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Mamadou Dian Diallo, Guinea: ‘My brother died for our rights’

Mamadou Dian Diallo's 16-year-old brother was shot dead when security forces cracked down on demonstrators in the Guinean capital, Conakry, in January 2007. (October 2007)
(Nancy Palus/IRIN)

Sixteen-year-old Amadou Oury Diallo was shot and killed when Guinean soldiers cracked down on demonstrators in January 2007.

As the one-year anniversary of the uprisings approaches, observers are worried that if not enough is done to answer citizens’ grievances and bring to book those responsible for marchers’ deaths, Guinea could again explode.

For Diallo's 28-year-old brother Mamadou Dian Diallo, his sibling did not die in vain.

“On 22 January he went out to march. He was shot twice, in his side and in the back of the neck. He was trying to run away from the soldiers when he was shot.

“For the moment, we cannot say they [his brother and at least 137 other victims] have died for nothing. Their death brought us to the naming of a new prime minister. Now, if we don’t meet the goals we fought for, we will have betrayed them.

“What the people want is change – it’s a national necessity. Guineans have suffered too much, ever since independence. We lived here in darkness [in the Conakry suburb of Hamdallaye]. Electricity and water have been scarce.

“We notice now that since the new prime minister, there is electricity more often in the neighbourhood; there is running water. Before, we could go one or two weeks with not a drop coming out of the faucet and we had to wait in line for hours at a water point [nearly 500 meters away] to fill jerry cans of water. Now, we have piped water for two or three days at a time, with maybe one day in between.

“Things will turn ugly again if we don’t achieve what we fought for – that is, improvements in our living conditions.

“We have held memorials in the neighbourhood for our fallen brothers. This is to keep their spirits alive, and to pronounce that even if they’re not with us today, they did not die in vain. They died for a just cause – the fight for our rights. 22 January will forever remain an unforgettable day for the youth of Guinea.

“We’re organising cultural events for the anniversary to continue to honour the people who died.

“The commission of inquiry [to investigate abuses by the security forces during the crackdown] must go after those who committed crimes. They should be arrested, judged and punished so that such acts will never be committed again, not only here in Guinea but in other African countries.

“The international community must understand that it is crucial not just to look at the youth who died but at the reality of the youth of Guinea they left behind. And the government must help the youths prepare their future.

“Guinea has opened its eyes. Guineans now know how to make themselves heard and claim their rights.”


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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