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Youth Organizations in Guinea Set to Launch Hunger Strike

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After last week's massacre of dozens of Guineans by government security forces, youth organizations have decided to band together. They are organizing a hunger strike as a way to non-violently address the brutality.

The youth of Guinea are searching for a way to publicly protest the September 28 massacre that occurred at a Conakry stadium. Theirno Balde, President of the Federation of Guinean Youth Associations, says that is one reason behind their efforts to organize a hunger strike for next week.

"I think by organizing a hunger strike, people will know that we are committed to getting involved in this by using peaceful means," he said.

Bolde adds the purpose of the hunger strike is to address last week's events in a non-violent manner and ask that all parties involved gather together to resolve the issue.

Last week's massacre occurred when more than 50,000 demonstraters gathered to protest the anticipated presidential candidacy of the country's current military ruler, Moussa Dadis Camara. Human rights groups say at least 157 people were killed last week. The military says 57 people were killed, most in the crush of protesters fleeing the stadium.

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Captain Camara came to power in Guinea last December in a bloodless coup launched hours after longtime president Lansana Conte died.

"This is a political issue, and it will stay a political issue, and they have to find a political solution," he said.

Bolde adds the youth cannot demonstrate in the streets for fear of provoking violent reactions from police. The hunger strike is also meant to call for the punishment of those who killed the civilians.

"By organizing a hunger strike, we will send a message to all of them that we are not willing to take any risk, but at the same time, we are not willing just to sit and not to do anything. If people know that they can do whatever they want, without any punishment, they will just go ahead," said Bolde.

Guinea's military government recently announced it will launch what it calls an independent investigation into last week's killing of opposition demonstrators by security forces.

The African Union suspended Guinea following Captain Camara's December coup. The AU says it will sanction him later this month unless he makes clear that he will not be a candidate in elections scheduled for January.

Bolde adds that no matter what happens, it will be the youth who pay the higher price.