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A Prologue to Part 2 of Charles Taylor: Sierra Leone’s Scapegoat
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
May 21, 2012, 12:50

Tribalism Facilitated  AFRC’s  Jan 1999 Attack on Freetown!
I will release Part 2 of CHARLES TAYLOR: SIERRA LEONE’S SCAPEGOAT when the time is ripe and at my pleasure. Sama Banya is yet to dispute anything I have stated in Part 1 so he should not try to hasten publication.


All Dr. Sama Banya has done is endorse that many South-Easterners such as Maada Bio’s elder sister Agnes Bio, willingly joined RUF following which Agnes & Co., used Charles Taylor as one of their tools to serve a sinister purpose of imposing their preferred Head of State in Sierra Leone.

 

In a subsequent edition, we will look at the Special Court judgment; the revelation on  printing of RUF’s Propaganda Manual.

 

Meanwhile, I note a few huffs and puffs from one or two shameless folks from the South East wishing to distort History but since they are not disputing anything I have said, I will not pay them heed. Some have problems with understanding what the word ‘mostly’ means. Such ignorance is their problem.


Sierra Leone’s Scapegoat Charles Taylor at The Hague

 

Now, in series of prologues, I first intend to sensitise the world about some facts hidden away; facts like Banya’s contribution to the state of intense anti-APC sentiments in the South-East prior to the RUF Invasion have now been made known.


Such sensitisation will make absorbing the proposed series, easier to swallow by those currently in a state of denial. For today’s sensitisation, I am culling from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report prepared for Sierra Leoneans to understand what went wrong and how we should NEVER allow it to repeat again.

 

It’s tortuous to link Taylor to OUR tribal and regional influences - as reported - which were clearly responsible for prolongation of the war, the invasion of our capital city in January 1999 and our unbelievable brutality to each other (we killed, cooked and actually ate ourselves for God sake!).

 

The TRC did a remarkable job to bring out lessons for us. Charles Taylor is a victim of poetic justice - paying for his sins against Liberians in form of taking punishment for what  this country’s citizens did to each other.

 

Those shouting from rooftops that Charles Taylor is responsible for all the sufferings Sierra Leoneans went through because he wanted ‘blood diamonds’, please understand you are causing very serious harm to our collective efforts to ensure we NEVER again do what we did to ourselves.

 

The truth is bitter but we must face it. Charles Taylor is just a Bogeyman which has been created for us to avoid looking in the mirror.


SIERRA LEONE’S TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION REPORT

VOLUME 2, CHAPTER 2

PAGES 47 - 48 (Paragraphs 334 - 339)

THE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCES (CDF)

Primary Findings

334. The Commission finds that the initiation rituals of the CDF were perverted and subverted by unscrupulous initiators. This resulted in acts of human sacrifice and cannibalism which constitute grave violations of human rights.

335. The CDF was successful in keeping out the RUF from large parts of the Southern and Eastern Regions. In the course of doing that, it committed gross violations and abuses on the peoples of both regions.

 

THE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCES (CDF)

Main Findings

Enmity between the Arms of the State Security Apparatus under the SLPP

336. The CDF of the Southern and Eastern Provinces pitted themselves against the SLA under the newly-instated SLPP Government. Particularly in Kenema District, Kamajors engaged in systematic and targeted attacks on soldiers in an attempt to take over the Army’s role as the protector of civilian lives and property. Kamajors carried out multiple acts of torture and killings against soldiers. In many cases, corpses of soldiers were dismembered and parts of them eaten. Kamajors also committed similar violations and abuses against civilians whom they perceived to be affiliated to the Army.

337. High-ranking members of the Government failed to quell clashes between the SLA and the CDF, both of which were arms of the state security apparatus, and were responsible for inciting enmity between the two factions.

338. The Government followed an inadvisable policy of incarcerating several hundred soldiers without trial for their perceived involvement in the clashes with the Kamajors. The Kamajors, meanwhile, were not held to account. This inconsistency of treatment between the two parties was an example of the defective management of the state security apparatus.

339. The clashes between soldiers and Kamajors in the Kenema District represented the first significant and overt manifestations of an ethnic dimension to the Sierra Leone conflict. The Kamajors, who were exclusively Mende indigenes of the District, singled out soldiers and civilians of Northern descent for particularly malicious treatment. High profile members of non-Mende tribes, including Chiefs, were killed in this period of violence.


VOL 2, CHAPT. 2 OF TRC REPORT

PAGES 47 - 48 (Paragraphs 344 - 346)

The Initiators of the Kamajor Society

344. The Commission finds that the Initiators of the CDF and their apprentices brought the whole concept of civil defence into disrepute. They deliberately targeted the social and cultural fabric of the nation. They subverted the sacred and long-standing traditions of initiation and rites of passage that exist peacefully in Sierra Leone. They engaged in destruction and exploitation under the false pretences of a “secret” society.

345. The Initiators of the CDF forced men who joined the Kamajors to eat human body parts during the initiation ceremony. Organs, tissue, blood and flesh from the bodies of dead persons were used in Kamajor ceremonies of initiation. Civilians from communities surrounding the initiation site and even would-be recruits were in many instances killed for the express purposes of “sacrificing them to the cause”.

346. The Initiators of the CDF also carried out or ordered varying degrees of violence and intimidation against those they enlisted. They tortured and killed initiates. They attempted to exonerate themselves from due culpability by referring to illusory whims from higher beings, through dreams and “divine” messages.

 

VOL 2, CHAPT. 2 OF TRC REPORT

PAGE 49 - 50 (Paragraphs 355 - 360)

The Kamajors’ Operation “Black December”

355. The Kamajors carried out “Operation Black December” in late 1997 and early 1998. It was purposely designed to debilitate the strongholds of the AFRC junta in the Southern and Eastern Provinces. In the process, it caused immense suffering to the civilian populations of many communities in these Provinces. It also led to massive and systematic human rights abuses including summary killings, torture and looting at checkpoints established by the Kamajors.

356. Operation Black December was endorsed by the Government in Exile as an integral part of its interventionary initiatives to disrupt and then dislodge the AFRC junta. Chief Hinga Norman acted with the full and express support of the President and the War Council in Exile in ordering the operation to take place. The Commission finds that the Government must take responsibility for the systematic violations and abuses of human rights carried out in its name by the Kamajors during this operation.

 

Regionalism and Ethnic Prejudice in the CDF

357. The Districts of the South and South-East were unambiguously classifiable as heartlands of the Kamajor movement. The Kamajors targeted inhabitants of these areas along ethnic lines. Persons of Northern origin were singled out disproportionately for violations and abuses after 1998.

358. The Kamajors were intensely protective of their territories and their movement against perceived infiltration by Northerners. They held the prejudice that Northerners might be inclined to display allegiance to the leadership of the AFRC junta, largely because Johnny Paul Koroma was a Limba. The CDF High Command mirrored the suspicions of its Kamajor fighters on the ground. There was deep distrust based on regionalism and ethnicity at the heart of the CDF.

359. Chief Hinga Norman repeatedly rejected the petitions of the CDF’s Northern Commander M.S. Dumbuya for logistics supplies. Hinga Norman maintained a blanket refusal to release arms and ammunitions to the North. Consequently, the CDF units in the North were unable to reinforce strategic towns like Makeni, Lunsar and Masiaka. These towns consequently fell to AFRC-led troops without stout resistance from the CDF. The atrocities committed during this onslaught are a stain on the conscience of the CDF.

360. The Commission finds that the invasion of Freetown could have been forestalled, if the Government had mobilised and equipped a strong Northern CDF. However, there was a resolute refusal to do this for fear that once it was equipped, a large section of the Northern CDF would “desert” and join the enemy. Unfounded suspicions based on regionalism and ethnic prejudice were thus put ahead of the security of the city of Freetown.

#END



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