''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 7

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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Tuesday January 6, 2014 - Lest we forget - it was on this day sixteen years ago in 1999 that the murderous band of rapists, arsonists, abductors and beasts in human form collectively known as the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil otherwise known as the beasts invaded the country's capital Freetown unleashing mindless violence on civilians whose only crime was that they had cried for freedom and justice. Surviving victims of the mindless violence - apologists say it was all the fault of the late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. May they all reap their just rewards for this great injustice. Amen.Over five thousand were murdered.

Now sixteen years later we have to keep reminding the world of what these sub-humans did to Sierra Leoneans. We published this reminder in 2012 - again so that those who were not yet born or indeed could not understand why they were the target of these sub-humans could get to know more and appreciate the sacrifices made by others that Sierra Leone may be free of the scourge, of the pestilence that was the Johnny Paul Koroma/Foday Sankoh war machine of unbridled cruelty and mass murder that could have shamed the hordes of Genghis Khan of yore.

It is also a reminder of the extent and depth of depravity that the evil machinations of the evil sub-humans were prepared to go as they unleashed the awful horror on a defenceless population.

Today is also a reminder that despite this horrible experiences, there are still within the borders of Sierra Leone and without - elements who unrepentant as their masters, continue to put a gloss, a shameless and evil one at that on the more than five thousand Sierra Leoneans who were put to the sword in the most horrendous manner, justifying that Sierra Leone deserved the visit of satan in the form of the marauders.

We continue to see the beneficiaries of this mayhem in their justification for the mindless mayhem insisting that it was all the fault of the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah - that he should have had a dialogue with the beast Foday Sankoh and that if he had done that Sierra Leone would have been spared.

This is like saying that because Winston Churchill of England refused to sit at a table with another beast named Adolf Hitler, the persecution of the Jews, the enslavement of many of the peoples of Europe in countries that were overrun by the Nazi war machine, the horrors of the concentration camps should be put squarely at the foot of Winston Churchill.

May the Good Lord punish all those who continue to justify the carnage unleashed upon the innocent and unarmed civilians of Sierra Leone.

Kindly allow us to remind you of the opening lines of the summary of the Human Rights Watch report on the January 6, 1999 atrocities - "Sierra Leone - Getting Away with Murder, Mutilation, Rape"

"As the rebels took control of street after street, they turned their weapons on the civilian population. By the end of January, both government and independent sources estimated that several thousands of civilians had been killed.

The rebels dragged entire family units out of their homes and murdered them, hacked off the hands of children and adults, burned people alive in their houses, and rounded up hundreds of young women, took them to urban rebel bases, and sexually abused them.

As the ECOMOG forces counterattacked and the RUF retreated through the capital, the rebels set fire to neighborhoods, leaving entire city blocks in ashes and over 51,000 people homeless.1

And, while the RUF took with them almost no prisoners of war, they withdrew to the hills with thousands of abductees, mostly children and young women. In December l998, following the capture of the diamond rich Kono district and subsequently Makeni, Sierra Leone's fifth largest city, thousands of RUF fighters started moving towards the capital.

By early January l999, they had reached the peninsula on which Freetown is located and gathered less than twenty miles west of the capital city. On January 6, the rebels broke through the highly stretched and poorly manned ECOMOG defenses, ill-prepared for a rebel offensive in force, and proceeded to march through the eastern suburbs and straight into the city center...

it took ECOMOG forces over three weeks to flush them from the three densely populated eastern suburbs of Kissy, Wellington, and Calaba Town. It was in these three suburbs, particularly towards the end of the occupation, that the vast majority of atrocities occurred.

The rebels made little distinction between civilian and military targets. They repeatedly stated that they believed civilians should be punished for what they perceived to be their support for the existing government.

While there was some targeting of particular groups, the vast majority of atrocities were committed by rebels who chose their victims apparently at random. The arbitrary nature of these attacks served to create an atmosphere of complete terror."

At the trial of Charles Taylor, one RUF commander who was among those who entered Freetown one Alimamy Bobson Sesay painted a graphic picture of what they did to civilians after they were forced from State House -

"Sesay testified that in the third week of January 1999, rebel positions came under more intense pressure from ECOMOG forces, and the rebel troops withdrew from State House (the president’s residence in the capital) to eastern Freetown. At the time, the government was asking for a cease-fire, but Sesay said they were able to capture two government ministers, who were executed by order of AFRC commander Alex Tamba Brima (“Gullit”).

Their bodies were displayed at a road junction. (We can confirm that these two were one Sesay, a government minister and the minister for the north Rev Y M Kroma of the Wesleyan Methodist Church). The withdrawing forces was reinforced by “Rambo Red Goat” and about 50 RUF and AFRC fighters, and was able to briefly recapture State House.

The witness testified that at State House, he heard Sam Bockarie on a BBC broadcast saying that he was not ready for a cease-fire, and instead was ordering Gullit to burn strategic areas of the capital and capture civilians. The body of former top RUF and AFRC operative Sam Boackarie - Photo: Allaboutliberia.com website

Sesay said that Bockarie then called Gullit on the radio in the presence of all the commanders, including himself, and ordered Gullit to commence the burning of buildings and the capture of civilians “so that there was nobody for the government to rule”.

Sesay testified that Gullit ordered petrol distributed to commanders, and the mixed rebel forces began to burn many buildings as they again withdrew from State House to the east.

He said Gullit ordered a group of fighters to attack the Fourah Bay section of Freetown because an AFRC soldier had been killed there. The witness took part in the operation, which involved top commanders and members of the RUF, AFRC, and the Red Lion Brigade (a group that included Liberian former fighters of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia – NPFL).

This group forced civilians from their homes and killed them, then burned their houses. Some civilians were locked in their houses while they were burned. Sesay said that he and the force could hear screaming from the houses, and that they made sure no one escaped. He could not say how many civilians were killed in Fourah Bay.

After this operation, Sesay said the rebels faced continued attacks from ECOMOG and withdrew further. He said that at Upgun, Santigie Borbor Kanu (“Five-Five”) said the troops should start amputating the arms and hands of civilians. He demonstrated by amputating three captured civilians with a machete: one “short sleeve” (amputation at the wrist) and two “long sleeve” (amputation at the elbow). Other commanders followed suit, telling their victims to go to President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah for new hands.

We pray that the Good Lord in His mercy will grant all those who perished the peace only He can give. That survivors of the mindless violence would be comforted by His Grace. AMEN

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©Sierra Herald 2002