The families of the 157 people killed in a massacre in Guinea last September were barred on Tuesday from entering or approaching the soccer stadium where the killings occurred on the one-year anniversary of the slaughter.
Military trucks teeming with armed soldiers were positioned at the entrance to the sports arena where protesters had gathered to call for an end to army rule last Sept. 28. The army had attempted to halt the protest and when they were not able to, they sealed off the exits to the arena and then opened fire mowing down civilians who fell backward in waves.
Women that survived the barrage of bullets were dragged to the stadium turf and gang raped.
One year later, Guinea is in many ways a changed country: The head of the junta accused of ordering the massacre was forced into exile and his No. 2 agreed to hand over power to civilians. The first round of the presidential election was held in June, but since then the government has repeatedly postponed the date of the run-off needed to choose the country’s new leader.
The anniversary of the killings comes amid worries that the election could be canceled and that Guinea would again revert to a military dictatorship.
The leaders of an association representing the families of those killed say authorities asked them to refrain from marching because a large gathering could act as a flashpoint for violence.
Even in the new climate of detente, the massacre is a touchy subject because the perpetrators are all soldiers and the stability of the country depends on the ability to tame the military and prevent it from grabbing power.
Jean-Marie Dore, the current interim prime minister, was one of the opposition leaders that was brutally beaten at the stadium.
Since assuming his post, he has made no public comments on the massacre and many families of victims feel betrayed.
“Jean-Marie Dore has forgotten that he too was at the stadium and that he too was injured there. He has forgotten the hundreds of dead and wounded, and the women that were raped,” said Mamadou Bobo Diallo, a parent of another victim. “Today he gave the order for the army to block the roads in Conakry.”