In Guinea, the Aftermath of a Massacre

Amid widespread international condemnation of Guinea’s military regime, the United Nations announced Friday it would launch a formal investigation into the September 28th massacre of opposition protestors in Conakry.  At least 150 people were killed by soldiers, and many more beaten or raped, for gathering in a football stadium to protest the government of Captain Dadis Camara.  Camara seized power in December after the death of Lansana Conte, president of Guinea for nearly 25 years.  Meanwhile, Guinean netizens continue trying to process and assess the meaning of the tragedy.

L’Union des forces républicaines, in an official release dated October 1st, 2009, attests to the planned nature of the brutal killings:

Le plus dramatique dans cette tragédie n’est pas tant d’avoir eu plus de 150 morts, mais c’est bien le caractère prémédité des tueries. Comment peut-on expliquer que les forces de l’ordre aient laissé les gens entrer dans le stade sans aucune résistance, attendre que le stade soit rempli [et] des milliers se disperser tout autour du stade avant de lancer l’assaut …. Cela relève bien de la plus macabre des stratégies militaires.

The most dramatic fact in this tragedy is not that there are over 150 dead, but rather the premeditated character of the killings. How to justify that security forces let people enter into the stadium without any resistance, waited until the stadium is full [with] thousands of people [outside], surrounding the stadium before launching the assault…This is the most macabre military stategy.

On October, 15th, Kouyaté, blogging at observers.france24.com, sent a report with photographs to the site, giving evidence of the armed forces’ atrocities (warning: graphic content):

Two soldiers remained, along with the guy who was bleeding to death on the ground. One of the soldiers who stayed had a knife. He came up to the guy and stabbed him three times – once in the chest, once in the stomach, and once in the back. A car from the presidential guard was sent to pick up the two soldiers.

Journalists receive death threats

In the wake of the massacre, Guinean journalists have been subject to harrassment and intimidation; many have received death threats.  Guineenews.org, a popular blog opened by a Guinean living in Canada, describes the situation of journalists:

…journalistes de Guineenews et d’autres organes de presse de Guinée continuent de recevoir des menaces de la part des autorités militaires. Leur faute c’est de rapporter les évènements minute par minute.

… journalists from Guineenews website and other Guinean media continue to receive threats from military authorities. Their crime was  the timely reporting of events.

And cite several recent examples.

Hamidou Sow, one of their correspondents in Conakry describes what happened after he participated in a forum on a local radio station:

Après l’émission je n’ai cessé de recevoir des coups de fil anonyme me menaçant de mort « vous êtes des apatrides parce qu’au lieu de soutenir le CNND, vous soutenez les opposants…..Vous etes contre Dadis, mais toi tu vas partir avant lui, toi le traitre. On vous a dit que c’est lui ou la mort. »

After the radio broadcast, I received anonymous phone calls nonstop threatening me with death “you are without a fatherland because instead of supporting the CNDD, you are supporting the opposition …You are against Dadis, but you’ll call it quits before him, you traitor. We told you that it is him or death.”

Sow says that after the press conference held by Blaise Compaoré, the African Union and ECOWAS’ facilitator, a soldier threatened to kill Sow if the met on the road.

In a third case, after he wrote a post for Guineenews website ” En Guinée la vie des journalistes est en danger depuis le 28 Septembre” :

…C’est vous qui salissez l’image de la Guinée. Vous voulez saper les actions du CNDD ? On ne vous laissera pas faire. Sache que je te tiens à l’œil.

You are those who are producing a bad image of Guinea. You want to hinder CNDD actions? We will not let you do so.  I’m watching you.

Guineenews website gives names of journalists from various media who were beaten and their work equipment as well as vehicles, mobile phone and their money stolen. The post informs that:

Selon plusieurs sources concordantes, la junte aurait établi une liste de journalistes et de personnalités politiques à abattre.

According to various corroborating sources, the junta may have drawn up a list of journalists and political leaders to be killed.

Rape: “A Weapon of War”

In the weeks since the massacre, it has also emerged that dozens of women were beaten and raped.   Kouyaté blogs a photograph of a woman who was raped by soldiers (warning: graphic content).  From Guineepresse.info:

Tu as aidé ce malade frustré, qui a déclaré avoir été mis au monde par une femme de plus de 60 ans, à devenir plus fou et ivre de pouvoir. voici comment tes filles, tes femmes, tes sœurs, tes mamans et tantes ont été violées, souillées et tuées en pleine journée et en public par cette bande.

Elle a eu beaucoup de chance : celle d’être “simplement” violée !

Il s’agit là des preuves qui enfonceront Dadis, Pivi, Sékouba, Thieboro, Toumba, Moussa Keita, Korka et leurs nervis et complices (notamment le félon Komara) devant une juridiction internationale.

You have left this frustrated sick man, who declared that he was delivered by a 60 years-old woman, to become madder and deliriously power thirsty. See how your daughters, wives, sisters, mothers and aunts were raped, soiled and killed in open day and publicly by this gang.

She was rather lucky, she was “only” rapedThese are evidence which will crush Dadis, Pivi, Sékouba, Thieboro, Toumba, Moussa Keita, Korka and their henchmen and accomplices in front of an international tribunal (in particular the perfidious Komara).

In his post “Rape, a new weapon of war,” [Fr] Thierno from Guineelibre.com writes:

Des photos prises à l’aide de téléphone portables circulent dans le pays. Terribles, difficiles à démentir, ces images suscitent la colère. Elles montrent que les femmes ont été spécifiquement prises pour cible par les soldats guinéens, qui, il y a deux semaines, ont réprimé une manifestation qui a eu lieu dans un stade de la capitale. Victimes et témoins parlent de viols, de passages à tabac et d’humiliations intentionnelles. « Après ce que j’ai vu, je ne peux plus dormir la nuit » reconnaît une femme d’âge moyen issue d’une famille aisée. » Elle raconte qu’elle a été frappée et violentée. « J’ai peur, j’ai vu beaucoup de femmes violées et beaucoup d’autres tuées. »

Mobile phone pictures circulate around the country. Terrific, hard to deny, these scenes raises anger. They show that women were specially targeted by Guinean soldiers, who, two weeks ago, have repressed a rally which took place in a stadium of the capital city. Victims and eyewitnesses speak about rapes, beating and intentional humiliations. “After what I have seen, I can’t anymore sleep” says a middle aged lady from a well-off family. She says how she was beaten and raped. “I am scared, I have seen so many raped women and many more killed.”
Global protests against the massacre, calls for civilian ministers to resign
Guineans living abroad organized also manifestations around the world, particulary in the main capital cities, including Paris, Berlin, London, Brussells, New-York, Ottawa, Montréal. Videos were produced and are available on Facebook.

After these bloody events, Guinean Diaspora is putting pressure on the civilian ministers in order to resign from the government. They are all highly educated people; with many years of experience in democratic environment and some of them are active members of the Association des victims du Camp Boiro. By remaining in the government they caution its atrocities. So far only 3 civilian ministers and high level officials have resigned.

Abdoulaye Condé, Advisor in Communication and NTIC in the office of the President was among the first to resign. In his resignation letter addressed to Capitaine Camara, published by online radio Radio-Kankan on October,16th, he wrote:

en acceptant ma nomination, j’étais particulièrement heureux de contribuer à vos côtés à la réalisation de certaines valeurs explicitement contenues dans l’acte de prise du pouvoir par le CNDD et souvent réitérées dans vos discours : L’instauration d’un Etat de droit, la promotion et la défense de la démocratie, des libertés et des droits humains, la culture de la bonne gouvernance, la fin de l’impunité, la lutte contre la corruption, l’organisation d’élections transparentes et crédibles…

Hélas, les derniers événements du 28 septembre 2009, constituent, à mon humble avis, au nom du patriotisme, de l’honnêteté et de la sincérité toujours prônées dans vos déclarations, une autre raison de me démettre d’une fonction dont les apparences exposent son occupant aux fâcheuses conséquences des dégâts provoqués par l’improvisation, l’amateurisme et la fuite en avant.

…accepting my appointment, I was particularly pleased to contribute with you to achieve certain values explicitly contained in the act of taking power by the CNDD and often repeated in your speech: The establishment of the rule of law the promotion and defence of democracy, freedoms and human rights, culture of good governance, an end to impunity, the fight against corruption, organizing transparent and credible elections …

Unfortunately, recent events of September 28, 2009, are, in my humble opinion, in the name of patriotism, honesty and sincerity always advocated in your statements, another reason to resign a function whose appearances expose its occupant to adverse consequences of damage caused by improvisation and amateurism headlong.

Expectations were high among Guineans after the bloodless coup that brought Camara and the CNDD to power. Contrary to his predecessors, Camara was educated in Europe, and so had been exposed to concepts of democracy and the respect of human rights abroad.  He was heralded all over the country. His promises of change convinced many that after two dictators, living conditions would improve and, in particular, that corruption would end, or at least could be reduced.  Even if he was sincere in his willingness to fight corruption and drug trafficking, in his authoritarian ways, he has shown his weakness and inability to rule the country.