Guinea (not to be confused with Guinea-Bissau) in another one of those nations overcast by the fog-of-war. It is filled with coups, massacres, assassinations, and mass rapes that inexplicably occur out of the blue for no clear reason. Guinea is 85% Muslim (mainly Sunni, but with a growing Shia minority), 10% Christian, and 5% animist. From AP:
PARIS – A French news report says U.N. investigators believe Guinea's September massacre of protesters qualifies as a crime against humanity.
Le Monde reported Monday that investigators want the International Criminal Court to take up the case. It says the U.N. commission considers "there is sufficient reason to presume the direct criminal responsibility of president Capt. Moussa 'Dadis' Camara."
The paper cites a U.N. report saying 156 people were killed or disappeared. It says at least 109 women or girls were victims of rape and sexual mutilation. It did not say how it obtained the report, which it says was turned over Saturday to the Security Council.
Camara was shot by his presidential guard earlier this month and the state of his health is still a mystery.
Some background: First, the cast of characters:
- Ahmed Sékou Touré - President of Guinea from 1958 to 1984. Muslim.
- Lasana Conté - President of Guinea from 1984 until his death in December 2008. Muslim.
- Ahmed Tidiane Souaré - Prime Minister of Guinea from May 2008 to December 2008. Religion unknown, but was considered closely tied to Lasana Conté.
- Aboubacar Somparé - President of National Assembly of Guinea from 2008 to 2008. Muslim.
- Capt. Moussa "Dadis" Camara - Chief of Fuels of the Guinean army. Christian.
- Lieutenant Abu Bakr "Toumba" Sidiki Diakité - Member of the "berets rouges" unit of the Guinean army, and bodyguard to Moussa Camara.
Lasana Conté gained the Presidency in 1984 in a coup following the death (by natural causes) of Ahmed Sékou Touré. Conté's long reign was marked by rampant human rights abuses and widespread corruption.
On December 23rd, 2008, Aboubacar Somparé announced that Lasana Conté had died of natural causes. Two days later, on Christmas Day, Capt. Moussa "Dadis" Camara claimed control in a military coup. Both Ahmed Tidiane Souaré and Aboubacar Somparé made public statements denouncing the coup attempt, and denying that it had been successful.
Camara met with Souaré and said that he and other members of the former government could keep their positions. Souaré announced his loyalty to the new Camara government, but on December 30th, Camara replaced Souaré with a rival.
On March 23rd, 2009, Souaré was arrested for embezzlement, and was ordered to pay back 12 billion Guinean francs.
On September 28th, 2009, protests broke out after Camara announced new elections and hinted that he might run for president, breaking an earlier pledge to withdraw from government. Members of the "berets rouges" unit of the Guinean army attacked protesters, raping and killing many. The victims were mainly from the Muslim Peuhl ethnic group. This is the incident that the UN was commenting on in the story above. In interviews, Camara claimed that the responsible troops were "uncontrollable elements in the military", and "Even I, as head of state in this very tense situation, cannot claim to be able to control those elements in the military". Ironically, Camara called for the UN investigation into the massacre.
On December 4th, 2009, Camara and his bodyguard Lieutenant Abu Bakr "Toumba" Sidiki Diakité argued over who would take the blame for the September massacre. Many Guineans blame Toumba. The meeting ended with Toumba shooting Camara in the head. Camara apparently survived and was flown to Morocco for treatment. His condition is unknown. Would-be assassin Toumba fled and is still on the loose; other reports say that Toumba has been arrested. Others involved in the assassination attempt are Master Sergeant Mohamed "Beugre" Camara, Second Lieutenant Mohamed Soumah, and Lieutenant Mabinty "Magie" Sylla, all members of the "berets rouges".
The role of religious affiliation in these conflicts is hinted at obliquely in news reports, if at all. The fact that Camara is the first non-Muslim to rule Guinea since independence in 1958 may or may not be related to the attempt on his life. G*d knows there have certainly been many non-Muslim tyrants throughout African history. But it also wouldn't be the first time that a Christian was blamed by Muslims (and their apologists at HRW and the UN) for the actions of Muslims.