Camp Boiro Memorial

Amnesty International
Annual Report - 1981

Amnesty International's concerns were political imprisonment, detention with out trial of suspected political opponents of President Sekou Toure's government, ill-treatment of detainees and poor prison conditions.
Fears about the fate of the thousands reported arrested in the massive waves of arrests in 1971 and 1976 were increased following the release in late 1980 of virtually all the long-term political prisoners still held at Boiro camp. Sixteen long-term prisoners were released in October 1980. They included Nabaniou Cherif, Baba Kourouma and El-Hadj Mamadou Fofana (see Amnesty International Report 1980), and Sory Conde, Saliou Coumbassa, Sekou Fofana and Yoro Diarra, all of whom had formerly held high political office. Of approximately 500 long-term political prisoners known to Amnesty International and who are not believed to have been released, no more that 10 were reported alive in detention. There were strong reasons to fear that the remainder, which included many former senior officials and military officers arrested in 1971 and 1976, were either killed in prison or died from ill-treatment or harsh conditions. The government has failed to provide their relatives or international humanitarian organizations with any information about their fate.
Despite an amnesty for all political exiles declared in 1975, a number who returned to Guinea were arrested shortly afterwards and held without charge or trial. In late 1979 Mahmoud Bah and Moucktar Diallo returned to Guinea and were arrested for allegedly planning to dynamite several public buildings. At least six individuals arrested in Boke at the same time are reported to have died in Boiro camp after being deprived of food and water. Amnesty International investigated the case of another former exile, Mamady Magassouba, who was detained from mid-1980 until his release in April 1981 after apparently being denounced for anti-government activities.
On 14 May 1980 a grenade exploded in the audience at the Palais du peuple (People's Palace) in the capital, Conakry, killing one person and injuring some 50 others. Although President Sekou Toure and government officials escaped unhurt there were fears that the attack might lead to arrests on the scale of those in 1971 and 1976. Shortly after the explosion le Conseil national de la Révolution (CNR), National Council for the Revolution, Guinea's legislative body, called for a purge to "unmask and once more crush the enemy internally and externally", and some 100 individuals are believed to have been detained. Although some were released shortly afterwards, including army photographer Lieutenant Himy Sylla whose case was investigated by Amnesty International, as many as 40 remained in detention. In late February 1981 a series of bombs exploded at Conakry airport, but no fatalities were reported.
In early 1981 a large number of people were detained, ostensibly in order to apprehend those responsible for the 1980 and 1981 explosions. As many as 100 people were reportedly taken into custody. They included members of the presidential guard on duty at the time of the February 1981 airport bombing, as well as trainee pilots and airport staff. The authorities also encouraged the neighbouring states of Senegal and Ivory Coast, with large Guinean exile communities, to extradite Guinean citizens. In April 1981, the Ivorian authorities are believed to have helped in the forcible repatriation of three Guineans to Conakry, where on arrival they were badly beaten by Guinean soldiers and prison officers. Two have since been returned to Ivory Coast, but Barry Moucktar remained in detention in Boiro camp. He had lived in Ivory Coast for 16 years. Amnesty International was concerned that the recent arrests may have been an attempt to stifle opposition to the authorities, given the absence of guarantees against detention without trial.
Amnesty International has continued investigating the cases of students detained in April 1979 at Kankan and in March 1980 at Kindia, following protests against poor educational facilities. Up to 100 students may have been arrested on each occasion. Some of the detainees are believed to have been forcibly conscripted into the army after several months in detention, while others are thought still to be detained. Amnesty International was also investigating reports of the arrest of students in Kankan in January 1981 after the appearance of wall slogans hostile to the authorities.
By late 1980 conditions of imprisonment in Boiro camp had improved, although the standard of sanitation and nutrition remained poor. Reports have suggested that the number of prisoners in Boiro camp may have reached the levels of the early 1970s, and there were fears that conditions would again have deteriorated. Amnesty International was concerned by reports that prisoners were frequently beaten with rifle butts and sticks in Boiro camp. The government has yet to allow an inspection of its prisons by an international humanitarian organization.