A brutal army crackdown on an opposition rally in the Guinean capital of Conakry, in which more than 150 people were killed and scores were raped, has left the west African country seething. One week on, witnesses of the bloodbath described their ordeal to FRANCE 24's reporters in Conakry.
“They raped me. I went out of the stadium naked, naked, naked,” said one political activist, recalling the brutal clampdown by the soldiers of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, Guinea's new strongman.
Another eye-witness told FRANCE 24 that she saw a group of soldiers gang-rape five girls. "I went back behind the gate, I found another soldier there. He took his gun (…) and he forced it into the vagina of a girl,” she said.
Around 30 women have given testimonies to human rights activists corroborating these accounts, saying they were raped and beaten during a massacre of opposition supporters in a Guinea stadium on September 28.
They are a horrifying array of claims. Unable to run and escape soldiers’ shots, the women say they were beaten and raped, their clothes stripped off with knives and their genitals mutilated with guns.
Guinea’s health minister, Colonel Cherif Abdoulaye Diaby, says no one has complained of rape in any hospital, but a doctor interviewed by FRANCE 24, who wished to remain anonymous, tells a different story.
“Group rape, rape in broad daylight on a pitch…really that is unusual in Guinea… and that is worrying. They are afraid to come and even we are not very comfortable talking about these rapes because we worry about the consequences of speaking out,” the doctor said.
Doctors have launched appeals on local radio for women to come forward and receive HIV/AIDS tests and care.
The Guinean Human Rights Association is helping women who come forward to take legal action.
The UN says at least 150 people died in the massacre, compared to the junta’s estimate of 56.
In the face of international outcry, Camara, the country's de facto leader, is trying to distance himself from the event.
Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, appointed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as a mediator, has flown in to Guinea in a bid to calm the situation.