Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Families of murdered Guinean protesters await justice after 7 years

Justice has been delayed for the over
150 people murdered, thousands
injured and more than 100 women
raped during an opposition protest
against Guinea’s military junta in the
capital Conakry on September 28,
2009.

For six years since an investigation
was launched in the country in
February 2010, many questions have
not been answered and no one has
been punished for the massacre.
A little over a dozen high-level military
officials suspected of leading the
massacre have been charged but none
has been tried including Captain
Moussa Dadis Camara who seized
power in 2008 when long-time leader
Lansana Conte died.
Captain Camara had denied
involvement in the massacre saying he
had no control over the soldiers
involved.
“We recognize the progress made, but
we anxiously await the day those
responsible for the murder and rape of
our loved ones will have their day in
court,” President of the Association of
Victims, Parents, and Friends of
September 28, Asmaou Diallo was
quoted by a Human Rights Watch
report on Tuesday.
Diallo’s rights organisation is among
six other organizations calling for
justice ahead of the seventh
anniversary of the massacre.
The other organisations are the
International Federation on Human
Rights (FIDH), Human Rights Watch,
the Guinean Organization for the
Defense of Human and Citizens’ Rights
(OGDH), Equal Rights for All (MDT),
and the Coalition of Human Rights
Defense Organizations (CODDH).
“The government of Guinea should give
its strongest support to the
investigative panel to complete its
work so that those responsible for the
stadium massacre can be tried without
delay,” associate Africa director at
Human Rights Watch, Corinne Dufka
said.
Progress in justice
Besides the charges against high-level
officials, the Guinean judges have
heard the testimony of over 400
victims and their family members,
witnesses and members of the security
services.
The six rights groups identified some
outstanding evidence gathered from
the inquiry including a key witness who
led to a key suspect who helped locate
“mass graves believed to contain the
bodies of about 100 victims who
remain unaccounted for”.
“Witnesses allege that the security
forces engaged tried to hide the
evidence of their crimes and
misrepresented the number of people
killed,” they added in their statement
with the belief that the evidence
gathered is enough to conclude the
investigation.
Bloody September 28, 2009
The opposition had decided to stage a
demonstration on September 28 fueled
by suspected participation of junta
leader Camara in the next presidential
election in January 2010 breaking his
earlier promise.
On that bloody morning after thousands
marched to the Conakry stadium,
security forces opened fire on the anti-
government protesters while others
were stabbed, beaten and women
raped and sexually abused by soldiers
in the stands.
Their offence?
The estimated 50,000 people had
defied a ban on rallies and joined the
protest against Camara, who seized
power in a bloodless coup on
December 24, 2008.
Massacre Aftermath
Not long after the stadium massacre,
Moussa Dadis Camara went into exile
in Burkina Faso where he still lives
following an assassination attempt in
December 2009.
His vice president, Mamadouba Toto
Camara, who has also been charged
for the massacre, oversaw the
handover to civilian rule after the 2010
elections won by veteran opposition
leader Alpha Conde.