Decided to cross-post this here as it goes hand in hand with Sricki’s diary on Republicans and Rape.
International News agencies have been following the aftermath of the brutal killings in Conakry, and Secretary of State Clinton has spoken out strongly against the violence.
Here is the background on the events of Sept 28th, in a stadium in Conakry, Guinea.
Political crisis in Guinea Conakry womens rape
You can listen to NPR coverage, posted 2 days ago by Ofeibea Quist-Arcton
Guinea Shaken By Wave Of Rapes During Crackdown
The people of the West African nation of Guinea are still struggling to deal with the trauma of a deadly military crackdown on a pro-democracy rally last month. It was not the first time troops in Guinea have opened fire on civilians. What has shocked people most is that women were targeted in a wave of sexual violence perpetrated by soldiers in public – in broad daylight.
On Sept. 28, security forces turned on demonstrators who had gathered in the national stadium in the capital, Conakry. The demonstrators were protesting plans by Guinea’s military leader, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, to run in the country’s presidential election in January, after he said he would not. Camara seized power in a coup in December 2008 after the death of the country’s longtime dictator, Lansana Conte. The government says 57 people died. Human-rights officials put the number of those killed, to date, at 157. The International Criminal Court is looking into the incident for possible crimes against humanity.
She followed up her initial story yesterday, reporting on her interviews with some of the women who were raped by soldiers:
All rape is traumatic, but when the alleged crime takes place in public, outdoors, with mobile phones and cameras on hand to record the violations, the humiliation must be excruciating.Women of all ages were targets – students, professionals, market women, opposition activists, mothers and, apparently, grandmothers. Some wore pants; others, traditional boubous, the colorful long gowns that Guineans favor. The troops allegedly used guns, bayonets, knives and other weapons to rip these garments off.
These courageous women have one thing in common. They are determined that those who made them suffer – those who stripped off their clothes and stripped them of their dignity – must be punished. It was so painful to hear them describe their shock and horror on Sept. 28. One woman’s legs were shaking so hard against mine as she recounted her experience, speaking into the microphone, she couldn’t stop. Her voice was trembling – in turns angry, indignant, outraged, shamed, dejected and yet determined.She said it was only by God’s grace that she escaped the fate of others. By the end of her graphic and chilling testimony, most of the dozen or so other women in the room were sobbing. I felt tears rolling down my face.
Such assaults on women have become part of the arsenal of despotic leaders trying to suppress civil unrest and democratic protest. Women are the backbone of society, and Guinea’s is a conservative, majority Muslim society. Sexual attacks on women are a way to force their husbands, partners and families to reject them – thus turning the community against itself. The increasing practice of sexual violence in this context reflects its success as a tool of repression.
The New York Times had this coverage and some of the photos captured on cellphones during the brutal assault.
In a Guinea Seized by Violence, Women Are Prey
“I can’t sleep at night, after what I saw,” said one middle-aged woman from an established family here, who said she had been beaten and sexually molested. “And I am afraid. I saw lots of women raped, and lots of dead.”
One photograph shows a naked woman lying on muddy ground, her legs up in the air, a man in military fatigues in front of her. In a second picture a soldier in a red beret is pulling the clothes off a distraught-looking woman half-lying, half-sitting on muddy ground. In a third a mostly nude woman lying on the ground is pulling on her trousers.
The cellphone pictures are circulating anonymously, but multiple witnesses corroborated the events depicted.
They also covered the State Department and SOS Clinton’s response:
The Obama administration has injected itself into the crisis in Guinea, taking the unusual step of sending a senior diplomat to protest the mass killings and rapes here last week. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called for “appropriate actions” against a military government that she said “cannot remain in power.”
“It was criminality of the greatest degree, and those who committed such acts should not be given any reason to expect that they will escape justice,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters in Washington. She said that the nation’s leader, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, and his government “must turn back to the people the right to choose their own leaders.”
The military seized power here last December, and pressure has been rising as Captain Camara, 45, backed off a pledge not to run in this country’s presidential elections in January. At a demonstration against him on Sept. 28, witnesses said soldiers opened fire on the crowds and raped and sexually assaulted female protesters. Human rights officials estimate that as many as 157 people were killed. The government has put the number at 56.
The BBC is reporting today that the European Union has voted for sanctions
EU member states are believed to have voted on the decision on Wednesday, although it still has to be formalised. Sources told the BBC there had been a “consensus” between voting members that the action was necessary. The move comes after 150 unarmed opposition supporters were killed by soldiers in the capital, Conakry. A UN investigation has already begun.
During the unrest Guinean troops opened fire on opposition protesters angry that the country’s military leader, Capt Moussa Dadis Camara, intends to run for president early next year. It was claimed women were stripped and raped in the streets during the protest.
They are also reporting that the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has imposed an arms embargo:
An Ecowas statement issued on Saturday at the end of a special summit in Nigeria said: “In view of the atrocities that have been committed… the authority decides to impose an arms embargo on Guinea”.
The 15-member group called on its chairman, Nigerian President Umaru Yar’adua, to take “all necessary measures” to obtain the support of the African Union, European Union and United Nations to enforce the embargo.
Former colonial power France has already said it will stop weapon sales to the military government. France on Friday urged its nationals – thought to number some 2,500 – to leave the mineral-rich country.
The French foreign ministry said the security situation in Guinea had wo
rsened since the 28 September protests.
Please encourage President Obama and SOS Clinton to press for sanctions against Dadis Camara’s regime.
Rape is a crime against humanity.
You can find global efforts to Stop Rape at the UN site:
Stop Rape Now
(cross posted at Daily Kos)