Guinea-Bissau: Treatment of people suspected of having helped former president João Bernardo Vieira by supporters of Ansumane Mané; protection available to Vieira supporters
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa|
|Publication Date||30 August 2002|
|Citation / Document Symbol||GNB39966.FE|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Guinea-Bissau: Treatment of people suspected of having helped former president João Bernardo Vieira by supporters of Ansumane Mané; protection available to Vieira supporters, 30 August 2002, GNB39966.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47d654891e.html [accessed 4 March 2015]|
In June 1998, civil war broke out in Guinea-Bissau following an attempt by Bissau-Guinean President Vieira to arrest army commander General Ansumane Mané on charges of selling weapons to the separatist rebels in Casamance, a province in the south of Senegal that borders on Guinea-Bissau (United Nations 28 July 1998). The majority of Bissau-Guinean soldiers rebelled against Vieira, who asked neighbouring Guinea and Senegal to send in their troops to quell the revolt (ibid. 16 Aug. 2002). General Mané and his men, however, prevailed, and Vieira had to leave the country (ibid.). Ansumane Mané officially handed his power over to a new president elected in February 2000, Kumba Yala, but his military junta continued to exist and constituted a "'parallel government'," according to Samuel Nana-Sinkam, the United Nations representative in Guinea-Bissau (ibid.).
A November 1999 report from the International Federation for Human Rights (Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'homme, FIDH) indicated that following the victory of Mané's military junta on 7 May 1999, [translation] "approximately 600 soldiers and a few dozen civilians ... who supported Nino Vieira were taken into custody and detained in several army barracks. Between May and August 1999, approximately half of them were released, including almost all the enlisted men. At the end of October 1999, 385 people were in detention for acts of war." However, the report indicated that the people who were still in detention did not seem to be political prisoners, since [translation] "all of them, including the civilians, had been involved in acts of repression under the former regime or in acts of war during the conflict" (FIDH Nov. 1999).
The report also noted that these prisoners had generally not been ill-treated, with the exception of one incident: [translation] "in Bafatà on 8 October 1999, during the transfer of seven prisoners from one detention centre to another, the prisoners were violently attacked by a mob instigated by the military escorts to exact vengeance on the 'criminals'" (ibid.).
An August 2000 article indicated that 31 former officers who were close to Vieira had been released the previous month (AFP 1 Aug. 2000). However, during a meeting with President Yala, soldiers loyal to General Mané expressed their anger at the release of these former officers, who were then sent back to prison to await their trial at a date yet to be set (ibid.). No other mention of incidents in which Ansumane Mané and his followers meted out special treatment to people they suspected of having helped former President João Bernardo Vieira was found among the sources consulted, nor was any information found on the protection offered to those people. However, the following information may be of some interest.
In November 2000, General Mané rejected the army appointments that President Yala had announced, dismissed the chief of staff, and proclaimed himself head of the army (Afrol.com 29 Nov. 2000). On 23 November 2000, there were armed clashes between forces loyal to the government and Mané's men in the capital, Bissau (ibid.; ANB-BIA 30 Nov. 2000). Three days later, the government forces managed to quell the revolt, and General Mané fled with his men (ibid.). About 10 people were killed in the rebellion and thousands of others were forced to flee the capital (AFP 2 Dec. 2000). One source reported that [translation] "most of the army had chosen to back President Yala" during the incident (ANB-BIA 30 Nov. 2000), and another noted that according to official sources, only about 100 of the 23,000 soldiers in the Guinean-Bissau army supported General Mané (BBC 30 Nov. 2000).
Between 24 and 26 November 2000, seven leaders of the political opposition who had publicly supported General Mané were arrested (Afrol.com 29 Nov. 2000; AP 26 Nov. 2000). According to the government, they had been conspiring to usurp power if Mané's coup succeeded (BBC 26 Nov. 2000; AP 26 Nov. 2000). In addition, at least 181 of Mané supporters were reportedly apprehended for [translation] "attempting to overthrow the government" (ANB-BIA 30 Nov. 2000). On 27 November 2000, President Yala issued an order for all the civilians arrested to be released but kept under house arrest [translation] "pending the outcome of the investigation"; however, some politicians [translation] "refused to leave the prison until they were informed of the reason for their arrest" (ANB-BIA 30 Nov. 2000), while others refused to leave because they feared for their safety (Afrol.com 29 Nov. 2000). One source reported that although the civilians were released, more than 200 soldiers and members of paramilitary forces remained in prison (AFP 2 Dec. 2000).
According to a BBC article, some human rights groups claimed that "the new government [...] exploited the latest crisis by arresting political opponents" (1 Dec. 2000). With regard to the arrests following the uprising led by Mané, Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent indicated that
Kumba Yala took advantage of the opportunity to launch a massive political and military purge. All officers suspected of sympathizing with the general were removed, or even arrested and tortured. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cap-Vert (Partido Africano de Indepencia de Guine e Capo Verde, PAIGC), formerly the sole party in the country and one that was close to Mané, was dismantled. Its president, Francisco Benante, accused of supporting the coup attempt, was summoned for questioning, as were other leaders of the opposition.... Even Members of Parliament were arrested, although no measure lifting their parliamentary immunity had been taken (5-11 Dec. 2000).
On 30 November 2000, government troops located the General and his collaborators and apparently killed him and three of his men in a gun battle (ibid.; BBC 30 Nov. 2000). However, a subsequent article reported that Ansumane Mané had been [translation] "executed in cold blood on government orders" (Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent 19 Dec. 2000). According to that article, when an armed commando unit found Mané and 10 of his followers, they [translation] "gave surrendered without resistance," but the [translation] "soldiers in the firing squad" shot the General as he attempted to flee, and not in [translation] "an exchange of gunfire provoked by the reaction of one of his own bodyguards, as the official version alleged" (ibid.). The three soldiers loyal to Mané who were reportedly [translation] "executed" were Captain Ansu Mandjam, Captain Ussumane Camara, and Lieutenant Babar Cissé (ibid.).
In February 2001, Amnesty International described as "appalling" the conditions in the detention centres where 124 military and security officers had been held since the uprising of November 2000 (M2 Presswire 16 Feb. 2001). Sanitation was poor and detainees did not have adequate access to medical treatment (ibid.). Amnesty International added that 55 detainees were seriously ill and that one man had died because the authorities took too long to transfer him to a hospital (ibid.). The Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), citing a dispatch from the MISNA news agency, reported while the Guinean-Bissau authorities released 16 soldiers in May 2001, approximately 150 others remained in prison, accused of involvement in the failed November 2000 coup (UN 10 May 2001). However, other detainees were supposed to be released later that week (ibid.). The trials of the detained soldiers were progressing very slowly, which led people to demonstrate and to accuse the authorities of violating human rights (ibid.).
According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001, the Government ordered the arrest of some 400 civilians and soldiers after the November 2000 revolt (4 Mar. 2002, Sec. 1c). In December 2000, the president of the Guinean (Bissau) Human Rights League (Liga Guineense de Direitos Humanos, LGDH) "accused the military of physical abuse, torture, and persecution of the families of suspects" (ibid.).
On 1 March 2001, the Bissau regional court acquitted Colonel Sandji Faty, who had been charged with treason and collaborating with the enemy (PANA 1 Mar. 2001; UN 5 Mar. 2001) for his role in defending ex-president Joao Bernardo Vieira during the mutiny that lasted from June 1998 to May 1999 (ibid.). The acquittal followed those of Brigadier-General Humberto Gomes, former chief of staff of the army, and his assistant, Alfonso Te, both Vieira supporters (PANA 1 Mar. 2001). Faty benefited from an amnesty that applied to all those involved in the mutiny (ibid.). An accord reached to end the conflict stated that "no one could be persecuted or tried for having fought on one side or the other" (UN 5 Mar. 2001). However, despite the amnesty, none of the military officers acquitted was reinstated in the army, and all the police officers who remained loyal to Vieira were discharged (PANA 1 Mar. 2001).
In December 2001, the Guinean (Bissau) government announced that it had foiled another coup attempt (AFP 4 Dec. 2001; BBC 3 Dec. 2001). According to the BBC, the plotters included Vieira loyalists (ibid.). Another source quoted Guinean (Bissau) authorities as stating that the coup had been organized by "people nostalgic [for] former President Nino Vieira and the late Gen. Ansumane Mané" (PANA 30 Dec. 2001). Some 30 suspects were apprehended and detained by the authorities (ibid.). Among them were Commander Mohamed Lamine Sanha, who had been a member of Mané's military junta, and Colonel João Monteiro, a member of former president Vieira's inner circle (AFP 4 Dec. 2001). Another detainee, Major Antonio Alanso Vaz, reportedly died in prison (PANA 30 Dec. 2001). The LGDH had asked to visit the detainees, but its request was denied (ibid.).
On 10 June 2002, however, President Yala proclaimed an amnesty for 169 detainees suspected of involvement in the December 2001 coup attempt (AFP 11 June 2002). At the same time, he announced that six other people had been arrested in connection with another coup attempt the month before (ibid.). Two days later, the president proposed an amnesty that would also apply to those who plotted in the failed May 2002 coup (United Nations 12 June 2002). Fode Conte, apparently the moving force behind the latest coup, said that he, like General Ansumane Mane, was a member of the Mandinga ethnic group who been dismissed from the army, and that he orchestrated the coup to protest against Mane's death at the hands of government troops in November 2000 (ibid.).
The same month, however, the trials of 47 people accused of involvement in the November 2000 coup continued (AFP 7 June 2002). On 7 June 2002, Agusto Gomes de Sà, a former comrade-in-arms of General Mané, was sentenced to eight years in prison for [translation] "threatening state security" (ibid.). It was the first sentence handed down since the trials began (ibid.). On 19 July 2002, a Bissau regional court handed down sentences ranging from three to nine years in prison without possibility of parole to another six of General Mané's comrades (ibid. 19 July 2002). A week earlier, another officer, José Bacar Camara, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison without possibility of parole (ibid.). On 13 August 2002, Commander Sanha (mentioned earlier), a former close associate of General Mané's, was also sentenced to 10 years in prison without possibility of parole (ibid. 13 Aug. 2002).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
African News Bulletin-Bulletin d'information africaine (ANB-BIA). 30 November 2000. "Guinea-Bissau : retour au calme."
Afrol.com. 29 November 2000. "Protests Against Imprisonment of Oppositional Politicians in Guinea-Bissau."
Agence France Presse (AFP). 13 August 2002. "Nouvelle condamnation à 10 ans de prison ferme d'un proche du général Mané." (Africatime)
_____. 19 July 2002. "Six ex-compagnons du général Mané condamnés à entre 3 et 9 ans de prison." (Africatime)
_____. 11 June 2002. "Coup Plotters Get Amnesty in Guinea Bissau, but Others Arrested." (NEXIS)
_____. 7 June 2002. "Un ex-compagnon du général Mané condamné à huit ans de prison." (Africatime)
_____. 4 December 2001. "More Suspects Arrested After Foiled Guinea Bissau Coup." (NEXIS)
_____. 2 December 2000. "Guinea-Bissau Government Frees Opposition Politicians." (NEXIS)
_____. 1 August 2000. "Freed Former Officers Back in Jail in Guinea Bissau." (NEXIS)
Associated Press (AP). 26 November 2000. "Guinea-Bissau Gov't Arrests Opposition Members." (NEXIS)
BBC. 3 December 2001. "Guinea Bissau 'Coup' Foiled."
_____. 1 December 2000. "Guinea-Bissau 'Regrets' Shooting."
_____. 30 November 2000. "Guinea-Bissau Rebel General 'Shot Dead.'"
_____. 26 November 2000. "Guinea Bissau Arrests 'Plotters.'"
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001. 4 March 2002. "Guinea-Bissau." United States Department of State.
Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'homme (FIDH). November 1999. Report No. 286. Mission international d'enquête – Guinée Bissau : un calme trompeur.
Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent. 5-11 December 2000. No. 2082. Cherif Ouazani. "Pourquoi Mané est tombé."
_____. 19 December 2000. "Comment Anumane Mané est mort." (Africatime)
M2 Presswire. 16 February 2001. "Amnesty International: Guinea Bissau Soldiers Held in Appalling Conditions." (NEXIS)
Panafrican News Agency (PANA). 30 December 2001. "Human Rights Body Criticizes Guinea Bissau Authorities." (NEXIS)
_____. 1 March 2001. "Guinea-Bissau Court Acquits Army Officers Accused of Conspiracy in '98." (BBC Monitoring 2 Mar. 2001/NEXIS)
United Nations. 16 August 2002. Department of Political Affairs. "Guinea-Bissau."
_____. 12 June 2002. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). "Guinea-Bissau: Alleged Coup Plotters to Be Pardoned."
_____. 10 May 2001. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). "Guinea-Bissau: Some Detained Soldiers Released."
_____. 5 March 2001. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). "Guinea-Bissau: Military Officers Acquitted."
_____. 28 July 1998. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees. "Guinea Bissau Country Profile."
Additional Sources Consulted
Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent 2001-2002
Le Nouvel Afrique-Asie 2001-2002
Internet sites, including:
World News Connection (WNC)