From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

FEATURES
What TRC uncovered of Effect of Negative Tribalism by Politicians
By Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Jun 20, 2012, 17:04

Necessary sensitisation on lessons in Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report should be a regular event in Sierra Leone and should cut across all ages and socio-economic strata. In this sensitisation, I am culling from the TRC Report prepared for Sierra Leoneans to understand what went wrong and how we should NEVER allow it to repeat again. I keep on saying it is tortuous to link Taylor to OUR tribal and regional influences  in Sierra Leone which were responsible for prolongation of the war, the invasion of our capital city in January 1999 & unbelievable brutality to each other (we killed, cooked and actually ate each other!).


The TRC did a remarkable job to bring out lessons for us. Taylor is a victim of poetic justice - paying for his sins in Liberia in the 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.


Sierra Leone’s Scapegoat Charles Taylor at The Hague : Those who do not learn from History are doomed to repeat History but let them note there will be no Charles Taylor for us to use as a scapegoat in any future collective national woes

 

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. We need to face our past to prevent a repetition of our actions.


SIERRA  LEONE’S TRC  REPORT

VOLUME 2, CHAPTER 2

(Paragraphs 336 - 339)

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

(Paragraphs 357 - 360)

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.



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