Conakry, Guinea Sept. 28, 2009

A photo given to The New York Times shows some of the dead after an opposition rally in Conakry, Guinea, on Sept. 28, 2009.

On Monday, 28th of September, the military gunned down civilians attending a peaceful pro-democracy rally in the West African country of Guinea. Over one hundred and fifty people were killed and women were stripped and raped in the streets.

The Guinean people are crying out for democracy and firm pressure is needed from the international community to ensure military rule is brought to an end, more innocent people do not get killed, and violence does not spread to other fragile democracies in the region.

If we can push the African and European Unions to apply targeted sanctions on the ruling elite, this could be the quickest way to get the military to step down, with out hurting the Guinean people. Sign the petition below and spread the word – and it will be delivered to the EU and AU leadership this week:

Sign Here

To learn more, read the email below:

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Here’s the original Avaaz email:

Dear friends,

Last week, over 150 civilians were killed when the military opened fire on a peaceful pro-democracy rally in the West African country of Guinea. Women were raped and people were bayoneted on the streets as they tried to escape — a terrifying message to a nation crying out to elect a democratic, civilian government for the first time.

In spite of the international community’s condemnation of the violence and calls for the regime to allow elections, the junta is clinging to power, warning ominously that the army is acting beyond the chain of command. The tense situation threatens to spiral into inter-factional fighting or a counter-coup, which would likely see violence spill over and destabilize the whole region.

We need to act fast. The international community must send a clear message that unless the regime agrees to step down and allow a peaceful democratic transition, they will face immediate, tightly-targeted sanctions. The African and European Unions have discussed invoking travel sanctions on the ruling elite, who love to fly and shop: this could be the best chance to have quick impact, without hurting Guinea’s people — who desperately need our help. We’ll deliver this campaign to European and African leaders before they meet later this month — click the link below to sign the petition and forward this email:

Sign Here

The military ruler of Guinea, Capitan Moussa Dadis Camara, seized power in a military coup last year. He had agreed to step aside and allow for democratic elections next year — but after months of tension, recently reneged on that promise. The people of Guinea have suffered over 50 years of brutal and corrupt dictatorships. Tens of thousands of civilians who attended last week’s rally were clamouring for an end to military rule and opposing his candidacy in elections.

The violence against civilians was brutal. A human rights watch witness stated: “I saw the Red Berets [an elite unit within the military] catch some of the women who were trying to flee, rip off their clothes, and stick their hands in their private parts. Others beat the women, including on their genitals… the women were crying out.”

Firm action is needed not just to make clear that we reject the violent repression of people anywhere who stand up to demand democratic and accountable government, but because what happens in Guinea will affect dozens of other fledgling democracies across Africa, where would-be dictators are closely watching the response from the international community. Years have been spent establishing a fragile peace in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia. If Guinea blows, they too could be at risk.

An international inquiry is needed into the violence and the army must return to barracks. But a week after the massacre, opposition leaders remain in military detention, and Capitan Camara is shirking responsibility for the violence, blaming the opposition and banning all public ‘subversive’ meetings — sending a clear signal that he isn’t going step aside easily or bend to initial international declarations.

The regional body, Economic Community of West African States, has nominated a negotiator for Guinea. But any talks must be backed up by clear international pressure — otherwise the mineral-rich regime could hold on, ruling through the biggest army in the region. A policy of targeted AU and EU travel bans, affecting the leadership personally, could be pivotal — not only could it help halt more bloodshed, it could start to lay the foundation for a democratic transition.

Sign Here

Guinea’s people desperately need international help and solidarity today. Let’s stand with them, send a clear message to the Guinean military and forces across Africa who seek to rule by the gun that the time for repressive military rule is over. Sign the petition and send it on to family and friends:

Sign Here

With hope,

Alice, Luis, Benjamin, Ricken, Graziela, Paula, Pascal, Iain and the whole Avaaz team.

More information:

Guinea massacre tolls put at 157, BBC, 30 September
http://www.avaaz.org/en/guinea_stop_the_crackdown

Human Rights Watch witnesses from the rally:
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/09/29/guinea-stop-violent-attacks-demonstrators

Capitan Moussa Dadis Camara says army is out of control:
http://www.rfi.fr/actuen/articles/118/article_5312.asp

ECOWAS negotiator nominated:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a36d9e74-af56-11de-ba1c-00144feabdc0.html

Violence in Guinea threaten the whole region:
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/richard-moncrieff-repression-and-violence-are-a-danger-to-the-whole-region-1795166.html

Guinea’s Capital Fades Into a Ghost Town After Soldiers’ Rampage, New York Times, 30 September
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/world/africa/30guinea.html

Guinea’s military leader banned all gatherings and demonstrations until further notice, AP, 30 September
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/world/africa/30guinea.html

Guinea asks Russia to block UNSC sanctions
http://www.moneybiz.co.za/africa/africa.asp?story=445a8159-3639-4b5a-adb1-c1face112425

African Union statement on Guinean massacre
http://allafrica.com/stories/200909290925.html
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