Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ethnic cleansing in Guinea?

I received this from a contact of mine who's married to a Guinean. The account is reprinted with her permission. The name of her husband has been omitted for his safety.

Earlier this evening [last week], I spoke with my [husband] in Guinea. A week ago today, the Guinean armed forces opened fire on a peaceful pro-democracy demonstration, killing at least 157, injuring over 1200 more, and reportedly raping over 150 women, in addition to using tear gas and stabbing people with bayonets. Although the UN, the EU, the AU, France, the US, and many others have issued strong statements of condemnation against the violence, no one has yet been willing to commit to a more active course of intervention. There has been minimal news coverage, especially as compared to the recent crisis in Iran, for example. Reporters have been threatened, detained, and had their equipment smashed; there has been some additional coverage of events via Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Doctors Without Borders.

Moussa Dadis Camara, the current dictator, has denied all responsibility for the shootings, citing 'out of control elements' in the military. Because one of the most outspoken opposition leaders is from the Peule ethnic group, there has been a great deal of open hostility toward this specific group. They are one of the three dominant ethnic groups in the country.

[Husband] lives in a predominantly Peule neighborhood, and he told me that for the past two nights especially, there has been increased gunfire and violence as the militia have been going through the neighborhood, randomly arresting people and taking them away. Last night, his next-door neighbors from BOTH SIDES were taken, but they left [husband] alone... He said to me that he knew it was the protection and energy work (being done by myself and my colleagues) that kept him safe, and to please continue as things are looking pretty unstable at the moment!

A couple of days ago, the military shot & killed a 10-year old boy from just down the street, and there have been numerous other shootings, lootings and rapes in the past week. I haven't seen any media reports on any of these additional crimes, and the coup government continues to maintain there were only 56 fatalities, and that most of those were from being 'crushed or asphyxiated in the crowds'. Text messaging has been suspended, the media has been throttled, and public gatherings have been banned.

At the memorial services held last Friday, THOUSANDS of people turned out looking for missing friends & relatives. This makes me question whether the military in fact started 'disappearing' people some time ago. Given what [husband] has been through in the past few months, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this turns out to be the case.

Meanwhile, in the past couple of months, the military has inducted over 2000 new militia from the Guerze ethnic group in a targeted recruitment. The Guerze are a minority group in southern Guinea who also inhabit both Liberia and Sierra Leone. The reigning dictator, Moussa Dadis Camara, is also Guerze - this is the first time a member of this group has held power (over) in Guinea, and apparently he is unwilling to let go of it. The Guerze people were reportedly heavily involved in both the recent conflicts in the neighboring countries.

[Husband] spent today in the garage, working on getting the car ready to drive across country to Mali - about a 20-hour drive if road conditions are good. He will have to find & bribe someone in the military to get him past the checkpoints, but once he is out of Conakry, he should be OK. (I hope)

The majority of the military & police forces have succumbed to brutality and violence, and continue to carry out atrocities daily, with seeming impunity. My husband is terrified that he will not live to see me again. Because of the recurrent gunfire at night, he has been unable to sleep properly for several days now; his health has taken some pretty big hits this year, and he's very aware of being pushed to his physical limits. There have also been rumors that the water supply had been deliberately contaminated, which could set up conditions for a pandemic. Business has mostly remained closed since last week, and food supplies are becoming scarce.

If Guinea destabilizes into an ethnic war, both Sierra Leone and Liberia are likely to be drawn into the conflict. Both of those countries have only very recently recovered from their own civil wars (if you haven't seen the film Blood Diamond, it gives a relatively accurate depiction of how bad it could get).

Personally I'm praying for divine intervention - perhaps in the form of international peacekeeping forces conducting an aggressive investigation into accountability and command structure of the military forces in Guinea. Whatever it takes. One wonders if this is merely going to be the latest in a long string of tragedies that could have been averted if only the international community could find the political will and sanity to mount an intervention free of any regional agenda. Rwanda, Darfur, Somalia... how many Africans have to be killed before the world cares?

Also: NPR had a pair of stories this week (here and here) on the reported widespread sexual violence against women by the forces of disorder.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Doctor" Jammeh scapegoats gays again

Yahya Jammeh, the megalomaniac in charge of The Gambia, has reportedly threatened to execute practicing gays who are HIV positive. In 2007, Jammeh claimed to have cured Gambians of HIV and AIDS. So if "Doctor" Jammeh "cured" those afflicted with HIV, then how can there be anyone left for him to murder?

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009


For those of you following the events in Guinea, Friends of Guinea's blog and Twitter feed (both of which I maintain) have extensive information.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Friends of Guinea statement on the events in Guinea

From: The Friends of Guinea blog

Below is a statement on behalf of the Friends of Guinea board of directors on the recent events in Guinea

As an organization primarily comprising people who've lived in or have some other strong connection to the country, Friends of Guinea is following the unfolding events in the Republic of Guinea with grave concern. We condemn by the massacre of 187 peaceful, unarmed protesters (over 1000 were injured) by the Guinean security forces and are particularly horrified by reports of soldiers publicly raping women.

The country's military leader, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, claims he has no control over the elements within the army and even blamed civilian opposition politicians for leading their followers into a confrontation with that army. In reality, the tension has been caused by Guineans' rightful disgust with corrupt leaders who've misruled and oppressed them with complete impunity for decades, last week's slaughter being only the most bloody example.

Guineans were initially optimistic about the new regime, as Capt. Dadis promised to crack down on corruption and drug trafficking. He also promised not to stand in next January's presidential elections. It was his reneging on that promise that led to the escalation of tension in the country. The brutal suppression, by men in uniform acting in his name, of peaceful protests is only making things worse.

If we are to take him at his word, that he's not in control of the military, then the military ruler must make re-establishing that control his number one task, not running a political campaign. We are heartened that Capt. Dadis says he agrees that an international inquiry into the massacre is merited, but that is not enough. We call on him to keep his initial promise to not run in the upcoming presidential elections and to hand over power to a democratically-elected civilian government. Imposing control over the security forces, implementing the rule of law and establishing democracy would be three of the most important things he could do for Guineans.

The September 28th killings occurred on the 50th anniversary of Guinea's historic rejection of French colonialism. In the lead up to that vote, Guinean leader Sékou Touré said that his countrymen would choose "poverty in liberty over prosperity in slavery." Guineans have seen plenty of poverty but precious little liberty. They are clearly showing how fed up they are with corrupt, autocratic regimes. After half a century, it's long past time they are allowed a leader who reflects their will. We call on Capt. Dadis to allow that to happen.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Updates on the situation in Guinea following the 28 September massacre

Reprinted with permission from Friends of Guinea blog here and here.

Guinéenews reports that the Upper Guinea city of Siguiri and Forest region city of Kissidougou were both paralyzed by general strikes today [Monday].

Earlier Monday morning, protesters in Siguiri took to the streets demanding public lighting of their city. The protests prevented activities in the center of town. Protesters objected to the local authorities failure to keep its promise in the matter.

In Kissidougou, transport and commercial activities were halted when youth called for action to protest both the candidacy of the military leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara in January's presidential elections and the September 28 massacre. The protesters were dissuaded against actually taking to the streets, for fear of violence, however the population stayed home instead, shutting down the city.

Meanwhile, Burkina Faso's head of state Blaise Compaoré arrived in Conakry to begin ECOWAS sponsored mediation.


Events are moving so quickly in Guinea that it's hard to keep up, but below are links to various news articles about and international reaction to the evolving situation in the country following the September 28 massacre that is now believed to have killed 187 people.

-Foreign gunmen helped Guinea crackdown (Reuters)

-Scuffles break out at new Guinea anti-junta demo (AFP)

-Thousands identify Guinea bodies (BBC)

-International inquiry needed into violence by Guinea security forces(Amnesty International)

-Guinean junta leader calls for UN investigation (Radio Netherlands)

-UN Security Council condemns Guinea repression, deaths (DPA)

-CNDD junta condemns September 28 deaths (Guinéenews - in French)

-Guinea junta calls for national unity government (Reuters)

-Guinea opposition rejects unity government after bloodbath (DPA)

-Guinean refugees heading toward Mali (Maliweb - in French)

-Guinean soldiers accused of raping women with rifle butts (AP)

-Civil society reactions to junta leader’s declarations (MISNA)

-West African regional grouping names Burkina Faso leader as facilitator (AFP)

-[Video] Guinean soldiers firing on crowd (UK Guardian) (WARNING: contains graphic images)

-[Audio] Guinea violence (BBC World Service Analysis program)

-Guinea leader vows to hold election despite bloody protest (The Day)

-France's [foreign minister Bernard] Kouchner Urges International Intervention in Guinea (Bloomberg)

-Guinea people opposed to peacekeepers, claims junta chief (AFP)

-Guinea leader claims 'no responsibility' in bloodbath (AFP)

-Dadis admits, "To say that I control this army would be demagogy." (France 24)

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