Guinea: Fresh reports of sexual violence during September massacre and 'climate of fear'

Amnesty International’s recent research mission to Guinea has revealed that dozens of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were allegedly raped during September’s massacre and Guinea’s security forces are still arresting and unlawfully detaining activists. The delegation were in the country from 15 – 30 November.

The Vice-President of Guinea’s National Human Rights Commission, Mouctar Diallo, was arrested on Thursday 26 November and is currently being held in military Camp Alpha Yaya, for “endangering the security of the state”.

Amnesty has also found that the whereabouts of more than 40 people who attended the rally on 28 September are still unknown. This includes dead bodies identified in photographs and film footage taken at the stadium, which were not subsequently found at any of Conakry’s hospitals, morgues, mosques or military camps. Amnesty International fears that others may have been killed or subjected to enforced disappearance.

The official death toll from the protest at Conakry’s stadium is said to be 58 people but human rights organisations report that at least 157 people died.

Amnesty International has also uncovered fresh evidence about disturbing levels of sexual violence during the massacre. Over 30 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights told Amnesty International they were raped during the events of 28 September. Medical records gathered from Conakry’s Donka hospital indicate that at least 32 female participants in the rally showed evidence of being raped.

One woman recalled seeing her friend being attacked by five members of the ‘red berets’ – the Presidential Guard: “They ripped off her clothes with a bayonet, pinned her to the ground and raped her. They then fired a bullet into her vagina.”

Several Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights interviewed by Amnesty said they had been arrested by “red berets” soldiers at the demonstration and then held for over five days, during which time they were drugged, beaten and repeatedly raped while being filmed with mobile telephones.

Amnesty International’s Guinea Campaigner Gaetan Mootoo said:

“A climate of fear persists in Guinea. The authorities can no longer turn a blind eye to the human rights violations committed by its security forces.

“The authorities must fully support the efforts of the UN’s International Commission of Inquiry and ensure the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice.”

Amnesty international discovered that the security forces are also clamping down on any potential internal dissent within the military. Eight military officers have been arrested since 28 September and remain in detention on Ile de Kassa, an island outside of Conakry.

International military assistance may have failed to address previous human rights violations

Amnesty has gathered information about international military assistance and training provided to specific units of Guinea's regular military and security forces involved in the 28 September violence, and is concerned that such assistance may have ignored and failed to address the past human violations committed by these units.

The assistance includes combat training of members of battalions within the Presidential Guard by the Chinese government since 2006. France has provided technical assistance in the training and organisation of up to 4,000 new recruits of the Gendarmerie Nationale since 2008. Members of both the “red berets” and Gendarmerie Nationale units were present at Conakry stadium on 28 September. France has since suspended military cooperation with Guinea.

Amnesty has also seen 60 Kalashnikov-type cartridge cases gathered from Conakry stadium and two other locations in Conakry – in Kosa and Ratoma - following the 28 September violence. Nearly 20 per cent of these appear to have been manufactured in 2006 and 2008, indicating recent ammunition supplies to Guinea’s security forces despite repeated unlawful killings and the excessive use of force since 1998.

Gaetan Mootoo continued:

“The 28 September massacre and its aftermath is the latest example of a decade-long record of human rights violations by the security forces governments must immediately stop any support given to the Guinea security forces that could facilitate further violations.”

Amnesty has also learned that the Guinean government has recently approached the government of Morocco for assistance in restructuring their armed forces. Amnesty is insisting that any programme of security sector reform must be transparent and address impunity for past violations and ensure that human rights are fully integrated.

Training camps for militia group members

The delegation found evidence of militia groups operating alongside government forces but outside formal military and police structures. Many demonstrators present at the stadium gave consistent accounts of the presence of significant numbers of plain-clothed men armed with knives and other weapons working with the security forces.

Amnesty has also learned the recruitment and training of up to 2,000 young men in two camps to the south-east of Conakry, as well as reports of organised gatherings and recruitment of youths in the Kaporo suburb of Conakry itself. This activity appears to have begun around August 2009 and is now being carried out partly by foreign trainers in the camps outside Conakry.

NOTES TO EDITORS

On 28 September several thousand demonstrators assembled in a Conakry stadium in response to a call by the “Living Forces” (political parties, trade unions and civil society) to show their opposition to the candidacy of the head of the junta, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, in the presidential elections planned for January 2010.

At the time of the suppression of the mass rally, Amnesty International received reports indicating orchestration of the suppression by the Guinean army. Several witnesses reported the presence of a government minister among the security forces.

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