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Conference attack

UPDATED – An exiled Senegalese journalist was beaten by supporters of President Abdoulaye Wade in full view of hundreds of journalists attending a conference at McCormick Place on Friday.

Souleymane Jules Diop was beaten for several minutes by at least four men who were reportedly bodyguards of President Wade, after he called out during the president’s speech to the Unity: Journalists of Color Conference.

Chicago police had to intervene to stop the beating.

Diop was taken to the District 1 station at 18th and State Street, held several hours for questioning, and released without charge.

“I came here because less than a month ago, journalists in my country were assaulted, violated and brutalized, and at the same time in the city of Chicago, journalists are inviting my president to make a presention,” he said in a statement after his release. “I came here to discuss that.”

He had long scratches on his neck, scratches on his arm and ankle, blood on his leg, and the left side of his shirt was torn open and the sleeve torn off.

“That they would do this in Chicago, in front of all these journalists from this country — you can imagine what they would do in my country.” reported that one of the assailants was said to be an advisor to the president named Alioune Diop.

None of the attackers were taken into custody.

The article said Roland Martin of CNN told President Wade that the attack gave credibility to charges by the Senegalese press of mistreatment by the government.  [Martin has disputed this account.]

According to that report, Wade told the journalist conference that two sports journalists beaten while handcuffed after a World Cup qualifying match had provoked their beating by the police and that the journalists had wanted to attack soccer players.

The two were Babacar Kambel Dieng, sports editor of Radio Futurs Médias (RFM), and reporter Kara Thioune, reporter for West Africa Democracy Radio.  Dieng was reportedly hospitalized for 20 days after the attack, in which tasers were used, according to Tom Rhodes, Africa specialist for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

On Monday nongovernment newspapers and radio stations in Senegal held a day-long “news blackout” — refusing to publish or broadcast — to protest the attack on Dieng and Thioune, according to Agence France-Presse.

“That’s all they know — the only argument they have is violence,” said Chicago protest organizer Badara Diakhate.  “Today they really revealed their character.”

UPDATE: Unity 2008’s online news service has covered the incidents:  “President of Senegal: Too Many Journalists,” “Press Freedom Advocates Protest,”  “Protest Turns Violent,” “Speech Marred by Fight.”

Here’s video.

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Category: human rights, international, journalism, media


2 Responses

  1. amoctad says:

    I’m very sorry the fact that Wade’s bodyguard attaks a free Jourliste who have just express his opinion. Souleymane Jules said truth, the foreigner didn’t know Wade. That’s why they invite him to attend a big meeting in the foreign country and they give him a democratic or peace prize. He does not deserve it.
    Beside, 2008 Unity Confernce should not invite this dangerous man whose police men attaks a free citizen and he didn’t condem it.
    What happened yerterday is a shame for the Senegal and senegalese. Our president showed the world he is violent that’s why his bodyguard attaked a senegalese citizen.

  2. D man says:

    i think those journalist from Unity should take a close look to senegal before inviting the president. i think that i woulda been a good idea to travel to senegal and see the condition in which the population is living in and go check the conditions on which the people in the governemnt are living plus all the houses they are buying here in the US and in europe. they all live in millions dollars houses in senegal while the country is fighting for food , electricity, water, etc… all the company in senegal have been mostly sold recently a school that was in the island of goree which was a slave island and was build in remembrence of Mariama Ba was sold to dubai…. but of course those little thing are not spoken about.
    i dont know what president Wade can do for global warming just tell me what can he do? this man cant even provide better condition for his country and when he retired he will simply go bck to france, rest just like senghor and bdou diouf did …you want to tell me that these pple love africa and senegal so much si why not stay there then ?
    you have never seen an american president retire and go live in mexico or a french president go living in mali or burkina faso ? but our leaders who are always talking about unity and panafricanism dont even show that model their doctor, clothes, food, holiday kids etc… are in those country… THINK ABOUT THIS !!!! WHAT IS THE FUTUR OF AFRICA? AFRICA DOESNT HAVE A FUTUR UNLESS WHO CHOOSE BETTER LEADERS

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