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US slaps travel ban on Guinea's military junta

Hunger strikers kidnapped by Guinean army: youth federation
Eleven young Guineans who went on hunger strike to protest "impunity and violence in Guinea" have been arrested by soldiers, Guinean NGOs said Thursday. "Eleven volunteers started a hungerstrike, they included two young lawyers Aime Christophe Kone and Thierno Souleymane Balde, in a youth centre in Dixinn (a suburb of Conakry)," a Guinean spokesman for African human rights watchdog Raddho told AFP.

"They were arrested by soldiers and up until now we do not know where they have been taken," the human rights activist, who did not want to be named, told AFP in a phone interview from Dakar. Earlier on Thursday the Guinean youth federation announced five hungestrikers from the Dixinn youth centre had been seized by soldiers. "They told us they were taken to the Alpha Yaya Diallo miltary camp" the headquarters of the ruling junta, the youth federation said but this information could not not be verified.

The men began their hunger strike to protest against "the impunity and the violence" in Guinea exactly a month after the massacre of opposition protesters by the security forces in a Conakry stadium. According to human rights organisations, the bloody crackdown on the protesters on September 28 left between 150 and 200 people dead and over 1,200 wounded, including women who were raped by soldiers.

The demonstrators had gathered to urge the west African country's military junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara not to run in a presidential election he had pledged for January. Camara has been in power since a bloodless coup on December 23 last year, within hours of the death of president Lansana Conte. The African Union on Thursday slapped the junta leadership with sanctions including denial of visas, travel restrictions and freezing of assets.

Earlier this week the European Union also imposed an arms embargo and sanctions on the leaders of the junta, which admits that 56 people were killed in the stadium while more than 900 were hurt, but denies responsibility for the actions of the troops. Both the junta and the United Nations plan to probe the stadium massacre, while the International Criminal Court is considering whether the events there fall within its brief of crimes against humanity.

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 29, 2009
Washington has imposed new sanctions on Guinea's military junta, barring entry to the United States to some of its members, in the wake of last month's massacre of opposition supporters, the State Department said Thursday.

"The United States imposed restrictions on travel to the United States by certain members of the military junta and the government, as well as other individuals who support policies or actions that undermine the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Guinea," spokesman Ian Kelly said.

The sanctions went into effect on October 23, he added in a statement.

"The citizens of Guinea deserve the right to choose their own leaders after decades of authoritarian rule," Kelly said.

"The military junta in power has shown itself disrespectful of human rights and incapable of shepherding Guinea through a peaceful transition to democracy," he added.

Kelly's announcement coincides with an African Union decision Thursday to also impose visa and travel restrictions on members of Guinea's junta, led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.

On October 14, the United States had called on Camara to step down. Shortly after the junta seized power in the mineral-rich state on December 23, 2008, Washington suspended its foreign aid to the country.

The new sanctions follow a violent September 28 incident in Guinea, when junta troops opened fire at a rally in a Conakry stadium organized to pressure Camara not to stand in presidential elections planned for January.

At least 150 people died, according to the United Nations. Human rights groups put the toll at 157 dead and more than 1,200 injured, including women who were publicly raped.

The military regime has admitted that 56 people died and 934 were wounded.

The US and African Union sanctions are the latest in a string of punitive measures to be taken against the junta.

On Tuesday the European Union said it was imposing an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel bans on junta leaders.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also imposed an arms embargo earlier this month.

The United Nations has already announced it would set up an inquiry into the massacre while the International Criminal Court said it will hold a separate preliminary inquiry to determine if war crimes had been committed.

African Union slaps sanctions on Guinea junta
African leaders on Thursday imposed a new barrage of sanctions Guinea's military rulers, increasingly under fire in the wake of last month's massacre of scores of opposition supporters.

Heads of states who sit on the African Union Peace and Security Council decided to "to take all the necessary measures towards the implementation of targeted sanctions including denial of visas, travel restrictions and freezing of assets," a statement said.

The sanctions will target junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara "as well as members of the government and any of the civilian or military persons whose activities are aimed at maintaining the unconstitutional status quo in Guinea," the statement said.

"The sanctions will enter into force immediately," said the head of the AU peace and security commission, Ramtane Lamamra.

A list of persons targeted by the sanctions is to be sent to the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Conference and a grouping of French-speaking countries in order to give the measures "a universal character", said the statement.

The decision comes a month after junta troops opened fire at a rally in a Conakry stadium urging Camara not to stand in presidential elections planned for January.

At least 150 people died, the United Nations says. Human rights groups put the toll at 157 dead and more than 1,200 injured, including women who were publicly raped.

The miliatry regime has admitted that 56 people died and 934 were wounded.

The junta seized power in the mineral-rich state on 23 December last year, just hours after the death of Guinea's longserving ruler Lansana Conte, who was an autocratic army general.

The African Union sanctions are the latest in a string of punitive measures to be taken against the junta.

On Tuesday the European Union said it was imposing an arms embargo, assets freezes and travel bans on junta leaders.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also imposed an arms embargo earlier this month.

The United Nations has already announced it would set up an inquiry into the massacre while the International Criminal Court said it will hold a separate preliminary inquiry to determine if war crimes had been committed.

The junta has so far refused to ease its grip on power, but has pledged to work with a regional mediator -- Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore.

Next Monday, the Guinean opposition is due to meet Compaore in Ouagadougou for talks about the political crisis.

The opposition has refused to talk to the junta until the army quits power, and has proposed forming a new government of national unity to pave the way for elections.

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One month on Guineans protest against massacre
Conakry (AFP) Oct 28, 2009
Many residents of Conakry and other Guinean towns stayed at home Wednesday in a quiet protest at the army's massacre of opposition demonstrators exactly a month earlier. Opponents of the military junta in the west African country called on the population to stay at home to commemorate the massacre on September 28. At least 150 opposition protesters were killed by troops in a Conakry ... read more







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