From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

COMMENTS & OPINIONS
Putting the Academic Credentials of Dr. Thomas Yormah to the Test in Sierra Leone
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Jun 7, 2012, 20:20

I have read Dr. Thomas Yormah’s piece on my person. He dismisses my writings as “poorly researched” and says they “may not stand up to serious/rigorous peer scrutiny”. I humbly accept his criticisms as entitled rights to his opinion. However, since he is proud to list his academic credentials, I am now challenging Thomas Yormah to live up to his espoused academic claims by kindly quoting for his readers, if he can, the precise sections of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report which made him assert thus: “….including those executions that Dr. Blyden keeps harping about in spite of a conclusive TRC process”.


It will greatly help the learned man’s touted academic credentials if he could show precisely on what page of the TRC Report, we can find the “conclusive” handling by the TRC process, of the torture and extra-judicial killings of December 1992 including that of a pregnant woman buried in a mass grave alongside her unborn foetus ripped from her womb with a bayonet whilst she was still alive.

 

I have searched the TRC Report and I have been unable to find any such “conclusive” handling of those illegal killings (i.e: MURDER). Rather, what I have seen is a clear statement that NPRC figureheads should be held responsible for killings which breached international law. On Page 165 of Volume 3A (Paragraph 334), it is stated of the killings:

 

“The Commission holds all the leaders of the NPRC responsible for the murder of these men”.


Furthermore on Page 56 of Volume 2 (Paragraph 220), it is stated that:

 

“The Commission finds that the NPRC regime was responsible in December 1992 for the execution of 26 persons, including a former Inspector-General of Police and a former Brigade Commander for the Eastern Province, without due process of law and in flagrant violation of international standards. The NPRC’s attempt to justify these executions retrospectively by decree, on the basis that the 26 were alleged coup plotters, was an unlawful abuse of executive power”.

 

There is nowhere in the TRC Report to be found a single recommendation (I repeat, A SINGLE RECOMMENDATION!) as to how this matter should be treated other than as a case of murder in violation of International Law.


There is a recommendation as to how someone like Mrs. Lucy Kanu (wife of executed Col. Yayah Kanu) should be compensated for the emotional turmoil she went through when she was dismissed from her job and her passport seized for merely being the wife of the executed man. Such recommendation for this woman is yet to be followed by first, the SLPP and now by the APC! Rather, President Koroma continues to snub the murdered victims’ family members as if they have leprosy or some highly infectious lethal disease.


It also appears my very strong criticisms of President Koroma to the extent of asking him where his conscience was, have missed the notice of Dr. Yormah! Maybe the learned doctor would prefer for me to write down the kind of false, malicious criticisms of “6 million dollars per mile of Wilkinson Road” which are now a daily hallmark within the tabloids he reads and radios he listens to!

 

Well, I am not good at publishing lies Sir! So, I will not join you guys to write and say utter trash against President Koroma. I will however continue to strongly criticise the President over his treatment of the families of victims of State-sanctioned MURDER.

 

Dr. Yormah, these were not victims of the war nor were they accidental casualties. They were victims of deliberate, State-sanctioned MURDERS! Some thirty citizens picked up from their homes or freedoms at various points in time over a period of seven months (May 1992 for Colonel Yayah Kanu and Bambay Kamara; November 1992 for Salami Coker, his pregnant girlfriend Salamatu ‘Baby’ Kamara, the illiterate palm-wine tapper, many alleged Fullah soothsayers (Murray-men), Police Supt Sieh Bangura and others; December 28th 1992 for Major Aruna Jalloh, Major Kawuta Dumbuya, Lance Corporal Alusine Sito Sesay and others).

 

Following their various periods of detention by the then State apparatus, they were corralled like animals one night into a Black Maria prisons truck, brutally tortured and then executed. Acid was poured on their bodies and their mangled and brutalised corpses got dumped into a mass grave by NPRC operatives. The next day, the Head of State (Valentine Strasser) and his henchmen (including Julius Maada Bio) alongside their media allies perpetuated the greatest ever fraud on our land when they played an alleged tape recording of the executed L/Cpl Alusine Sito Sesay’s voice announcing a coup (too bad the poor man was now dead and could not accept or deny if it was his voice on the tape).

 

NPRC also alleged of how one Mohamed Sahid Sesay, a Law Student wrote the said Coup Speech. Mohamed Sahid Sesay was detained without trial for alleged treason and lost out on years of his legal schooling. Today, he is a fine lawyer walking around with silent pains deep in his heart. I have repeatedly asked him if the allegations were true and each time, he has responded with physical pain on his face: “My sister, there was no coup plot... I wrote no speech.”

 

According to Lawyer Sahid Sesay, he was taken out of Pademba Road twice on information that he would executed if he did not sign a document accepting that indeed there was a coup plot by Bambay Kamara. Each time, he refused to accept any such blame.

 

One time, he was even taken on to the beach along Aberdeen and a mock execution was staged in order to get him to succumb. Sahid stood firm and never did. The NPRC soldiers did all of this because they wanted Sahid Sesay to help them give weight to their allegations of a Coup Plot for which they had no evidence!

 

Should we, as citizens, be worried over the possibility of one of these ‘Kill first; Manufacture evidence later’ NPRC soldiers, Maada Bio, becoming our next Head of State? Concerning his rendition of circumstances around the murders, the TRC Report in Paragraph 328 on Page 164 of Volume 3A describes Bio in unsavoury terms as trying to shift blame and not being forthright; hence Bio’s words to TRC concerning those killings, were not trustworthy or “conclusive”.

 

So, the learned academic doctor Thomas Yormah urgently needs to save his reputation as the noted academic he burnishes his credentials to be; Let him now show the world where within the TRC Report we can find a “conclusive” process of handling those murders or wherein we can find recommendations as to how the country should handle what TRC calls a “flagrant violation of international standards” and “an unlawful abuse of executive power”.

 

In the same way it is an insult to tell the Jews that if Adolf Hitler were to be made Chancellor of Germany, he could be allowed because today’s world would curtail his attempts to repeat his crimes, so also is it an insult to tell Sierra Leoneans that if Julius Maada Bio were to be made President tomorrow, the world would curtail his criminal tendencies. Has the world been able to curtail crimes of Syria’s Assad? What about a neighbouring country of ours where people disappear regularly and journalists are murdered under a military turned civilian regime? Has the world been able to curtail that leader?

 

I reiterate my appeal to Dr. Yormah. Seeing you are one of the country’s respected academics, please prove your mettle and cite us a reference within the TRC Report to justify your published assertion that there was a “conclusive” handling of the NPRC Government’s extra-judicial killings (MURDER) of innocent persons including a pregnant woman, Salamatu Baby Kamara.

 

Learned Doctor Thomas Yormah, until you prove your academic mettle for us by citing the reference of your claimed “conclusive” process of the TRC with respect to those MURDERS, you hereby stand accused of using academia as a mask to intimidate into silence.


As for your insults of my person to the extent of making serious libellous assertions against my integrity, I will let them pass. Afterall, you say you consider me to be your friend. However, your academic deception of referencing what does not exist is very grave.

 

The TRC Report awaits your attention oh great academic doctor. If you cannot prove your referenced assertion of a “conclusive” process viz-a-viz the extra-judicial murders, then please hang your head in shame my friend. Hang your academic head in shame, my friend, Sir!



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