Guinea’s military junta has arrested dozens of leading pro-democracy activists, including attorney Thierno Baldé, head of the Research Institute on Democracy and Rule of Law.
Police arrested activists linked to the Federation of Youth Associations of Guinea (AJAG in its French acronym) which had organized a hunger strike in memory of those killed and raped during last month’s massacre of protesters against the likely presidential candidacy of junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.
The hunger strike was also an effort “to draw our leaders’ attention to the need to engage in dialogue, preserve national unity, prevent further violence and arrest the authors of the massacre,” said Baldé, speaking before his arrest.
“One of the major problems has been a lack of dialogue between the CNDD [the junta’s self-styled National Council for Democracy and Development] on the one hand and civil society and political leaders on the other,” said another activist.
Baldé, is a former grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy and a recent participant in Stanford University’s democracy fellows program, has been vocal on the junta’s controversial commercial dealings with communist China.
China is “perceived as supporting the dictatorship and the junta and against the will of the people,” said Mamadi Kaba, president of the Guinean branch of the African Assembly for Human Rights. “Guineans are convinced there will never be development unless there is a lot more democracy. So the American support is much more important.”