Become part of the world’s biggest dialogue experiment.

Find out how you can get involved
  1. Home
  2. West Africa
  3. Guinea

"The barbarity we saw cannot be described"

Billboard of Guinea's junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara in the capital Conakry. August 2009 Nancy Palus/IRIN
Guineans strain to find the words to describe the violence they saw on 28 September when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators, stabbing people with bayonets and gang-raping women and girls. Hundreds of Guineans have been unable to collect the remains of their loved ones, as soldiers blocked entry to morgues and – residents say – loaded up bodies in trucks and took them away.

Residents of the capital Conakry said tension was high on 2 October, as the junta held a ceremony to bury the bodies of the 57 people it says died, most "by asphyxiation" in a stampede. One man searching for his brother went to the morgue where the corpses were brought out; he said the stench from decomposing bodies was overwhelming.

Here is some of what Guineans told IRIN on 28 September and the days following:

"The barbarity we saw cannot be described."

"We saw soldiers walking on cadavers."

“They shoved their Kalashnikovs into women’s vaginas – I saw this.”

"I was completely destroyed by the brutality I saw. If I had a bomb that day I would have pulled a kamikaze."

"The military is loading up bodies in trucks and hiding them. At the very least leave us the bodies of our loved ones."

"People were afraid to seek treatment in hospital because some doctors refused to treat the injured, saying the demonstrators were to blame for the violence."

"We fear civil war. There were militias who were out the next day going through neighbourhoods with machetes."

"Soldiers are prowling the neighbourhood [Bambeto, on 29 September]. When they see a resident they say: "You move, we shoot'. They say: 'It's you, Peulhs, who want to get in our way. We are going to exterminate you all.'"
[Peulh is one of Guinea’s main ethnic groups; junta leader Camara is Guerze, a group from the Forest Region]

"Anyone who is not on their [the soldiers'] side, they are going to slaughter us all."

"If the impunity continues, that is it for Guinea. Civil war. It will be worse than Liberia."

"No one is safe."


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

Share this article

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.