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Guinea 2009 Massacre Survivors Demand Justice


FILE: Eleven men accused of responsibility for the 2009 massacre and mass rape of pro-democracy protesters by forces linked to a former military junta sit during their trial in Conakry, Guinea. Taken September 28, 2022.

Survivors who were beaten and raped during a massacre in a stadium in Guinea in 2009 are hoping to finally see justice and let the world know the pain they have been carrying as the trial of 11 suspects unfolds in the West African nation.

More than 150 people were trampled, clubbed or shot dead on September 28, 2009, when a demonstration against Guinea's then military ruler Moussa Dadis Camara was brutally repressed. Hundreds survived with injuries and trauma.

Camara is among the accused. He is yet to plead but had previously denied responsibility. The other accused have pleaded not guilty of charges including murder, attempted murder, rape, torture and theft

It is not known how many women were raped, but human rights groups say sexual violence was a large part of the abuse perpetrated in the stadium, where tens of thousands of people had gathered to pressure Camara not to run for president.

"What we have suffered, as victims of the 28th, I will say it so that the whole world can hear. It's not something to hide now," said Hawaou Diallo, who told Reuters that she was beaten and raped by two men while fleeing the stadium.

The 36-year-old's attackers are not among the accused but she, like others, has been attending the trial and plans to testify when her turn comes.

"Several victims who contracted HIV have died over the years, and at a certain point there was a panic (among them). They all wondered whether they were going to be alive to follow the trial," said Souleymane Camara, a programme manager at the victims' association AVIPA.

At AVIPA's office in Conakry, with portraits of victims hanging on the wall behind her, another survivor recalled the frantic scramble to escape the stadium by scaling a wall.

"I started to climb, but no one was helping me. I remember a very fat woman told me, 'I can't climb, but you can climb on top of me to save yourself,'" said aesurvivor who requested to remain anonymous.

"We climbed on the lady to reach the top, but the boy who was helping me was shot in the forehead. As he fell, I fell on the other side."

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