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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 1. 1962.

Guinean Government Shuts Schools

Guinean Government Shuts Schools

On November 24, 1961, the High Court of Conakry condemned five members of the Guinean Teachers' Union to jail terms ranging from five to ten years each. Then, three days later, when students throughout Conakry demonstrated in protest, the Government and President Sekou Toure's Parti Democratique de Guinee (P.D.G.) ordered all schools closed and students sent home until further notice.

The severe penalties against the instructors were based on allegations that they had "edited and distributed within Guinea and abroad a mendacious and subversive document." Authorities judged the teachers' actions to have been part of "a new counter-revolutionary attempt." Among those condemned to ten-year sentences were M. Koumandean Meita, Secretary General of the Teachers' Union, and M. Mamadou Rayautra, Director of the Institute for Research and Documentation.

In view of the fact that Guinean students rose to the defence of the teachers, it is interesting to note that the High Court included among its charges the Union's "systematic efforts tending to divide and demoralize the young." Evidently the government felt that its case was none too clear. While the trials were being held in Conakry a series of "meetings" were organised throughout the country in order to explain, and justify, the measures taken against the teachers. The Government spokesman, M. Ismael Toure, Minister for Public Works, brought up a few extra charges of his own, declaring that the Teachers' Union had been responsible for the recent demonstrations at Labe where three persons were killed and several injured.

A special communique issued by the Pdg was broadcast to the nation by Radio Conakry. In no uncertain terms the radio stated that, "All students, with the exception of several ringleaders being held for questioning, will be sent home. Since last Sunday (November 26, 1961), special trucks and trains have already begun carrying the students back to their families."

In the capital of Conakry, passersby looked on in silence while details of armed and helmeted gendarmes patrolled in front of the empty school buildings. Then, in a startling revelation made public on December 11, President Toure declared that the student riots had been part of a Communist design to overthrow his regime. He said that an official investigation into the rioting had "uncovered the existence of a subversive network reaching from an Eastern bloc embassy in Conakry to Dakar and Paris." He did not name the Communist bloc country. Toure, who is a Lenin Peace Prize winner, has maintained close relations with the Soviet bloc and has received considerable aid from it since France abruptly severed all political and economic ties with the former French colony three years ago.

"I AM washing my hands."

"I AM washing my hands."