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The Ninth day of the TRC Public Hearings Proceedings held on Tuesday January 22, 2008 at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion. The Hearings session started with the Commissioners of the TRC being ushered into their seats followed by a welcome remarks form the Chairman of the TRC Cllr. Jerome Verdier, who then called on the Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah to invite the first Primary Witness to give her testimony.
Thirty Fifth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings
William Jappa Kortti
(First Primary Witness of day nine)
The first Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.
Chairman: Thank you for coming to the TRC and we want to assure you that all Liberians are listening to you and we want you to say all you know and that what we want is the truth and nothing but the truth.
Primary Witness: Thank you sir.
You may go ahead with you story.
Primary Witness: My own experience was in 1990 when the war was coming. Sometimes during the war we were getting short of food. And we used to hear that food was in INPFL area across the Jamaica road bridge. We were living in Gardnerville. So mother gave us some money and my brother and I decided to go for food. We walked we got to the bridge and when we crossed the bridge and went in the INPFL control area good - good. T hey say no body was going back across the bridge saying that - that side was not save. So we spent about 4 days around Jamaica road and later we went to our uncle's place in Logan town where we were until our uncle came from Bomi hills. And we explained to him we had come in search of food and the bridge has been closed and there is no way for us to go back.
We were there until one day due to the congestion of the place our uncle said that we should go to his other house in town at Lynch Street so we got ready and started going we pass on the old bridge and made our way to Gray Stone to get food before going to lynch street. While we were on lynch street me and my brother used to cross and come to Freeport to look for food. That how we were hustling until we received news that President Doe was captured and subsequently executed.
Our place on lynch street was close to the football field, so when the news of doe reach his other soldiers they went on the rampage. They started killing discriminately and destroying anything they wanted to destroy. That's how our uncle decided that we should move to West Point. We went to West Point and spent some time there but the food business was still touch. So my brother and I told our uncle that we wanted to go New Kru Town. And he agreed, then we started coming.
When we reach New Krutown we started our normal hustle. We used to go in the port by 5 in the night we hustle the whole night and in the morning we go home. Sometime if we get enough food we sold some and reserve the balance. That how were surviving.
But one day my brother just mysteriously disappeared in the port area. It stay, stay I did not see him so I waited outside the port for long I did not see him then I went home. I spent the first, second and third nights without seeing my brother. I was worried; I even went to others family members and told them. I wept and wept.
After about two weeks I started the hustle again. About one after, this morning I was coming from the port with my food in my hands, two other INPFL boys' border with me. They what you get I say my food, they said so your can't hear all the way we na advice your not to come in the port your can still come. But you we will do something to you today that you will not forget. The other man took out his bend knife and cut me on my and mark me on my face and took my food and left. That day I was raining, so I went on the side of the road and started crying. I was there went a INPFL pickup came and asked me what I was doing there, I told what had happened and they asked me if I can recognize those guys if I see them I said yeas and they took in the pickup. We did not go far we saw the two men and they started denying, they script them naked and throw them in the pickup with me. They started threatening me. They took me to lagoon clinic and told the doctor to treat me and they took the two but I don't know where.
When ECOMOG, AFL, INPFL started fighting there were news that from the bridge to go all the way Topoe village area was level down and people were coming in their hundreds. When I heard this I decided to go and wait by the bridge to see my mother coming. I took some friends along. Unfortunately for me, when I got the bridge, some INPFL boys saw me again and said my man come here, where you coming from I answered by the wounds marks still fresh. They asked me how I got the mark and I explain to them. They asked me to take off my clothes which I did and they saw a traditional back on my back which my mother put on us after our father death in 1981. When they saw the marks they said I was a rebels that was a protection similar that they taken. But one of them say my man this man fall in arm bush that the mark on him so. So they started beating with baton, beer bottle bend knife and got me wounded to the extent that the people the friends that I went with ran back home and tell the people that I have been killed. While beating me they sent one of the soldiers to go for rope and come to tabay me. But luckily for me, the guy they sent to go for the rope did not come at all so they say your carry this man to the bridge and we started going. While going luckily for me again one ECOMOG soldier came by our side and asked what was happening and they said that I was an enemy. So the ECOMOG man begged for me and appealed to them to let me go and that's how I got freed. So when I left I went straight to our place and I started thinking I say I hope it was not for this same mark that I brother was kill oh.
We were there until there was a cease fire and ECOMOG was deployed and I left to go Gardnerville, and when I got home to my mother I explained everything to her and she started crying. When things were getting already, people used to go Sierra Leone and Ghana and Guinea to come back, I receive a letter from one man who said that my brother gave him the letter for me. When I received the letter, I didn't even open it I ran strict home and when on my bed and started praising god and I told my mother about it. And we use to communicate with each other for sometime until the Sierra Leonean war intensified in 1993 I have not heard about my brother and as you may be aware there were many Liberians being killed.
Questions from Commissioners:
Chairman: you said what year as the second incident?
Primary Witness: In 1990
What was the name of your brother?
Primary Witness: His name is Joseph Korti
Commissioner Bull: What bridge did they take you to?
Primary Witness: They were taking to the Jamaica road bridge when the ECOMOG man came in.
Who was the leader of that area?
Primary Witness: Prince Y. Johnson, one of our lawmakers in the house, sr. senator of Nimba County.
Commissioner Stewart: what was the situation in the port area at the time, how was INPFL relationship with civilian?
Primary Witness: Well it was just risky but it was a-what-to-do situation. Rockets were launched, warehouse burnt and civilian died in warehouse, soldiers hold civilian and kill them but we couldn't just sit so we used to go there to get food.
What month of 1990 did this take place?
Primary Witness: Around May to August.
Did you witness any other violation?
Primary Witness: Yes, people wee script off their foods but did not see any killing.
Have contacted the National Red Cross to inquire about your brother?
Primary Witness: When we received his first letter, we used to communicate and one Yumah who use to go there and come. That only ICRC we contacted here.
Have contacted the Sierra Leonean about your missing brother?
Primary Witness: No.
Commissioner Coleman: did you go, did you contact the then TRC in Sierra Leone?
Primary Witness: No, but I have many brothers and sister who too have done their own inquiry but nothing.
Commissioner Dolopei: how old were you and your brother?
Primary Witness: He was two years older than me, he was 22 and I was 20.
Have you seen any of those people who treated you that way?
Primary Witness: No.
What dialect you heard those people speaking?
Primary Witness: I only heard them speaking Gio and Mano because I actually recognize those tribe I lived in Nimba for sometime.
Commissioner Kulah: what did your brother say he was doing in Sierra Leone when he wrote you?
Primary Witness: He said he was on the refugee camp and even Yuman Wilson also confirmed that.
What was the meaning of those marks on you?
Primary Witness: It was a traditional mark she put on us after our father death in 1981 to protect from the poison that our father was poisoned with.
Commissioner Konneh: what is the effect of the injury inflicted on you?
Well after the incident I got seriously sick and those marks are still on me. The mark the men mark me with.
Commissioner Syllah: what year did you receive the letter from you brother?
Did it carry any address?
Primary Witness: No
What did they use to injure you?
Primary Witness: They used bear bottles, hammer and their bend knives.
Chairman: Thanks for sharing your experience with us. We are in sympathy with you for your brother and if you have any last word, this is the time for you say it.
Primary Witness: I just want to say thank you to the TRC and the Liberian people for me to be here today to share what I experience in the war. As I sit I just want to say to all those who did some thing to me be it my brother or me that I have noting against anybody and I am Christian. I have just decided to give my life to god because I believe that it was by his grace that I survive what happened to me.
Chairman: thank you may leave.
Thirty Sixth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings
(Second Primary Witness of day nine)
The second Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.
Chairman: Mr. Witness, you are welcomed to the TRC Public Hearings, this is a forum where all that has happened in this country will be heard, whether you offended or you were offended. We are happy to have you coming to the Commission to share your story with the Commission; we can assure you that all Liberians are listening to you and that all you will tell us will be useful in achieving our mandate.
Primary Witness: thank you sir.
You can go ahead with your testimony
Primary Witness: I salute you honorable ladies and gentlemen of the truth and reconciliation commission of the republic of Liberia.
The chairman noticed the Witness with a document in his hands and asked as to whether which he was reading from and asked as to whether is was different from the story he give to the commission and he said yes, and the Chairman asked as to whether he was ready to give the Commission a copy of he document and he said yes. As such he was asked to proceed.
I have not come to crucify anyone, my purpose of absorbing to this truth and recompilation is that prosperity will learn from our mistake and take what transpired in the past 30 years will forever not be repeated.
I would be doing myself an injustice to my self and my country if I started from 1979; I would rather start form 1974 the coming in of the progressives Alliance of Liberian whose leadership constituted Gabriel Baccus Matahews, Komini Wesseh, Marcus Dahn, Oscar Quoih, Samuel Jackson and others.
In 1979 those groups orchestrated the rice riot which brought wanton distraction and loss of lives to down to $9 per 100lb bag. Baccshus and his group had set the stage for anarchy. After the rice riot came the 1980 coup d'etate of Samuel K. Doe and his People's Redemption Council. Prominent individuals in the society embraced this violent change of government. The economist Togba Nah Tipoteh was one of the brains in keeping that government running. The country started to disintegrate. We were at the verge of war.
Then came 1985, Emmette Harmon announced that master sergeant Samuel K. Doe won the elections. Thomas Quiwonkpa came with the patriotic forces invasion. Many more Liberians died.
In 1989, Charles G. Taylor led the national patriotic front of Liberia to dethrone the government of Samuel Doe. I am told that during their onslaught on Liberia, Prince Y. Johnson broke away and formed, this independent national patriotic front of Liberia which is remembered as being notoriously reckless in taking the lives of thousand of innocent Liberia, famous Liberian musical artist Tecumsy Roberts was one of the victims of prince Johnson atrocities.
I was in Voinjama when the war begun. The NPFL entered and captured Voinjama on July 14, 1990 most of what I am going to speak of will center around Lofa, bong and Grand Bassa Counties or what was termed greater Liberia.
On July 14, 1990, NPFL forces commandos, Alex Beah, Joseph Karmopou, Samuel Yeabahn, Emmanuel Toweh, Paul Wonleh, Logan Dahn over ran Voinjama shooting sophisticated weapons causing havoc. After they had take over, we residents of Voinjama we were made to understand that they were messengers but the 2nd Battalion Anthony G. Mehnquinagbe was expected to arrive in a couple of days.
Central Voinjama was like a cinema. Form the day that Voinjama fell the braves or may I say those who wanted to save themselves by befriending the rebels or freedom fighters as they used to call themselves had to assemble in front of one big fullah store, to watch because that was where the actions really used to be.
One morning in July just a few days after the capture of Voinjama we had all gathered as usual. This was next door to a compatriot of mine, J. Francis Whitfield residence, he himself used to be scare as a wet rat. Then the fighters turned on their projectors "live". Here was this jolly Mandingo -Lorma fellow "Kamara" a brother of former Lofa county representative Musa Gbondu.
Kamarra was a farmer, even though there were reasons of him being weptomanic. He used to drink. We were living light in the palm wine station. We informed Kamara. We told him say Kamara these people we heard are coming they say they do not want to see Mandingo man, Krahn man or AFL personnel or Doe soldier. Try find you way and go to guinea before the people get here. Kamara replied, I will not go to guinea I have never b even there before. I know nobody there who am I going to? I am Mandingo but I am Lorma, I am a citizen of Lofa. I am not going anywhere. There is my old rotten house down there in palm wine station, I will be there. We could not convince him. On that morning, when Kamara was ousted, immediately, he was handcuffed; the commander Alex Beah called out "small soldier". One little boy between the age of 12 to 14 years came out wearing wig and shirt. Dirty looking nasty with an AK47 in his hand was commanded to escort Kamara. He told Kamara get in front of me. Kamara obeyed. They two of them started walking on the Kolahun highway right by a building used to be called anti corruption bureau close to Ben Beker's house. I heard three shots from the back; Kamara had been fired in the head. That was my very first time any life seeing a human being kill another. I was afraid but as a journalist I had to observe even without reporting.
That was only the beginning of atrocities and heinous crimes in Lofa county, I wasn't in Bakedu when the massacre went on but stories emanating from there at the time suggested that the citizens elders, women, children who had braved to remain in their village decided that they would welcome the freedom fighters as they preferred to also called, commanding officer Dry pepper had arrived in Lofa county and was taken Bakadu. Dry pepper his men were welcomed by the people of Bakedu. They were presented Kola nuts, money and a cow which the fighters accepted. Then it was decided that they all move to the mosque, while there the soldiers left the mosque catching those people unaware. The commander was given "debedie" we heard that there were few survivals. McDonald Bowan could throw light on this he was deputy of Dry pepper.
What I really want to talk about is not Bakedu. I want to throw light on something strange that I witness. The fighters had again gathered in the collesium. Smoking their marijuana and drinking their lane juice called peace talk. One commander Paul Wonleh stepped forward with a portrait of Sam Doe they had just completed looting one Lebanese store. This picture of Sami was hung on a light pole. C O Wonleh asked his men are there any shop shooters here? Who can burst doe head on that picture? A dozen men appeared. C O Wonleh shook hi head and said okay one round only. None of the man hit target not one of twelve bullets touch the photos of Doe. They the soldiers said, chief that picture oh. Of that human being, his lord will scatter around her. The C O asked have you any Doe soldier in the cell there? You will know the answered, bring him was the command. I saw them returned Alex Beah, Logon Dahn and some to the fighters ahead of them was one ma about 6'5", light complexion, he was built. According to the NPFL fighters this man was a soldiers from the AFL who had escape from Monrovia to his village in David Selma Town where he had been discovered brought him up to the stage. He was wearing a blue jeans rouser he did not have a shut on him. He was pale, near the pole where they had previously hung the portrait of doe. I was there watching, that man lifted his head carry up his trouser I could fee him take his last breath the order was, given ready set, fire, three AK 47's were firing at him. He took five steps back and fell dead on the road to Mandingo quarter, from that day onward I refer to him as the "unknown soldiers". But was most amazing was when death entered my own house that I head more to on police back road in Voinjama. We were four in that house, Towh, Emmanuel K Hney, Joe Fredrick and myself. Gbarnga had fallen long since. Some of our friends fled Gbarnga to take sanctuary in Voinjama. Those were people we had known for years and we had to give them accommodate. They were James Paye and his wife plus another bosom friend of our Alpheuse Tolbert. One night we sitting playing scrabble. Alpheuse had not been too well but was however recuperating. Just before, the city power could go off Alpheuse said he was going to speak to his boss lady Cecelia Quoimolue because he had not seen her for some time, Cecelia was a concubine of CO Dry pepper who had given her one Mercedes truck. It was that truck that Alpheuse used to drive. When Alpheuse left us that right about ten minutes a group of five to seven surrounded our house asking for Alpheuse. We told them that Alpheuse was but they demanded that we open the door or they were going to open I by force. We had no alternative, we open the door, they entered they inspected al four of the rooms. Alpheuse was not there. They left as it was night and getting late we did not know when way they went. Between 5 to eight minutes there was a shooting. The round of gun was a regular thing. Then it did not stay long there was a banging on our door. A voice said it's me David from Cecelia Quoimolues's place. We asked him but what happened you are knocking the door at this how? He replied "jerry fired Alpheuse in Cecelia's room. Later on we began to put the pieces of the story together from eye witnesses. Jerry had entered Cecelia's room and met Alpheuse lying across the bed with the door ajar. Cecelia was coming from the bathroom and heard the exchange of words between Jerry and Alpheuse, Jerry was asking Alpheuse. What are you doing in my boss man wife room? Did I not tell you to not come here?
The case of Gray D. Allison: Gray D. Allison was taken from the Belleh Yellah Garrison in Lofa County between later to early 1990 under the command of Lofa County 2nd battalion commander Anthony Mehnquinagbeh and his senior lieutenants.
They traveled though the Belleh Fasama forest for above 16 hrs before reaching Voinjama. Upon arrival in Voinjama which was classified information a pole and fatigue looking Allison was placed in NPFL protective call which was located at the national police Voinjama detachment for one night.
The next day he was escorted to the Zeleba River Bridge at the entrance of Voinjama about 150 yards form radio, Voinjama where he was executed by firing squad and dumped into the river. There are possibilities of more bones being found in that river as it was an execution ground.
From Belleh Yellah also came 13 hundred criminals amongst whom were Foday Baileybely, a Guinean national and Tom P. Gorglai. Tom was quickly appointed radio station manager at Voinjama.
On Charles Taylor's second visit to Voinjama, one of the senior personnel and prominent citizens Joseph Karbelle adked Mr. Taylor. Mr. President why do you hate Lofa County and have appointed Tom Gorglar as manager of this station. From Mr. Taylor's reply you may have heard this popular promo "I am not too big to say I am sorry" Charles Taylor the man produced by Aaron Kollie known better as "make it thick". Ask Sylvester Varney Passawa. This is how Col. Gorglar remained as station manager. He used to make the soldiers beat us for common and jail us. I am not talking about one girl he had with him as wife, daughter of Dr. William Salifu, Massa Salifu. He used to beat that one like market dog. Who could stand in front of Tom? The man had his AK 47 satellite automatic raffle. As fro me I ran away from Voinjama. But my colleagues who remained in Voinjama confronted him until he was changed and replaced by Thomas F. Bolay (Manjoe). When Manjoe became station manager he came for me in Harbel. That is how come I returned to Voinjama just about the time of the incident between the NPFL and the Senegalese contingent in Vahun.
Let me tell you about an incident that I witness in Gbarnga. I left Voinjama for Gbarnga sometime in 1991. I went to see Gonwoe. Gonpu who was working directly under the supervision Philip Keibo. The purpose of that trip was to solicit fuel fro Radio Voinjama. We had concluded our talks and assured, me that he was going to forward my requisition to Ebony for approval. At the time Isaac Messah the CO for Margibi residence arrived in Gbarnga to collect rice for his soldiers. Since my business with Gonwoe was complete I left to go back home. About thirty minutes later there was a shooting which sounded around the Gbarnga administrative building. In a short while Isaac Messah men had shot and killed Gonwoe for what they said was uneven distribution of rice. That day about six fighters were executed as a result of Gonwor's death.
The leadership of the NPFL at Gonwoe had promised that Gonwoe who be treated as a Special Forces commando and the NPFL would support his children until they graduated form college. None of the promises came to pass as I have heard. Tom also had the habit of infusing tension in Sierra Leone by constantly reading on the radio a provocative editorial written by Blidi Elliot which castigated Sierra Leonean president Joseph Momoh as an illiterate soldiers, a womanize and lover of the bottle.
Another time that I was in Gbarnga something else happened. There was this American trained geologist, Yugbeh Dedohn. Debohn was an excellent driver and a free giver. He was married to a Pilipino.
Serviing as minister of Land and mines in the NPRAG Debohn had traveled to the Bomi Hills areas to settle a diamond dispute between the government diamond against and some to the diamond brokers. Unfortunately, for Debohn Alhiji Kromah's ULIMO entered Bomi. However, Debohn was about to escape the shooting and reported. Jungle James the government diamond agent had misconstrued the coincidence of Yugbeh's arrive in Bomi and ULIMO onslaught as an act of conniving on Debohn part. This is how the NPFL defense minister Tom Woiwony and order to have his wife abused sexually and himself killed.
My mother house was right around were Debohn lived so it wasn't difficult to get that kind of information. My mother's house does not stand anymore because when Alhaji Kromah's ULIMO captured Gbarnga they shot our family house with a RPG and burned it down to the ground. According to them the united logging company was using the building as their regional office from where they took off to export logs through the port of Buchanan proceeds from which they were clandestinely bring in supplies of arms and ammunition for the NPFL.
Look at tone other time Tom Wawonyu did. He granted an interview to the BBC admitting that ULIMO had taken Voinjama whereas ULIMO was nowhere around. But as a result of that interview the next morning ULIMO overran Voinjama where many persons were mercilessly killed. Some of us wee lucky to escape. As for my friend Manjoe he was hiding in one only toilet for three days before he could come out when tension had subsided. As soon as he got the first chance he escaped to guinea. After Manjoe escaped his colleague Josephus Karbah was arrested an asked to present Manjoe.
Since he did not present Manjoe, Josephues was severally beaten by one Alhaji Kromah fighter call Mamie Watta. The entrance of ULIMO into Voinjama forced me take asylum in guinea where I lived for 8 years.
I have no challenger here who can refute these facts I have presented. If there is anyone, anywhere who can disprove me, come forward. I challenge.
The things that happened during those turbulent years were not only human rights abuses, intimidation and harassment or atrocities. Some were economic improperties. For example Benoni Urey was running the rubber factors in Gbarnga. He exported hundreds of thousands of tons of rubber. No one can account for the millions he generated. Benoni must state how much the generated how it was dispensed and how much remained in his pocket.
What about Gabriel Doe who emptied the LPMC warehouses in Voinjama and took away over eight thousand bags of export packed coffee and cocao in firestone truck by way of sierra Leone.
Dr. Roland Massaquoi as minister of Agriculture under the NPRAG was allocated about $5,000,000.00 LD to conduct an agricultural fair in Lofa County. The fair never took place. When I questioned him in an interview at his Cari officer in Saukoko, Bong County, he was furious. I didn't care. I wanted to know what happened to that huge amount of money.
Take for another example the case of the national Hydrocarbon Company of Liberia that was situated in /Buchanan. LAMCO JV Company had left millions of barrels of gasoline, Diesel fuel and lubricants that Cyril Allan had taken over as managing director or chief executive. The resources those products was not distributed for the benefits of Liberians. Today Cyril is a rich man he rides a Rolls Royce right hand drive limousine.
Some people could not subscribe to such gross cheating, like Norwood Langley, he fled to the US after professing at the University of Liberia for some time.
As for Edwin Snowe whose parents did not own a rubber plantation nor did he inherit anything neither is he an entrepreneur has just amass wealth beginning with the NPFL insertion to the NPRAG regime and ending with the NPP government, I have the capacity to make this Ali Barbra tremble on his feet by interrogating him to justify how he accumulate the money and property he possessed. This is conspicuous economic sabotage.
Questions from Commission:
Chairman: thank you Mr. Witness for sharing your experience with us. Without doubt I assure you that your testimony will contribute to the work of the commission and I want you to know that it also the responsibility to investigate economic crimes as well. Thank you, the commissioner will now ask you couple of questions for clarification.
Commissioner Syllah: how old was the boy who shot Kamara?
Primary Witness: They look between 12 - 14 years he was under the commander of Alex Bear.
You said Gray D. Allison was taken from Belleh Yellah did you say so?
Primary Witness: Yes, Gray D. Allison was taken from Belleh Yalleh to Voinjama.
What year was that?
Primary Witness: It was in 1990 around August to September.
Commissioner Konneh: you said who was the 1st victim that you saw?
Primary Witness: I say one Mandingo - Lorma man called Kamara a brother of Musa Gbondu former representative of Lofa county.
Under whose order did this happened?
Primary Witness: It was under Anthony Maquinagbe command.
Who was Yugboy Debohn?
Primary Witness: Debohn was an American trained geologist, a Liberian who served as minister of Land Mines in the NPFL government.
When you left from Voinjama station where next you went?
Primary Witness: Harbel Hills.
Who was Alpheuse who was shot by Jerry?
Primary Witness: Alpheuse was my boyhood friend he came from Gbarnga and was driving for Cecelia and Jerry too was a driver and also a fighter.
You were mentioning Benino Urey what were you saying?
Primary Witness: Mr. Urey operated the Liberian Rubber Company. Exported thousands of tons of rubber, who can account for that, no body.
What's about Gabriel Doe?
Primary Witness: It was Gabriel Doe who took firestone trucks and went to Voinjama LPMC warehouse and haul LPMC assets there for about 3 weeks.
And Cyril Allen?
Primary Witness: Cyril Allen operated the national Hydrocarbon Company of Liberia that was situated in Buchanan. LAMCO JV Company had left millions of barrels of gasoline, Diesel fuel and lubricants that Cyril Allan had taken over as managing director or chief executive. The resources those products was not distributed for the benefits of Liberians. Today Cyril is a rich man he rides a Rolls Royce right hand drive limousine.
Commissioner Kulah: what makes all of what you are saying to be circumstantial as you claimed?
Primary Witness: I am a journalist by profession and my job includes searching out information and that's why I have been doing over the years. Though I fled from here in 1991 and came back 2000.
Were you in anyway connected to NPFL?
Primary Witness: I was never an agent of the NPFL.
Did you visit any of the training camps?
Primary Witness: Yes I visited the Fesibu and Voinjama camps.
Describe the camps?
Primary Witness: Like one camp that I visited, they had tied barbwires and the soldiers crawl under it while others shoot.
Commissioner Dolopei: are some of those people alive?
Primary Witness: Some alive and others are Nimba county making agriculture.
Why Kamara was advice to leave Voinjama?
Primary Witness: It was base on the advice from Gbarnga that the NPFL was coming to Voinjama and they were coming for Mandingo and Krahn. And Kamara was our friend so what how we advise him but he did not listen say that he does not know anyone in guinea.
Who was Ben Baker?
Primary Witness: He was a GSA Coordinator in Lofa County and he was the first prominent citizen to be killed Voinjama.
You said who was the commanding officer?
Primary Witness: Alex Bear was the commanding officer.
Who was MacDonald Boyan?
Primary Witness: Boyan was the chairman of NPFL and later he became Liberian Ambassador to Sierra Leone under Charles Taylor government.
Commissioner Coleman: would you detail what you were saying about the Progressive?
Primary Witness: Gabriel Baccus Matahews, Komini Wesseh, Marcus Dahn, Oscar Quoih, Samuel Jackson and others were actually responsible for bringing first hostility in this country beginning with the Rice riot.
Why did you say the Bakedu incident was the instigating point for the formation of ULIMO?
Primary Witness: Well news spread, the Mandingo people started having targeted meetings. Even when I visited the country I used to those kind of formation meeting in every corner.
Commissioner Washington: do you know Jerry last name?
Primary Witness: No!
Do you know if he is still alive?
Primary Witness: Well only MacDonald Boyan I can see in town, and I think if you find him, he can know where other people are.
Commissioner Stewart: you said who killed Gondo and why?
Primary Witness: It was Isaac Messah boys and Isaac Messah, Gondo was not dividing the rice he had properly said he was cheating.
The people you call for the economic sabotage did they hold guns?
Primary Witness: No not physically, but they called them chiefs, because they were influential.
What's about iron ore, did you observe the sale of that too?
Primary Witness: No, I did not observe any of that.
Commissioner Bull: do you have any other name?
Primary Witness: Yes
What is it?
Primary Witness: Stanley Paul Junior
You still a journalist?
Primary Witness: Yes
At this point, Commissioner Bull asked the Witness about the document he was reading from and said since it was different from the statement he had given to the Commission and that he was using it in the Public Hearings; he should sign on all of the pages of the 9 page document, which he did. She then asked for the document from the Chairman so that she would ask few question from it based on what has been said, but the chairman held it and she continue with hear questions.
Where did you learn that?
Primary Witness: At the Liberian Rural Network in collaboration with USAID.
Primary Witness: Monrovia
Primary Witness: 1983-86
What is your duty as a journalist to give information out?
Primary Witness: Yes, to dig out information, receive it, dissect it and give it out as well.
Where is Ebony?
Primary Witness: Ebony was the presidential guest house.
Based on the manner and tune of the questions been asked by Commissioner Bull which the Chairman felt was not appropriate, he called for a five minutes recess which was followed by a 40 minutes lunch break.
Commission recess for one hour....
Commission Resumes...and Commissioner Bull continues with her questions:
How many lives were lost in the Rice riot you think if you know?
Primary Witness: Well thank God the TRC is here now and I think that is part of your work.
Where were you during the Rice Riot?
Primary Witness: I was on my way for Gbarnga to Monrovia when the radio announced that Monrovia was upside down.
Chairman: thank you very much for giving us all the information you have given us today, we can assure you that they were all valuable and will help us a lot in carrying out our work. We have a lot of aims to accomplish and the information supplied today will be used in achieving our objectives. As such we are very grateful to you for the information.
Thirty Seventh Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings
Samuel D. Karnley
(Third Primary Witness of day nine)
The third Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.
Chairman: Mr. Witness, you are welcome to the TRC Hearings process, the commissioners are all here and the people of Liberia are listening to you on radio, as such we want you to explain what happened to you. We want you to tell us the real story.
Primary Witness: thank you sir.
What is your name again?
Primary Witness: I am Samuel D. Karnley.
Are you employed?
Primary Witness: No
You can proceed with your story.
Primary Witness: I am an handicap it all started octopus October 23, 1992. But actually on December 18,1992 Kakata was under attack by ULIMO on the 20 in the next morning we move back to somewhere around the Bong Mines where we got some food stuff like rice and other things and we were about to cross on the other side of Kakata through the 14th road area. While coming towards the market I came in contact with a fellow who was later on identity as Aaron of the NPFL. There was a fellow also know as Geedah who was working with me but he left on top of the market to go around the BWI campus area. He was also a fighter of the NPFL.
Aaron came to me and asked who I was when I answered he said I should put the loads down and from one thing to another he said I was spy from the ULIMO group and I told him no I was not and I insisted out of sudden he said I should go t to his house but how will I go to your house when I don't know the place, he said I say follow me. Then he told me to pick up the loads that he previously told me to drop. While bending down to take the load I just saw myself on the ground by then 3 rounds of bullets were already in my leg. So while struggling with that wound then the Geedah fellow that was me earlier came and he and Aaron nearly jump into fight. Luckily a lady who was in the area had come back and she was the one who gave me two tablets and one injection. I am sure it was by the grace of god that I came from that thing.
So when Aaron and Geedah were arguing their commander Mason Gaye came and took Aaron away by then I was in the wheel barrow. So we tried to get vehicle to go at least Buchanan to get treat but there was no way especially for a civilian. So some soldier boys came and advised that I should call a wounded soldier then soldier pickup will take to the hospital. So I accepted the title as wounded soldier and Mason Gaye came one day and pick me up and carry me to the government hospital in Buchanan. I was under treatment there and the doctor said I was developing tetanus.
I nearly got rotten, by then maggots were entering my leg already so Dr. Coleman who one time became Liberia Health minister advise that my leg be amputated so I was amputated. After some time I decided to go back Gbarnga.
While in Gbarnga ULIMO K and LPC started fighting over control of the area by then NPFL had retreated May because Taylor was in a conference in Ghana by then. LPC captured the area and we started walking back about 14 hours area going towards Palala. Right before reaching to Palala we fell in arm bush and we had to still make our way through to Gbarnga. All of the walking that I was doing was on crutches. ULIMO K was driven out of Gbarnga by LPC.
Around one village around Gbarnga I think called Gbatanda, one afternoon, we heard shouting and just after that we heard a voice saying this is good for pepper soup and when we ran out to see what it, we only saw a human leg in the LPC fellow hand. It was one NPFL soldier who parts they kept cutting off piece by piece until he automatically died.
While in there I was always threatened by the LPC commander there he always told me the he will kill me because according to I am an NPFL soldier. There was no I could run from him because it was his control area.
Gradually I found my way back to Buchanan where I stayed for some time and finally left from there by December 9, 1994 for Monrovia.
Besides what happened to me I personally witness some other bad killings. It was first time seeing human beings being skinned. The first was on the government farm where I witness 40 persons being slaughter under Oliver Varney command and mostly they were foreign nationals. And another was with one General Snake in LPC used to skin people. He was not that kind of big fighter but his wicked way of killing people and tht was his own of work.
Questions from the commissioners:
Chairman: thank you very much and pleas accept our sympathy for the lost of your legs, and for your courage to live and stand up despite the lost of your legs.
Commissioner Bull: you started pasturing after the incident?
Primary Witness: Yes
You said the fellow who did this to you is one is that right?
Primary Witness: Yes that's what I said.
Do you know his whereabouts of the Aaron now?
Primary Witness: I don't know but some time I receive message from Geedah who is also called Abraham Massaley that he will kill Aaron but I wrote him back and told him to for it.
What happened when you had tetanus, you said you had tetanus right?
Primary Witness: I used to hardly talk, my jaw lock no way to talk about eating self, and the room I was in when someone could just knock at the door at once, I used to go off for about 5 minute and come back to myself.
Do you know who headed the LPC at the time?
Primary Witness: Well I heard it George Boley who was heading it.
Commissioner Stewart: who was the senior officer the Kakata at the time of the incident?
Primary Witness: Well, it was Mason Gaye but there were other commanders around like Mosquitoes, Rambo, War-boy 1,2 and 3.
Commissioner Coleman: when did you join life in the ministry?
Primary Witness: Well it was in 1997, but before then I was a Christian.
Would you share with us a little the struggle that was going on at the time in Gbarn if you can?
Primary Witness: Well, it was a kind of seesaw battle. NPFL was in Gbarnga and ULIMO K attack their position and they succeeded in push NPFL out and while they were LPC too came and drove ULIMO K out and when Taylor left the conference in Ghana, the NPFL got the LPC from Gbarnga.
So did these groups have the same objectives?
Primary Witness: No I don't think so because if any of them had the same objective I don't think they would have been attacking each other, because even later LPC started attacking NPFL from Kokoya end.
Which group you think was more gruesome from your own experience, you think.
Primary Witness: Well, rebel is rebel and the only good rebel is the dead one but to answer your question, the LPC was the most gruesome of all in Liberia.
Commissioner Dolopei: you said where and where you walked from with your crutches?
Primary Witness: I first walked from Gbarnga to Quiwounfum to Palala then back Gbarnga and then Buchanan.
Commissioner Kulah: please tell us some of your encounters while you were on these walking?
Primary Witness: Some of the things that I saw was people leaving behind their sibling, children, some throwing their loads away, some being killed, butch up like one dead old man we met on his farm with his ach laying by him which they might have use on him.
Commissioner Konneh: you said which group killed the 40 persons again?
Primary Witness: It was the NPFL and it was Oliver Varney who was the commander that day. They put the people in the truck if you come down they asked for you name then they carry you behind the truck and shot you.
Commissioner Syllah: please throw light on what you think LPC was most gruesome of the factions?
Primary Witness: You know one time or the other I was in one those factions control areas, but it was in LPC area you could see people begging to kill other person, you could be sitting with your friend and out of sudden when he was called you will only his head being planted in front of you, skinning human beings and amputations.
How did you manage when you were shot?
Primary Witness: I said that one lady give me 2 tablets and an injections and through the grace of god that kept me until I was taken to Buchanan.
Do you any of the LPC fighters by name or face?
Primary Witness: For me I was always in side though our house was by road we used to spy through the windows. And by then I never had time to know those people name who will ask for name and they will explain it differently.
Chairman: Thanks you very Mr. Witness for sharing your experience with us and your determination to survive despite your tragedy. So before you leave this is your time to say your last word the Liberian people.
Primary Witness: I think many would want to know what I did when I came to Monrovia. I made my own analysis that those guys who victimized us are being awarded given rice and money at the end of every mother, I think I can join those guys and we take what they are taking. I started benefiting until the men said I was not part of them and they marginalize me. But what I would want to say to anybody is that I am not too sure if that guy can replace my leg or anything can be done to him to replace my leg. But these a need for that man to come to himself or any other person to realize that they did and also I believe there are reasons several other reasons why most of those guys did these things like my little brother he almost join when he heard about what had happened to me and would have escalated the war.
While it is truth that this process is intended to heal the wounds of the country no body should think that people will forget, for I will forgive but how will I forget any time I look at my leg I will remember that some one did this to me. So I will say in this public manner like I have said before that there is a need go a greater mile, after the TRC let there be a court that will set up to try the very people who sat down and plan this was because if there was no planner I don't think there will going to be no war. If this is done I believe it will serve as a deterrent to would rebel leaders, war mongers and planners and let me say one thing before I take my sit, to comprise with evil in the name of peace is never peace but a recipe for more problem. I thank you.
Chairman: thank you very you may now leave. Thank you!
Thirty Eighth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings
Romeo Trokon Cooker
(Forth Primary Witness of day nine)
The forth Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.
Chairman: Mr. Witness, you are welcome to the TRC and we want to say thank you for taking up your time to come and tell the people of Liberia what happened to you. The Commissions and the people of Liberia are listening to and we want you to say the truth and nothing but the truth.
Primary Witness: thank you sir.
You can go ahead with your story.
Primary Witness: First of all I want to thank every member of the TRC for taking off such enormous task for reconciled our people and want to say thanks to the crown for the time.
To be begin with I went through a lot of things, you were either victims or victimizer everyone of us has something about the war and this my portion of the war. I decide to let it go by but one time I went to visit dominion fellowship church and Bishop Kula went there to tell us the need for the TRC and many questions were raised and so forth, but still I did not find it befitting to come and give my testimony to the TRC but later I decided to come and be part of the reconciliation process. I think if reconciliation will go on in Liberia I should be a part because my father was the very first person to be killed in May 31, 1990 in Rivercess, he was the very first person to be killed.
Nobody had to tell me at time I feel very alone when this day reach I can feel it when May 31st each time I can feel that I owe that day to my dad. What I went through and saw that particular day I don't even feel like eating any meat head like fish head or to even see blood it agitate me or so.
It was on may 31st by then Buchanan had been capture and no car traveling on that road, so I went at the hand pump that late evening by 6 - 7 and I spotted a car light and I say ah for long car can pass on this road, so I went and told my dad, he said oh maybe that the people we are expecting.
Later less then 20 - 30 minutes two pick ups stopped by the road. My father had served as tribal chief, justice of the peace and so forth. So these commandos disembarked form the car they were headed by one general Noriga Guann a very tall fellow if I even I see him now I don't think I can remember him any more. He told every one to sit on the ground saying that they are looking for the Doe people because they been eating the government money so every government official must die, so my dad say no me I am not government official, he said shout up and sit on the ground. Just by then he look up on the war and saw a 1995 elections calendar, and asked what that my dad say that the elections calendar, then he said oh that you people cheated our man and give the election to Doe and my dad said I am not with elections commission I am just a common judge. And later he was ordered flogged and finally killed by beheading him and he laid there in pull of blood.
And the next question was where are his children because that that those one will come to do something. I was the elder of the children. He asked who I was and what I was doing there. I said I came for vacation from a mission school and he was my father friend then he said if anyone tells me that you are his son I will kill you I said yes. Because I was a latter bigger, he said I should join in the car, so I told him that I wanted to take my little sister and brother with me because there was no one to leave them with. He agreed, then when I went inside my aunty later told him I was my father son, and that how we got to the bush for nearly 2 -3 months and my dad body laid in the pull of blood from 1991 to 2003 when I had some money and sent to my aunty for her cover the body. This has troubled us for too long. I have lived with this for so long with in school I am affected to the extent that every semester in university I had change one course to another. For ten to eleven years now I have not earn a degree.
But what I want say to every to this body that many died from the war and I am one of those my father was killed I am a victim. And there are many people out there who are saying there is no need to come to the TRC - that bye gone be bygone and every quarter you go to people have different things to say some say TRC is digging out old wounds. And there are reasons why some people did what they did, so there is need for us know the root cause of the conflict in this country, if not you TRC most of you who have brave the storm will be told tomorrow that you were the ones digging out old wounds and you have failed the country. I want this process to be serious so that those who did those things to us can come to realize that they did bad. Even when I was coming people say what you going do there.
I had a situation sometime ago I went with a boy in Sinoe on some kind of business. The place we were we spent 3 days there but the body who was with me refuse to eat the people food, so when I ask him he say me I Grebo man and those people are Sapo and during the war were fighting each other so I can't eat from them. I say but small boy like you havoc this kind of thing then what's about your ma and pa. So I say you better go back to Greenville before you die here. When the war was coming people think the war was coming for special tribe but later it went beyond every group.
And even the tribal leaders they know some of their people let they allow them to come and do what they did too and confess so that we all can have a peace of mind.
Questions from Commissioners:
Chairman: thank you Mr. Witness for sharing not only your experience but your recommendation and your advice to the Commission, and we certainly agree that we all have to come together and unite for a better solution to our problem. We also acknowledge that what happen has to be told. We have to get to the root causes of our conflict and that is the only way we can carry on with our lives. The commissioners will now ask you some questions to clarify some issues with you.
Commissioner Syllah: thank you for coming to the TRC to share your story, how many persons left the house that day when the act was committed against your father? Where were you at the time?
Primary Witness: what I can remember I left the house and took along my little brother and sister and the others ran on their own and I could not locate them. The only time I went back to the house was to collect some few items I needed but it was scarily in the night after few day and the body was still lying in the same position and I don't know where the others might have fled to.
You told us how it affected your life; can you tell us how it affected the life of your brother and sister too?
Primary Witness: Up to today, most of the little ones left had not gone through to the level of recapping what the are learning in school, I was fortunate to have left the rebel line and had gone to school and most of them were there until as such they had overgrown some were nine years, sixteen and so forth. The aspect of going back to school was so hard as such, bulk of them are wayward.
Commissioner Kulah: I just want to sympathies with you for the lost of your father.
Commissioner Dolopei: where is your mother presently?
Primary Witness: My mother is at Login Town.
How many children do your parents have?
Primary Witness: the total of 14 children.
Are you the only educated one?
Primary Witness: I was the first to have come out of High School.
Commissioner Coleman: you mention that the NPFL people were getting rid of the Doe people, could you clarify that?
Primary Witness: Any one that bear the mark of a government official, you were targeted that was the message that was delivered.
Did you say from 1990 to 2001 your father body was lying there and you have to go back and have a burrier for him?
Primary Witness: Yes, when he was killed elders beg the general to burry him and the offer him goats and beg him and he said his people were killed and did not have graves as such no body will be buried in our area. 2001 through some little effort I give money to my aunt and she buried the bones.
Do you understand what he meant by back home, is he coming from and environment where people were killed?
Primary Witness: Yes he is a Gio man; he is from Nimba County where people were also killed.
You recommended a village being built for the burial of the dead, in your view; do you want the village to be built in a central spot or in every county?
Primary Witness: Such village could be built in a central spot due to financial and if it is centralize it will claim Liberia as one Country and it will be symbolic and will show our children unborn that there was a war that fought and that it will guide them not to go into such was and this will unite the people of this nation.
Commissioner Washington: I have two short questions for you, this Noriga you mentioned do you know anything else about him, do you know whether he is alive is there any way the TRC can contact him?
Primary Witness: Yes I think last year, there was a story played on the Star radio about Noriga, I believe he works with the Bureau of Immigration he should be assigned at the Toes Town border some Liberians were coming from Guinea and when they reached the check point and he ran behind them and I think one of them was amputated and I heard this and I had some bad feeling that day, that is how I went to the TRC that very day to testify. If I see him I don't know if I can remember him, but he was a tall fellow. I think the Bureau of Emigration has a file on him.
Commissioner Stewart: sorry for what happened to you. Besides the Noriga fellow, was there any other superior officer in the place whom you could lodge complain to.
Primary Witness: He was the overall commander in Sinoe Maryland Sinoe and Grand Kru. There was no other person to refer to.
Commissioner Bull: Mr. Witness, having heard all you have said, I will say those who know what happened must say it. In your statement you give a full detail of what happened to your family. I want know what town you said Mr. Noriga serves the Bureau of Emigration.
Primary Witness: they said one Toes town to the border that should be either Grand Gedeh.
Commissioner Konneh: you talked of two little children you used in escaping and you said they were your brother and sister, where are they now and how is their condition?
Primary Witness: The girl is in town and at her age, she just enrolled in the Monrovia College this year. The boy is also just left and gone out of town.
Chairman: Mr. Witness, can you give the full name of your dad?
Primary Witness: Thomas W. Cooker
Lastly, what is your vision of the new Liberia you speak?
Primary Witness: As I was coming I read the topic confronting out difficult past for a better future. You know or normally if you look at the past, and you terms to focus on it so much, you won't go at fresh or at new into your future. So I think I envisage a Liberia where people will once more be consider as one people, the tribal issue will go away and the part of the world that God place, we are the only people who can fix it. This is a common factor I think that will make Liberia what it was.
Thank you, once more as a commission we want to thank and say your contribution has added to our work. So you may leave.
Thirty Ninth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings
(Fifth Primary Witness of day nine)
The fifth Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.
Chairman: you are welcome to the TRC Public Hearings. This is a forum where we will all put the country together through recommendation. At the end of its work the TRC will be making recommendations in terms of reparations for victims, in terms of identifying all the things that went wrong, recommendations for amnesty, prosecution and institutional reforms just so that this country can never revisit its ugly past. So you have come and your testimony is expected to contribute tot the process of truth finding by the TRC.
What is your Name?
Primary Witness: I am Juty Dogba.
Are you employed if so by whom?
Primary Witness: No I am not employed
You don't mind telling us your date of birth?
Primary Witness: October 16 1952
You may now proceed with your testimony.
Primary Witness: I have gone through the act creating the TRC only to find out that in-fact it is stated that the reason for the forming the Commission is that we have had malpractice which lead to conflict in the 70s, and I truly disagree with that. There has always been conflict in this country. I think cultural anthropology of the society will tell you that even before the coming of the free slaves there were conflicts and today the conflicts had increased because of the misunderstanding between those transported here by the American Colonization Society and those who were on ground and this lead to the overthrow of the Tolbert government and today we have even more worse situation after Doe took over which resulted into the conflict of the 90s.
To start I want to say I learned from Bishop Benedict Warner that what is wrong with Liberia is Liberian themselves and I want to disagree with that. What is wrong with Liberians is not Liberians themselves, it is the work of foreign forces. It is through the influence of the American Government, we must call a spade a spade and a shovel a shovel. I say this to say that America was far too advance to have brought people here leave them all alone when they have full control on these people.
The chairman interrupted asking the witness as to whether what he was saying was the statement he gave to the statement takers and he said yes, it is a premise leading to the statement that he gave.
Like I said the American government was too advanced to bring people here and leave them in conflict with their brothers without playing a major role in the unification of these people. As such we had a lot of conflicting issue of pioneers, issues of Congor and even the first constitution of Liberia which states that the natives were not part of Liberia. As a result when we got our independence it did not go well with us because other people found themselves more superior them other people and this brought a lot of conflicts up into the 20s where you have the slave trade, then you have the Beckley issues, then you come up to the Coleman and the Tubman and Fahnbulleh and even the wealth of this country. We made a lot of money in this country I the 60s because that was the economic boom after the war but where did this money go, we don't know we can't account for it. The money of private property in this country can not match the money that the government earn, from iron ore, from rubber, from the very tax that is collected from ships, for we have a lot of register ships I mean that money presumably could be somewhere in the Swiss Bank or other banks around the world and in Europe. They are crediting us our leaders are taking our money over there and they are saying nothing and yet they claim to be our friends, creating more hardships for us and we are fighting our leaders because they are stealing our money and they are their friends and don't speak to them and claim to be our supporters. All of these mismanagement lead to Mr. Bacchus Matthews leaving fro the states and coming here and saying this is the time that we should sit and think and act properly. This lead to a little demonstration which would not have taken place had the government consented to certain little things.
Mr. Port came down Gurley Street and said hay boys this is not good, you need to pack these things this is your country we can talk it better and every body excepted. Only President Tolbert did not accept the offer of Albert Port, because he was determine to establish himself as the president of the republic with the power to subdue anything. That is what resulted to the conflict on April 14, 1979.
He thought he had the Army on his side. In-fact we had non army we had security guides like the private security guide we see around here. They were minding people houses, they were never considered as army. He even told the soldiers that they are not soldiers and if they play with him he will bring soldiers to kill them all. So they were not respected. And you know that the army had families as such they will not look at you to kill people like that. At that time it was only the police who could do that for they had a lot of criminals in the police. Tubman's policy was employ rogue to catch a rogue. And so these bad guys in the police force were used to kill people on April 14.
April 14 would have been avoided if the president has felt there should be a compromise but he felt there should be no compromise. The killing of three students on the Gurley Street area then the riot started and so many people died. And we all regretted the incidence, so nobody should say Matthews cause the problem though he is dead today, he is an hero, I hold loyalty to him till I die. He was a man who meant change and could tell you your wrongs and rights and is willing to listen to your problems.
I have a history book which is called "We are Obligated" and it is about President Tubman. It tells you how much Tubman has destroyed this country and all of our resources the moment he got into power. What is more important here is how to fix the problem after the war. We can stand on our feet if we can coop
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