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The fifth day of the TRC Public Hearings Proceedings held on Tuesday January 15, 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.
Sixteenth Primary Witness of the TRC Public Hearings
Joshua Milton Blayea
(First Primary Witness of day five)
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: Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning Mr. Witness.
Primary Witness: Good morning.
Chairman: We want to say welcome to today's episode of the TRC.
Primary Witness: Thank you chairman.
Chairman: The Commissioners are all here present; we are here to hear your testimony. These hearings that are given to the TRC, they are intended to help the commission in understanding what conspired during our conflict period from 1979 to 2003. And to put the Commission in the position, to make appropriate recommendations, that we can get peace and reconciliation. This is the entire Commissioners and we appreciate all our witnesses who volunteer to come and go through this process. We think it's an obligation we are doing for our country and which we are looking forward for the truth. As we now ask you to proceed with your testimony, you may choose to stand or sit.
What is your name?
Primary Witness: My name is Joshua Milton Blayea.
Chairman: Are you employed?
Primary Witness: No.
Chairman: Where do you resident?
Primary Witness: I'm presently in Ghana with my family. I just came
down for this process.
Chairman: What is your date of birth?
Primary Witness: 30th of September 1971.
Chairman: Okay, You may proceed.
Again I'm Joshua M. Blayea, I'm from the Krahn tribe, the section known as the Sapo. And I happened to be the priest for the entire Krahn tribe at the tender age of 11. At 11 years, I was sworn in an initiated to be the priest of my tribe. And as a priest, the orientation was to protect and defend the well being of the tribe. President Doe being a Krahn tribe, I had to protect and provide security for him as a Krahn man traditionally. 1989, when the war started, I, along with Old man Jaswen, Uzeo Barway, Yonplu Tele were invited to give our traditional support to the president being our subject. The four names that were called, the two of us, Old man Jaswen and I were the traditional priests, of different ranks. Uzeo Barway and Yonplu Tele were traditional warriors of different ranks. We came down during 1990; we came to give our support to the president. We did everything we could do. I did everything I could do to protect the interest of the president as related to the tribe. Jaswen, for some reason, he said, he was going back to do some fortifying, to do some sacrifice and come back. He never returned and the responsibility as a priest was left with me. That is to provide protection, traditional marks, for members of the ethnic group that were soldiers. My protection was not supposed to cover anyone outside the tribe. So everyone who was part of the tribe, I was giving them protection. When the president die, it was frustration, the tribe got in Disarray and so my position as a priest became more tedious in protecting the tribe, from every part of the country that I could reach. And then the tribe went into exile, most of the people went to exile. The tribe decided to come back under the name ULIMO. When they came, I was not too effective because they were mixed with different tribe, mainly the Mandingos, who were in authority. And my protection could not spread over them. So it was like, it stop my effort, my contribution to the group was partial and conditional. So it was never felt. Until the ULIMO split, they became ULIMO K and ULIMO J. ULIMO J, my tribe, was in authority. So my role was felt. They came to me to continue the protection for the tribe. At that time, it was not the traditional season to make protection, so I needed to physically take part. And as a priest, I was not suppose top defile my office before my subjects. So, normally when the tribe or the faction were to go, for example go to Bomi, for rescue mission, I will take the
Before they come and take over. I do everything I could do, use all my traditional powers to subdue the ground before the fighting men reach there. So we had an agreement, because as a priest leads that going to court or going to fight was a reduction. My office, it was defiling to my office. So I needed to make human being sacrifice to the said Deities or the gods that I was representing to the tribe. That was where my physical action of destroying my fellow Liberians came from. Every town I entered, the agreement was, after we conquer or captured, they will give me the chance to carry out my sacrifice to the deities. When I captured ground, I will come back and rest, and when there are Intensive missions. The leadership again will call me and I will go back to accomplish those mission. After accomplishing those missions, I will return. Accomplishing the mission required human sacrifices. It will be agreed between the political leaders, most of them, such Roosevelt Johnson, General Lincoln, they never wanted the killing to be done in the open. They wanted the sacrifice to be done in secret, because they said, it was diminishing their image as a faction, as a political body, their political Interest. And that most of the time when they are rejecting, we negotiate how many people that are for this mission will accept. Sometimes when they agree, they will want to do it secretly. The truth here is, there was no one that come up to say, besides some of the fighters, I, Joshua Milton Blayea kill my child or kill my brother because all of these things were done in secret. Like I said, beside the fighters, when we capture the town, they display the children who are the ones to be the victim. I was back in the town it was reported in Bomi Hills that one Dada, think he was the captain or General of ECOMOG, the Nigerian Contingent at the time. They make plan and was given a secret assignment an assignment by Taylor to disarm ULIMO J from their arms and ammunitions. And he was offering the young boys a bag of rice and 200 dollars for each arm. Before ULIMO J could realize, the entire arm were stolen by the children. The children dug under the ground in the bush to our armor and ammunitions were kept. Right after that we heard of an occurrence and that ULIMO K disarmed ECOMOG from the Lofa Bridge because the buffer zone between ULIMO J and ULIMO K was Gbarnga. We were at sawmill, they were at Lofa bridge. So ECOMOG had some of their men in Lofa bridge to monitor ULIMO K boundary, they had their men at sawmill to monitor our ULIMO J boundary while the actual division was in Gbarnga. This day, new saw ECOMOG retreating and they said they have been disarmed by ULIMO K. And we insisted that if ULIMO K we fighting we do not have arms and ammunitions, they can not cross Gbarnga or they should all go to Gbarnga and stay there or at sawmill. If they want to leave at all, they should give us their arms and ammunitions and, they said they were disarmed by us. And for what so ever, they refused and wanted to put up resistance, then fighting broke up between ULIMO J and ECOMOG. That was what led to the ECOMOG armor tank being ceased. In that we fought with ECOMOG and right after there, some of them ran to cape mount, they were hiding in the women bush because it was the season at that time. One of our generals was strongly protecting these people, that no one should loot or harass them which was Mana Zakay. We reported to him, he went and told them, the Capemount people that ECOMOG was hiding in their bush and he said those women, those zoes swear and that what they said was truth, they could no be seen by any man. So we accepted it and retreated. Unfortunately, for the whole incident, I choose to say unfortunately, but during those days I'll say fortunately for us. But unfortunately, a truck of ECOMOG was arm bush and we took off all their uniforms and put them on our boys and they started talking like ECOMOG and went back to Robertsport. When the citizen saw them, they now invited them to the Sande bush to turn their brothers over to them not knowing they were our boys that were dressed in ECOMOG uniform. We took them from there and brought them to Mahead. A place in Gutreach and Mana Zakay was called. We told him what happened and could not believe for he never expected we could discover what went on. That is how it occurred. After that mission, we return to Monrovia and for some reason, in March, Roosevelt Johnson was announced in 1996 to be disarmed. They search his home and arms were taken from there. From his home, we were on 19th street when Water Nuah came and said that Charles Taylor sent him some arms and food so as to get rid of Johnson and support him, to get rid of ULIMO K because they are foreigners. He reported the food and told Johnson off front, that he agreed to take the food, collect the money but refused to accomplish Taylor's mission. And out of a sudden, he came back again and told us that Ama Yulo was in Bomi with him, asking him that they are from the same place and he want them to take over the faction. That Taylor is going to do everything he can to support him to the core, and he also reached us and he told him that it was not necessary. In that March, Johnson's house was searched and at that time we saw Amah Yulo was coming on the fore front, trying to talk to same of us who he knew as top fighters and traditionalist to join him because Roosevelt Johnson was not a Krahn man, he was a Greebo man and we should not support him. We refused him. He and Radey CP should leave that bank the initial people should take over. It turned to a very big conflict and one day, we noticed that other boys had accepted to join Amah Yulo. When they came to 19th street, with riot, they came, they started shouting and we started putting on defense, protecting our principal man Roosevelt Johnson. What spark up the whole thing was when Roosevelt Johnson was accused of murder and this was a strategy that was planned by Amah Yulo boys to set arm bush around the 16th street area, and then a group of them, were brave and then they came to 19th street. At that time, we never had arms. They started stoning the house and some of them enter the fence. And bust some of the glasses. They decided to provoke us and we were provoked and we started running towards their arm bush. One Dweh, he was the one who broke the glasses in Roosevelt Johnson's fence so he was almost late, he was far, one other guy from the group that was running, we got close, they thought all of their men have cross their shooting target, they started shooting. And Dweh was shot and he dropped dead. We all scatter and came back to 19th street. The next morning, we heard that Johnson was to be arrested for murder and we resisted and we were not happy. So we said it was not be possible, because we know that Johnson was not the one responsible for the death of Dweh, when we started talking to them, and they did not listen, that how we jump in the street, we became lawless, we ECOMOG and everyone we saw in the area that we did not trust, we started hunting them. They intervene, and asked us to stop, but we refused to accept the appeal. And we said, Roosevelt Johnson was not turning himself over, In fact, we locked him up in the room General Dugbah and himself, so that he will not turn himself over. One morning, on the 6th of April, we heard gun firing around us. We never had sufficient arms. But few days before that time we were in the area, we saw the fighting was sure thing. I went to West Point, took a canoe, that carry me to Robertsport, collected arms and peddle from Robertsport overnight back to Monrovia to 19th street. That's how we started the April 6th war. The April 6th war continued, and I continued making sacrifices to my gods or my deities. When the tribe performs the traditional rights, before going to the front that is how we can penetrating and I committed all those atrocities here, to the people of Liberia.
Primary Witness Joshua Milton Blayea breaks down in tears.
As far as I'm concerned, I want to say, I'm sorry, to this nation, want to say sorry...
I want to say to the TRC and thank them for giving me the opportunity to come here.
Questions from the Commissioners
Chairman: What is the period of time in which you were active in your ritual?
Primary Witness: 1982-1996
Did you have any experience of the Lutheran Church massacre?
Primary Witness: I know that I was I went on the Lutheran church; I know that it was done by the AFL our tribal group, but I can not point out precisely people who implemented it. I know that that very evening the president left the mansion and went to the sinkor area; as such I don't know whether he was there. At that time I was responsible for spiritual issues I had my shrine in Sonniwen where the soldiers used to come for marks.
Commissioner Bull: are you aware of the TRC motto of, Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation?
Primary Witness: Yes.
Are you the same one they called General Butt naked?
Primary Witness: Yes.
You were a priest for 11 years from 1982?
Primary Witness: Yes,
Are you the same Blayea, they called evangelist Balyee?
Primary Witness: Yes,
As a priest what do you know about the supreme council?
Primary Witness: I was 11 when I was made a priest and only stopped in 3rd grade as such I don't know any supreme council.
Commissioner Stewart: why did you decide given this past that others are conceiving, to come to the TRC?
Primary Witness: Cause I think they told me that I should tell the truth and the truth will set me free. I tried it over the years since 1996 and the more I told the truth the more relief I become. It has been evident over the years and the truth had set me free. Another reason is that it will be unfair to this nation if I did not say what I did and telling them in detail what had happened, I am sure they will forgive me for what I have done to them.
Did you say you have a congregation?
Primary Witness: Stewart: I do not have a congregation, I am a crusader.
Since 1996, do you remember any individual that were victimize by you?
Primary Witness: Yes, I have seen several.
Can you throw more light on what you do as an evangelist working with young people?
Primary Witness: Not just young people but a crusade to nations. I went to Cameroon and talk to a Clan that is known for witchcraft and they were able to desist from such attitude. In Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Sierra Leone Ghana, and here in Liberia every where I go I preach respect, how parents should stand for their children and how to keep them away from harm.
Commissioner Washington: Are there any other political leader that you want to share with us?
Primary Witness: For ULOMO J we were operating with field commanders but with two leaders Roosevelt Johnson was responsible for Political link and Lincoln for military link. I was taking orders directly from Roosevelt Johnson and General Lincoln
Can you give us the first name of Lincoln?
Primary Witness: No.
So you were like almost a boss unto yourself?
Primary Witness: Yes.
Can you remember some of your superiors?
Primary Witness: Yes but actually the April 6 war I was like went outlaw to make impact as expected, Aaron Kiede, Michael Kooler, Abraham Tooted, they were over me, but the role I was playing I was a commander on my own.
You mentioned the sacrifices, can you give us a number of causalities of your fighting or scarifies?
Primary Witness: I will not know the whole total of ULIMO J. if I want to calculate the April 6 and through out the war, it should not be less then two hundred thousand 20,000.
You said two places of massacre you mentioned Madoma and what's the other place?
Primary Witness: Cape mount had two towns in which the massacres were committed, but the casualties was not up to 30 person
Would you please give us the name of the place?
Primary Witness: One was in Robert sport itself
For the sake of clarity, was it your group in the area of the 3rd massacre in Marshall, Guthrich.
Primary Witness: There is a bridge to Guthrich, at the bridge there is a little town. I was the commander there and there was shooting and we went there to repel the attack and we met a lot of dead people and we had to assist those of them that survive night.
Did I hear you say you were in Bomi area; I didn't get that part clear?
Primary Witness: It was in our control area and the enemy forces came, did the massacre and escaped. Once you are in there, the enemies had the upper hand and they will hit and run to their base. Before we came at the time they had finished and started retrieving.
What was behind the whole butt naked issues?
Primary Witness: Normally material is a serious hindrance to every spiritual side so when I had on cloth to carry on my spiritual ability would be hard, but if I am naked, I would have my powers in 15v seconds as such I had to be nicked. When it had to do with the house to house in Monrovia I had to be naked. On other side people never saw me nicked.
You mention about Dada from ECOMOG what was about him?
Primary Witness: He used the young children to take our arms and ammunition.
Who was Raddy Seke that you mentioned in your testimonies?
Primary Witness: He was the battle front commander for ULIMO J. He was riding on one of the slot of ULIMO J as a Bank Governor when the country was factionalized. Every faction had a slot as at then. 1995 at the time I had arms ECOMOG came and said they were disarmed by ULIMO K and we had no arms and ammunition for it was disarmament and so we seized them and did not allow them to go. We thought it was a set up for allowing ULIMO K to get at us, but at the end of 1995 Charles Taylor and ULIMO K had a fight.
How do you know that the former president was in sinkor or the occurrence of the Lutheran massacre?
Primary Witness: He was a principle person we were all protecting as such every side he goes, attention is focus there.
Since you stop fighting and you got converted, have you been tempted to fight?
Primary Witness: Yes I was approached in 1998, I was in the church The Ark of Jesus Christ and the next day my name was on the radio that I was then fighting and every body said I should use the UN car and leave the country and I refuse. I went on air and preached and went to Kiss FM and told them to retrieve the statement. Several fighting went and I did not tale part. I was in Ghana one tome and Seckou Sacker and offer me position with the LORD for offer me money and jeep and I refused. The time was ruff, but I refuse. They offer me lot of money but I rejected it.
Were you part of the fighting group that captured Dumuoya?
Primary Witness: I don't know if I have the option not to explain that for I see the wrong projection on that. I know he was capture and he was capture for the barracks.
What do you expect of the Liberian people since you have given your testimony?
Primary Witness: I expect their true mind now that they have heard my testimony, if they can forgive me.
Commissioner Coleman: would you share with us the experience of your conversion?
Primary Witness: I was overwhelmed by the love and the respect that my lord and savors Jesus show me the question was asked when I was first commission that a lady turned over a child to me for slaughter for the defense of the tribe, it was at that time after killing the child the dividing heat of the boy that Jesus appear in the form of a white lining but it was brighter then the sun and my eye could not see it and I had to bow down to see this. This is what he said "my son why are you slaving, why are you living as a slave" because at that time I was a king if I give any command it must be executed and he said you are suppose to be a king but living as a slave. He said a king seventh is at the shoe but yours is at your shoulder. I never under stood it but I have being affiliating with deities and know I have been a spirit being who have been the most powerful spirit being I have ever seen. I went to fight I held my pistol to shoot and I could not, I shot a rocket it could not and I knew I had to leave fighting. A group came to me and said fighting was high and I went there to fight and bullet form AK of Martina hit me three times and I was afraid I had to leave. It did not touch me but I was afraid. A group of prayer warriors called the Soul Leading Ministry came to me to pray for me saying they were sent by the lord. They were praying for me and had a crusade called Operation Destroy Egypt. April 6 war was the day we lost a lot of General and the people were there praying for me and after 64 days of fasting and praying the evil spirit left me.
What would you say is the root of the god that you worshiped?
Primary Witness: Devilish
Is this a like to the Maryland human disappearances or sacrifice?
Primary Witness: Exactly so, the devil is spread in different corners and he attack areas differently and the attacked are all the same.
Would you say that all of the political leaders who stayed alive pay homage to this convenient?
Primary Witness: Exactly so
Would you say that the president Doe was part of this, I mean did he also worship the deity?
Primary Witness: Yes, he was even one of my sub priests. We planted an alter in the mansion. If you can remember in 1990 we planted a lot of craft around Monrovia and thought the Masonic craft was even below us and we wanted the entire cabinet member to pay homage to him.
Are the traditional worshipers also linked to that of the deity?
Primary Witness: They are not linked to it, that deity is the promise boss in the south east. The Poro the Sandi are different but they also pay homage to the devil directly or indirectly.
What do you say about the continuation of this priesthood?
Primary Witness: I know that the priest hood when I got converted and I was with my spiritual father Bishop Konkon, people like Kai Fallay and other came to make demand of the symbol I dad but I told them they were capture and did not know where they were. There were some I turned over to the church. Lot of them were killed when the try to approach the deity. Until Old man Jeswin who said there was a spiritual deity ragging horror in the south eastern and he needed his permission to calm it down ant it was given and he did that.
Would you give us an understanding on where most of those weapons came from?
Primary Witness: When I was fighting I was not interested in arms, I was only making sure my spiritual powers was intact.
Do you have any understanding of Mr. Taylor himself being part of the deity?
Primary Witness: I can't tell.
Commissioner Dolopei: did the doe cabinet pay homage to that deity?
Primary Witness: Yes, they pay homage directly and indirectly. There are some time we took them to Tuzon and some they had to eat food that had the powers of the deity.
Is the pot or cobi that you planted in the Mansion still there?
Primary Witness: I can not tell for I have not gone to the mansion since 2004
Can anyone remove that pot?
Primary Witness: It is a spiritual thing and only spiritual people can take it out.
Do you expect all Liberian to forgive you?
Primary Witness: I am not expecting them to all forgive me but I am begging them to forgive me.
If anyone deems it to not accept your apology are you ready to face any prosecution?
Primary Witness: I was told that yes TRC can recommend amnesty or persecution. I was also told that all of these statements that I was giving to the TRC can not be used by anyone to take legal action against me. But I also know that if anyone decide to take me to task I will say everything I am saying here and it will be left to the lord to decide what ever the court say to be what they want it to be.
Are most of the people you mentioned still alive?
Primary Witness: Some are alive some are dead.
Would you say anything about Arma Yulu?
Primary Witness: He my subject from 1982 as a Krahn as a priest every other Krahn man fall under me for I can consult for to the deity of protection. Let me clearly say that most of them may not have know, they just look at it as a rock but in that rock was where my thrown was. So people who were directly in contact with us in the war, Ama Yulo and Roosevelt were close to General Carpet. Mr. Kromah came in and was willing to sponsor the return the tribe in exile and other Mandingos in Sierra Leone but came in with the proposition of Carpet, threatening everybody no matter how much money you had, he wanted to take out Carpet. And one day it was reported that carpet was killed and Yulo and Johnson were the ones suspected when the Sierra Leonean government investigated it was Arma Yulo who was responsible and that was where Johnson and Kromah problem started and when Taylor wanted to have him it was negotiated and he came out of prison.
Commissioner Kula: why did you commit yourself to protected Roosevelt Johnson when he was not a Krahn man but a Greebo?
Primary Witness: He was a mouth piece of the Krahn tribe and married a Krahn woman, in fact when the problem came between him and Yulo was when people knew he was not a Krahn. But the interest of the Krahn people is what we were protecting so even an American can be protected for the Krahn interest.
What happened to those children who dug the ground and took all your arms in your dumps?
Primary Witness: We did not know who they were. In fact it is that theory that I based my argument on that if ECOMOG decided to pay for arm and not who you fight for, they will get all the arms. Those children dug from a long distance to our arms and they took them and sold them. They were small soldiers and we did not know them.
Primary Witness: I don't understand your question.
How you think you can make use of the leadership charisma that you have?
Primary Witness: UMIL was paying 100 dollars and 3 hundred and I went to communities and took arms with out paying a cent. I went to Solodi and turn it to Zion base and took 50 terrible criminals and made them to good men and give their lives to Christ. I me t several of the bad gangs in this town and they have turned to good men and are living in a three bed room house giving them three meals a day. This is all form the charisma you have observed.
What can Liberia as a nation learn from the Krahn ethnic with regards to their strong bonds or ties?
Primary Witness: Every body have their own life and should have their own lesion plan, such that the nation should look at it and see what they can learn. I don't think I can suggest, but once it is a band, unity of human being should go above faction bond tribal bond and sectional bond. If I can teach any lesion from there is for the Krahn tribe to extend their band to be borderless.
Commissioner Sheikh: is it unique at that age to initiate you by then?
Primary Witness: It was unique in my case. I was the youngest to ever be king; the second youngest person was 57. Every other person was above 67.
Was your initiation called for my gods or was the vision of the previous priest?
Primary Witness: The deity chooses its own priest and the mentor falls on first children. My father was the one to be the priest but he was corrupted, he was educated and wealthy as such he would not defend the priest hood well as such he was to bring his first son. Benedict was rejected because he was not culture, as such they insisted that my father have a wife from the tribe to have a son to take the mentor and my mother who was already married had to leave her marriage to marry my father and they both left their marriages and married and that is how I was born.
Is this priesthood a normal cultural of your kinsmen?
Primary Witness: Yes
So your involvement in the civil war for a tribal issus not of national issue?
Primary Witness: Yes
Can you estimate the number of victims you use for the sacrifice?
Primary Witness: More then 20,000. Every killing I was doing from 11 years of age.
How often were people killed according to the rituals?
Primary Witness: Some people do it every leap year some people every year but under my priest hood, it was every month.
You planted a cobi in the mansion and the cabinet paid homage were it done knowingly or unknowingly?
Primary Witness: Most of them who consciously partook of it were his favorites; those of them who refused were doing it unconsciously. They were given food to put them under the suggestion of our deity. They food u use to see us eating when use to come to RJ
Are you in a better position to go and uproot that cobi that you planted in the mansion?
Primary Witness: More better placed.
Are you prepared to go and uproot the pot from the mansion?
Primary Witness: If you are all prepared to accord the faith of what I will use for the instrument that I am using then I think we are at a very good side. If it still exist there, for I had not gone there for a long time. The same 1995 we recommended to Doe to plant the flag and seal at the Putu Mountain and except you pay allegiance to them you can never have peace. And in 2003 we turn the flag and seal over to the church in Ghana and the country has been seen peace since then. On the 20 of August I went to the Putu Mountain and uprooted the flag and seal as I sit here.
Commissioner Syllah: what happened to the truck of ECOMOG soldiers that fell in your ambush at the Lofa Bridge?
Primary Witness: we lose men and they also lose men. They escape and jump in the bush and came to Bomi and our big men were arrested and that is how we started fighting them.
How many men were released to you in the women's bush?
What happen to the women in your area of control?
Primary Witness: I did not go for the releasing of those men but they were more then 44.
You never committed other crimes against women?
Primary Witness: Actually in my control area, the people I fought with were seriously warned against woman and looting. The issue of women was forbidden for the accuracy of my evil spirit and looting for the issue of my deity, that when you are looting and have money, you will have divided attention.
So you did not see any of your men rapping women?
Primary Witness: I can not count, for it was not to my knowledge.
How can you compromise your being as a priest and now evangelist?
Primary Witness: It can not be compromised, one is evil and one is extremely tolerable. I wrote a book here that I have the detail of my life, training priest for royal priest hood, showing that the first priest hood is lower then the last one.
Chairman: what's your relation with your kens men now?
Primary Witness: I have been preaching, one of my brothers is a pastor in Ghana and a lot of my junior brothers giving their lives to Christ and other Krahn brothers giving their lives to Christ so that the tribe can have a path in the way of the lord.
Commissioner Bull: what year did you desecrate the flag and seal at the Putu Mountain?
Primary Witness: Last year august 22, 2007.
Did you remember the incident at the refugee camp when a lady said that your rape her sister to death, and you just said to my colleague question that you did not commit crimes against women?
Primary Witness: Yes but that story was not rightly placed, I even have it in my book, it was done by the boys I had behind me. My boys were beaten by the some people connected to the girl and they beat my boys and I went there a told the boys to rape all the girls in that house.
Is there anything special about the flag and the seal?
Primary Witness: They are the pillow of every nation because the flag is a kind of worship emblem the seal is the confession and the debt of the nation. What ever is on the seal is planted in the mind of every one in the country, so making rapture of it gives you control under that seal. Every human is guided by their belief and the belief is guided by the act of belief. If we all decide to worship, this microphone it becomes dedicated and anyone having it will be paying kin attention due to the belief as such they are serious symbols to be paid allegiance to consciously or unconsciously.
Did the president come to you for consultation?
Primary Witness: Anytime time I wanted to see him for I was in the watch for him. If he understood the spiritual role he wouldn't come for I will always see anything coming to him. But our plight was tempered with when the leader of the INPFL went into the barracks to spoil the coy that was planted there and the coy planted in Doe by the Poro society, as such the coy was tempered with that is why he used to come to me. Otherwise there was no need for him to come for I will always coming to him.
So Prince Johnson entrance at the barrack broke the cords with the president?
Primary Witness: Exactly so.
During the doe's time, there were many troubles 1983, 1985 were you aware? What did you do about them as priest?
Primary Witness: Many of them was not natural coops, they were demonic, many of the time he complain and we did not see what was actually going on.
Commissioner Konneh: what was the coy that was broken between Flazamington and Doe that he was arrested and prosecuted?
Primary Witness: In my own words, the president had an interest and Flazamington was not able to execute the interest. For now, no traditional person can name their child Samuel K. Doe because he was not able to deliver. Kana Symbah who was a commander at shuflin thought he could play it well, but Doe did not play it well as a president.
What was the cause of the capturing of Doe?
Primary Witness: It was when the coy was tempered, the spiritual things are hard to explain, and at the time when INPFL took 95 percent of the country it was hard for us to get our spiritual plight. From here to Grand Geded was totally blocked as such we hat to go through Sierra Leone Guinea Ivory Coast Guiglo and the Putu mounting before we can get champs before coming back as such it was expensive. We could not fly through from Monrovia to Grand Gedeh. That is why the killings were many, for when you are going through those countries the spiritualist will also ask for people as such our powers were depreciating. In the light of the Freeport we could not go with the kind of people we needed. He was spiritually conjured.
Where were you when Doe went to the Freeport?
Primary Witness: I was in my shrine at Sinewhen
What happened after the capturing of Present Doe on that day?
Primary Witness: Frustration, burning down houses, killing people who you thought were not in you favor, everybody thought they should just die.
There were rumors that lions were kept at the mansion?
Primary Witness: No sir, I don't have any idea. I know that a Malian came one time and paraded with lion but I don't know whether he left it there.
Commissioner Bull: can you tell us where ULIMO was founded by the Khran tribe after doe died?
Primary Witness: It was formed in Sierra Leone
Who was Flazamington that Sheik just mentioned?
Primary Witness: Yes it was Flazamington who the term 50 Calaba was used on.
Chairman: what is you last words that you will one to leave with the audience, the Commission and the Liberian people listening to you on radio?
Primary Witness: First I want to say thank you and that there are some of you that will be embarrassed by our presence, but logically if a man and another got into conflict and the other one mind is telling him that he is wrong and he will be asking for forgiveness, and the victims may not want peaceful settlement and want a revenge, then the one who wants peaceful settlement is more of a victim then perpetrator, that is how I see you people as such I want to say please forgive us and don't be deterred by our presence I have been called by Christ and called you people champions and I will always be coming so that you can advise me on how to go forward so that the process will not be hampered. To the public I say I am sorry and not to compensate you but my wife and family have decided that the proceed from the book I have written will be kept in an account to help people that have problem to redeem them. And to you that came here to listen to someone like me, I want to say thank you and that this process will achieve its goal to this nation. Thank you sir.
Seventeenth Primary Witness of the TRC Public Hearings
Jeremiah Wonplu Nah
(Second Primary Witness of day five)
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: Good morning Mr. Witness,
Primary Witness: Good morning sir.
Chairman: you are welcomed to the TRC Public Hearings, all the Commissioners of the TRC are here to listen to your testimony and the people of Liberia are listening to you. We want you to say what happened to you and make sure you say the truth and nothing but the truth.
Primary Witness: I am Jeremiah Wonplu Nah from Grand Kru county born 1973 September 14, that was 1990, there was no food. So we left and went Bomi hills so were we started helping the people to make their farina and when we were coming they gave us some. My first experience was the dead bodies we saw. We border (came in contact) with the dead body a man and a woman. All the men went on the woman line and all the women went on the men line. The men will go and kiss the dead woman and the women will go and kiss the dead man. So looking at the distance on the line, I said no why I must go and kiss dead body so I started going back, then one soldier took the bush and catch me and he said if you na do it we will give you quarter I said yeah no problem I will take the quarter but I can't kiss the dead, so they flog me fine by that time my brother was already gone. So I started going when I reach one check point the commander there said ah you come here what you get there I said farina and he said bring it here then he took two buckets of it and give me paper say any where you reach show it and say the C-O (Commanding Officer) gave it to you. Then I passed the next place I reached they called me again then I show the paper they said that man is a C-O for himself so they took their own too. I reached home with only three cups of farina so I told my aunty that me I na going in that place again to look for food so in that process she went in New Kru town on the Florida Beach and then they called and said my brother died, I said how did that one happen, they said, he said he was going to look for you so they arrested him and killed because he was a AFL soldier. So after one week his wife in West Point deliver so I say let me go and see her then I finished selling I put $500 in my pocket and I started going, when I reach right to Vai town some men call me again and said ah you where are you going come here, what is in the bag? I said nothing, he hull the bag from my back they let go our chief want to see you, when we went I saw plenty people sitting down. So we were there up to 4:30 then the INPFL death squad bus came and they put all of us inside, we reach in Duala they put 4 women down there, then pass through Daula Mansion and carry us in Caldwell and put us in one container. Then in the night they came for the first person then they came for the second person I just hear say let finished the man put him in the water later they came for me I was the third person they came for, we were still tied up so they carry me to the Caldwell bridge they say they must throw me in the water but one of them said no let loosing him first before putting him in the river, just within that time, one man came from the right side and said gentlemen what are your doing so, ma man your leave the man along, he na do nothing to your so he took me and carry me to the place he was. After some time he too said he was going somewhere so he told me to wait because it was late if I go again they may give me hard time, when he left some men came again, they said your bring the man outside. They took me again and throw me down one other side and one man sat on my head and took razor blade and cut my left ear off, he step on it and say I must crew it, I said no then they slap my ear then the other man took off my shoes and cut under my left foot luckily the man came again, he said man your leave the man and he took me and carry me so I was going one of the commander I could recognize was one Mr. Brown when I was reaching to his check point his men say that enemy he said no that na enemy, I know that boy so when he saw me he took me to the Redemption Hospital. They gave me stitches and the next morning they put me in the wheel barrow and carry me home when the people saw me they started crying.
Then again we had a foreign exchange bureau in Logan Town where we doing foreign exchange and I was also selling rice. So the government of Liberia came up with a regulation that no body must change money on the street and that they were going to send task force to clear the streets of all money changers. So we had a bureau we registered our bureau, we went to Central Bank gave us license and had it posted in our bureau then I had a copy because I was the president of the bureau. So in that process those came to the bureau Sebastian them, he works with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) now, they were five they were other people who were in color clothes and one of them wore police uniform with AK gun.
They raided the other bureaus around us when they reach to us we told them we had license from Central Bank so when I went inside to show the license, the other men hit my brother with a gun butt on his side and they took all our money, fifteen thousand and three scratch cards which was US$45.00 and my brother had three thousand five hundred which they carried. We beg them an ran behind them they went to Free Port to one entertainment center and Sebastian said we should wait they are going to gave us our money while we were waiting we did not know when Sebastian and his men left and that how we came that was another experience.
But that one happened before world war one, after, there was a guy call Sando he used to come and pack his car in the community packing lot where I was the supervisor. So people used to come park their cars there. so while there, this guy used to come park his car there and he will remain in the car and midnight he will come out and start loosening the people cars parts and then in the morning the people will start complaining. The man who owns the place will take these things from our pay. So it was doing one night, I decide to rearrange my men around the parking lot. In the process Sando came and park his car I want and inspected it but I did not see him going out, round about 2 to 3 in the morning Sando decided to come out and started loosening the people car key-starter. So pa Jallah saw him then we caught him and call police for him and we listed all the parts that have been losing the next day they sent us to court and that how they sent him to South beach.
So when world war one was coming, people came and carried their cars they wanted to give the key I say no your carry the key because the thing that's coming I can't control it your carry your key. I say in the night just like that was battle front, they came and started firing all over in the yard in pa Dago yard. So myself I could not stand so I ran from the parking lot and went to pa Dago in his house, so they started shooting they say your come outside or else when we enter your will see, your come outside, so I told the Papie I will go. When I went there they tied me and sheriff and put us in the water they said you the supervisor where is the keys? I said no key then they started flogging us again. So the following day, food business was really hard, so pa Dago say what we will do now, I say let me go and look for food then the Papie say we must open the gate I say no oh if we open the gate they will carry the balance car that are here. So I jumped through the window and I started going. While going I border (came across) one of the government troop the militia they said you come here one of them there recognize me as money changer, they said come here where is the money I said I na get money before I reach to them he shoot around me. I said I na get money they collected me and wipe me fine they beat the hell out of me, until I forget the food self that I went for. I could not even remember food business I just make my way to Philip Cooper yard so the news was all over that I was died they told my sisters and everybody. So when the thing subsided I went back to pa Dago he did not even believe it he say but they say you died I say no oh. So in that process I left, when I left, Sam came with his men militia men, but sheriff told him that that man na here he left, he say ok your tell him anywhere I see him I will kill him he made me to go to south beach.
So myself when World War 2 was coming I left and took refuge to Johansson. So I was there until World War 2 finished and then world war 3 came the church building was full so they put some of us in the school building behind the church. While there rocket fell and kill four person on the spot I say come see human being parts, your head so, hand so stomach so and I said I could not make it there so I went to one flat top building where a friend of mine was. And that was my experience during the war.
Questions from the Commissioners
Chairman: it takes a lot of courage to come in public to share your experience. You shared three experiences with us today involving cutting of your ears, armed robbery and the rocket blast at your refuge area. The Commissioners will ask you questions on your experiences to get some things clear.
Which year did this incident take place?
Primary Witness: I can't remember.
Commissioner Syllah: who was the commander at the time the money was taken from you?
Primary Witness: Sebastian
Did you that Sebastian works with the DEA?
Primary Witness: Yes
So he used to be in the police?
Primary Witness: he worked with the DEA. He came under the pretence that he came to change money and he told us to bring out all our money and he demanded three scratch cards.
So have you seen Sebastian anywhere around?
Primary Witness: I have see him after war war 1 2 and 3 he went to Logan town and the children wanted to beat him and people had to beg for him.
Commissioner Coleman: what year was that, and what currency of money was taken from you?
Primary Witness: Liberian Dollars, in 2003
Can you give his full name?
Primary Witness: I don't know his full name he is Sebastian and I have witness to testify to this.
Commissioner Washington: how who you describe this kind of person he is, I mean in character?
Primary Witness: Sebastian is a black man; he is a Liberia working with the Liberian national Police tall in height, black and is a law enforcement officer.
What kind of person do you think he is based on your experience with him?
Primary Witness: He was an officer at the time.
How you classify him?
Primary Witness: I will classify him as an arm robber.
He was carrying arm?
Primary Witness: Yes one of his men had arm and they knock my brother with the arm.
Can you see him sometime?
Primary Witness: I can see him sometimes.
Which group was specifically responsible for cutting off your ear?
Primary Witness: That was Prance Johnson Group.
Primary Witness: At the Cordwell bridge.
Primary Witness: They arrested me between 2 and 3, they took us to island clinic and they wanted to carry us Cordwell to kill us but one other guy came and stop them from killing me, that's how I survive there.
Can you remember of the person who cut your hear?
Primary Witness: No I can't remember the name of the person.
Did you hear people calling any of those people names?
Primary Witness: The only person I know is one Mr. Brown who was the commander at the time and the people say that boy coming is an enemy and he said no, and that tine he sent men to go and arrest them but I don't know if they did.
Based upon your experience across the bridge, how would describe life across the bridge.
Primary Witness: The life of civilians was bad because you can't pass with food they will take it from you. They were taking people carrying them to the beach to burry them.
Which beach are you talking about?
Primary Witness: The beach at New Kru town
Primary Witness: No women were there it was men and boys. They take them there in the night and kill them and because we were close to the place, we use to burry them.
Can you remember the name of the any of the commander who was in charge of the Bushrod Island?
Primary Witness: I know Mr. Brown and Joivana he is dead, he was killed by Prince Johnson with his pistol.
Commissioner Stewart: you said who shot one man in his head?
Primary Witness: Prince Johnson was their boss, and he killed the person and another guy brought rice and he was selling it to civilians at high price and he killed the guy for it.
Was it Prince Johnson himself?
Primary Witness: Yes
You also mentioned death squad, how did you know it was for Prince Y Johnson?
Primary Witness: It was written on the back death squat and people use to run from them.
Primary Witness: No things were fine at the time.
Do you know what month it happened?
Primary Witness: I can't remember the month
Do you now whether he is still around?
Primary Witness: Yes he is still around; he is working with the DEA the Liberian National Police.
Do you know what rank he may have?
Primary Witness: He is the director there.
Was he along?
Primary Witness: He was not alone he was the head of the people in the taxi and the pretended to come and change and when you bring you money they will take it.
Do you remember the plate number of the taxi that they were in?
Primary Witness: no.
Who was Solo that you mentioned in you testimony?
Primary Witness: Solo was a police officer he was the commander for the Bushrod island. And when he came to the island after the war the boys wanted to move on him, but the boys were begged.
Primary Witness: We informed them verbally but no redress and some people went to central but they did not receive any of their money
Do you know any other people who money was also taken?
Primary Witness: I have a friend of mine Pay Quaye who went out of business due to this incident.
Primary Witness: Jeremiah
Commissioner Bull: was the body rotten, I mean the body you were asked to kiss?
Primary Witness: It was a dead man and woman and men will kill dead women and women dead men.
Primary Witness: They had died for a day.
Primary Witness: Sasstown.
Do you know who was occupying Sasstown that time?
Primary Witness: It was the NPFL.
Do you know where this Prince Johnson is?
Primary Witness: He is a law maker in this country; he is a senior senator for Nimba County.
What is the name of your brother was killed?
Primary Witness: Saiklon Mah
What year was it?
Primary Witness: That was 1990 when he was killed.
Primary Witness: 2003, ending part of the year.
Who was in power by then?
Primary Witness: Taylor.
Which militia force say wipe you, the AFL or which force?
Primary Witness: The GOL militia men.
Are you willing to forgive Mr. Sebastian?
Primary Witness: Yes if he dint bring my money back, I will leave him with his conscious.
Commissioner Kullah: Did the people give any reason for cutting out your ear?
Primary Witness: One reason was they said I was an information man to take information from them, and the second group said I was a Krahn man.
Chairman: Did you have any prior association with any fighter group?
Primary Witness: No
What impression did you gather of the fighting force when one took your garri and another could not respect the note another commander give you?
Primary Witness: They were not together because somebody took my garri and give me paper and when I reach a gate another man said he has nothing to do with that.
How could you describe the area you passed?
Primary Witness: If you are coming from case town there is a check point and if you are coming to VOA another checkpoint and many other checkpoints along the war.
You said it was possible for the ear to be replaced in operation is that what you said?
Primary Witness: I went to the Redemption hospital and they said they could do operation and they said they will do artificial ear or they can remove flesh from my body.
But for the moment you hear functions well?
Primary Witness: If I go to take bath breeze can enter my ears and when I go somewhere children come and say the man ears move I can feel embarrasses.
Do you have problems with your eyes?
Primary Witness: My ears are functioning well.
Did are hear you say your friend was fired in your presence?
Primary Witness: Yes my friend one Vaney was fired and the second time when we went for rice and this young man took money above the price and PJ took gun and killed the person.
Weren't those days rice was considered gold dust?
Primary Witness: Gold dust
Chairman: Tanks for coming to give your story to the commission and every thing you said here is going to contribute to the work of the Commission. So what would you like to tell the Liberian people?
Primary Witness: I have no business I have to go credit money from people. There was a guy who even entered my room and left his id and I went to the police but after war two he was killed and when I came the police told me he was dead. I want the Commissioner to help me with me ears for I am embarrassed and I want to go back to my business.
Eighteenth Primary Witness of the TRC Public Hearings
Mustapha Allen Nicolas
(Third Primary Witness of day five)
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: what is your name?
Primary Witness: Mustapha Allen Nicolas
Chairman: do you live in Monrovia?
Primary Witness: no
Chairman: okay you have come tom share your experience with us. At the TRC all we interested is the truth and nothing else, the whole truth and as experienced by you or that is within your certain clear knowledge. This is the opportunity take your time, speak freely. If you want to sit you can sit. If you want to remain seated that's your choice. Welcome and you may proceed
Primary Witness: okay! First of all I will tell you that I was 16 years old when the rebels captured my village. They were looking for Mandingo people to kill and I had a Mandingo background. I was all in the bush with my grandmother. It came a time I got tired. I say "O Nah! I going to town" my mother said don't go they will kill you" as soon as I enter the town I was arrested by a General by the name of Morris Kolubah, the late CO (Commanding Officer) Morris. And then right before CO Morris, somebody who was staying with my grand mother by the name of Varney Jackson brought me. He said that O! That the woman son this, that her grand child. They asked me say O! Your mother that Mandingo woman? I said "yes" tha my mother ma, my father is not Mandingo. Right away I was considered and then CO Morris took me as his bodyguard and his small soldier. At that time I was 16 years old. He carried me to Weala. We were in Weala I went with him one time to Caresburg to attack the former government soldiers who we used to call Doe soldiers and then we succeeded the attack that day and from there we came back to Weala. I left with CO Morris until he died. When CO Morris died the next person I was assigned with is General Austin Clarke, he was the deputy minister for defense administration. It was with Austin Clarke, it went under, and from there Octopus started in Barnesville in Monrovia here. I left General Austin Clarke behind I fall in with general Mosquito which was Oliver Vambo. We carry on the octopus. After the octopus I went through with marine, executive marine, staff force marine who, was call Hon. Nixon Gaye, the late. I was with Nixon Gaye throughout, but that time I was not too big. On his way they carried on the massacre to Carter camp. They send us to set up defensive in the rubber bush in one Division; I can't remember the division at that time because it was in Margibi and I am from Bong County. We defended the rubber bush until the group came from Carter Camp. They brought one lay boy with them and say O! This man we kill all his parents and he get nobody he will be with marine. Now, now I can identify him. He on the street because no parents. Now, now, I can identify him to the state. After this we stay in German camp for some time. When ULIMO was really giving us hard time the order came from the Executive mansion through Nixon Gaye again that we should attack 15 gate and Duport Road to threaten the enemy command. The order was release to General Sobani and Sobani passed the order to jack the rebel. Jack the rebel formation us every one of us. I and Tony Montana and other Generals stayed at 15 the gate to carry on operation with ECOMOG for our friends to get free way to come from Duport Road so that ECOMOG will not to stop them. The group that was moving to Duport Road was Alfred Suah Debleh, Jack the rebel himself and other Generals such as Joe Public and others, I can still remember them. We stayed in 15 gate and they started the Duport Road operation. So bad luckily for us, ECOMOG got to know that we were in 15 gate, heavy fire open and we couldn't leave from there until they came from Duport Road. So we were forced to fight in 15 gate for almost 2 hours and we make sure we subdued all the Nigerian ECOMOG that was in 15 gate. I also got wounded from there.
After carrying on their mission, they came and we all went back to German Camp because ULIMO had finish capturing all of Gbarnga, only Gbartala remaining with us. We were based in Gbartala as marine. In Gbartala there were some groups we were afraid of, that the marine had to move. We were in one village we used one road to bypass to get to Ganta. To use every busy road to come back our area that we were controlling because Gbarnga operation was changed by the President, he said that Gbarnga operation is "envelope" involving both ULIMO and LPC to make them to fight against one another. Then we close them with "operation Envelope," and every one agreed to it. But before operation envelope certain area in the Kpelle territory which was one village they call Bentol that marine use to go to up set that area because we had some people there and they executed about 16 human beings. They put their heart in the bucket and brought them to Gbartala. In my presence I was sitting there, I can still point at some of those that did that and at the time I was the commander in Gbartala. By that time the commander in Gbartala had gone. All of them run away and I was based in Gbartala. While basing in Gbartala, from there Sabebo took over, we were successful to recapture Gbarnga from the enemy because ULIMO and LPC stopped fighting. General Kuku Dennis brought ammunition for us and we execute one LPC general in the center of the town at which time ULIMO had the opportunity to go there, I was in that group. We were about seven men, light mission. We executed on general from LPC right in the center of the town self, self, right in Gbarnga Town. So LPC thought that it was ULIMO carrying on the operation. They started fighting, the two of them. We launched almost 50 rockets that day, so we waited for them. LPC pushed ULIMO all the way across Gbarnga. They were in Sinje. We jumped in Gbarnga and no chance for the LPC again. The whole group they had no place to come back from Sinje, they were force to die.
That's how we took over Gbarnga, and they assign me as battalion commander in Sabebo in on village they call Gbarngwe in Lofa county. I was the battalion commander in Gbarnga, and between Gbargo after Salayea there is a village call Gbarngwe, I was the commander there. The very day I deploy there the ULIMO capture 5 of my boys right in the town, the same day. It was hot sun, they capture five of them, two was under the coco nut tree, the rest of them were sleeping. They grabbed them that day I didn't talk. After two days I made my move on them myself. With the ammunition given me, I butt (caught) up with them in Salayea market. On Salayea market day which was a civilian market day and then I was scary because the order that assign me there, any mistake I made by ammunition going away they will kill me, because the order was when you lost arms, you will die. Bad luckily for them there was some wounded soldiers and it was market day. Myself, I don't know there that civilians could go attend market day. It was in Salayea, it was market day so they were bad lucky that day because ULIMO and I met there and because I could speak Mandingo. When they saw me they taught it was reinforcement for ULIMO. I spoke Mandingo and they responded. They carry me all the way to the place where the commander was, and it was right in front of him where the war started. All civilians who were there that day died. Most of them died by cross fire from ULIMO bullet and my bullets too.
Chairman knocks the gavel to quite the uproar in the audience
That was after Gbarnga mission we went about, I sat down, I was not operating again until Charles Taylor came to Monrovia it didn't stay long. I don't know what happen April 6 broke up again. The mission we came on was to kill Butt Naked. They make us walk from Gbarnga to Monrovia. We took one week to walk from Gbarnga to Monrovia. We tried hard to kill Butt Naked, but it was no way, we were not able to kill Butt Naked. After April 6 I left in town. I was selling my gas. Charles Taylor came in town. They had election. Where I was selling I butt up with (came across) General Mosquito again. He came and said "Wozoe" I said "yes" he said the chief want to assign us in Vahun one like you I know you understand that part of Lofa, it was me and the late Stanley. They convince me and I followed them.
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