AND NINE YEARS ON, WE DO REMEMBER THE VICTIMS OF THE JANUARY 6, 1999 MURDEROUS ATTACK ON FREETOWN
Nine years ago today, on January 6, 1999 the people of Freetown's capital experienced the most brutal of terrors described by one survivor as "Satan has come in human form to Freetown".
So intense was the level of anarchy, so murderous the onslaught as the AFRC/RUF coalition of the evil beasts launched a full assault to regain the capital and hence regain control of the power they had been driven from in February of 1998, that all those who were perceived enemies, the civilian population in the main, were ruthlessly hunted, mutilated, robbed, raped and killed at random with no mercy shown to babies, women, the elderly, the infirm and the vulnerable.
ECOMOG, the Nigeria-led peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone, taken by surprise and unprepared for the level of violence churned out from the gory maws of the beasts could only look on initially as Satan consumed the defenceless civilian population. And with many helpless and hapless civilians being used as human shields to sing their deceptive and sickening refrain "We want peace", the beasts went to work on a people they were determined to punish for supporting the forces that kicked them out of the illegal seats they were occupying with Johnny Paul Koroma as their titular head.
In the midst of the mindless mayhem, there were those the January invaders identified as their supporters when they were in power before they got kicked out in 1998.
They were therefore given a freeway to escape from their clutches, provided with the security reserved for these sets of people who were against "intervention" a term glibly used to allow the junta more time in office.
One of the beneficiaries, now a top gun in the "new APC" boasted a while back in London that they were spared because of their due recognition of the junta.
It was in the midst of this carnage that supporters of the brutal invaders got busy telephoning/contacting each other across continents and communities, patting each others backs and praising the "gallant men and women" who were now back in control in Freetown. Or so they thought.
Journalists thought to be anti-junta and who had been critical of the massive human rights abuses perpetrated by the junta before it got kicked out in 1998 were especially targeted as this section of the Human Rights report highlights.
This was a continuation of the junta's attitude to journalists believed to be sympathetic to the Tejan Kabbah regime, were critical of the junta because of its massive human rights abuses or merely the settling of scores by junta-funded journalists who wanted to get their own back on journalists who were critical of their cosy relationship with the human rights abusers.
And as Sierra Leoneans remember the many who were raped, maimed and dispossessed and more especially those who perished, we pray that never again will this awful horror visit the land that we love our Sierra Leone. That we shall never again read of accounts like these narrated by one son of the soil, James Kajue
LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE OF SIERRA LEONE
MAY THE GOOD LORD COMFORT STILL-GRIEVING FAMILIES
AND ALLOW THE DEAD TO REST IN PEACE, PERFECT PEACE