Guinea: court action, but when?
A few months from now, Guineans will hold a sombre commemoration: on the 28th of September 2009, soldiers, militias and mercenaries went on the rampage in the capital’s main stadium. They shot at a crowd of people protesting Captain Moussa Dadis Camara’s possible candidacy in upcoming presidential elections. 157 people were killed and dozens of women raped. The victims and survivors of that mass crime are beginning to ask when justice will be their due.
Even for Guineans who are used to an army that is out-of-control, it was a scene they will never forget. They had seen the army opening fire on unarmed civilians before but the scene of women being raped in broad daylight in Conakry’s stadium was beyond shocking.
September 28th is a significant date. In 1958, when Guinea rejected French colonial rule, it was the day they chose to live independently and with pride, recalling the famous phrase used by their first president Ahmed Sékou Touré, when he addressed visiting French president Charles de Gaulle, prior to the referendum: “We prefer poverty with freedom to a life of opulence in slavery.”
But it was Ahmed Sékou Touré himself who brought tyranny to the nation, keeping the population in a state of constant fear by referring to Guinea as a “permanent conspiracy.” When he died in 1984, around 50,000 people had lost their lives in his concentration camps and up to three million had fled the country.