September 30, 2009 / 4:39 PM / 10 years ago

U.N. human rights chief condemns Guinea "blood bath"

GENEVA (Reuters) - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned Wednesday what she called Monday’s “blood bath” in Guinea and called for an independent investigation into the affair.

A statement issued from her Geneva office said she was appalled by reports that more than 130 people were killed and women raped in a crackdown by the ruling military junta on its opponents in the west African state.

“Monday’s blood bath must not become part of the fabric of impunity that has enveloped Guinea for decades,” said Pillay, a former high court judge in South Africa.

An inquiry announced by the junta, which seized power in December last year with a pledge to restore democracy to a country long ruled by dictatorial regimes, had to be “both independent and impartial,” she declared.

It had to ensure “that all those responsible for carrying out summary executions, rapes and other human rights violations are brought to justice,” Pillay added.

Monday’s violence in the Guinean capital, Conakry, has been condemned by the African Union and other regional organizations, by European countries — particularly Guinea’s former colonial ruler France — and by the United States.

It started when security forces loyal to military ruler Colonel Moussa Dadis Camara attacked a rally of tens of thousands of protesters urging him to step down. Guinean human rights groups say at least 157 people died.

Pillay said many summary executions and other rights abuses had taken place under the government ousted by Camara following the death of longtime president Lansana Conte but had not been properly investigated due to lack of political will.

Editing by David Stamp

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