One after the other, women visiting their sick friend Aïssatou Baïlo Diallo, a 42-year-old teacher in Guinea’s capital Conakry, are overcome with emotion and leave her bedside crying. Diallo has been in and out of hospitals since she was raped in the 28 September 2009 stadium attack, and in recent weeks her health has deteriorated rapidly. Three years after the stadium massacre, the pain is fresh.
Three years ago, at Conakry’s 28 September Stadium, hundreds of people were injured or killed and hundreds of women raped when the military cracked down on a rally to protest the presidential candidacy of coup leader Moussa Dadis Camara. The stadium is named for the date in 1958 when Guineans voted against adopting the French Constitution.
But if the survivors’ pain endures, so does their determination. People who have allegedly been tortured, raped or otherwise injured by security forces in Guinea say they are committed to sticking with the judicial process. Legal experts say the victims' solidarity -including a pledge not to accept bribes in exchange for silence - is making an enormous difference.
Human rights and legal groups say the fight against impunity in Guinea is advancing slowly but surely. In the past several months, current and former government ministers have been charged with crimes relating to the stadium attack, and other officials face charges for later crimes including torture.
But much tough and delicate work lies ahead. The International Criminal Court (ICC), which did a preliminary examination in Guinea days after the attack, is closely watching; it will take up the case if the Guinean authorities do not carry through. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said after a visit in April 2012 that she is encouraged by the progress, and that either Guinea or the ICC will prosecute. "There is no third option," she said.
Thierno Ousmane Diallo, who was among several men who were allegedly tortured by security forces in 2010, says he’s received several death threats since the case came to light. “I make these statements openly because I know I’m telling the truth,” he told IRIN. “We are afraid, yes - but we must be brave. This happened to people before us, now it's happened to us. We can do something so others don't live through it in the future."