In Guinea, a country in West Africa, the Justice Minister has declared that it will finally prosecute those responsible for a 2009 massacre that left at least 157 people dead and more than 100 women sexually assaulted.
On the day of the 13th anniversary of the September 28 massacre, when the trial is scheduled to begin, Justice Minister Charles Alphonse Wright expressed his hope that it “”will revisit our history, our past and that we all emerge from this trial with a new vision of our Guinea.”
On September 28, 2009, just before noon, several hundred members of Guinea’s security forces opened fire on tens of thousands of people who had peacefully gathered at the September 28 stadium in Conakry for a march opposing Dadis Camara’s plans to run for president. Additionally, during or shortly after the events, the security forces sexually assaulted about 100 women, some of whom were hit with batons or bayonets. Over 150 people were killed, and the security forces injured hundreds more.
The security forces then orchestrated a cover-up operation, blocking off all of the stadium’s and morgue’s exits and removing the dead buried in mass graves, many of which have not yet been recognized.
Over a dozen people have been charged with crimes concerning the atrocities of the 2009 attack, when security forces opened fire on protesters in a stadium in the country’s capital, Conakry, including Moussa Dadis Camara, the previous military coup commander.
A few months after the stadium massacre, Camara escaped an assassination attempt and went into exile in Burkina Faso.
Camara informed his followers upon his return to Conakry from Burkina last year that he had confidence in the nation’s legal system.
Camara declared he was prepared to stand trial but has since left for Burkina.
”Clear lack of will.’‘
Since Camara could cause political unrest, Guinea’s government has worked to prevent him from returning home for years.
However, a military government that was more receptive to Camara’s return came to power after another takeover last year.
Human rights organizations had long lamented the “obvious lack of resolve” to finish the trial’s preparations.
According to a United Nations international investigation committee, the stadium massacre resulted in the deaths of at least 157 individuals and the rape of 109 women. The UN investigation found that the massacre was a “premeditated act” by the military government based on the horrifying testimonials of the victims.
The “uncontrolled” army troops were held accountable by Camara’s military administration for the rapes and murders.
But according to Human Rights Watch research, Camara’s closest advisers were present at the stadium and did nothing to halt the crimes.
The stadium where opposition supporters had assembled was surrounded by Camara’s red-beaked presidential guard, according to Human Rights Watch, which also found that the exits were closed.
As the demonstrators tried to leave in fear, the army arrived and started firing with AK-47 assault rifles. As they attempted to mount the stadium’s walls, some were shot to death while others were crushed.
Numerous ladies were apprehended from the stadium and later from clinics where they had gone to receive medical attention for wounds they had received at the scene of the atrocity. According to Human Rights Watch, the abducted women were taken in military vehicles to villas where they were repeatedly gang-raped by uniformed personnel over several days.
The Guinean authorities should take immediate action to ensure that the long-delayed trial of the crimes can begin as soon as possible, according to (AVIPA), Equal Rights for All (MDT), the Guinean Human Rights Organization (OGDH), the International Federation for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. International and regional allies of Guinea should exert pressure to expedite the trial. The trial has previously received backing from France, the United States, the European Union, and Guinea governments.
An International Criminal Court (ICC) delegation visited Guinea early in September to evaluate trial preparations.
Time was running short, according to the civil society network African Francophone Coalitions for the International Criminal Court.
The network released a statement on Thursday saying, “Since investigations began before the Guinean courts in February 2010, many victims have died, some remain ill, and some survive in the most perilous conditions.”
“To this tragic fact, we must also add the predicament of women who have been abandoned by their spouses and those who have contracted HIV due to being raped, without forgetting the orphaned children who have lost their education and are now adults.”