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Guinea must stop the crackdown on journalists

Sep 2, 2013, 12:17 PM

(Friday, 30 August 2013, Issue)

The recent crackdown on journalists in Guinea by the government of President Alpha Conde is not only high-handed, but it also represents an attack on press freedom.

According to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the Guinean media have in the past two weeks suffered a series of attacks for covering and reporting on rallies held by the ruling party, the People’s Rally of Guinea (RPG).

Supporters of the RPG and soldiers attached to President Alpha Condé’s security detail, have reportedly attacked a number of journalists and ransacked a radio station, Bate FM, for covering the President’s rallies.

David Tchopn Bangoura, a reporter of privately-owned radio station, Lynx FM, is the latest journalist to suffer harassment at the hands of angry RPG supporters.

According to the MFWA’s monitor, on August 24, 2013, the angry supporters accosted Bangoura and threatened to lynch him for covering the day’s rally without authorization from the RPG.

This case has pointed up yet again the hazards of journalism. When a journalist is on a legitimate assignment, some people in some quarters would misconstrue that as “hostile acts” - whatever that means.

It happens all the time, as journalists are almost always marked out as targets while doing their work in the interest of the people. In fact, in some cases, journalists are barred from entry to certain countries because they are assumed to be spies.

Nothing can be further from the truth. What security agencies and agents term as intelligence is what journalists regard as information that is meant for public consumption.

The journalist gathers information for public consumption only; and not to aid specifically and purposely the strategic advantage of any government. Governments all over the world have people who are paid to gather intelligence for them.

We, therefore, join the Media Foundation for West Africa in condemning the acts of the government of President Alpha Conde and urge him and his fellow leaders across the continent to have a rethink on the plight of journalists, who are just here to do their work in the best interest of the citizenry.

If he does that, then he stands a chance of making history as a respecter of press freedom and freedom of expression.