Amnesty calls for freeze of arms supplies to Guinea

Amnesty International on Thursday urged all countries to halt arms supplies to Guinea following the September 28 massacre of opposition protesters by soldiers loyal to the ruling junta.

“The transfer of such supplies should stop until the Guinean government has taken steps to prevent these violations from recurring, and has brought to justice those responsible for the brutal attacks last week,” Erwin van der Borght, Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme, said.

A statement said the appeal came “as new information emerges about international supplies of South African and French weapons and equipment used by Guinean police and security forces”.

According to the London-based rights watchdog, press photographs taken of Guinean police officers in Conakry on October 1 show them carrying what appear to be French-made Cougar grenade launchers.

The French government confirmed last week that it authorised the supply of tear gas and other anti-riot grenades to Guinean security forces in recent years.

Other pictures show security forces patrolling Conakry in a South-African Mamba armoured personnel carrier.

According to Amnesty, the APCs were sold to Guinea in 2003 to be used for border control but the organisation “has documented the use of Mamba vehicles in Conakry in January 2007 to drive into crowds of peaceful demonstrators while firing at them”.

After the bloodbath on September 28, when security forces opened fire on protesters gathered in a Conakry stadium, France announced it had suspended military cooperation with Guinea.

According to the United Nations and aid organisations more than 150 people died in the crackdown.

Amnesty urged France and other countries to ensure that the suspension includes the supply of military and police weapons, munitions and equipment.

“These kinds of munitions have been persistently used in serious human rights violations—including unlawful killings, the grossly excessive use of force, and sexual violence—during a decade of violent repression by Guinean security forces,” said Erwin van der Borght.—AFP

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