Reporters Without Borders is extremely worried for the safety of Mouctar Bah, the Conakry correspondent of Agence France-Presse and Radio France Internationale, and Amadou Diallo, the BBC’s correspondent. After being threatened and roughed up by soldiers while covering the violent dispersal of an opposition demonstration two days ago in which hundreds died, they are now reportedly wanted by the military authorities.
“Journalists have been playing a vital role in informing Guineans and the international community about the tragic events of the past 48 hours in Conakry,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We strongly condemn the actions of the Guinean soldiers who carried out a massacre and who are now hunting down the witnesses. The situation is grave and the safety of these two men is in danger.”
Bah and Diallo were warned today by friends that soldiers were looking for them because they were regarded as having “betrayed” the military to the international community by describing the extremely violent dispersal of the 28 September demonstration, in which hundreds were killed and thousands injured.
As a result, the two reporters have gone into hiding.
Bah has told Reporters Without Borders how he and Diallo were roughed up soldiers. “There were four of them,” he said. “They shouted, ‘Get lost.’ We said we were journalists and they said, ‘We don’t give a damn.’ A soldier asked me: ‘Did you see it?’ I said I had. ‘You won’t say anything,’ he replied. The soldiers forced us to our knees in front of the bodies. There were bodies everywhere, and pools of blood. They said: ‘Those bodies, you won’t talk about them. You’ve seen nothing.”
Bah added: “One of the soldiers put his gun to my chest and said he was going to kill me. I replied, ‘If that is the solution for Guinea, go ahead.’ He did not fire. They searched us. They stole our money and our phones and they destroyed our equipment. The microphone was smashed against the tarmac. They were completely drunk. They poured a bottle of beer over my head and shirt and hit Amadou’s left arm. Then one of their chiefs recognised us. It was Ansoumane Camara, the commander of the Rapid Intervention and Security Company (CMIS). He ordered them to let us go but they continued to insult us and call us bastards.”
Many other journalists were roughed by the same day, Bah said. They include an FM Liberté reporter and Ba Mamadou, who works for the satirical newspaper Le Lynx.
Widely referred to as a “massacre” and as a “bloodbath,” the 28 September events have been unanimously condemned in the international community.
The head of the military junta, Capt. Dadis Camara, has said he is sorry for what happened. On the day of the massacre, he told RFI: “It’s unfortunate, it’s dramatic. Very frankly speaking, I'm very sorry, very sorry.” Yesterday he told the French TV channel Europe 1: “I was overtaken by events. I can’t control all the actions of this army. To say that I control this army would be demagogy.”
Picture : AFP