and TLP activists were arrested on several occasions under the administration of former president Alpha Condé.
#Guinée: Des manifestants agressent au moins quatre journalistes qui couvraient une manifestation le 28 juillet. @pressfreedom demande aux acteurs politiques de veiller à la sécurité de la presse. https://t.co/3SVhCUMOzX— CPJ Africa (@CPJAfrica) August 1, 2022
Journalists attacked during protests
According to Syndicat des Professionnels de la Presse de Guinée (SPPG - Guinean Union of Press Professionals), four journalists were attacked by protesters on 28th July 2022, with some of their phones stolen. It concerns Abdallah Camara and Mohamed Sangaré of media group Evasion Guinée; Laafa Sow of online news outlet guineematin.com; and Algassimou Baldé of Djoma Médias. SPPG also said that earlier in July 2022, two other journalists were attacked or injured during protests: Espace TV journalist Aly Badara Camara was attacked on 5th July 2022 and Alensy Aye Soumah of Djoma Médias was injured by a flying projectile on 7th July 2022.
Community radio journalist questioned, briefly detained
Journalist for community radio Dinguiraye Rural Radio Mamadou Sagnane was held and questioned for about six hours at the Dinguiraye Court of First Instance on 15th June 2022, after he was summoned by police, according to press freedom organisations Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Presse Solidaire. The incident is in relation to a broadcast on 8 June 2022 in which Sagnane read a statement by a local organisation calling for a protest over the killing of a young man at a gendarmerie roadblock. While the protest, planned for 9th June 2022, did not take place, angry people attacked the local office of the gendarmerie.
Host of radio show attacked by politician during live show
According to Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), politician and president of political party Guinée pour la Démocratie et l’Equité (GDE) Aboubacar Soumah shouted at and jumped on Radio Espace host Ahmed Camara during a live broadcast of the radio programme ‘Les Grandes Gueules’ on 15th June 2022. During the programme, the journalist claimed that Soumah had supported former president Alpha Condé in his bid for an unconstitutional third term. As Soumah denied these claims, the producer played an audio clip in which he was heard supporting Condé’s third term bid, whereafter the politician attacked the journalist.