3) Humanitarian Crisis in Guinea Reaches Horrific Heights

By: Jenna DeLeonardis, Senior Associate

Tear gas poured into a stadium full of people. Two clips of AK-47 ammunition were emptied on the unsuspecting crowd. Civilians were stabbed with bayonets and knives. At least one hundred fifty people were murdered and dozens of women were so viciously raped that most died from the resultant wounds. On September 28, 2009 in Conakry, Guinea, a most horrific massacre was launched upon Guinean civilians during a peaceful rally in a stadium. The massacre was committed by the elite members of the Presidential Guard, who are frequently termed the “red berets.”  The motive of the massacre was to silence the opposition of the military regime and Moussa Dadis Camara’s presumed candidacy in the upcoming presidential election. Mr. Camara is the self-proclaimed head of the National Council for Democracy and Development.

Human’s Rights Watch conducted an investigation after the massacre and has determined that the massacre was organized, planned, and premeditated. Witness accounts and video evidence suggest that none of the protesters were armed with weapons and no security officers were injured prior to the massacre. Likewise, there was no threat that would justifiably lead to the horrific massacre. Instead, as soon as the Presidential Guard entered the stadium, the “red berets” fired at random into the crowd of protesters. When the protesters tried to escape, they unfortunately found that the exits had been blocked and they were trapped. Shortly after the massacre, witnesses said that the “red berets” removed bodies, took them to morgues, and then when victims’ families asked to see their loved ones, their bodies were nowhere to be found.

As a result of the massacre, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs organized emergency humanitarian aid to be sent to Guinea. Likewise, several tons of medical equipment and medical personnel have been sent to Guinea. Moreover, on November 9, 2009, the UN approved $416,056 from its Central Emergency Response Fund to furnish medical supplies to public hospitals, help treat victims, and address nutritional, water, and sanitation needs. Additionally, the UN Population Fund and the Health Ministry have held seminars to help treat victims of sexual violence.

Even though weeks have passed since the disaster, families are still searching for loved ones. At least two hundred twenty-five victims have been left seriously traumatized by the massacre.  Many victims are just finally getting treated because they feared possible repercussions from the military if they sought treatment. The world is truly outraged by this devastating massacre. As the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Karel De Gucht, stated, “Those who are responsible for these crimes must be brought to justice.”

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