Sunday, November 01, 2009

Guinea, Guns and BAE Systems

To nobody's great surprise, recent atrocities in the west African country of Guinea, when civilians opposed to Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara's military junta were attacked, killed and raped by soldiers loyal to the regime, have an indirect link to BAE Systems.

Eye witness reports of the 29th September massacre, when 157 people were reportedly killed at a rally calling for Camara to not take part in Presidential elections planned for next January, describe some of the weapons and equipment used by army units as they unleashed a brutal attack upon the crowd of 50,000 at a football stadium in the capital Conakry.

These reports include descriptions of:

  • French-made Cougar grenade launchers, whose sale to Guinea were authorised by the French government in 2007
  • Mamba Mine Protected Vehicles, built by BAE Systems and reportedly sold to the Guinea regime through a South African intermediary company
Since the September massacre, during which widespread rape is reported to have taken place, Amnesty International have called for an immediate suspension of all weapons and arms supplies to Guinea.

A participant within the armed forces who took part in the September massacre has described the army as being leaderless and in a state of chaos. He also claims that elements from neighbouring Liberia are operating at middle ranking levels within the Guinea army.

Human Rights Watch reported in 2003 that Guinea was used as a major transit route for illegal arms shipments to the Muslim-majority LURD rebel group in their conflict with the government of Charles Taylor between 1999 and 2003. The report claims that these arms shipments originated in the Ukraine and Iran.

To add to the complexity, the military junta in Guinea has, since the massacre, announced a $7billion mineral rights deal with the People's Republic of China.

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1 comment:

Tom Foster said...

thanks for the article Al.

I cannot begin to understand how people find the courage necessary to oppose a regime which has already done such damage to people.

I wonder if you can help provide any signposts on the following...

is there any obligation on a company selling arms to give an account for the life of those arms, how they used and by whom?

Do the U.K. have any kind of relationship to Guinea that might provide a platform on which to speak about these issues - I wonder at how sanctions might be used effectively.