Guinea Military Arrest Human Rights Official

UN commission investigating the September deaths of more than 150 opposition protesters

Bodies of people killed during a rally are seen at the capital's main mosque in Conakry, Guinea (File Photo - 02 Oct 2009)
Bodies of people killed during a rally are seen at the capital's main mosque in Conakry, Guinea (File Photo - 02 Oct 2009)

Guinea's military government has arrested a prominent human rights official while United Nations investigators are in the country to find out what happened when more than 150 opposition protestors were killed two months ago. 

Soldiers detained human rights leader Mouctar Diallo when he returned to the capital, Conakry, after a visit to his home village.

Diallo's wife, Djenabou Diallo, says he was arrested on Thursday by men from the special service against banditry and the fight against drugs.  She says she has been denied permission to see him.

Tierno Madjou Sow, President of Guinea's Organization for the Defense of Human Rights, says Diallo is being held at Conakry's main military barracks - Camp Alpha Yaya Diallo. Sow says Diallo was arrested because of an interview he gave to the Voice of America on September 28th -- the day soldiers opened fire on protestors in the capital's main sports stadium.

Security officials in Conakry also told French officials that Diallo's arrest is in connection with that VOA interview.

A U.N. commission of inquiry is in Guinea to investigate September's violence.  Human rights groups say at least 157 people were killed.  The military says 57 people died, most in the crush of people fleeing the stadium.

The demonstration was called to protest the expected presidential candidacy of military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.

Captain Camara has expressed his "profound sympathy" for the families of those killed.  But because he was not at the stadium, he says he is not responsible for the violence.  Instead, he blames his political opponents and what he calls "uncontrollable elements" of the military.

Captain Camara is promising to cooperate fully with the U.N. inquiry and met with its commission members shortly after their arrival in Conakry last week.

Diallo is a former counselor in the political section of the U.S. embassy in Conakry and is now the director for the promotion and protection of human rights at Guinea's national monitoring group for human rights.

Human rights official Sow says Diallo's arrest has people scared.

Even though the constitution was suspended following last December's coup, Sow says the military government has promised to respect all of the human rights conventions signed by Guinea, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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