Monday, November 02, 2009

[Guinean news] Sept. 28 massacre was 'premeditated': HRW

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One of the most prominent stories since the infamous Sept. 28 massacre was a report by Human Rights Watch (found here) which concluded that the massacre was in fact premeditated.

This is in stark contrast to claims by junta leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara that the killings were committed by out-of-control elements of the army and presidential guards and were not indicative of anything systematic. Dadis also claimed that the actions were in response to "provocation" by demonstrators protesting his decision to run in next January's presidential election.

HRW wrote that it found that members of the Presidential Guard carried out a premeditated massacre of at least 150 people on September 28 and brutally raped dozens of women. Red berets shot at opposition supporters until they ran out of bullets, then continued to kill with bayonets and knives.

The Africa director of HRW said, "Security forces surrounded and blockaded the stadium, then stormed in and fired at protesters in cold blood until they ran out of bullets. They carried out grisly gang rapes and murders of women in full sight of the commanders. That’s no accident."

HRW also discounted claims that the massacre was provoked.

Witness accounts and video evidence obtained by Human Rights Watch showing the stadium crowd just before the shooting shows a peaceful and celebratory atmosphere with opposition supporters singing, dancing, marching around the stadium with posters and the Guinean flag, and even praying.

Human Rights Watch has not seen any evidence that any opposition supporters were armed, and no security officials were wounded by opposition supporters at the stadium, suggesting that there was no legitimate threat posed by the opposition supporters that required the violence that followed.

Witnesses said that as soon as the Presidential Guard entered the stadium, its members began firing point-blank directly into the massive crowd of protesters, killing dozens and sowing panic.

The NGO also warned of an ethnic nature behind the killings, noting that majority of the victims were from the Peuhl ethnic group, which is almost exclusively Muslim, while most of the commanders at the stadium – and indeed key members of the ruling CNDD, including Camara, the coup leader – belong to ethnic groups from the southeastern forest region, which are largely Christian or animist.

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