''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XI No 3

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Sunday June 29, 2014 - Deadly Ebola virus ravages Sierra Leone. Total deaths still unknown as World Health Organisation fears the scourge could spread to neighbouring countries. With people confused about the symptoms and what should be done, the rat criminalises the scourge.The spread of the deadly Ebola virus - map published by Daily Mail

As true Christians prepare to head for places of worship to give thanks to the Almighty and Muslims start the holy month  of Ramadan, we urge all and sundry to pray for Sierra Leone. Indeed never before had the country been hit by such a deadly disease though there were warning signs in the air after Guinea became the epicentre of the disease. Reports say that after the media and other concerned citizens expressed fears over our preparedness should the deadly plague use the porous borders to cross into Sierra Leone, the ministry of health is reported to have ordered the much-needed reagents/chemicals that would help in identifying whether those expressing the symptoms of Ebola were indeed victims or not.

The initial tests showed that those in fear were not positive, but as cross border movements increased with those affected by the disease crossed into Sierra Leone through ever porous borders, it was not long for health officials to confirm that indeed the deadly disease was in the country with deaths reported as victims who had no idea of the ravages of the scourge succumbed to the disease.

With pressure mounting on the government of the rat and the death toll rising, it came out with an announcement on Friday last week which effectively criminalises Ebola in a country where the necessary education of the people on the scourge was yet to be made countrywide. Ebola, according to health experts is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. Ebola virus was isolated from semen 61 days after onset of illness in a man who was infected in a laboratory. The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days. What we have in bold letters should be of great concern and worry to everyone and we would urge that men in areas harbouring the scourge be advised to take extra care given what we have now learnt from health experts. We would urge the health and associated ministries as well as State House where the smoke and mirrors rat operates from to keep calm and take a good look at what obtains on the ground with a view to tackling what is clearly a challenge. The WHO has also noted - "It is the largest outbreak in terms of cases, deaths and geographical spread.There have been more than 600 cases in Guinea - where the outbreak started four months ago - and neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia. Around 60% of those infected with the virus have died."


Tuesday June 24, 2014 - UK Prime Minister embroiled in media scandal as his former Communications maestro is found guilty of phone hacking. David Cameron offers undiluted apology over his hiring of Andy Coulson despite repeated warnings that the former New of the World editor was not that clean. Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor - found guilty of phone hacking and faces jail.UK Prime Minister David Cameron made an unreserved apology after his former spin doctor was found guilty of a criminal offence.

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson has been found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones. His predecessor Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges in the phone-hacking trial. The BBC website had this headline - Hacking trial: Coulson guilty, Brooks cleared of charges and added - "Coulson went on to become director of communications for the prime minister, who has apologised and said hiring him was "the wrong decision". Royals, celebrities and victims of crime were among those whose phones were hacked by the News of the World. The paper was closed by its parent company, News International, in July 2011 after it emerged that it had instructed a private investigator to intercept - or "hack" - voicemails left on the mobile phone of murdered Surrey teenager Milly Dowler in 2002. Police say thousands of people's phones were targeted, and BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said Coulson's conviction showed a "widespread criminal conspiracy going to a very, very senior level" at the News of the World.

No sooner was the verdict given than Prime Minister Cameron made an unreserved apology broadcast on media outlets as he tried to explain why despite the cloud hanging over the former News of the World editor, he still went ahead to appoint him. "I wanted to give him a second chance", he pleaded. : "I am extremely sorry I employed him. It was the wrong decision and I am clear about that". But these pleas have not gone down well with his critics with the Labour leader Ed Miliband wanting the Prime Minister to give a satisfactory answer as to why "he took a criminal to the heart of 10 Downing Street". He said - "This isn't just a serious error of judgement, it taints David Cameron's government."

To know more about phone hacking and how editors and journalists used this criminal method to get materials on the lives of people, please visit this page in the Guardian and learn just how Andy Coulson was so sure of himself that he went to the home of former Home Secretary David Blunkett to challenge him on his private life, claiming that what he knew about the personal life of the man was from a reliable source. They had hacked into the phone message of the poor man. The Guardian reports - "One of the victims of phone hacking, the former Labour home secretary David Blunkett, said the issue was not about vindictiveness or vengeance. "It is about criminality, it is about obtaining justice, and I hope that has been obtained," he said. Blunkett told the Guardian it was little understood how hacking leads to a breakdown in trust within a circle, as its members cannot be sure how private information came into the public domain".

Kindly observe that the UK Prime Minister profusely apologised unreservedly for his error of judgement in appointing Andy Coulson. Tell that to the rat in Freetown - to apologise for people he appointed and who are found wanting and engaging in criminal activities - and you will get a deafening silence, if not an arrest.

To admit a mistake or wrong-doing is the mark of great men and women.

Monday June 23, 2014 - Press Freedom in Egypt receives a blow as three Al Jazeera journalists given a total of twenty four years. Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in jail, while Baher Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years for possession of ammunition. Mohamed was in possession of a spent bullet he had found on the ground during a protest.

The international and respected broadcaster Al Jazeera has reported that an Egyptian court has sentenced journalists working for the organisation to prison terms. According to Al Jazeera "Two Al Jazeera English journalists have been sentenced to seven years in jail and one to 10 years by an Egyptian court on charges including aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news. Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed were arrested in December in Cairo as they covered the aftermath of the army's removal of Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in July.

Australian Peter Greste is a brave, very brave journalist, who like his colleagues are committed to reporting objectively on events on their patch, not blinking an eyelid when confronted by threats that they report favourably on behalf of any group or person. His country's Foreign Minister Bishop has already given a press briefing in which she said that there were all options to be considered in obtaining freedom for Peter. This would include an appeal, getting communication lines open directly to the newly-elected Egyptian President. The BBC, for whom Peter Greste had reported before stated - The trial has caused an international outcry amid claims it is politicised. Julie Bishop told reporters on Monday she was "bitterly disappointed" by the outcome. "I simply cannot understand how a court could come to this conclusion," she said. Correspondents say evidence put forward earlier in court did nothing to support the serious charges brought.

Rights group, Amnesty International noted - “This is a devastating verdict for the men and their families, and a dark day for media freedom in Egypt, when journalists are being locked up and branded criminals or ‘terrorists’ simply for doing their job,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. “The only reason these three men are in jail is because the Egyptian authorities don’t like what they have to say.

We await reactions from the government of the rat in Freetown as one of its "enemies of the state" journalists are given these prison terms after a show trial that was as unfair as it was politically-motivated and vindictive. Remember the muck thrown at respected international journalist Sorious Samura after he exposed the illegal logging going on under the nose of the rat? He was described as an enemy of the state. Well we need not remind our great readers as to why the Chief of Staff, one Richard Konteh was sacked. He was sacked for alleged corruption over mining and timber deals. Timber...Logging?


Monday June 16, 2014 - On this day in 1976, armed cowards and murderers of the South African apartheid system turned their weapons on school children whose only crime was that they dared protest the apartheid ruling that Afrikaans, the language of the oppressors not be forced down their throats.The iconic picture that reminds us of the tyranny of apartheid.

Let's hear the story as found on these pages - Soweto Student Uprising - On the morning of June 16, 1976, thousands of students from the African township of Soweto, outside Johannesburg, gathered at their schools to participate in a student-organized protest demonstration. Many of them carried signs that read, 'Down with Afrikaans' and 'Bantu Education – to Hell with it;' others sang freedom songs as the unarmed crowd of schoolchildren marched towards Orlando soccer stadium where a peaceful rally had been planned. The crowd swelled to more than 10,000 students. En route to the stadium, approximately fifty policemen stopped the students and tried to turn them back. At first, the security forces tried unsuccessfully to disperse the students with tear gas and warning shots. Then policemen fired directly into the crowd of demonstrators. Many students responded by running for shelter, while others retaliated by pelting the police with stones. That day, two students, Hastings Ndlovu and Hector Pieterson, died from police gunfire; hundreds more sustained injuries during the subsequent chaos that engulfed Soweto. The shootings in Soweto sparked a massive uprising that soon spread to more than 100 urban and rural areas throughout South Africa.

The South Africa-based Mail and Guardian newspaper in an article last year reminds us of ten things that we need to know about June 16, among them -

2. June 16 was the first day of what came to be called the Soweto uprising. It began there but spread to other townships around the country and continued until year-end in the face of harsh state repression. 3. Bantu education was set up in 1953, five years after the National Party came to power on the apartheid platform. Bantu education was a project of the department of native affairs to cater specifically to black people. Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, then the minister of native affairs and later prime minister, said that the policy would educate black people to know their place in society: "Natives must be taught from an early age that equality with Europeans [whites] is not for them." 5. The education given was very unequal: "The government spent R644 a year on a white child's education but only R42 on a black child." 9. The June 1976 death toll was 176, at least 23 deaths occurred on the first day. Thousands were injured. The police ordered township ­hospitals to report anyone receiving treatment for gunshot wounds, but doctors listed the wounds as abscesses. 10. Pupils' placards read: "Down with Afrikaans" and "If we must do Afrikaans, [Prime Minister John] Vorster must do Zulu."

The African Union reminds us that today's theme is - "A child-friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa". Ask the thing which passes for a government in Sierra Leone about what they have done for education of children and the chorus will sing - "Our caring father of the nation has ensured that education is free, uniforms are free, books are free and teachers are well-paid and on time to make sure that the agenda for....is on track". And they sing it shamelessly even though everyone knows that it is the opposite on the ground with some teachers not paid for a whole year, never mind the frequent trips of the rat abroad wasting the country's resources.

And as Africa and indeed the international community commemorates the Day of the African Child, let us all remember the school children in Nigeria still held by their abductors - Boko Haram with prayers that they are safe and well and that they would, very soon, be with their loved ones once more.


Sunday June 15, 2014 - After 4 days of talks on sexual violence in conflict, the message is now clear as heard in the voice of our very own Zainab Hawa Bangura to the perpetrators - "We will pursue with every means at our disposal. There will no hiding place and no safe haven. Sooner or later, we will get you … This is not mission impossible." UN Under Secretary General for Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura. She still knows that in Sierra Leone are rapists who are getting the protection of the government. When will she act?Angelina Jolie - co-chaired the London meeting.

The 4-day summit on sexual violence held from 10-13 June 2014 in London did not only throw the spotlight on rape as a weapon of war by perpetrators, but sent a message to all and sundry including those who shield the perpetrators that there will no longer be any hiding place for them. Indeed in reporting on the meeting of the concerned people who wanted to consign rape as a war weapon to the history books, the UK-based Guardian newspaper quoted certain key areas from the contribution of the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, our very own Zainab Hawa Bangura noting - ...the UN's special representative on sexual violence in conflict, said conflict-related rape was no longer considered "a marginal issue, an inevitable by-product of war or mere collateral damage. It can no longer be amnestied or pardoned as the price of peace. It cannot be dismissed … as a private matter. And the countless women, girls, men and boys affected can no longer be deemed second-class victims of a second-class crime." Bangura had witnessed the enduring effects of sexual violence in the civil war of Sierra Leone. "The scars that remain beneath the surface of society make peace less possible. We're here today to write the last chapter in the history of wartime rape and to close the book once and for all on humanity's tolerance for such inhumanity."

A summary of the meeting gave an insight into the work that had gone into addressing four key areas for change -

  • Improve accountability at the national and international level, including through better documentation, investigations and prosecutions at the national and international level, and better legislation implementing international obligations and standards;

  • Provide greater support and protection to survivors of sexual violence, including children;

  • Ensure sexual and gender-based violence responses and the promotion of gender equality are fully integrated in all peace and security efforts, including security and justice sector reform and military and police training; and

  • Improve international strategic co-operation.

  • We welcome the brave clarion call by Zainab Hawa Bangura that the rapists would have to place to hide. We would urge that she starts with those allegations of rape at the SLPP office when she was Foreign Minister. We urge that she investigates and brings to justice those who abducted students on August 18, 1997 and who were taken to the OAU villas occupied by the likes of Lederboot who now enjoys the protection of the smoke and mirrors rat of a President. We would urge that she ensures that Lederboot and others who extra-judicially murdered some of the people who were abducted be investigated and brought to justice.

    Survivors would be willing to have their voices heard. This is the use of rape as a weapon of intimidation, threat and war on the women of Sierra Leone.


    Tuesday June 10, 2014 - Today sees the beginning of a four-day summit in London that will address sexual violence in conflict areas. We would also urge that the summit looks at the threat of the use of sexual violence in post-conflict and other situations as a means of preventing women from gaining their rightful place in politics.

    The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague as host of this crucial meeting in combating the evils of sexual violence will be joined by over 900 experts, NGOs, survivors, Faith leaders, and International organisations from across the world that share a commitment to end sexual violence in conflict. On the official website of Mr Hague, we are given this glimpse into what the four-day summit is expected to achieve.

    In the run-up to the 2007 and 2012 elections women were openly threatened and warned to keep off in areas and constituencies in which they wanted to contest elections in both local and Parliamentary seats. Complaints by these women to the government were routinely ignored with the police seen as a part of the process of intimidation and harassment.

    Among those who will be playing a key role at this summit is our very own Zainab Hawa Bangura, the United Nation's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. She is in a unique position to understand what this is all about and what can be done to minimise violence against women - be they of a sexual nature or otherwise. She has seen the ravages of sexual violence on the women of Sierra Leone during our troubles. She has heard reports of the use of sexual violence for political gains as she was Sierra Leone's Foreign Minister at the time of the attack on the SLPP headquarters. Zainab Hawa Bangura should know that elements of those who were engaged in such acts against the unprotected and vulnerable are still in government including the security forces in the shape of the police. She knows that within the close protection gang at State House is one Lederboot, who took part in the attack of March 16th, a day after the rat of a President is reported to have arrived from a trip in India. Zainab Hawa Bangura has more than enough resources to educate the world on the dangers of not only addressing sexual violence in conflict, but also in post-conflict situations as is to be found in her own country, Sierra Leone.

    We wish the summit a very successful outcome.


    Monday June 2, 2014 - Lest we forget - 17 years ago today the beasts in the form of human beings slaughtered civilians in an orgy of murderous madness as they staged their version of a Trojan horse to sway the international community against the Nigerian contingent of ECOMOG forces in Sierra Leone.Nigeria's Foreign Minister Tom Ikimi - the junta made plans to kidnap him in Freetown as hostage to force Nigerian ECOMOG troops to leave Sierra Leone.ECOMOG troops at Lungi in 1997. The murderous AFRC/RUF junta wanted them out so they can create killing fields in Sierra Leone.

    Residents of Sierra Leone's capital who survived the carnage of June 2, 1997 can still recall the horrors unleashed on the civilian population as beasts of the AFRC/RUF on vantage points in the city launched volley after volley of high explosive shells on residents with a view to blaming the carnage on the Nigerian contingent of ECOMOG forces. It was a well-hatched plan in which civilians who had never known or perhaps heard of the use of human shields were made to protest against a threatened military intervention by Nigerian forces. With these forces standing between them and a population that had refused to recognise them, the junta embarked on a murderous plan which they hoped would sway the international community against the presence of Nigerian ECOMOG forces and hence pressure them to leave Sierra Leone. It was later to emerge that all the civilians killed on June 2, 1997 were deliberately killed by the junta.

    There are a number of officers serving with the junta at the time and who were part of the murderous plan still wearing the colours of the national army. One S O Williams was one of the key junta operatives who in one instance threatened to raze Freetown to the ground should ECOMOG forces head to town from their bases at Jui, some thirteen miles from the city centre.

    Here's what we wrote on the incident in 2013 as we remember all those who died as well as those who survived but were deliberately targeted for harm at the hands of the beasts.

    Saturday May 31, 2014 - Malawi has a new President.  After days of uncertainty,  violence and rage over the fairness of the vote. Peter Mutharika is sworn in as Malawi's 5th President.

    After days of uncertainty, fear and unrest calm appears to be making a comeback in the wake of elections, disputed by many, and seen by many as an attempt by incumbent President Joyce Banda to either have a vote recount or an annulment of the polls. She claimed that there had been massive rigging with the computer systems used by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) hacked into and figures tampered with. As the days wore on with anxiety caused by the delay getting on the nerves of voters, the High Court rejected a request for a recount and cleared the way for today's swearing-in ceremony of the candidate who had been leading at the polls Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party.

    International broadcaster, the Voice of America, VOA, noted - "The May 20 vote was plagued by problems, including polling stations opening late and inaccuracies on ballots. The irregularities prompted the election commission to extend voting into a second day, and then into a third day in some areas. Banda said the election was rife with fraud, including ballot rigging and people voting more than once. She had ordered a new election within 90 days and said she would not be a candidate. But the High Court overruled her when the main opposition party complained. On Thursday, Banda told Reuters she was ready to step down if the court ratified the election and her chief opponent, Mutharika, turned out to be the winner. However, she said she still believed the election was fraudulent.

    It is worth noting that despite all her initial protestations, Mrs Banda was forced in the end to lay down her sword and shield in the face of overwhelming opposition to what many saw as the taking of Malawi down the path of autocratic and a clearly undemocratic route. The chaos that was generated after the Malawi vote is nothing new in politics on the continent and from day one in office, Mrs Joyce Banda should have known that she was not welcomed as Malawi's new and first female President after the passing away of Bingu wa Mutharika.

    We wish the people of Malawi well.


    Sunday May 25, 2014 - Seventeen years ago this day (and on a Sunday too) evil was unleashed upon the people as beasts of no nation overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. In Sierra Leone's most savage coup bands of drug-infused and alcohol fortified beasts in human form and wearing the colours of the national army attacked, without mercy those they had sworn to protect.The front page of the BBC Focus on Africa magazine. This issue carried the report on the May 25, 1997 coup.

    Today Sunday May 25, 2014 marks the day seventeen years ago when Sierra Leoneans in their own God-given country were made to suffer at the hands of a band of APC-inspired men wearing the colours of the national army overthrew the barely one-year-old democratically-elected government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Residents of the capital Freetown and indeed all over the country, trying to come to terms with the enormous tasks ahead in re-building lives were shocked to hear the incessant sounds of gunfire as well as explosions as that Saturday/Sunday night metamorphosed from a quiet and orderly situation to one of utter chaos and confusion.

    As the day wore on, with the national broadcaster playing military band music, listeners heard a rather muddled and incoherent voice telling all those who care to listen that the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah had been overthrown and that the military was now in power. It is a fact, given the situation on the ground that the May 25, 1997 coup was extremely unpopular among the majority of Sierra Leoneans and the feeling was made known to them. Within the ranks of the military, the same could be discerned as experienced officers refused to become a part in the initial stages. Alarmed and probably getting quite jittery, the new man in control who had been freed from prison, one Johnny Paul Koroma made clear what had been suspected all along - that some sections of the military had been in cahoots with the rebels of the Revolutionary Front, the RUF in making the lives of the civilian population a hell on earth. Indeed the TRC report on the May 25, 1997 coup stated -

    The mastermind of the 25 May 1997 coup was Sgt Alfred Abu Sankoh (alias “Zagallo”). The coup was not detected by the officers or the military intelligence because it was planned on the 24th and executed the next day. Zagallo was a bodyguard to a former Secretary of State during the NPRC regime, and had enjoyed a lot of benefits from that association. He was also a footballer and had been associated with a number of Freetown clubs and was finally requested to set up a football club for the army. The membership of the club was to provide the nucleus of the coup plotters. Zagallo gave vent to the frustrations in the army that led to the coup.

    But then read further and you are bound to agree with us that the invitation to the RUF was to swell the ranks of the coup makers as well as to make the country ungovernable as the TRC heard from one of those who came to join the army in Freetown.

    “Some of us were in the bush at that time, we only heard an instruction that we are to go and join the AFRC junta; that it is because of peace that we should join them and then the UN will come in between for peace.  So that gave the passion to some of us – when the command was given, there was no time to waste.  In the space of three days, some good number of the RUF left their hiding places and came to bigger towns.  Some were sent to Bo, some were sent to Kenema, some in fact went as far as Freetown...But when we came to Freetown, after a couple of times, we saw different issues; things were looking somehow unsuitable with regards to what they had told us in the bush.  So, some of us who had far-sighted thinking started to leave from Freetown.  We said: ‘hey, this is not the peace, this is just a sort of suspended government’.”

    The rest as they say is history but true to pattern when they are given a real pasting by ECOMOG, it was the civilians in occupied areas like Freetown that paid the price with increased incidents of violence and murder perpetrated against them.

    Two years ago, in 2012 we brought you this reminder and the order of things under the rat. Ah lest we forget, don't be surprised should you notice that the supporters of the beasts during our troubled times would again get bitten by the amnesia bug.


    Yearning for the mother country?

    The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

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