Depressing story alert! An ultra disturbing article in today’s New York Times looks at how military officers in Conakry, Guinea attacked unarmed demonstrators last week. Their main order of business seemed to be sexually assaulting the group’s women. Sadly, experts say this is business as usual in Africa. But what is new is that in Guinea, where cell phones are rapidly outnumbering land line phones, the protesters-turned-victims sent out cell phone photos of rapes in progress by uniformed soldiers. The atrocities were broadcast around Guinea, and then around the world—possibly before the violence even ended. The frantically shot phone pics are getting a lot of attention, and this is a really good thing. Former Guinea prime ministers, François Lonsény Fall and Sidya Touré, both reported witnessing violence towards women at the protest, backing up the cell phone footage. “This time, a new stage has been reached,” said Touré, who was beaten with other demonstrators. “Women as battlefield targets. We could never have imagined that.” He is calling for international intervention. France’s foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, is not extending aid yet, but is at least echoing the call.
This reminds me a lot of the video of Neda being shot during a protest in Iran. If the viral nature of this cell phone footage influences Guinea’s former colonial ruler, France, and the United Nations to act quickly, would that indicate a hopeful trend for the future? Could cellies become a useful tool for oppressed people? [NY Times]