Demonstration in memory of journalist Norbert Zongo banned
(WAJA/IFEX) - The following is a 12 December 2000 WAJA press release:
On 12 December 2000, in Ouagadougou, the organising committee of the International Festival for Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom in West Africa decided to place the first stone of a memorial pillar in Sapouy, about 100 kilometres south of Ouagadougou, where Norbert Zongo was assassinated. He was killed on 13 December 1998.
A police operation was set up five kilometres from the site, stopping local and foreign journalists (from Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Niger, Ghana, Nigeria, the Netherlands and France) from entering the area. The journalists had already travelled close to 100 kilometres when they were stopped by police.
The ban on demonstrations was decreed on 6 December, following a student demonstration in which a twelve-year-old child, Flavien Nebié, was killed. The students were protesting the introduction of new reforms at the University of Ouagadougou, which they qualified as draconian. Among the reforms, the governmental authorities wanted to impose several measures, notably a grade of 12 out of 20 for students who feel it is impossible to earn such marks because of their poor working conditions. The authorities also wanted to set up a police squad on the university campus. The government closed the university following numerous demonstrations. Police are constantly being called out to deal with the turmoil.
In his address to the nation, President Blaise Compaore denounced what he described as the "extremism of associations and political parties," in reference to the group of democratic organisations and political parties led by Khalidou Ouedrago. The head of state recalled that it is the state's responsibility to safeguard public order.
The West African Journalists' Association (WAJA) emphatically protests this attempt to gag the press in Burkina Faso. The organisation calls on the government to shed light on the assassination of Norbert Zongo.