Thursday, June 28, 2007

[Guinean news] Security forces a 'permanent menace' to the people: Amnesty

After conducting investigations into the killings that marred the Guinean general strike earlier this year, Amnesty International issued its findings (in French).

The human rights' organization concluded that the Guinean security forces were 'a permanent menace for the population.'

Amnesty reported that the security forces resort to the use of force against the population each time that the government feels threatened. The fact that no one has been held accountable shows clearly that the authorities, up to the highest level, have ignored these dealings and even encouraged them.

The organization called on the government to take actions to prevent the security forces from using excessive force against unarmed civilians and to give material and juridical reparations the the families of the over 130 people killed and over 1500 wounded during the violent repression of mostly peaceful marches that occured in Guinea in January and February 2007.

Monday, June 18, 2007

[Guinean news] Guinea 9th on 'Failed State Index'

Foreign Policy magazine published its annual Failed States Index. The Index highlights 12 political, economic, military, and social indicators of instability.

Guinea was ranked 9th worst on the list. It had the lowest overall ranking of any country not recently at war, except Zimbabwe. It had the third worst score of any country for the category 'Delegitimization of State.'

Sunday, June 17, 2007

[Sports news] National team stuns Algeria

In a 2008 African Nations Cup (CAN) qualifier in Algiers, Guinea's national team stunned Algeria this weekend by a score of 2-0 on goals from Fodé Mansaré and Pascal Feindouno.

Guinea is virtually unbeatable at home (last competitive home loss was, I believe, in 1994) but very poor on the road, particularly in North Africa.

The result was even more shocking since only a few days earlier, longtime goalkeeper Kémoko Camara quit the national team after being accused of exaggerating an injury.

Syli national coach Robert Nourrazet went so far as to say a few days before the match, "We have no chance against Algeria."

The shock win puts Guinea at the top of their group with 8 points. Algeria also has 8, but Guinea owns the head-to-head. Cape Verde and Gambia are on 5 points. The group winner automatically qualifies for the CAN 2008 tournament in Ghana as well as runners-up from three of the 12 qualifying groups.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

[Guinean news] Conté: I am the boss

The Guinean leader Gen. Lansana Conté gave a rare interview on Thursday evening. When journalists from TV5 and the French news agency AFP asked him about his future plans, Conté replied tartly, "There is no open transition."

Conté, who seized power in a military coup in 1984, insisted that he was fully in control of the country. "I am the boss, the others are my subordinates," he said.

He brushed aside questions about his regime's handling of a nationwide general strike earlier this year. "Which country hasn't known any sad events? We're not the only ones to know such events."

The general added, "It happens to everyone, moments of difficulty, of incomprehension between the people and the power."

Over 100 Guineans were killed during the general strike in clashes the authorities and the population.

On Friday, Guinean prime minister Lansana Kouyaté was in Paris to meet with the new French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Friday, June 15, 2007

[Advocacy news] Volunteer interpreter in DC wanted

Guinea RPCV Jamaica Corker writes:

Oxfam America and the National Peace Corps Association [NPCA] are looking for a volunteer interpreter who is comfortable disucssing issues around agriculture, in English and in French, for advocacy visits to the Hill on June 28 and/or June 29. The interpreter will accompany Haoua Traore, a female farming advisor who works with the National Union of Cotton Producers in Burkina Faso, as part of advocacy efforts around the 2007 US Farm Bill renewal. A recently returned RPCV or anyone familiar with ag issues in West Africa, and who remembers the basics in French, would be great.

If you are interested and can be of assistance on either of those days, please contact Jonathan Pearson at NPCA by Tuesday, June 19: or 202-293-7728, ext. 21.

The U.S. Farm Bill is all-encompassing and as currently structured detrimentally affects many people—not only small American farmers but also cotton producers in countries throughout West Africa, whose farmers cannot effectively compete on the world market flooded with heavily subsidized American and European cotton. More information on the Farm Bill is attached in a flier and you can read more about it by visiting OXFAM’s website:

If you are in the DC area and interested, don't be shy about contacting the NPCA. They are looking for someone with familiarity with the region and general West African agriculture issues, not necessarily someone fluent in Parisian French!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

[Guinean news] Thousands of girl 'slaves' in Guinea: HRW

The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch revealed that thousands of girls in Guinea face abuse as domestic workers, often live in conditions comparable to slavery and many are victims of human trafficking.

The research in Guinea showed that thousands of girls spent their childhood and adolescence doing housework, such as cleaning, washing and taking care of small children, often for no pay.

The report said the girls were vulnerable to sexual abuse and many were beaten with whips, electric cords and sticks.

They are often trapped in this cycle of abuse partly because they are deprived of an education
, reports the BBC.

Human Rights Watch says most of the employers in Guinea are women from the urban middle class who demand a girl from poorer relatives or from an intermediary in the countryside.

Update: The HRW press release (in English) is available here. The full report (in French) is available here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

[FOG news] Highlights from the May '07 quarterly board meeting

Friends of Guinea's board held their quarterly meeting on May 20, 2007. Some highlights from the meeting (that have not been superceded by subsequent events) include:

Financial Summary (balance)
$12,819 as of April 30, 2007.

New address
All FOG mail should now be sent to:

Friends of Guinea
626 Mooney St
Independence OR 9735

Projects' report
-In the past projects would be funded through PCPP site. Funding came from a variety of sources. FOG donated to these projects in the past, and the officers would take a vote. Working with PCPP is complicated. Few projects in Guinea and sometimes fully funded before FOGs check made it. Last year we decided there needed to be a credit or debit card, so eliminated check delay.

-we have $3,700 from girls conference that can be refunded to FOG

-Projects director Claire Lea wants to see us expand beyond funding PCPP projects (especially since there is no Peace Corps in Guinea right now) and look into funding NGOs and other on-the-ground projects.

-Possibilities of funding Aprofig which has all girls private school. Need money to fund teachers, and general running of school. Or El Hadj’s Thiam son started a NGO – 40 members from high school graduating class from Guinea. Raise scholarships so kids can go to private lycee in Conakry.

-We discussed the need to create some sort of funding form so non-PCVs can apply for funding, and also the possibility of having an on the ground FOG liaison who can evaluate organizations and causes. Perhaps language trainers or Mackenzie?

-When think about funding we need to make sure money goes where we need it to and that it can be tracked and linked to results

-As an example - Friends of Burkina Faso funds school and pays to send someone to evaluate projects on the ground. We can look to move in this direction (realizing it will take some time!)

-if we step up our giving to projects we will need to look into non-profit registration. This is not immediate, but needs to be kept in mind

-Claire will try to contact Friends of Sierra Leone and Liberia since they have similar situation to Guinea with no PCVs

Thanks to FOG secretary Annie Kneedler for the minutes.

Note: The full meeting notes are available upon request.