''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 9

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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Saturday September 12, 2015 - Saudi authorities investigate a crane accident in the holy city of Mecca that has claimed more than a hundred lives as workers do expansion work on the Grand Mosque. Initial reports say high winds could be a factor.

Just ten day before the annual Hajj pilgrimage, tragedy has struck at the site of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca. Initial reports say eighty were killed but as the minutes ticked away and the horror of the tragedy unfolded, more figures have been emerging with the latest figure putting the deaths at more than one hundred and many injured. The BBC reports -

Saudi Arabia has begun an investigation into why a crane collapsed in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, killing at least 107 people. The huge red crane crashed into a part of the Grand Mosque as it was filled with worshippers. Officials say strong winds and heavy rains caused the crane to fall. Correspondents say there have previously been concerns about safety records on Saudi construction sites.

The Grand Mosque, known as the Masjid al-Haram, is the largest mosque in the world and surrounds Islam's holiest place, the Kaaba. At least 230 people were injured in the incident. It is unclear how many people were hurt by the collapse or the stampede that followed it. The mosque was packed with worshippers and more than 200 people were injured. The crane was one of a number around the Grand Mosque being used in construction work. The incident happened at 17:23 local time (14:23 GMT) on Friday. The UK-based Independent newspaper noted - "Photographs of the disaster show a grisly scene, with police and onlookers attending to numerous bodies strewn around the polished mosque floor in pools of blood. Scores of worshippers were in the mosque when the crane collapsed (EPA) Other footage showed bodies and blood amid the rubble, while dazed and bloodied survivors staggering past debris in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. Saudi Arabia's civil defense authority provided a series of rising casualty numbers on its official Twitter account as ambulances whisked the wounded to area hospitals.

The governor of the Mecca region, Prince Khalid al-Faisal, quickly called for the formation of a committee to investigate the cause of the accident. He directed all appropriate authorities to provide support for the injured. The Grand Mosque - the Masjid al-Haram - contains the Kaaba, the black cube-shaped building which Muslims face when they pray wherever they are in the world and is Islam's most sacred shrine.

Muslims are expected to perform pilgrimages to the Kaaba at least once during their lifetimes and once there they walk around it seven times anti-clockwise in a rite known as Tawaf. We join the many expressing sympathy to all those affected by this tragedy - relations of the dead, the injured as well as all those who could be suffering post traumatic stress even as you read this piece. We wish them well and prayers that Allah will have mercy on the dead. Ameen.


Thursday September 3, 2015 - Eighteen years ago today on a Wednesday night in 1997, murder and mayhem was visited upon the innocent and unprotected civilians of Mabaylla in the east of Freetown. The junta blamed ECOMOG forces at Lungi airport but all in Freetown knew it was a massacre planned and executed by the junta of RUF and rogue soldiers of the AFRC. The Trojan horse rides again - after the murder at Mabaylla, coffins containing the bodies of the dead were taken to the national stadium. Photo: Sierra Leone Peace Museum.

Eighteen years ago, residents of Freetown witnessed for the second time the level of violence the RUF/AFRC junta was capable of executing against unarmed and unprotected civilians. The residents of Mabaylla never knew that their area of town was to be the grim Trojan horse of deceit of the junta in its desperate bid to have international opinion turned against the presence of the Nigerian ECOMOG contingent in Sierra Leone. Had they succeeded in removing Nigerian forces, the civilians who had roundly condemned not only the May 25 coup but the killings that were going on by junta forces would have been left at the mercy of their tormentors. This brief diary of events gives and idea of what lay behind it all. Kindly recall that the junta was emboldened to carry out the early September killings after almost succeeding in getting the world to believe that on June 2, 1997 Nigerian ECOMOG forces had carried out an aerial bombardment of Freetown. A claim that was later taken apart by residents who say that on that day there were no military aircraft over Freetown and that all the killings were carried out by junta forces.

Wednesday September 3, 1997. Extraordinarily long meeting of the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil held at State House in central Freetown. It was a meeting attended by the top guns of the RUF and the AFRC with traffic around State House diverted so that both civilian human and vehicular traffic used the Fort Street route as the road leading to State House along State Avenue was declared a no-go area. Whatever was decided at that meeting appeared to have been a well-kept secret with no hint of what had been decided being leaked. Late that night, in the early hours of the next day, Thursday September 4, 1997 residents in the east of Freetown woke up to the grim reality that something was going on as continued and heavy gun fire reigned with the clear sounds of the bursts of explosives that were normally linked to the explosions of rocket-propelled grenade bombs.

Thursday September 4, 1997. Tragedy unfolds. Scores are reported killed by bombs/missiles. Junta claims massacre carried out by ECOMOG forces based across the estuary in Lungi. Anti-Nigerian/ECOMOG/pro-democrat hysteria and hate whipped up on junta-controlled radio and television, the then SLBS. One medical staff interviewed by junta-controlled TV publicly discloses that some of the victims bore wounds consistent with those inflicted by bullets. Repeated broadcasts on TV showing wounded and dead victims of the overnight firing. That portion in which the medical doctor spoke about wounds consisted with those afflicted by guns was taken out. One of the junta spokesmen, the main one - one Alieu Kamara tells Sierra Leoneans and the world's media representatives in Freetown and overseas that at least fifty people had died after the junta fired shells from Lungi into the Mabaylla area east of the capital Freetown. Hate messages continue to be broadcast against the Nigerian ECOMOG forces urging the international community to force them out of Sierra Leone.

Time for justice for the people of Mabaylla.

Tuesday August 18, 2015 - Lest we forget. Eighteen years ago today, the most vicious and brutal gang to seize State House goes on a murderous spree to silence students and young people who did not want them in power. Rape, murder, sexual slavery and abductions.Veteran journalist Winston Ojukutu-Macauley still carries the scar of August 18, 1997.

It was on this day eighteen years ago that the beasts in human form calling themselves the Peoples Army unleashed a wave of unprecedented terror on the civilian population - targeting students and young people who had decided that come what may - they would carry out a demonstration against the junta of rogue soldiers and their RUF killer counterpart led by Johnny Paul Koroma.

That day would never be forgotten by those who witnessed and were victims. Armed thugs carrying all kinds of weapons - from cutlasses looted from the stores of the Agriculture ministry to war weapons like AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and bombs traversed the city streets and alleyways looking for people "who look like students" and vowing to kill them for their dare. This excerpt from the pages of the Charles Taylor trial gives a tip of the iceberg of the mayhem and murder visited upon the people of Sierra Leone. Their crime? They could not put up with the lawless killers who had taken over State House and installed a murderous regime known as the AFRC.

This is what we had on Human Rights Practices in Sierra Leone - "On August 18, at least 11 people were killed when AFRC forces attacked students attempting a "march for democracy" in protest against the AFRC. One student from Njala University was chopped into pieces by the military forces. Many students remain missing and the number killed may be higher. Many students also were arrested arbitrarily and tortured.

The use of rape as an instrument of terror is well recorded during junta rule and indeed as we had stated before the testimonies of the junta operatives as well as witnesses should be enough to form the basis for the prosecution of those who carried out these gross human rights violations against the people of Sierra Leone. Kindly note what we wrote then on the tenth anniversary of this terrible and deliberate act by the junta operatives.

So we shall never forget what happened on August 18, 1997.

We call on the international community to try all those who carried out these murderous acts against unarmed and unprotected civilians in their own country by a band of killers tagging themselves as the government.

Just saw this interesting article by Karim Bah - a true Sierra Leonean and a man who lived through it all.

Thursday August 6, 2015 - US President says Africa needs strong institutions not strongmen - and six years later even though Sierra Leone has strong institutions in place, a rogue rat passing off as President makes a mockery of the institutions of governance. Parliament, Judiciary (including the Supreme Court), Anti Corruption Commission and others compromised.

In July 2009, US President Barack Obama made his first historic visit to Africa as he touched down in the Ghanaian capital Accra where he was warmly received by many on the continent who saw this visit as a sign that the continent would now enjoy the spotlight of the powers that be in the United States of America.US President Barack Obama pays respect to the memory of those murdered in Nairobi embassy attacks.President Barack Obama addresses the African Union - the first sitting US President to do this.

Allow us to remind you of a part of what President Obama told the people of Ghana and Africa with the rest of the world listening with rapt attention. Governments that respect the will of their own people, that govern by consent and not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable, and more successful than governments that do not. This is about more than just holding elections. It's also about what happens between elections.

Repression can take many forms, and too many nations, even those that have elections, are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves or if police can be bought off by drug traffickers.

In the 21st century, capable, reliable, and transparent institutions are the key to success -- strong parliaments; honest police forces; independent judges; an independent press; a vibrant private sector; a civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in people's everyday lives.With better governance, I have no doubt that Africa holds the promise of a broader base of prosperity. Witness the extraordinary success of Africans in my country, America. They're doing very well. So they've got the talent, they've got the entrepreneurial spirit. The question is, how do we make sure that they're succeeding here in their home countries? The continent is rich in natural resources. And from cell phone entrepreneurs to small farmers, Africans have shown the capacity and commitment to create their own opportunities. But old habits must also be broken. Dependence on commodities -- or a single export -- has a tendency to concentrate wealth in the hands of the few, and leaves people too vulnerable to downturns.


Friday July 31, 2015 - Hope on the horizon at last as trials in Guinea show that a very effective vaccine against the treacherous killer disease is on the horizon. The World Health Organisation salutes the people of Guinea and all those involved in the trials that now give us all hope, the good folks we mean not those who use the outbreak as a money-making and political tool.

The initial news has been heart-warming - that scientists could well be on the cusp of getting humanity a vaccine that would protect against the ravages of a treacherous and silent killer that has fed on individuals, communities and countries. At last there's hope on the horizon that the deadly Ebola Virus Disease is about to be conquered - that it would no more present a threat to humanity.

The World Health Organisation is equally hopeful and full of high spirits given that its reputation got a dent when it was accused of and later admitted that it was caught off-guard and too slow to react to the initial reports that the deadly disease was on the march in West Africa. On its news page we found this headline of hope - "World on the verge of an effective Ebola vaccine" and goes on to state - "Results from an interim analysis of the Guinea Phase III efficacy vaccine trial show that VSV-EBOV (Merck, Sharp & Dohme) is highly effective against Ebola. The independent body of international experts - the Data and Safety Monitoring Board – that conducted the review, advised that the trial should continue. Preliminary results from analyses of these interim data are published today in the British journal The Lancet. "This is an extremely promising development," said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. "The credit goes to the Guinean Government, the people living in the communities and our partners in this project. An effective vaccine will be another very important tool for both current and future Ebola outbreaks."

There's joy and jubilation in many a quarter of communities affected in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where the virus killed thousands as well as countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Nigeria whose nationals got infected as the battle raged against the killer disease. In Sierra Leone where sections of the press alerted the government that the deadly disease could well have entered Sierra Leone through our porous borders with Guinea, these concerned news outlets and journalists were labelled as unpatriotic, anti-government and working with the enemies of the rat and his cabal. In the meantime, funds earmarked for combating the disease were shared with reckless abandon between the rat and his cronies with dubious contracts thrown into the quagmire of ruthless corruption as highlighted by the report of the Auditor General in that report titled -
"Report on the Audit of the Management of the Ebola Funds" on an almost daily basis. We grieve that one year after Dr Khan’s death, the remaining other health care workers continue to be stretched to their professional limits.


Wednesday June 10, 2015 - The people of Ghana end 3 days of national mourning after floods and fires left more than 150 people dead. Our prayers are with you Ghana that the Good Lord will comfort you in your hour of grief and pain.The face of grief in Accra. Photo: BBC video report.One of the injured

It first started with an unusual downpour as reported by the BBC's Sammy Darko in Accra with rising and raging waters getting higher by the minute and angry floods sweeping away all that got in their way. One eyewitness compared it to the Biblical floods that are often associated with Noah in the Good Book, the Holy Bible. And then came reports of an explosion at a fuel station and with the ensuing raging fire, it seems all hell was let loose upon an unsuspecting population that had gone to seek shelter from the raging waters - giving the sad episode and even Biblical tinge of fire and floods hitting those the Good Lord was keen on punishing.

However floods in Accra, according to one news outlet is nothing new. Year after year residents have been complaining about the need for government to do something about the drainage and sewerage systems of the country's capital. True to form as with a number of African governments, those in power will promise, promise and promise to do something about it but in the end will do sweet nothing. The recent tragedy is a manifestation of what happens when governments pay lip service to the needs of people and continue to fool them using each and every trick in the deck of cards to deceive, hood wink and lead the poor by the nose.

While Ghanaians hope that lessons could be learnt from the tragedy, though the true figures for the dead, wounded and traumatised are yet to be verified, we do hope that what passes for a government of the people in Sierra Leone will take due note. We have been receiving reports of the large scale deforestation that continues to be encouraged around the hills and catchment areas of the capital Freetown.


Monday March 23, 2015 - The lessons of our troubles deliberately ignored as the APC again embarks on a course that led to the first armed rebellion to free the people from the shackles of APC repression and slavery. The inner unrepentant and undemocratic core of the party still at work plotting another "APC rule forever" fiefdom.These are the victims of state-sponsored brutality as APC thugs attacked the offices of the main opposition SLPP in 2009.

Twenty four years ago on March 23rd 1991 the first modern armed incursion into Sierra Leone territory began with the first shots heard in Bomaru, eastern Sierra Leone. It was the start of the first armed rebellion against a despotic, repressive and human rights-abusing system that killed off any and all forms of opposition and dissent. It was the first armed opposition from outside against a system that had subverted the will of the people and created hell on earth for all who were believed to be in opposition to the stranglehold of the peoples' desire for freedom and expression. Thus was the RUF rebel war initiated that was finally brought to an end in 2002 with then President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah officially declaring that the war was over.

Thirteen years after the war was declared over, a handful of unrepentant, wicked and power-hungry beasts, the anti-people scum of the APC party are at it again as they try to subvert the democratic principles enshrined in the 1991 Constitution to suit their notion of democracy as found in the pages of the 1978 APC One Party constitution of Sierra Leone - a document that provided an arena for the breakdown of decency in life and living desired by the people. It was not uncommon those days to hear of "alleged coup plots" uncovered by so-called security forces that had become Sierra Leone's version of Haiti's Tonton Macoutes of the Duvalier era. It was the APC that created a system where the concept of "careless talk" was pursued with unalloyed vigour that gave security forces unbridled power to suppress and repress free speech. Bars, social activities and public gatherings were areas infiltrated by his informants who had to earn their keep by informing on people with quite a large volume of reports manufactured against people considered pro-democrats and who yearned for free speech and expression. The Ministry of Information was forced to create a special vote from the Consolidated Fund to cater for a group of APC informants and they were collectively known as Information Agents with names supplied by the APC Secretariat as a way of keeping the machinery oiled.

It is on record that it was the APC that undertook the first post-colonial execution in 1971 when Brigadier John Bangura was hanged. Others who faced the gallows included Major F M Jawara and one RSM Kolugbonda. This was the beginning of violence against all those believed to have been critical of the APC. One commentator says that this judicial murder of Brigadier John Bangura opened the floodgates for more executions during the Stevens era. On July 19th 1975, a one-time fiery activist of the party one Mohamed Sorie Forna was among another group of Sierra Leoneans who faced the gallows at Pademba Road in Freetown. Did we read somewhere the APC stating that it was not a party of violence? Ask the opposition SLPP party on the 2009 attack on their party headquarters and for those who were around - ask the people of Ginger Hall in Freetown. Please read this article very carefully and we hope you will have am idea of the justice system that the APC loves to wallow in. We say no more.


Tuesday June 2, 2015 - 18 years ago, on the 2nd of June 1997 the Johnny Paul military junta killed and wounded scores of civilians in what was a deliberate orgy of targeted murders. The attacks were blamed on Nigeria and the world swallowed it until...Operatives of the brutal overlords of the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil

Eighteen years ago on this day, the military junta that had overthrown the democratically-elected government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah staged what could have been a successful media coup, a Trojan horse that almost fooled the world. Eighteen years ago today, scores of civilians were brutally killed with an unknown number suffering from wounds inflicted by military type weapons including automatic rifle fire and explosions from mortars and grenades.

By the time it ended, the world was almost fooled into believing that Freetown had been subjected to a naval bombardment by Nigerian ships steaming towards the Sierra Leone coast with some already in Sierra Leone waters. Those discerning voices and eyewitnesses on the ground dared not talk openly about what they saw for fear that they will be executed by a desperate junta that wanted Nigerian ECOMOG forces out so that civilians would be punished for their failure to recognise or support the murderous machine that was a combination of renegade soldiers and their RUF allies. Kindly read this account to get a taste of what happened all those many years years ago.

It was a massive and enforced deception that almost got international credibility but for some brave eye witnesses on the ground who later whispered what they actually witnessed - junta operatives firing rocket-propelled grenade launchers on the dancing crowds with the helicopter gunship thrown in for more devastating effect - death and destruction.

We are convinced that it was because of this rather successful Trojan horse tactics of the junta on this day that emboldened them to kill and maim the people of Mabaylla in early September 1997.


Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

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