Sunday, October 4, 2009

Peace Corps Guinea Evacuates (But we're all fine)

Hello all,

So many of you may have been following the news on Guinea the last week or so. For those who haven't, there has been a spate of violence in the capital, Conakry, surrounding a scheduled rally from the political opposition last Monday. Rioters were shot by the military and there were a number of other abuses, including stories of rape at gunpoint and other brutalization of women. Terrible stuff, and deeply disturbing considering the precarious nature of the political situation during this interim government period.

I've been in Ghana since Friday, taking the LSAT and meeting up with my fiancee, Rene as well as spending time with some other Peace Corps friends. It's been a great week-- beaches, hammocks, great seafood, and a real movie in a real movie theater have all been highlights. I heard the news about Guinea Tuesday night as I was waiting to pick Rene up from the airport. Getting back to the hostel that night, we made some phone calls and heard about the violence-- over 150 dead. Pretty shocking. From there, we've been in touch with Peace Corps and with Guinean friends back in-country.

Peace Corps, in coordination with the US embassy, has decided to evacuate all Volunteers as a precautionary measure. The country is ostensibly calm: the violence hasn't spread outside of Conakry although tensions are apparently high. However, the situation with the military and the interim government looks extremely grim-- the men who ought to be maintaining order and justice are instead murdering and brutalizing civilians.

Despite this, Boulliwel is of course entirely unchanged. When I called M. Diallo the other day he confirmed the reports that we had heard through the grapevine but assured me that everything would get better and that they'd have us back in Guinea soon enough. Apparently Blaise Campaore, the President of Burkina Faso, and a high-up American State Dept official are being dispatched to Conakry to "mediate." So we'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, it looks like the Guinea Volunteers that I'm here with in Ghana and I will be heading to Bamako, Mali this week, for a minimum of two weeks (and potentially more) to watch and see if the situation cools down. This is a huge bummer for me, because it means that Rene won't get to come see Guinea. She and I had planned to head back to Guinea on Tuesday and now it looks like she may head back to the States instead. We are exploring the option of her coming to Bamako for a few days to prolong the visit but it looks unlikely. And Boulliwel had been so excited to get to meet her after all these months! A real shame.

Please keep Guinea in your thoughts and prayers. All the Volunteers will be leaving Guinea for Mali on Thursday-- we might be there as soon as Wednesday (waiting on PC/Ghana for word on that one) to meet up with the rest of the crew. Bamako may not know what hit it! But we have all been shocked by the news and are hoping for a swift and peaceful resolution to the conflict and a just, orderly organization of the presidential elections scheduled for January.

Take care,
Much love,

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