Washington DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today strongly condemned the military junta in Guinea for the slaughter last week of more than 150 civilians and called for further international action in response to the incident.
“The military crackdown in Guinea and the brutal treatment of innocent civilians has outraged the world,” Berman said. “The more information that emerges about this incident, the more disturbing it becomes. In the eyes of the world the Guinean military leadership’s credibility has been destroyed.”
Upon the death of long-term Guinean dictator Lansana Conte last December, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara seized power in a bloodless coup. After suspending the constitution and promising not to run for president, Camara reversed himself in August and began hinting that he would seek the presidency when the junta announced that its members could run for political office. In response to these announcements, thousands of Guineans poured into the streets of the capitol in protest.
On September 28 in the capital city, Conakry, Guinean troops opened fire in a stadium where thousands had gathered to protest the military takeover. According to reports from a local human rights organization, 157 people were killed, hundreds wounded, and many women raped by troops in the general assault.
Berman praised the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for responding swiftly to the situation in Guinea. The Chairman of ECOWAS, Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, appointed President Blaise Compaore as facilitator to the Guinea crisis and tasked him to meet with members of the junta and opposition groups in hopes of ending the crisis. The AU has given Captain Camara until the middle of October to reaffirm his decision not to stand for election or face personal sanctions if he fails to comply.
“The AU and ECOWAS are on the right track, and I urge the US government and international community to work closely with both organizations to bring this crisis to an end,” Berman said. “The Guinean military leadership must not stand in the way of free and fair elections. African leaders have shown their willingness to reject military ambition in no uncertain terms. I hope Captain Camara and others like him across Africa get the message that military juntas are not to be tolerated and appeased.”