Guineans are coming forward with their stories of Sept. 28, the day the army brutalized protesters. Note: This story contains graphic content.
The people of Guinea were protesting on Sept. 28 after it appeared that Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, who had seized power of the country last year in a coup, was going to run for president in the upcoming January election. There were over 50,000 people demonstrating. Suddenly soldiers went amok, shooting, bayoneting and raping protesters, who were in a stadium located in the capital city, Conakry. People who were at the demonstration are coming forward to describe what they witnessed.
IRIN News has posted witness reports from September 28 and the days following: "We saw soldiers walking on cadavers."
“They shoved their Kalashnikovs into women’s vaginas – I saw this.
"The military is loading up bodies in trucks and hiding them. At the very least leave us the bodies of our loved ones. People were afraid to seek treatment in hospital because some doctors refused to treat the injured, saying the demonstrators were to blame for the violence."
"We fear civil war. There were militias who were out the next day going through neighbourhoods with machetes."
"Soldiers are prowling the neighbourhood [Bambeto, on 29 September]. When they see a resident they say: "You move, we shoot'. They say: 'It's you, Peulhs, who want to get in our way. We are going to exterminate you all.'" [Peulh is one of Guinea’s main ethnic groups; junta leader Camara is Guerze, a group from the Forest Region]
"Anyone who is not on their [the soldiers'] side, they are going to slaughter us all."
"No one is safe."
While the government claims only 56 deaths occurred on Sept. 28, caused by "asphyxiation," local human rights groups have claimed that over 150 people were killed. Doctors Without Borders has confirmed the rapes. Christine Jamet, MSF’s head of mission in Conakry reported that they treated 400 people and said, “The patients were desperate to get help for bullet wounds, knife cuts, beatings, and rape. We were completely shocked by the level of violence."
The violence has been condemned around the world, but Captain Moussa Dadis Camara said he was not responsible for the attacks. He also criticized France's condemnation of the events of September 28th.
France has called for international intervention in Guinea. The President of Burkina Faso has been meeting with Camara, attempting to achieve calm in Guinea, although there has been no progress reported.
The African Union gave Camara a deadline of Oct. 15 to declare whether or not he will run in the January election, warning of sanctions should Camara miss the deadline. There are reports that members of the Liberian paramilitary were involved in the massacre, and Liberia said it is investigating.
Last week Camara offered to form a "national unity" government, composed of members of the different political parties. The offer was rejected by one opposition party, the Union of Republic forces, which is led by former Prime Minister, Sidya Toure. Toure told press it was too soon to consider politics.
The situation remains unsettled. About a thousand grieving people had gathered to pray and identify bodies on October 2nd, and in the chaos that evolved, the military fired tear gas at the crowd. It is not known if there were any injuries.
Amnesty International is calling for an international inquiry, saying that some of the soldiers who were participating in the murders and rapes belong to the Presidential Guard. There is no word as to whether arrests have been made, or even if the government has undertaken an investigation.
The predominantly Muslim west African country has a population of over 10 million people. The nation struggles with poverty, hunger, health issues and literacy, among other issues. The IMF and World Bank cut off assistance to the nation in 2003 because of "rampant corruption."