The Congress of South African Trade Unions strongly condemns the vicious and barbaric violence meted out against the people of Guinea Conakry by the ruling military junta of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.
157 people were killed on Monday 28th September at Conakry stadium when the military police opened fire on protestors who were rejecting the candidacy of the military ruler for the up-coming national elections in the country.
Guinea gained its independence from France in 1958 under the leadership of the legendary Ahmed Sekou Toure. After his death he was replaced by Lansana Conte who ruled the country until his death in 2007 when Captain Camara took over.
In 2007 the country's two strongest trade unions called for a general strike, demanding that Conte agree to leave office. Instead he declared martial law and tanks began to roll into the capital, with security forces opening fire on protestors. Conte did then however appoint a Prime Minister from a list approved by union leaders, only to fire him again later.
In the wake of the military coup d'état that took place a few days after Conte's death in December 2008, of activists and ordinary people, including workers and military personnel have been arbitrarily arrested, molested and unlawfully detained.
The ban on political parties has been reinstated. Sustained attacks on opposition parties - that are demanding free and fair elections, unbanning of political parties and the creation of conditions conducive to democracy - have been intensified.
The junta has also undermined the National Electoral Commission in order to delay the holding of the elections, as a deliberate ploy to prolong its stay in power and frustrate the creation of a democratic environment for credible elections.
COSATU salutes the trade union movement of Guinea - the CNTG, USTG and ONSLG - for being in the forefront of the struggle for workers' rights and democracy in their country; it has also been one of the worst victims of state violence. COSATU pledges to do all in its power to support their efforts.
We also support the AU Peace and Security Council decision to impose sanctions on the junta, particularly its leader Camaras and his party, the CNDD (National Council for Democracy and Development) and all other individuals, both civilian and military, whose activities are in contravention of those commitments.
We also condemn France, the former colonial master, for its double standards in calling for Captain Camara not to stand for elections and condemning his violent activities, despite being the leading military sponsors of that junta and preceding dictators.
Former colonial powers and their multinational companies must refrain from fermenting conditions for war, instability and underdevelopment on the continent, as in the classic case of the DRC, where they fund militias and corrupt elites who benefit from the war, yet the companies are not prosecuted for these activities, only the surrogates such as Jean-Pierre Bemba, Laurent Nkunda, etc.
We also support the ITUC-Africa's efforts, led by its General Secretary Comrade Kwasi Adu Amankwah, in working with our sister unions in Guinea to respond to the crisis and defend the interests of workers in the context of the deepening situation.
The programme led by the ITUC for the building of a movement for human and trade unions rights is an important step forward in the march to a democratic and better continent and COSATU pledges to intensify its participation.
COSATU's former representative in ITUC-Africa, Cde Alinah Rantsolase, who is now a parliamentarian, played an outstanding role. Whilst in that position she was instrumental in the call for the isolation of Zimbabwe and Swaziland, for which COSATU salutes her.
COSATU has prioritised the building of democracy on the continent. It is our firm belief that workers' conditions are better served in an environment that affirms human dignity and justice for all the people. That is why we shall remain consistent in our active involvement in Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Guinea, and all parts of the continent and world where democracy is under attack.