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Guinea: Outrage, Grief After Brutal Massacre

Still under tight police surveillance, Guinea ended several days of official mourning today for those killed in the sudden and shocking massacre of opposition protesters on Monday.  An estimated 157 (probably many more) unarmed demonstrators were shot down, knifed or clubbed to death by army soldiers in and around the “28 September Stadium”, where the opposition forces coalition, “Forces vives,” had called for a demonstration against military head of state Dadis Camara and his intention to run for president during the January 2010 election. Tragically, this stadium is named after the date Guinea celebrated its independence from France, on September 28, 1958. It is now set to become Conakry's second landmark of torture and mass murder, after the infamous Camp Boiro.

Footage of  Guinean soldiers shooting demonstrators in Conakry on Monday (ANSA, on YouTube)

On the very same day, Guinean blogger Konngol Afirik wrote with cold rage [fr], from Europe :

Les responsables du carnage de cette journée noire ont pour nom Capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara, chef de la junte et président de la République autoproclamé, Capitaine Tiegboro Camara secrétaire d’État chargé de la lutte anti-drogue et du grand banditisme, Général Sékouba Konaté ministre de la Défense, Jean Claude Pivi ministre chargé de la sécurité présidentielle. Encore une fois, l'Union Africaine et la CÉDÉAO et les partenaires internationaux se sont révélés ineffectifs devant un officier putschiste prêt à marcher sur des cadavres pour conserver le pouvoir.

The people responsible for the carnage of that black day were Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, head of the junta government and president of the self-proclaimed Republic, Captain Tiegboro Camara, Secretary of State in charge of the war on drugs and banditry, General Sekouba Konaté, Minister of Defense, and Jean Claude Pivi, the minister in charge the president's security.  Once again, the African Union, ECOWAS and international partners have shown themselves to be ineffective in the face of the coup leader, who is ready to walk over dead bodies to maintain his power.

Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who seized power after a bloodless coup exactly nine month ago, a day or so after dictator Lansana Conté's passing, had first raised great expectations in Guineans. Because he was young, trained abroad (in Germany), and not involved with the previous dictatorship. As Noël Etienne Gnimassou, a technician in an aluminium factory in Conakry, recalls on the “Les observateurs” website of France24 tv channel [fr], that hope lasted three months:

Le capitaine Camara est incompétent pour le poste. Il s'est contenté de travailler pendant les trois mois qui ont suivi sa prise de pouvoir : il a lutté contre la corruption, il a mis à la retraite les vieux généraux fidèles au président Conté et il s'est attaqué au trafic de drogue. Mais passé cette période, il a commencé à se sentir à l'aise dans le fauteuil de président.

Capatain Camara is not fit for office.  He is was content to work for three months after he took power: he fought corruption, he forced the old generals, loyal to President Conté, into retirement, and he fought drug trafficking.  But after that period, he began to feel at ease in the president's seat.

On YouTube, the anonymous account “Dadis Show” has documented his fast-forward slide into dictatorial brutality with a selection of  ranting  speeches that early on cast doubts on a leader nicknamed by magazine Jeune Afrique Captain Dadis and Mister Camara [fr].

News then slowly seeped on private chat-group from residents, doctors, and foreign correspondents of savage rapes, of soldiers attempting to camouflage the magnitude of the massacre by stealing corpses from hospital mortuaries or burying them hastily on the spot.

Anonymous :J'ai une collègue qui a perdu son neveu, mais d'apres les militaires qui ont répondu a son téléphone portable, la famille ne récupérera  pas le corps. On est confine dans les maisons. C'est vraiment terrifiant.

Anonymous: I have a colleague who has lost her nephew, but according to the soldiers who answered his mobile phone, the family won't be able to claim his body.  People are confined to their houses.  It's really terrifying.

On Thursday, the hearsay was confirmed by the chilling public testimony on French radio RFI of a soldier who took part in the blodshed “under orders.”

Captain Dadis Camara, In an official communiqué [fr], denies any responsability, accusing, alternately, the opposition and his soldiers : “Even the head of state cannot curb this movement“. It remains to be seen who is actualy leading the army, who gave orders to hunt down two correspondents of foreign media, who “threw a bad light on Guinea.”  The vast majority of commenters on diaspora newssites and Guinean forums are appaled by his “crocodile tears” and see yet another plot unfolding in his call for “international investigation” and “a coalition government”:

Oumar, a Guinean expatriate, urges Guinean, out of fear or thirst for peace, not to fall in this traps :

Son dernier subterfuge est le gouvernement d’union nationale. Le dictateur sait que si l’opposition accepte de faire partie d’un pareil gouvernement, la communauté internationale serait embarrassée dans l’application des sanctions. Comment punir des bourreaux si leurs victimes collaborent avec eux dans un même gouvernement ?Autre idée du chef de la junte pour échapper à la justice internationale : une commission d’enquête internationale avec à sa tête un « sage africain ». À qui pense t-il quand il parle de ce fameux « sage africain » ? Certainement à son mentor Abdoulaye Wade président du Sénégal voisin qui l’appelle affectueusement « mon fils » et qui est avec Kadhafi le seul Chef d’État africain à l’avoir ouvertement soutenu depuis le début.

His final subterfuge is a national unity government.  The dictator knows that if the opposition agrees to be part of such a government, the international community will be embarrassed for having imposed sanctions.  How do you punish the executioners if their victims collaborate with them in a common government?  Another idea of the head of the junta government for escaping internaitonal justice: an international investigatory commission headed by a “wise African.”  Who is thinking of when he thinks of this famous “wise African?”  Certainly of his mentor, Abdoulaye Wade, President of neighboring Senegal, who affectionately calls him “my son” and who, along with Kaddafi, is the only African head of state to have openly supported [Dadis Camara] from the beginning.

When will it end ? In an analysis on the BBC website, analyst Paul Melly, states one of the reasons Guinea has spent fifty years now in the grip of successive dictators :

Guinea is naturally quite wealthy. It's not easy to just force down a regime through external pressure. The [previous] Conte regime survived years of the suspension of European aid without ever caving in to the EU's demands for political reform.

Uproar in Germany

Meanwhile, Guinea's plight has raised another controversy.  When it became known in Germany, where Dadis Camara received military training, that he spoke German and always sported the German paratrooper badge on his red army beret, the German department of defence stated that training for foreign officers in Germany was promoted by the German government in order to further democracy abroad and that “Berlin was not to blame if the officers embarked on a different course when they returned home.” Outrage erupted over ten pages of comments on newsites Die Welt [german]:

Angelina: Diesem Schwein sollten alle Titel und Ränge der Deutschen Bundeswehr aberkannt werden,das Fallschirmspringerabzeichen müßte ihm Frau Merkel persönlich vom Barrett reißen!

This pig should be stripped of all titles and ranks of the German Bundeswehr, the Parachutist Badge, Mrs Merkel should personally tear it from him!

Jennifer Brea contributed editing and translation.

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