April 30, 2008
Tubmanburg (TRC)--A survivor
of the Mahel River Massacre in Bomi County
said Charles Taylor's government militiamen under the command of General
Benjamin Yeaten smashed the heads of scores of babies and disemboweled pregnant
women during the killings.
77, said the fighters mutilated the dead before dumping their bodies in the Mahel
He was testifying Monday before commissioners of Liberia's
Truth and Reconciliation Commission at an ongoing rural public hearing in the
auditorium of the C.H. Dewey
High School in Tubmanburg
Mr. Bridge said the victims were transported from Tubmanburg
City under the pretense of
evacuating them to Monrovia for
relief supplies and safety.
He said three truck loads of civilians were transported one after another to
the Mahel Bridge
where Yeaten and his men were awaiting them.
"After the empty truck returned to Tubmanburg, after carrying the first
batch of people, I saw blood stains all over the vehicle and suspected that our
people had been killed by General Yeaten and his men."
Following the returned of the truck, Bridge explained dozens of others
including him and his wife boarded the truck headed again for the Mahel.
At the Mahel River
Bridge, the witness explained, the
fighter responsible for carrying out the slaughter first singled out his wife
to disembark from the truck.
Drawing the emotion of the audience, he said his wife bidded him farewell
saying, "I know I am going to die so goodbye. Remember we promised each other
that only death will do us apart."
Mr. Bridge explained that after saying those words, the fighter carrying out
the killings shot Bridge's wife in his presence before mutilating her body.
He said the fighter then asked him, "You see what happened to that woman,"
and he responded in tears, "That is my wife you have just killed."
Following the verbal exchanges with the fighter, Bridge said he requested
that he wanted to say his last prayer, but the fighter responded, "We are not
here for God business."
He said he was then asked to sit on the rails of the bridge and was pushed
by another fighter into the river accompanied by hails of gunfire. He said he
successfully evaded the bullets and swam to the fringes of the river where he
witnessed the execution of hundreds of people all night.
The witness said the heads of dozens of babies were smashed on the bridge
while the guts of the pregnant women were opened by the fighters.
"The next day after the killings, when I came from my hiding place, the
entire surface of the water and bridge were covered with blood."
The TRC is an independent body set up to investigate the root causes
of the Liberian crisis, document human rights violations, review the history of
Liberia, and put all human rights abuses that occurred during the period from
1979 to 2003 on record. The TRC mandate is to also identify victims and perpetrators
and make recommendations on amnesty, prosecution and reparation.
The ongoing rural public hearing in Bomi
County is being held under the
theme: "Confronting Our Difficult Past, For A Better Future."