On a sombre note, September 28 marks the date of massacres in Guinea, in 2009. I’d left my assignment there three years earlier, and the rumblings of civil disturbances had already begun, while President Lansana Conté was still in power. A military coup led by a group of military officers, naming themselves The National Council for and Development (Conseil national pour la démocratie et le développement, CNDD) seized power hours after the death on December 22, 2008, of President Conté, Guinea’s president for 24 years. The CNDD was headed by a self-proclaimed president, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.
The horrific killings that took place at the aptly named Stade du 28 septembre, has been called ‘premeditated’ by Human Rights Watch. The infamous Presidential Guard (‘berets rouges’/red berets) were at the heart of the atrocities. Reports indicate that the 50,000 people protesting against the government insude the stadium were peaceful. Reports also indicate that there was an ethnic element to the massacre, with mainly Christian officers targeting Peuhls (who are predominatly Muslims). Many, including a good friend, and former PM, Cellou Dalein Diallo, the leader of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UDFG), were arrested and taken away in lorries
The government tried to play down the atrocity, including by claiming the dead were just under 60 people, while other figures indicated between 150-200.