Bloody brutality in Guinea

The General Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) heard this afternoon from an incredibly brave trade unionist from Guinea, where last week the army brutally broke up a peaceful demonstration for democracy which unions had helped to build. And I mean brutally. The death toll so far is estimated at between 150 and 300, and hospitals were overflowing on the day of the demo.

Rabiatou Diallo, who is the Vice-Chair of the ITUC Women's Committee, reported that the army had attacked the demonstrators like madmen. She said: "women were stripped and raped in the middle of the street, their genitals mutilated with bayonets. Children had their throats cut as if they were chickens being prepared for the pot."

Trade unionists in Guinea are now meeting in people's houses because formal meetings are banned and the trade union movement – which led the democracy demonstrations last year before a military coup ended even the sham democracy of President Conte – is a key target for the military.

Rabiatou said that there will be many, many more deaths if the international community doesn't act. That means regional West African governments (ECOWAS), the African Union and the European Union. The ITUC will be leading solidarity action, and the TUC has already protested to the Guinean Ambassador in London, but individuals can take action now through Avaaz, who have launched an international e-petition calling for AU and EU smart sanctions against the Guinean dictatorship, which the Guinean unions want us to support.

Owen Tudor

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