Guinea Massacre and Rape Victims Seek JusticePublished on October, 37 2012
By the WILPF-DC Branch
|Friday, September 28, New York: WILPF-DC members Isabel Macdonald and Shirley Pate, showing support for Guinean victims as they demand justice after a brutal massacre and mass rapes|
On September 28, the third anniversary of a terrible massacre in Guinea, which included mass rapes of women, WILPF-DC members, Isabel Macdonald and Shirley Pate, joined Guineans from the Washington area to participate in a protest in New York to demand justice for the victims. The event was sponsored by a U. S.-based Guinean human rights group, Pottal-Fii-Bhantal Fouta Dajllon. WILPF-DC is working with this group to inform the public about this atrocity and to enlist support from other organizations and individuals who wish to help in their struggle for justice.
The September 28, 2009, massacre shocked the world. Opposition demonstrators opposed to a military junta which had taken over the country a year before converged at a soccer stadium in the country’s capital, Conakry, to hold a rally. Suddenly, all exits were shut and military soldiers, gendarmes, police, and Liberian mercenaries entered the stadium attacking in all directions. Old men were shot as they were down on their knees praying and women were raped openly on the soccer field; many were sexually abused with rifle barrels. Opposition leaders in the stands were attacked as well, some knocked unconscious. One leader, severely injured, only survived because he played dead. When the attackers began to leave, they dragged women to military trucks and took them to rape houses where many were kept for days.
When it was all over, at least 160 were dead, over 100 women were raped, and at least 1200 were injured. The attack was ethnic in nature. Often attackers approached the women and asked them if they were of the Peul ethnic group. If the answer was yes, they were raped.
For more information on the massacre, please see Human Rights Watch’s excellent report, Bloody Monday.
The massacre investigation continues to languish in Guinean courts where it has been for three years. The International Criminal Court, and international human rights groups have criticized Guinea for not producing solid indictments. This past Friday, September 28, the United Nations issued a statement critical of Guinea for lack of progress in the case. The text of the statement follows:
Statement by Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura
GUINEA-CONAKRY: POLITICAL RAPE REMAINS UNPUNISHED (New York, 28 September 2012)
Three years ago today, the atrocities committed against peaceful protesters by security forces in Guinea-Conakry shocked the world. Women were particular targets of the violence. Public rapes and gang-rapes of women in broad daylight dramatically showed that sexual violence is not only a weapon in times of war. Whether it serves as a tactic of conflict or part of the repertoire of political repression, the intent is the same: to humiliate, silence, intimidate and punish the victims.
The International Commission of Inquiry on the 28 September 2009 events in Guinea verified that in addition to the massacre of at least 150 unarmed protesters, no less than 109 women suffered rape and other forms of sexual abuse. According to the International Commission of Inquiry, these widespread and systematic attacks could constitute crimes against humanity.
I welcome the indictment, announced earlier this month, of Colonel Abdoulaye Chérif Diaby, former Minister of Health in the Moussa Dadis Camara government, for his alleged responsibility in the 28 September 2009 events. It is important that these and other charges are processed swiftly and thoroughly, as justice in Guinea has already been delayed for too long. Although Lieutenant Colonel Moussa Tiegboro Camara earlier this year was charged for his role in the massacre, to date not a single perpetrator has been convicted.
Last November, my predecessor visited Guinea to meet with rape survivors, representatives of victims associations, and government officials. A Joint Communiqué was agreed between the government of Guinea and the United Nations, clearly stating the government’s commitment to fight impunity and ultimately prevent and deter sexual violence. The Joint Communiqué also welcomed the assistance of the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law / Sexual Violence in Conflict to support the Panel of Judges in Guinea, created to lead national investigations into the 2009 incidents. The Team of Experts is currently engaged in discussions with the national authorities to deploy an expert on sexual violence, and I want to encourage the government of Guinea to facilitate this deployment as soon as possible.
There is an urgent need to assist the survivors and bring the remaining perpetrators to justice. It is equally crucial that all victims, other witnesses and their families are afforded full protection and that no effort is spared to ensure their safety throughout this process. Known abusers must not be allowed to hold positions of authority.
Addressing these atrocities is crucial for fostering reconciliation, for trust in the justice system, and for a durable peace. We are committed to supporting the government’s efforts to address impunity for sexual violence and to ensuring that such atrocities are never repeated. We will continue to monitor the situation in Guinea-Conakry and anywhere else that sexual violence may occur.
WILFP-DC will provide periodic updates on the progress of this case to the WILPF E-newsletter. If your Branch is interested in having Guinean speakers appear for an event or if you have questions or comments, please contact Shirley Pate, at email@example.com.