(CN) – Recent atrocities by the Guinean government against protesters have caused the European Union to suspend a fishing deal with the West African nation as its first sanction against the country’s military leaders. “There is no doubt that it would be politically unacceptable for the Commission to proceed with a financial transfer to Guinea,” said Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg.
Late last month, the government organized a bloody crackdown on protesters, using live rounds, beatings and rape. The government said 57 people died but local reports report that the violence claimed 157 lives and wounded more than a thousand people.
In addition to the other violence, women of all ages were allegedly raped in broad daylight, with soldiers using bayonets, knives and other weapons to rip their clothes off.
Under the original plan, the European Union would have paid the Guinean government up to 500,000 euros a year for EU rights to fish for tuna in Guinean waters. The deal would have lasted four years.
Guinea has a four-decade history of selling fishing rights to foreign trawlers, beginning with Russian boats that obtained a concession to fish around the picturesque Iles de Los, a set of islands off the capital Conakry that are said to have inspired the novel Treasure Island. An ocean that had been filled with tarpon, barracuda and host of game fish was swept clean of sea life by the Russians.
In suspending the latest deal for fishing rights, the EU’s Commissioner Borg said earlier this week that development assistance to Guinea would be suspended until there is a satisfactory resolution to the crisis.
“This procedure is the first sanction following the Guinean government’s use of violence,” Europolitics reported.
The political violence that prompted the sanction took place as protesters gathered in Conakry, Guinea’s capitol, to rally against plans by Guinea’s military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, to run for president during January elections, after Camar had said he would not run..
Camara assumed power last December, after the nation’s long-time dictator Lansana Conte died.
The United Nations decided last week to organize an international inquiry into the violence.