Letter to editor

CODESRIA: Call for solidarity with the people of Guinea

23 February 2007 at 23:04 | 424 views

Since 10 January 2007, the workers of Guinea have been on strike to
demand better living conditions, respect for public morality, and the
enthronement of democracy. In the face of the demands presented to the
Government by the workers’ union, CNTG-USTG, supported by the majority
of the peoples of Guinea, the government of President Lansana Conté
has adopted an approach laden with contempt for the citizenry and the
use of naked force against the populace. Dozens of protesters in
Conakry, Simbaya, Lambanyi, Matoto, Télémelé, Mamou, Kankan, and Labé
have been murdered in cold blood or maimed for life by the security
services.

And yet, in spite of the ferocious repression unleashed by
the government, the Guinean people have, at great personal and
collective peril, intensified their self-mobilisation on a scale not
seen since the historic defeat of colonialism. Invariably, the
response of the regime has been to do even more of what it has always
done best: Arrest and torture union leaders and ordinary citizens,
impose a state of emergence/state of siege presided over by the
military high command, and threaten even more mayhem against the
populace.

CODESRIA, as an organisation of African intellectuals who are fully
conscious of their social responsibilities cannot remain indifferent
in the face of the latest act of naked repression that the Conté
regime has deployed against Guineans, repression that has crippled the
country, impoverished its peoples and brought the state to the brink.

The Council observes that academics in Guinean universities who have
been part of the popular movement for change have not been spared the
repressiveness of the regime and the principle of academic freedom
that is a foundational pillar of CODESRIA has been put at bay in
Guinea. The Council would, therefore, like to add its voice to the
voices of democrats all over the world who have expressed their
solidarity with the people of Guinea and denounced all forms of
dictatorship. The Council also joins the Guinean trade union movement
and other social movements in the vanguard of the struggle for change
in their demand for a democratic and equitable management of the
Guinean commonwealth.

The struggles of the people of Guinea remind us that freedom is not
given but won - often at a high cost. This we know very well as
members of an institution which produced the Kampala Declaration on
Academic Freedom and the Social Responsibility of Scholars (see the
CODESRIA Website: www.codesria.org) to prevent the wanton abuse of
freedoms in the African higher education system. I would, therefore,
like to invite all members of the Council to take a moment to remember
the people of Guinea and to solidarise with them, doing so in the
settled knowledge that their victory will be another important step
towards democracy and development in Africa - just as it was when
Guinea’s historic ’No’ against Charles De Gaulle’s project of a French
federation to perpetuate colonial rule emboldened and accelerated the
African independence project.

Members of CODESRIA wishing to express their solidarity with the
people of Guinea and their struggles are invited to send their
messages to : Executive.Secretary@codesria.sn and they can rest
assured that the messages will be forwarded to the trade union and
academic staff leaderships in Conakry. We have a duty at this time to
let the people of Guinea know that they are not alone!

Adebayo Olukoshi
Executive Secretary

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