August 29, 2012 – ABUJA, NIGERIA
The threats to peace and security in the region are becoming increasingly alarming and the precarious landscape of human security in West Africa has particularly become an object of concern. The problems of insecurity in some transitional states are been compounded by some of the very institutions that are meant to mitigate them. WACSOF follows with great concern and disdain the tragic and painful events suffered by the people of the mining sites of Zogota (N’Nzérékoré) and Fria in Guinea.
On the night of Friday, August 3 to Saturday 4 August 2012 at about 1am, heavily armed, trigger happy soldiers invaded Zogota district (N’Zérékoré) in the south-eastern Guinea. This invasion was a reaction to suppress the protests of the people of Zogota against a Brazilian mining company that is based in the town of Agopé. The demonstrators were demanding for priority in the hiring of their nationals within the mining project. Certain properties were vandalized in the mining town of Agopé in the course of the demonstration. The army were sent to quell with violence the peaceful people of this village who were sleeping at the time of the invasion. Five people were confirmed dead and three people sustained serious injuries including two people with an amputated arm and gunshot at the lower abdomen. Many people have been displaced leaving the village to take refuge in the bush. The forced displacement actually makes it difficult to make a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the invasion on the people. This massacre perpetrated by the elements of the army is a manifestation of realistic disposition of the current regime in Conakry. This development demonstrates a serious breach of the Guinean government obligations to protect and respect the rights of all citizens living in the country.
In Fria, RUSAL, a mining company refuses to pay its workers and it stopped the supply of water and electricity. WACSOF hereby state this is cynical and unacceptable. RUSAL needs to be reminded that according to its social and environmental responsibility to the people, RUSAL’s refusal to pay the workers, its deliberate breach of water supply and electricity to citizens of Fria are inimical to life and to humans and this amounts to crimes against humanity.
In a similar indication of deteriorating human security, the urban community of Siguiri witnessed a violent invasion by government security personnel. In the night of the 6th and 7th of August 2012, between 2:00 am and 4:00 am, a band of robbers heavily armed with weapons and dressed in military uniform attacked shops and offices of miners and traders. As elsewhere in the Republic of Guinea, the perpetrators of this robbery escaped without being arrested and prosecuted despite the call to the relevant authorities to rescue the incident.
The effort of the people, who were outraged by the indifference of the security services and other relevant authorities to this tragic situation, to demonstrate their grievance and sense of anger and insecurity through peaceful demonstration before the police and local authority in the morning of 7 August was greeted by violent reaction by the security forces resulting in one death and five injured persons including 3 of them seriously injured. WACSOF hereby states that this is a pointer to the deteriorating human security in the Republic of Guinea.
The catastrophe of Siguiri occurred barely 2 days after the incident at Zoghota (N’Zerekore) which provoked general national and international reactions. This development implies again the persistence of impunity in the Republic of Guinea. WACSOF deplores the violence which destroyed public buildings as well as the use of firearms to disperse peaceful demonstrators in Guinea. Every Guinean citizen has an imperative duty to mobilize in order to enforce the rights of the ensemble of each and everyone.
WACSOF observes that this atrocious development occurred due to the weakness in the peace and security architecture of the Republic of Guinea which was largely manifested
§ Massive circulation of small arms and light ammunitions in Guinea and continuous activities of the former uncontrolled rebel factions of ULIMO and LURD who are still active in the border region with countries that have further been weakened by their conflicts(i.e. Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone).
§ Underlying and un-resolved conflicts in the Zogota District such as the conflict between the native and non-native farmers; a dispute between the population and SOGUIPAH Saoro among others which are potential breeding ground for an implosion with unpredictable consequences.
WACSOF hereby states that the sacking of the city of Agopé is a serious criminal offense which ought to be brought to justice. This is a use of force with disproportionate means and which has caused loss of life and damage to the physical integrity of the people of Agope. WACSOF further states that this act of violence of the element of security forces constituted serious violations of the human rights of the people of Zoghota District. This act of violence is a breach of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Guinea, which prohibits arrest between 21h and 6 am except in cases of flagrant offense. In addition, this is a damage to the physical integrity of the people and their lives which is a flagrant violation of the Guinean national law (Articles 5 and 6 of the Constitution), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Article 4), the Universal Declaration of human Rights (Articles 3 and 5) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 6 and 7).
WACSOF hereby join the ensemble of the Civil Society in the Republic of Guinea to strongly condemn all crimes, offenses and appalling incidents. WACSOF and the coalition of the Guinean Civil Society, aware of the threats facing the peace and security of Guinea and particularly human security and its potential catastrophic implication for the neighbouring countries of Guinea hereby;
Ø the judicial authorities in Guinea to immediately conduct surveys to identify and evaluate the sponsors and the perpetrators of all crimes committed in this circumstance.
Ø the political parties, civil society organizations and communities elders in the forest area of Guinea to make every effort to resolve the latent crisis situation in which the people live in that sub-region of Guinea.
Ø the establishment of a joint commission of inquiry to shed light on the massacres of Zoghota to identify key leaders as well as to deter any Guinean state’s attempt of impunity that has always characterized the serious and repeated violations of human rights in Guinea.
§ Call on the Government of Guinea
Ø to garner the needed political will to address the security challenges facing Guinea in order to create the necessary conditions for peaceful coexistence among the people who have always lived in harmony and peace.
Ø to ensure strict compliance with and implementation in the Republic of Guinea of the fundamental rights granted to the Guinean citizens by the national, sub-regional, regional and international legal instruments.
Ø to establish a multi-stakeholder framework to facilitate a frank and sincere dialogue on improving the landscape of peace and security in Guinea.
Ø the international community not to be distracted by the absence of open conflict in Guinea to suggest that the Republic of Guinea is a haven of peace.
Ø ECOWAS to intensify efforts in collaboration with the Government of Guinea to ensuring the proper conduct of the needed reforms in the justice and security sectors of Guinea; ensuring that such reforms remove every actual and potential threats to the process of democratic governance as well as ensuring that such reforms are capable to guarantee human security in Guinea.
WACSOF and all regional and national platforms of CSOs working within it are prepared to support the ECOWAS Commission in its mission of enhancing the peace and security architectures of the region as well as in its process of transformation into the ECOWAS of people. WACSOF presents its deepest condolences to the bereaved families and to the entire nation of Guinea. May the gentle soul of the departed ones rest in peace (Amen).
Jibrin Ibrahim PhD
Made in Abuja, the 22nd of August, 2012
The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF)