Scores of people in the Guinean capital Conakry were killed and injured on 28 September when security forces cracked down on demonstrators protesting the presidential candidature of junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara.
“I saw soldiers shooting at and stabbing demonstrators,” said a woman who gave her name only as Fanta. Another marcher who requested anonymity told IRIN soldiers ripped clothes off of women demonstrators and beat people with clubs.
“They shouted insults at people as they beat them, calling them ‘enemies’,” he said.
Demonstrators told IRIN they saw dead bodies but could not say how many people were killed. Media reports say local doctors put the number at 58.
At least five women sought treatment for rape at local health centres, according to Médecins Sans Frontiéres.
One hundred first aid workers with the Guinea Red Cross were deployed in Conakry to assist the injured and bring them to hospital, a Red Cross worker told IRIN.
By afternoon of 28 September “hundreds” of people with bullet wounds and injuries from beatings were at Donka Hospital in Conakry, according to a doctor at the hospital who requested anonymity.
|Timeline since independence|
|"Yesterday was better than today"|
|Bring end to "military abuses" says human rights group|
|Civil society looks to junta for break from past|
“They are lying everywhere. I could not even count how many injured we have here. At least in the hundreds.” The injured are a mix of men and women, the youngest about age 14, he told IRIN.
Political and civil society leaders on 19 September called for a rally in a Conakry stadium to protest Camara’s candidature in upcoming presidential elections. Camara came to power in a coup on 23 December saying he would organize elections but has since signaled he has not ruled out running. On 22 September Camara supporters demonstrated in Conakry.
Despite a ban by authorities on the 28 September stadium meeting, masses of people assembled in the morning, pushing past military and entering the arena.
Demonstrator Fanta said at one point soldiers drove into the stadium, descended from their vehicles and began to shoot at and beat up demonstrators.
Mamadi Kaba, president of the Guinean office of the pan-African human rights group RADDHO, called the events “completely beyond all acceptable limits” and said it is time for the international community to stop tolerating Guinea’s military regime.
“A few days back a group of Guineans demonstrated their support for [junta leader Camara],” Kaba said. “They were tolerated and even encouraged. Today another part of the population comes out peacefully to express an opposing view and they are violently repressed.”
He said: “Today the junta has shown what it wants and what it is ready to do to the citizens. African leaders and the international community must join together to help the Guinean people get rid of this junta.”
Marchers told IRIN if civil society and political leaders were to call for another demonstration they would resume immediately.
“We are fighting for freedom here,” said one protester. “We are fighting to block the way for not only Moussa Dadis Camara but any military person trying to become president of Guinea.”
Fanta said: “Even if they tell us to take to the streets again this evening, I will be out there. This is for the children of Guinea.”