Wednesday, April 20, 2016


The murder of exiled Seychellois opposition leader Gerard Hoarau outside his home in London, England on 29 November 1985 was the latest in a series of incidents in which at least nine opponents of the government of President Albert Rene are reported to have been murdered or have "disappeared".

The current Government of the Seychelles came to power following a coup d'etat in June 1977. The following August, Hassan Umarji Ebrahim, a 45-year-old businessman and known government critic, "disappeared". He left his house after receiving a phone call from an unknown person. His empty car was discovered an hour later with the engine still running. His shoes were found nearby. Amnesty International (AI) later received detailed allegations suggesting that Hassan Umarji Ebrahim had been abducted and killed by members of the security forces because of his political views. A former police officer told AI that police files on the case had vanished from the archives as a result of an intervention by senior officials.


In October 1982 and July 1983 a further four people died in strange circumstances. The two victims in 1982 were Simon Desnousse, a Seychellois student leader, and Mike Asher, a South African, said by the authorities to have blown themselves up with a homemade bomb. In July 1983 Michael Hoffman, a former policeman, and Tony Elizabeth, were killed after their car was attacked at night by unknown assailants. A third man, Brian Victor, was left for dead hut subsequently recovered and claimed that he and his companions had been attacked by members of the security forces. Al has received reports that all of these killings were carried out for political reasons by members of the security forces who had tried to disguise them either as accidents or as the work of common criminals.


The latest "disappearances" reported in the islands occurred in August and September 1984. The victims were Jean Guillaume, a 22-year-old labourer, and Alton Ah-Time, a known government opponent. Al again received reports that both had been abducted and killed by members of the security forces because of their actual or suspected political activity. Their bodies are said to have been dumped at sea.

On 3 October 1984 Alton Ah-Time's mother, Simone Ah-Time, wrote an open letter to a local newspaper in which she claimed that her son had been followed and intimidated by security officers on several occasions in the previous eighteen months. Since then, at least two members of the Ah-Time family have been detained and allegedly beaten by security officers.

AI has appealed a number of times to the Seychellois authorities to establish an impartial inquiry into this series of deaths and "disappearances" but without response.


Shortly before he was killed, Gerard Hoarau, leader of the exiled Seychelles National Movement, claimed that the Seychellois Government had planned to kill him in France. He alleged that the French police had been informed of the plan: that it was to have been carried out by a professional gunman hired by an associate of President Rene, and that the weapons for the assassination were to have been smuggled into France in the diplomatic bag.

Gerard Hoarau was a former immigration officer in the Seychelles. In November 1979, he was one of about 811 people detained on suspicion of organizing an underground opposition movement which had circulated literature criticizing the government. The authorities also claimed that Hoarau was involved in a plan to overthrow the government by force, although he was never charged with any offence. He was released untried after eight months' detention. In March 1980 Hoarau was one of several detainees visited by an AI delegate, Kenyan lawyer Amos Wako, who recorded a conversation with Hoarau in prison.

This echo from the past is brought by the Voice, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) focused on Human Rights in Seychelles and defending victims of fundamental rights abuses. The launch of the NGO is imminent.