Voinjama City: Day 1

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The First day of the TRC Public Hearings Proceedings held on Monday April 14, 2008 at the Voinjama City Hall, Lofa County. The Hearings session started with the Commissioners of the TRC being ushered into their seats followed by a display from the students of the county and the singing of the national anthem by the audience. The TRC County Coordinator for the county was called upon to introduce members of the TRC and the County Authority present at the occasion. This was followed by a speech from the Superintendent of the county who was represented by the County Inspector after which the representative of the Traditional Chiefs and Elders of the County presented Kola Nut to the Commissioners signifying their support to the process. The Chairman rounded it up with his welcome speech and introduced the Commissioners of the TRC to the audience after which he declared open the Hearings Process.

James C. Mulbah, City Mayor, Voinjama City: Hon. Superintendent, Chairman and members of the TRC here present our chiefs, securities, our partners in progress, women leaders, religious group, students my fellow citizens of Lofa County. On behalf of the chairman and members of the city council, in the citizens of Voinjama and in my own name I have the distinguished honor and pleasure to recommend all of you in our own city. We are saying here and we are saying that Voinjama belongs to all good citizens of Liberia. If you look at the window there you will see "Voinjama city there is no discrimination, we are one". At this public manner we want to express our thanks and appreciation to this government that after fifteen years of wars somebody is bringing us together. In this public manner we want you to extend our thanks and appreciation to our president for organizing this forum. This is about a time that if you are a citizen of Liberia you have love for your country this is about the time that you must come out to express what has happen to you. It is from this expression that we will build this county so without much to say I am calling on all citizens of Lofa county more particular in Voinjama city to come our and support the TRC. This is the time that we must be heard; this is about the time that we build this country. Thank you very much you are welcome this is your home!

Traditional Elders: Hon. Kortimai, superintendent of the Lofa county, chairman and members of the TRC here present my mothers and father of the tradition and people of Lofa county and people of Lofa county we want to say we are happy to see here in Lofa county to carried out the hearings. We want to say welcome this is few white kola nuts we the traditional people this what we do when you come to our county it is a white kola to should you that we have white heart for you so hon. Kula this is the kola nuts.

Hon. Garlakpai W. Kortimai, Superintendent, Lofa County: On behalf of the people of Lofa county I want to thank everyone of you here in deed we are gratified that toady again marks of the history day in Lofa county we want to tell you feel at home and we call on the citizen of the Lofa county according to the bible in the book of Ecclesiastic they say it is time for everything so this the TRC process since we took over there have been a lot of workshop and statement taker been going about and in some these workshop we told you that there will be a time when we will sit down to discuss what happen in Lofa so I want to tell you speak now or you will for ever hold you peace. The TRC is not prosecuting arm this is why they say you have all rights to share your member in public or in private. It is true that everyone have something to say. It is because of this I have left all of your other engagements in Monrovia to be here and I think that we are not see our commissioners here but I am sure that they were here soon.

Friday is the T-day that is will be the time where you will be challenging me to speak on your behalf. Lofa use to be in the county of peace what ever problem we have here our uncles and our nephew will just come and say this is finish and right there it can be finished and now we want the TRC to act as the uncle in our situation we be the nephews in order for us solve our differences. I want to say thank you to the TRC and welcome. I thank you!

Chairman: Hon. Superintendent, hon. Mayor, commissioners of Lofa county, our elders and traditional leaders youth and students our partners and our, women group, our UNMIL partners, our religious groups, members of the securities forces members of the marketing association, friends fellow citizens ladies and gentlemen.

We at the commission are very proud, hon. Superintendent to be in your county today and very appreciative of the warm welcome you have accorded us. You spoke moments ago about the TRC process just like any other commissioners here would do because indeed now is the time to speak after the TRC process the opportunity would have been lost and confession definitely brings about healings and that is the entire philosophy, the entire thinking of the TRC that we should come together as Liberians and talk about the past. Our native people say you can sit on the old mat to plait the new one. If we don't discuss what happen yesterday if we don't find out the problems that caused the war 14 years ago it will be difficult for us live together in peace and unity tomorrow. The TRC is about the future of Liberia. Our experience shows that our past has been as nothing but conflicts lost of life and destructions, we are worried about the future of our children the youth what can we do as people today to avoid conflict and make sure we have a better future we thank you all honorable superintendent and people of Lofa for welcoming the TRC to this county.

Following the introduction of the commissioners and their respective oversight responsibilities the chairman said "with that we want to formally, hon. Superintendent, we want to formally declare the public hearings in Voinjama, Lofa county formally opened'!

The fact that we are here, as the superintendent said it was established some where, to come together to find a way that we will never have war in Liberia again. And we pray that at that at the end of the TRC process, we all will say, never, never again. Thank you very much and welcome.


First Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in
Voinjama, Lofa County
Patricia Kanneh
(First Primary Witness of day one)

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: We want to say thank for come the process intended to foster the reconciliation process in Liberia and we see this the way forging away having said that we have asked you preliminary questions after that you will continue with your testimonies and right after that the commissioners will ask you few question for clarification.

Your name again?

Primary Witness: Patricial Kanneh

Where were you born?

Primary Witness: Bolahun town, Kolahum district

What is your date of birth?

Primary Witness: 23 years

What is your occupation?

Primary Witness: Student

Primary Witness: During the LURD forces war in April 2001 I was attending Bolahum when the war came in 2001 the LURD came and attacked us then I went to my home I was not going to school again I got pregnant and the person who I got pregnant for he asked me that we should go across to sierra Leone then I say no I say mother here then my mother say I should go then I agreed we were in Yagama then LURD came there again then we ran in the bush for one week then in the second week we were lying down we are already sleeping they were six persons they raped us then they took everyone outside we were 8 in number three boys and 5 girls then they carried us to their boss then he choose me then he say your carry her that room I was pregnant for 4 months then he say want sleep with I say but I am pregnant then he say oh! that dog I can born then put the gun on my head the he forced me then when he left then one other boy came again with knife in his hand then he say he want to have me again...he say if I talk he will kill me then when day break. the other girl she was a virgin she was crying then they carry I was vomiting I was sick then they brought food them some for the other people hid themselves and ran away then they came back and asked me for the people, I say I don't know then they started beating me they beat me until blood came from my nose then the boy who was with me they beat the boy until his jaw was swollen I beg them not to kill the boy we spent three days there then I told them that I want to go to my people then in the morning they say I must go them be the boy we jump in the bush when we went we cross the RUF put all our load and took all them they took all from us for us to eat it was very hard we had to cut contract before ewe eat when I deliver it never reach one month I was to under the palm tree to cut palm before I eat I was there for three years that is the end of my story [soft crying follows].

Questions from the commissioners

Chairman: can you remember the year?

Primary Witness: 2001

What is the name of the boy who was with you when they beat your?

Primary Witness: No

Can you remember any of the LURD people name?

Primary Witness: No, I only heard on Digger name

Even the commander?

Primary Witness: No

What about the RUF people?

Primary Witness: In Bayama, Sierra Leone border the RUF commander name was Jinna

Commissioner Konneh: which group did these things to you?

Primary Witness: That the government forces

Who was the commander of the government group?

Primary Witness: I was only hearing the name one digger

If you see some of them you can remember them?

Primary Witness: No

Where is your mother now?

Primary Witness: They killed here

Who killed her?

Primary Witness: The government troop

What happen to your child?

Primary Witness: Nothing

Boy or child?

Primary Witness: Girl she is going to school

What happened to the other people that they took you with?

Primary Witness: I have not seen them since the war

What about the other boys?

Primary Witness: They are alive I can remember them.

Commissioner Coleman: who did LURD meet here when they came?

Primary Witness: Government forces

Was there a fighting between them?
Primary Witness: Yes they were fighting

Where you them?

Primary Witness: I was in the bush it was where they government forces met us

What were they doing?

Primary Witness: They were only looking for the civilian in the bush

Why?

Primary Witness: They were just behind the civilian in the bush when they see the young girls they will have them as their wife, for force people thing from them as well.

They force anyone to join them?

Primary Witness: Yes

While they were doing this they were fighting LURD?

Primary Witness: I was in the bush but I did not see LURD

What about ULIMO?

Primary Witness: I was small but I heard about them

Commissioner Washington: were you able to seek medical attention

Primary Witness: No

Why?

Primary Witness: No help

If you have the opportunity would you like such?

Primary Witness: Yes

Where the RUF working with the government forces?

Primary Witness: They were in Sierra Leone that where we met them

How long they stay here or the government militia?

Primary Witness: I can't remember after this thing happen to me I went to Sierra Leone

Commissioner Stewart: how long you in Sierra Leone?

Primary Witness: 3 years

Who was in control then?

Primary Witness: RUF

What was name of the government commander in this area before LURD came?

Primary Witness: No

Which group killed your mother?

Primary Witness: Government force

Where?

Primary Witness: Godalahun,

What year?

Primary Witness: In 2002

Where is your father now?

Primary Witness: He is dead also in the war

Commissioner Syllah: how is live like for you since your parents are no more?

Primary Witness: It is difficult for me but I am hard for I am trying only my uncle trying for me .

How old is your son, they one you were pregnant with when they captured you?

Primary Witness: 5

Have you experienced any problem since then?

Primary Witness: No, I have had other children since then self

Are they going to school?

Primary Witness: Yes

Since then have you been able to see any other your friends?

Primary Witness: No

Chairman: How many children do you have?

Primary Witness: 3

Can you give us their names?

Primary Witness: Mohfaan Kanneh -girl-7 yrs, Ciagama Kanneh-girl-5 years Adama Kanneh-boy-1 ? yrs

They live you?

Primary Witness: No only one

How your father died?

Primary Witness: He died before the war from sickness.

How your mother was killed?

Primary Witness: I was not there I got the news that she was killed by the government troops.

What was your mother name?

Primary Witness: Dusu kamara

Primary Witness: Last word: I want to tell the TRC thank you very much for coming it is hard to say but I want to the TRC to help the people so that they can be educated so that they can forget about all these fighting, when your help the people to be educated then they will not fight again.

End of day One of the TRC Public Hearings Lofa County


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