Bare newstands and silent radios marked an unprecedented “press-free day” in Guinea on Tuesday in honour of journalist El Hadj Mohamed Diallo who was killed last week in political clashes.
The refusal to publish or broadcast by public and private media came as a coalition of press groups backed the halt to draw attention to the risks journalists take working in the west African nation of nearly 12 million people.
Diallo, who worked for the private Guinee7 news website and the weekly L’Independant, died after being shot in the chest on Friday in clashes outside the offices of an opposition party in the capital Conakry.
His smiling face appeared on news websites’ homepages and various TV stations, with the message “Press-free day in Guinea. Justice for El Hadj Mohamed Diallo”.
“We hope to draw the attention of Guinean authorities to the working conditions of journalists in this country,” said Nouhou Balde, administrator of the news site Guinee-Matin.
“On several occasions I have had my journalists beaten by police while in the line of duty,” he added.
The clashes in which Diallo was killed broke out over the recent removal of the opposition party’s vice-president. Both he and the party blamed the other for the subsequent unrest.
Some 300 journalists, civil representatives and ordinary citizens marched to the justice ministry in Diallo’s memory on Monday.
He was married with a young daughter, relatives said.