Today was the second day of a 2 day general strike in Guinea in response to the massacre of 157 protestors by government security forces on 28th September.
Mining operations in Guinea, the world’s largest exporter of bauxite (the ore used to make aluminum), came to a standstill. A company official at Guinea Bauxite Company – a massive joint venture between Mining giants Rio Tinto of Australia/UK and Alcoa of the US – which accounts for over 60% of Guinea’s bauxite exports said:-
They managed to stop CBG activities. We can do no more than assure a minimum service level of the train and the port
UC Rusal of Russia which controls the remaining 40% of bauxite exports said it’s operations had been cut to the bone
There is still the blockade at Friguia. People are not coming to work,” the executive said. “Only the workers needed to provide minimum service to prevent a complete shutdown of the plant are present
Attorney Thierno Balde, president of the Research Institute on Democracy and Rule of Law in Guinea noted that
The strike has been organized by the union in both the private and the public sector. They are asking the population to stay home and not go to work to pray for the people who have been killed on the 28th of September
He also says that youth groups are calling for a five day hunger strike aimed at encouraging an agreement between all parties to resolve Guinea’s crisis
The Guinea contact group, made up of members of the African union, European Union, United Nations and others issued a statement calling for sanctions against the military leadership and
Strongly condemns the brutal acts, rapes and the massacre perpetrated by armed troops under the authority of the [junta] against women and unarmed civilians
The executive secretary of the Economic Community Of West African States, told the contact group that Guinea was
characterised by arbitrary and irresponsible use of state power by the military to repress the population
On Monday, the first day of the strike, details emerged of a massive $7bn investment package by China currently being negotiated with the military regime – covering infrastructure and mining investments and the right to prospect for crude oil in a region that’s fast becoming a new oil frontier.
While the total value of the overall package at US$ 7bn may not seem much in a time when hundreds of billions are chucked around without the bat of an eyelid, given that the annual GDP of Guinea amounts to no more than US$ 4.5bn, the investment represents over 150% of the country’s annual GDP. To put that into perspective if an equivalent deal was to happen in the UK it would involve an investment of over 4 trillion dollars.
The chinese deal will also set up Guinea as a microcosm of a contemporary version of the late 19th/early 20th century scramble for Africa, pitching chinese interests directly against those of the west at a time of growing competition for resources across the continent.
So there we have it – in a country abundant in natural resources where Islam is demographically, socially, and culturally dominant we have massacres of unarmed democracy activists, mass rapes, opposition figures beaten, victimised, detained in custody or forced to flee the country, general strikes by workers bringing the country to a standstill, kids going on hunger strike to force a settlement, and a resource driven imperialism pitting US, Russian and Chinese interests against each other – but hardly a jot of interest from the usually starry eyed forever exotic hunting islam chasing cobweb left nor much visible interest from the so called UK blogosphere for whom if this was Iran, Palestine or elsewhere in the middle east there would have been an absolute saturation of words lavished on the situation – clearly the Guinean is the wrong type of vibrant.