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Guinea massacre ‘premeditated and organized’ by military: report

A Human Rights Watch report released today contradicts claims by Guinea military leader Moussa Dadis Camara and his would-be assassin, Lt. Abubakar "Toumba" Diakite, that they were not responsible for the Sept. 28 massacre. At least 150 Guineans were killed in an afternoon.

By Taylor BarnesCorrespondent / December 17, 2009

In this file photo taken on Oct. 2 Guinea's military leader, Capt. Moussa "Dadis" Camara, left, salutes next to presidential guard chief Abubakar "Toumba" Diakite, right, during independence day celebrations in Conakry, Guinea. Diakite said Wednesday that he shot at point-blank range on Dec. 3 because the junta leader wanted him to take the blame for a massacre by troops of pro-democracy demonstrators in September. Camara is recovering in a Moroccan hospital.

Schalk van Zuydam/File/AP

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Who is responsible for the massacre by uniformed soldiers, police, and militiamen that killed at least 150 pro-democracy demonstrators in Guinea?

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A report by Human Rights Watch, released today, presents evidence that Guinea's ruling military party organized and carried out the Sept. 28, 2009 massacre – and of speedily organizing a cover-up. The murders, rapes, and abuses by security forces that day "rise to the level of crimes against humanity," it says.

The massacre's alleged leaders continue to deny responsibility. There have been near-blanket international calls for Guinea to account for the atrocities, as well as diplomatic pressure for Guinea's military junta to step aside and, as promised, allow national elections.

Military junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara has said that the stadium massacre was carried out by rogue militants. He is in a Moroccan hospital after surviving an assassination attempt Dec. 3 by an aide, Lt. Abubakar "Toumba" Diakite. Now in hiding, Diakite told French radio Wednesday that he shot Camara because the captain would try to pin responsibility for the massacre on him.

“Really, the sort of abuses perpetrated by the Guinean security forces have never stopped. I mean, they have their surges,” says Corrine Dufka, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch who co-authored the report, “Bloody Monday: The September 28 Massacre and Rapes by Security Forces in Guinea.” (Read the report here.) The group has confirmed at least two deaths in military detention since the assassination attempt, Ms. Dufka adds in a telephone interview from Dakar, Senegal.

Camara has not spoken publicly since being hospitalized in Morocco.

Why did Guinea erupt into violence?

The coastal West African nation of 10 million has been under the military rule since last December, when Camara seized the former French colony in a bloodless coup after the death of President Lansana Conte. Though rich in minerals, gold, and diamonds, Guinea is one of the world’s most impoverished nations. It is a major transit point for cocaine between Latin America and Europe.

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