Camp Boiro Memorial

Amnesty International
Annual Report - 1982

In late December 1981 an Amnesty International mission visited Guinea. Several meetings were held with government ministers including President Sekou Toure, Dr Sikhe Camara, Minister of Justice, and Sekou Cherif, Minister of the Interior and of Security, at which Amnesty International's concerns regarding Guinea were discussed.
Amnesty International's concerns were the detention without trial of suspected political opponents of the government, the forcible repatriation of refugees, ill-treatment of detainees and poor prison conditions.
The fate of the thousands arrested in 1970, 1971 and 1976 remained unknown and the government continued to withhold all information regarding the fate and whereabouts of political detainees. In late 1980 the last 16 prisoners known to have survived their detention since 1971 and 1976 were released from Boiro camp in the capital Conakry. Appeals for information regarding the fate of some 200 named detainees were addressed to the authorities in 1981 by families resident outside Guinea and international organizations, but received no response. Amnesty International's mission to Guinea submitted to the authorities a list of some 80 individuals, most of whom were arrested between 1970 and 1976, and asked for information on their fate and whereabouts. The authorities agreed to supply this information to Amnesty International.
Amnesty International continued to seek the release of Camara Senni, nicknamed "La Presse", and Sankoumba Diaby. They were arrested in August 1977 after demonstrations by market women against restrictions on private trading. Both were reportedly accused of organizing the transportation of demonstrators, although they were never tried or sentenced. Amnesty International was investigating the cases of two gendarmes (police officers), Keita Mohamed and Camara Himy, who were arrested at the same time and also held without charge or trial The cases of four individuals arrested in 1979 after the alleged discovery of a plan to dynamite public buildings were also being investigated by Amnesty International. In late 1979 Bah Mahmoud and Diallo Mouctar returned to Guinea and were arrested, as were two alleged accomplices, an Islamic religious leader or Imam, Diallo Karamoko Gadiry, and a young herdsman, Bah Boye. At least six other individuals arrested in Boke at the same time were reported to have died in Boiro camp after total deprivation of food and water, known as the "black diet".
Amnesty International was also investigating the cases of individuals arrested after the explosion of a grenade in May 1980 at the Palais du peuple (People's Palace). Lieutenant Camara Moussa Bayo, chief of security at the Presidency, and Wilkinson Honoré, director of a state enterprise, were among some 40 people arrested after the explosion who remained in detention without charge or trial throughout 1981. In February 1981 some 100 individuals were arrested. They included members of the presidential guard on duty at the airport in February 1981, as well as trainee pilots and airport staff. As many as 50 of those arrested were reported to have been released by the end of 1981.
The Amnesty International mission submitted to the authorities a list of the 22 detainees on whose behalf it had worked. Officials told the mission delegates that no prisoners of conscience were detained in Guinea, and that all the individuals for whom Amnesty International had appealed had used violence or advocated its use. They also stated that at least two of these prisoners had been released, and that the remainder had been tried, convicted and sentenced They undertook to provide Amnesty International with detailed information following the mission about the charges against each prisoner on the list and the term of imprisonment imposed.
Amnesty International was concerned about the forcible repatriation of Guineans living in neighbouring African countries who were suspected of opposition to the government of President Sekou Toure. The Guinean Government was believed to have obtained the assistance of the Ivory Coast authorities in the forcible and extra-legal repatriation of three Guineans to Conakry in April 1981. On arrival they were detained in Boiro camp and reportedly badly beaten by prison officers. Two were returned to the Ivory Coast in May 1981, but Barry Mouctar remained in detention in Boiro camp, apparently accused of involvement in the May 1980 grenade attack. Before his enforced return to Guinea he had been living in the Ivory Coast for some 16 years. His case was investigated by Amnesty International.
The Guinean Government was believed to have had collaboration from the Liberian authorities in the forcible repatriation of at least three Guinean exiles from Liberia in late November. According to several reports an official Guinean aircraft was permitted to land at Monrovia airport to take away the exiles. Among them was Cheik Mohamed Kone, a member of a political group called "Concerned Citizens of the Republic of Guinea", which had called for the end of the one-party system in Guinea in early November 1981.
Amnesty International continued to investigate the cases of students arrested in April 1979 in Kankan, following protests about poor educational facilities and restrictions on freedom of expression.
At least six students were arrested. Between March and May 1980 there were several disturbances in educational establishments in Kindia. Students at the agricultural college went on strike to oppose the appointment of a new rector and some installations were destroyed. Over 100 students were reportedly arrested and taken to Keme Boureima Camp in Kindia. It was not known how many were still detained, nor whether some of those released might have been forcibly conscripted into the army as had happened in the past. In January 1981 seven students were reportedly arrested in Kankan following the appearance of antigovernment slogans on walls. All were taken to Keme Boureima camp and some were reportedly tortured with electric shocks and deprived of food and water for four days. It was not known how many remained in detention at the end of 1981.
Although conditions in Boiro camp had improved since 1978, standards of sanitation, nutrition and medical care remained poor. Amnesty International was concerned by reports that on entry to Boiro camp prisoners were severely beaten and ill treated by guards. Amnesty International's mission delegates were allowed to visit Boiro camp in December 1981 and to interview five prisoners of their choice: Camara Senni, Sankoumba Diaby, Keita Mohamed, Camara Himy and Bah Mahmoud. The authorities however refused to give Amnesty International access to Boiro camp's prison register, and told the delegates that no information could be supplied regarding deaths in detention.
Amnesty International was concerned that statements made by President Sekou Toure in early 1981 might have given official sanction to summary killings. He was reported to have authorized both nationals and foreigners resident in Guinea to kill all thieves with any means at their disposal.