Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed Europe’s last dictator, ended his three-day official visit to Zimbabwe on 1 February after presiding ... over the signing of several bilateral agreements between the two nations in the capital Harare.
Asmaou Diallo, justice above all
For 12 years, Asmaou Diallo, alongside other victims, has commemorated the Conakry stadium massacre of 28 September 2009 “in order to be heard, nevertheless, by a government which, under Alpha Condé, did not show the slightest interest in opening a trial”.
In 2022, this Guinean woman saw the culmination of her long years of struggle: 11 officers in power at the time, including Moussa Dadis Camara, the former president of the transition, appeared in court.
I lost my son and I will never be able to get him back…But once justice has been done, my conscience will be clear.
On that fateful day in 2009, Diallo’s eldest son, Ali, a history teacher, had gone to demonstrate against the candidacy of the coup leader, who was running for top office. Ali was killed along with 156 other protesters, while soldiers raped a hundred women from the defence and security forces.
It was time to open Guineans’ eyes to what happened that day.
As president of the Association of Victims, Parents and Friends of the 28 September Massacre (AVIPA), which she founded shortly afterwards, Diallo has fought tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice. It was a “laborious struggle”, carried out during the transitional regime of Sékouba Konaté, and then during the presidency of Alpha Condé.
In the end, it was a military man, Mamadi Doumbouya, the current leader of the transition, who allowed the trial to take place. “It was time to open Guineans’ eyes to what happened that day,” says Diallo. “Only a few soldiers are standing trial, but if it goes well, it’s Guinea that will win. People will know that it is no longer possible to make the same mistakes.”
Diallo, who was awarded the Martin-Ennals Prize (the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Human Rights) in 2015, is also fighting so that the survivors of this tragedy are recognised and compensated. They include, particularly, the women who were raped, many of whom were repudiated by their families after the tragedy and left to fend for themselves.
For the AVIPA president, the association’s work will continue after the trial, but differently. “I lost my son and I will never be able to get him back,” she says. “But once justice has been done, my conscience will be clear.”
Alioune Tine, serving the rule of law
73-year-old Alioune Tine will once again be at the forefront of the scene to dissuade a Senegalese head of state – Macky Sall in this case – from running for a third term. Although there are only 14 months before the presidential election, Sall has yet to clarify his intentions.
His silence has aroused a certain embarrassment among several civil society actors, including Alioune Tine. “I am very embarrassed to stand with young people once again, 10 years after [having lived through a similar situation], to talk about this issue,” says the human rights activist, who on 27 October launched the initiative ‘Jàmm a Gën 3ᵉ mandat’ (‘Better peace than a third term’) with NGOs.
READ MORE Senegal: Macky Sall at the crossroads
The former regional director of Amnesty International for West and Central Africa had indeed already opposed, in 2011-2012, a third candidacy of Abdoulaye Wade (in the end, the outgoing president lost his way at the polls). “Today, it would be incongruous for me to exclaim ‘Macky get out!’ when, along with current leaders, we campaigned for Wade’s departure,” says Tine, who is also an independent expert, assigned with the responsibility of assessing the human rights situation in Mali for the UN.
For more than 30 years, this doctor of linguistics, who forged his political conscience in the late 1970s within the Democratic League (LD/MPT) has been trying to ease tensions in West Africa. In June, he helped defuse the crisis between the Senegalese government and the leaders of Yewwi Askan Wi (the main opposition coalition), who demanded the reinstatement of their list of titular candidates for the 31 July legislative elections, invalidated by the Constitutional Council.
A year earlier, this founder of the Afrikajom Center, a think-tank specialising in governance issues, had shuttled between the presidency, religious leaders and the opposition, This was in a bid to end the demonstrations triggered in March 2021 by the arrest of Ousmane Sonko, which were violently repressed and resulted in 14 deaths.
Although the political climate is likely to become even more tense between now and the presidential elections, Alioune Tine has called for the release of political prisoners. He has also pleaded for Karim Wade and former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall, who has been declared ineligible for office, regain their civil rights (they were respectively sentenced to six and five years in prison, and two heavy fines for “illicit enrichment” and “fraud involving public funds”).
Tine’s plea seems to have been heard. On 28 September, Sall asked his justice minister “to examine an amnesty scheme for people who have lost their voting rights as soon as possible”.
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