Gbarnga City: Day 2

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The Second Day of the TRC Public Hearings Proceedings held on Tuesday May 20th, 2008 at the Administrative Building Gbarnga City. 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.

Seventh Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Gbarnga, Bong County

Joseph Katamah

(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. She was accompanied by an interpreter.

Chairman: Welcome to the TRC this is the forum were we come to share our views of what happen to us during the Liberia crisis. Can you give us your name again please?

Primary Witness: Joseph M. Katamah

Your age or date of birth?

Primary Witness: I was born 1962, march 16

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: Gbolokpaya

What do you do in Gbolokpaya?

Primary Witness: I make farm

What you plant?

Primary Witness: Rice

Thank you very much you can give us your story now.

Primary Witness: Alright, I will start on 1990 war. 1990 the first commander that came to Gbolokpaya they call him Jackson Gongbay. It was one night we were sitting down I was to my house when the soldier arrive in the town I heard one man making announcement that rebel in the town, no body run away, rebel in the town after that they say let everyone go to their houses I went to my house then they called again they say you people come here we want to tell you people something when we went they asked us who is the town chief here we say the town chief not here then the man say I will give you people town chief tonight then he selected two boys one called Gabriel Tongar and one Charles Papah they say that was the town commander and the deputy is Charles papa.

But they told us we are here now we are Charles Taylor soldiers we here to take care of you people we are rebel so the people slept with us then the next morning one of their soldier was there he got sick he was sick behind them coming so they left the man in the town with one other soldier so they people left and went to Gbarnga when they came Gbarnga here after two days that man died.

So the commander who they left in the town called Jacob he sent for them they came that night when they came they told us where is the man that died we carried them to where the body was they came they told us say we taught you people finish buried this man because if you come to kill you here and burn the town but you people are so blessed that you not buried this man then they say the next morning they were going to bury the man , so your look for sheep and make sacrifice here because that rebel body coming go under the ground here so your supposed to make sacrifice we did that. Then 1990 war was just like that but 1994 that is the time we feel pain. On September 8, 1994 we saw a group of civilian and soldier coming from Gbarnga with plenty load they came to Gbolokpa that morning September 8 when they came they say rebel is in Gbarnga, Gbarnga is not easy so we are passing going to Ganta so some of them stay there so the town was full with human being all over no houses was there empty all the kitchen that time the town was packed we stayed there with them the citizens of the town and the civilian were with the soldier people they all were there with us few days.

It was one Saturday we saw a group of soldiers coming in the town again when they entered the town that afternoon they were asking their friends say you soldier man what you doing here the kind of war they fighting in Gbarnga then what your doing here your on a-walk here they grab some of them and tied them and take the arms from them they did it until they disarmed everyone of them and put them inside. We taught that there friends not knowing that was LPC so the stay there until in the evening. The next morning they came they say we are LPC the started killing we were in the town the killed they were killing the people with axe cutlass and the baby them they started knocking them on that rock because in the town they had some big rock in the center of the town and it is on that rock they were killing the people. They killed until in the evening some people started running in the bush and they started firing them. The people kill the whole day and right on that rock the blood was rolling from there to the water side, come see the bodies packing. So there we who remain in the town we ran away in the bush as last in October going to November the some soldiers them came again but they were not LPC because when LPC did that thing they followed the road going to Gbarnga they were in the bush, the citizens they killed in the town that day were 39 but we since we went in the bush to hide ourselves, the LPC was use to travel from Duaita to Duta that time we were to Kpalala so some of us had farms across the car road and some of us farms across the town so we were use to travel small small to came and look for cassava to eat because we were hiding.

But when they catch you on the high way your own leave there, so over there the human that they killed in the town they were many, those boys who use to go and look for cassava for their family when they catch them they will kill them. So from there in November before Charles Taylor soldier came to free us. One other papie they called John Kennedy he and myself were over the people in the bush because we use to go from kitchen to kitchen to pray say let we be here the person that will free us will come right here so we should not go anywhere. So we were under the kitchen them hiding in the bush, in the day we will leave the kitchen to go and hide in the bus and in the evening we will come and look for food to eat and around 5 again new scatter in the bush. We left there before some soldier them were in Kplikpa the came to us there, the fire fire fire they were firing the gun up not knowing that Charles Taylor soldiers them and they came to us and they asked us who all here we told them our people them in the bush they told us we came to take you people from in the bush we don't want you people to be here again the place is not safe.

So they told us we basing to Kplikpa the commander called Zero Zero was in Kpolokpala so he told us say my people we carrying your to Kpolokpala. Because when you people say you will stay in the bush here the place will be fearful so we had to go back to your town. So we told them yes but the king of bodies and skulls that are there, how can we live there again? They say we will go and pack those skulls somewhere and we will be with you there and we agree with them. We the men we left the women in Kpolokpala and we were going to clean the place small small putting those bones together. They told us to build kitchen and we build one kitchen that bones fill up that kitchen. One big kitchen so we were in the town and we started bringing our people from in the bush small small and when we were in the town George Moluba heard about it because he was the superintendent he hear about it and he say I am taking a visit there. They came to Kpolokpala with some group they came there with the Papie them David Bryant them and they came and saw the skulls and they all started crying, they cried the slept with us, the next morning before the came back, then they send some people from Europe, white men them with video camera they were in the bush those other skulls that remain in the bush they were taking their pictures. They wanted to check the bodies but they could not make it, so we pack all those bones together, we put the bones in the toilet hole and one man the called John Kennedy he was talking yesterday he told us say this bone we must not put dirt over it. So we left it like that after two days before the sent the people there they say the bones what your put in the hole your take it out and put it in the kitchen. We took out everything some remain in the hole and we put the other one in the kitchen and some remain in the hole, the people came and took the pictures, the place where the blood was rolling they came and took the pictures, they went in the cocoa bush and took all the pictures there. They told us say the other remaining bones that in the bush you take it from there and pack it right here, the president will talk about it. So that bones were over there, to where the bones were that where the road leading to the water side was, all those who visited us in the TRC the saw the place, that the water we can drink and that the place the blood was rolling. Right there the people told us the president will come and talk something about this bones so your must not burry it so the bones were in the town, and that blood that roll to go in the waterside that the same water we drinking so that thing affected plenty of the citizen and they started dying. I who speaking it killed my Papie it killed my brother so you know everyday they coming to see this so what will come from out of this? Because the thing had happened to us already the thing happen to us when you come your asked us about the same question, what can we do? So that the problem we facing over there, now the main problem we facing is the children that there the water that we drinking is not safe that all I know about the war in Kpolokpala thank you.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: thank you for coming to share your story with us. We know it is hard, and so many people had been there to ask but this is the best place to say it because all the others that went there were individuals and this is a government thing. You said that the bone fill the kitchen that you build. Can you estimate how many people were there?

Primary Witness: No, we the farmers we get two ways of building our kitchen and the kitchen was as high as your height.

And you said you put the bones in the toilet holes?

Primary Witness: Yes, it was deep, and it was almost more the 6 feet long.

But you talked about a number of people that died.

Primary Witness: Yes, it was 39 people that died from the town, original citizen.

You said your father and brothers die?

Primary Witness: Yes.

What are their names?

Primary Witness: My father name is Togba

Do you know his age at that time?

Primary Witness: No but he was a bit strong.

What is your brother's name?

Primary Witness: His name is S. K

Do you know his age?

Primary Witness: No.

Was he your big brother or your small brother?

Primary Witness: He was my big brother.

How many years older than you?

Primary Witness: He was like 5 years older.

You talk about a rock?

Primary Witness: Yes, that was where they use to kill the children, the big people they will shoot them with gun or use cutlass on them, but the children they will knock them on the ground.

You said you did it?

Primary Witness: It was the LPC people.

Were they speaking English, or their dialect?

Primary Witness: After they finished, some of them were speaking Bassa.

Commissioner Konneh: we want to thank you for coming. You said you will start from 1990, what is the name of your town?

Primary Witness: The name is my town is Kpolokpala.

You said soldiers entered your town, who were the soldiers?

Primary Witness: The were NPFL.

You said they appointed people, who did they appoint?

Primary Witness: They appointed people from the town to be with them.

When they war started, did President Doe soldiers came to your town?

Primary Witness: No, I didn't see them in the town.

You said when the NPFL came they chose their own chiefs, and later one of them die, they came and burry them?

Primary Witness: Yes.

How can you tell they were LPC or NPFL?

Primary Witness: I said first when they came, they said they were from right here from Gbarnga, and later they said they were LPC and they arrested the people and put them in jail.

So when they put them in jail, what did they do to them?

Primary Witness: They put them in jail and the next day they started killing them.

How did they kill them?

Primary Witness: They brought them out and kill them on the rock.

Who kill the 39 persons from your town?

Primary Witness: It was LPC.

And who kill the 500 people?

Primary Witness: It was the same LPC.

You talk about one commander name Zero Zero, who was he?

Primary Witness: He was a commander from NPFL.

At that time, who was in control of Gbarnga?

Primary Witness: I don't know.

What year did the killing take place in your town?

Primary Witness: It took place in 1994.

Commissioner Bull:

Commissioner Coleman: thank you for coming and sorry for what happen. You said your father and brothers die during the war, what's about your mother?

Primary Witness: She is still alive.

What about your sister?

Primary Witness: I have 2 sisters.

Do you have children?

Primary Witness: Yes, I have children.

How many children?

Primary Witness: I have 9 children.

So was there a battle going on in Gbarnga at that time?

Primary Witness: Yes, but nobody was living here, and they told us that Gbarnga was up side down.

So who was fighting who in Gbarnga?

Primary Witness: ULIMO was fighting Charles Taylor soldiers.

So the LPC caught those people and put them in jail and kill them?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Did they say why they were killing people like that?

Primary Witness: No, they did not say any thing to us, they just stayed killing.

Commissioner Dolopei: thank your for coming and sharing your testimony with us.

How many soldiers were there in the town?

Primary Witness: I can't tell the number.

Where they more about 25?

Primary Witness: They were more then that.

Commissioner Washington: than you for coming and sorry for what you explain.

You call one man's name can you call his name again?

Primary Witness: His is Jackson Gongbai.

The particular group that did the massacre, can you remember anybody?

Primary Witness: Yes, that just one man they call junior Gayran.

Besides, the people that die in your town can you remember other people that die there?

Primary Witness: Yes, they are Boyjay Thomas, Samuel cooper, Lorpu Barclay, John Barclay, Sumo Behei, Tekpele, Nwhei, Yamah, Yarkpawolo, Johnpue, Kerkulah Juhn, and J. Martin Kerkulah, but I can get the list for you, it is in Kpolokpala.

You also talk about the children they kill, how old were they?

Primary Witness: Some of them were young babies, and some of them were growing children.

Since this thing happen in your town, have you people done anything like traditional feast?

Primary Witness: No, we have not.

You said George Mulbah was the superintendent for Bong County during Taylor time, what kind of Superintendent was he?

Primary Witness: He was good to us, he use to sympathize with us.

Where is he now?

Primary Witness: He is in Monrovia.

Commissioner Steward: thank you for coming and sorry for the lost of your family and friends. You said that there were about 25 young men from Kpolokpala who went to go look for food, and LPC kill them?

Primary Witness: Yes, it is true.

Were they among the 39 people you named?

Primary Witness: No, they went to go look for food.

Can you please give us the name?

Primary Witness: Yes, I have the list.

Can you please give it to us?

Primary Witness: Yes, I will give it.

When this massacre happened, these 25 men, did they kill them after or before the massacre?

Primary Witness: They kill them after the massacre.

What month did this happen?

Primary Witness: It happened in September 1994.

When did LPC final leave the area?

Primary Witness: I can't remember.

Did they stay long there?

Primary Witness: Yes, they stay long.

Commissioner Syllah: thank you very much, beside you and the pastor; you think how many people survived from your town?

Primary Witness: I can't tell now, but the 500 people were not only from our town but from other places.

So can you remember any of them?

Primary Witness: No, the only person I can remember is Cllr hammer.

Chairman: we want to thank you that you came and share with us. This Zero zero, do you have any other name for him?

Primary Witness: No.

How does he look?

Primary Witness: He is slim and black, not too tall.

Is he a Bassa man?

Primary Witness: No, he is a Mano man.

Thank you, do you have any other thing to tell the TRC?

Primary Witness: Yes, I will like to tell the TRC to please help us with safe drinking water, and from Kpolokpala to Gbarnga is far, so we want Clinic.

Eighth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Gbarnga, Bong County

Joseph Sulon

(Second Primary Witness of day one)

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: Thanks for taking up your time to come to the TRC; we are very to see Liberians come out to tell their story as we all are striving to find the best solution to the problems we faced in Liberia in the past. Please tell us your name.

Primary Witness: My name is Joseph D. Sulon.

How old are you or when you were born?

Primary Witness: I am 37 years old.

What do you do for living?

Primary Witness: I am a Voluntary Teacher at the Public school in my town.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: I live in Duata.

Please tell us your story.

Primary Witness: I am very happy to explain what happened to me during the war. In 1990, we heard about war and things started getting fearful and so I told my people that I could not live in Gbarnga and wanted to go to the village. When I got to the village, there used to be no sound of motor car or motor cycle but one day, we started hearing sound of bike and just in time, we saw a motor bike with two Gio gays with AK-47 and a Mandingo man called Siaka who used to be a driver around our village; they entered and asked us if we have any Mandingo or Krahn people in our area and we told them no. they passed and went in the next town. When they got in the near by town they met one old man but he did not give them any information and so they went to another village.

When they got in the next town where my uncle was living and they arrested my uncle and took is car and went Bonto town; I was afraid and went in the bush. One day while I was in the bush, we heard about one warrior called Prince Johnson and he came and passed our area to Gbarnga and I told my friends that I was afraid. After Price passed, NPFL fighters started coming into our area in their numbers and starting forcing people to carry their loads; they put some of the town boys together to take care of their gate; Gbarnga later became modernized and we started moving around freely.

From 1992 to 1993, things were not actually bad but starting 1994, we heard heavy sounds of guns from Gbarnga and people started coming into our village and I asked them and they said that LPC was coming. After a day, we started seeing strange faces and I went in the bush again. O September 8, we heard launching sound from Kokoya road. While I was in the bush, fighters of the LPC grabbed my brother and killed him. The next day while I was on my way to other village, I saw the dead body of my brother and they had cut head off and intestines were all on the ground; the next day while I was going to another village, I saw several dead bodies including people I knew very well. I took the back-pass and came near Juata and they I saw that the fighters had settled in the town; they started going to the villages and collecting boys to join them forcibly. I decided to come back to Gbarnga and while we were coming, they arrested me and my wife and we later managed to escape from them; and the next day we again heard launching sound and the whole group started heading towards Baiyellah.

In 1995, the fighters of NPFL came and said they have come to liberate us and at the time, it was the artillery group led by Gen. Joe Tuah; when they made the pronouncements, they started catching people and one Kpelleh boy was the main person but he kept saying that they had come to liberate us. I told my people that these gays were not good and there was a need for us to go to town and leave the bush. While we were coming from the bush, they met us and gave the girls some food to cook for them and when the girls cooked the food and they tasted salt on the food, they started beating the women who cooked the food and killed one of them in the process. When we passed them, we were again caught by another group and they tied me with seven other boys and later they killed one of the boys who was my friend; when we got on the highway, one Bassa boy knew me and he told his chief that he was going to kill me and when we got in the bush, he loosen the rope and asked me to go and he fired two rounds of his gun in the air. He went and told his boss that he had killed me. I managed to go to another village and when I got in that village, I met one Colonel a Gio man who wanted to kill me but another man talked for me they released me. After two days, Gen. Joe Tuah came with his group and he fired one of the boys they had tied and took his grease and put it in the bottle and carried it; before he could leave, he ordered the fighters to kill the other boys and they were executed. With all these kind of activities, I managed and went to Ganta. I stayed in Ganta for months and decided to come back to Gbarnga.

When I got in Gbarnga, the condition was just the same; one general Gay was just killing people and some of his own men had to advice him to stop. After a while, we starting about another group called LURD. In just two days, LURD came in our village and raped my wife and other women. LURD was just forcing us to carry their loads but they did not kill anyone with guns in my presence. Among the group, a gentleman called Junior Mitchell who was with LPC was very bad. This same Mitchell was again with LURD in Monrovia. That's the story I experienced during the war.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Commissioner Konneh: What were the activities of the LPC fighters?

Primary Witness: They killed some people in Juata right on the football field; BCADP dug a big hole on the field and it was there where they used to put all the people they used to kill.

Why you think LPC did that?

Primary Witness: They said that they were supporters of the NPFL fighters.

How you saw LPC?

Primary Witness: Most of the time they just used to passed in our village.

Did you see NPFL with your eyes?

Primary Witness: Yes, I saw people like Martina Johnson and many others that were big people within the NPFL.

Which one of these fighting groups entered your village first?

Primary Witness: It was the NPFL in the month of May.

What was their treatment of the people in your town at the time?

Primary Witness: First, they were just concerned with the Krahn and Mandingo people, but as time went bye and they started increasing in their number in the village, they started beating the people.

How many people they killed?

Primary Witness: They killed several people; in fact they killed so many people in the area.

You say who was leading the artillery group of the NPFL?

Primary Witness: David Daniel was the first commander under the instruction of General Joe Tuah, they had Timothy Gweah, and Steven Wontoe.

What was the attitude of David Daniel?

Primary Witness: He was always executing people.

What's about Joe Tuah?

Primary Witness: He used to order the boys to execute people.

What's about Steven Wontoe?

Primary Witness: They all used to killed people.

What are some of the LPC commanders that you can remember?

Primary Witness: Junior Mitchell, War-Bus, and General Kennel.

What were the attitudes of these generals?

Primary Witness: They actually used to kill people; when you go to my village, you see that bullet mark on a house that they killed a man in it.

Do you remember some of the boys from your village joining the fighters?

Primary Witness: Yes, I used to see boys from my village with the some of the groups.

They looted?

Primary Witness: Yes, they looted all that we had.

Were the boys recruited forcibly?

Primary Witness: Yes, most of the boys were in the bushes and they arrested them.

Do you know some of them?

Primary Witness: Yes, many are still alive.

Will you be willing to identify some of the boys that were recruited by force?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Commissioner Bull: I joined my friends to say sorry for the deaths of your people; your testimony corresponds with other testimonies from the other counties; we will take note and make the necessary recommendations.

Commissioner Coleman: NPFL killed, looted and raped women in 1990 before LPC came?

Primary Witness: Yes, I saw dead bodies that NPFL killed; they forced people to work for them before LPC came.

What's about the Government Troops of Doe?

Primary Witness: What I observed here is that one Col. Nimely used to bring truck load of goats and later we used to truck loads of women and children and the women used to say to us "you people are enjoying and the soldiers are killing us, your please help us". When they observed that people were taking notice of their actions, they started passing on the back pass on Kokoya road with the women and children.

Commissioner Washington: What is David Daniel doing in Monrovia?

Primary Witness: He joined the ATU during the Taylor government; one of my friends knew the story and when we met him, my friend asked him if he knew me and he said no; my friend told him that this is the man you killed his brother and he just bowed his head and went away.

What position he was having in the ATU?

Primary Witness: I only saw him with the ATU uniform I do not know the rank or position.

What is Parker who killed the woman with the mortar pencil full name?

Primary Witness: His full name is Moses Parker his parents are living in this town.

You which fighting group whipped you?

Primary Witness: It was David Daniel group that beat me, he gave the order.

You said Joe Tuah took the grease of a boy that he killed?

Primary Witness: Yes, he fired one of the 16 boys and took the grease from the body and carried it.

Did he do that in public?

Primary Witness: Yes.

What are names of the 16 boys that were executed by Joe Tuah and his men?

Primary Witness: Samuel Jarquie, Liberty Flomo, Mulbah Kollie, Turker Flomo, these are the ones that I can remember but I knew all of them.

What was Joe Tuah position at the time?

Primary Witness: He was the Commander for the artillery group.

Was Joe Tuah at the site of the execution?

Primary Witness: Yes, it was his green pick-up that was used to carry the boys to the site where they killed them.

Where was Junior Mitchell working?

Primary Witness: He used to work during the Bryant government at the Freeport as a security.

When last you saw Junior Mitchell?

Primary Witness: I saw him during the LURD war in Monrovia face-to-face.

When Gbarnga fell?

Primary Witness: I think it was September 8.

Commissioner Stewart: Please give the names of the LPC generals that you can remember.

Primary Witness: General Kennel, Gen. Snake, War Bus and one bright man called Junior Julu.

Was junior Mitchell a morlatoe?

Primary Witness: Yes, bright and tall.

What was the attitude of Gen. Kennel?

Primary Witness: Anyone he sees with scar on your hand, he will kill you; all of them just used to kill.

NPFL massacre how many people?

Primary Witness: I was not there but when I went to the village, I saw more than 50 dead bodies.

When it happened?

Primary Witness: It happened in November 1994.

Which group was responsible for the massacre?

Primary Witness: It was the NPFL, when they came from behind the Jor river.

Who was Cephus J?

Primary Witness: He was one of the NPFL commanders and he also killed some people.

Who is George Daylon?

Primary Witness: He is my brother and friend and they fighters killed his mother.

Who killed his mother?

Primary Witness: Parker, he was operating under the command of David Daniel.

How long LPC stayed in your area?

Primary Witness: They stayed there from September 18 to November.

Are you aware of any killings that the LPC did somewhere else?

Primary Witness: Yes, I heard something like that.

How many people you think?

Primary Witness: Those days, when you are walking in the bushes, you will see several dead bodies all in the bushes.

Who was the commander there?

Primary Witness: They were not stationed there.

How was life in the bush generally?

Primary Witness: It was just God, because that year, we planted enough cassava and rice and so when LPC came, they said that we are lucky because we had enough food, else they would have kill us according to instructions from their boss man George Boley.

Commissioner Syllah: What was the name of your brother that was killed and what was his age?

Primary Witness: His name was William Sulon and I do not know his age.

What is the name of his wife?

Primary Witness: Hannah Smith.

He had children?

Primary Witness: Yes, he has two children.

What is the name of your wife?

Primary Witness: Her name is Mamie Sulon.

What is the age of the smallest of the 16 boys that were executed?

Primary Witness: I think it was Liberty about 16 years and I used to sent him on our farm.

Besides Martina Johnson, who were the other top women in the NPFL?

Primary Witness: They had General Marie, General Cecelia Lewis, etc.

How the women treated the civilians?

Primary Witness: General Marie and General Cecelia Lewis used to treat people bad.

Have you seen any of them since the war ended?

Primary Witness: No.

Who you think the orders came from at the time when these people were executed?

Primary Witness: They say it came from the CIC.

Who was the CIC?

Primary Witness: It was Charles Taylor.

Chairman: What are some of the NPRAG Officials?

Primary Witness: NPRAG had Ministers they had their ministries as well and there many big people here.

You say Gbarnga was normal?

Primary Witness: Yes, people used to come from Monrovia, Buchanan and other parts of Liberia to live in Gbarnga

What were some of the developments?

Primary Witness: Yes, at the time, food was the main concern of most of us and there were enough of rice here in Gbarnga and almost everyone was happy here.

NPRAG had Legislature?

Primary Witness: Yes, they used to confirm their ministers appointed by the President.

What are some of the prominent people in Gbarnga at the time?

Primary Witness: Cacious Jacobs, Siafa Normel, Duana, etc.

We heard that the Reaction Forces were bad?

Primary Witness: Yes, they were very bad.

Do you remember at anytime when the citizens demonstrated against the NPRAG government?

Primary Witness: I cannot remember that.

Anything last that you want to share with us?

Primary Witness: Yes, but there is a little fear; the fear here is that some of the people who committed these bad acts are still around here today, if anything, what do we do?

You just to report the any problem to us; our people will talk to you before you leave, if you are afraid of anyone, you can give us those names later. Please talk to our people before you leave. Thank you.

Ninth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Gbarnga, Bong County

Anthony Saykwee

(Third Primary Witness of day one)

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: we say welcome to the TRC. This is the time, where all of us come and sit down and talk about the things that happen under the palava huts. We want to talk these things so that they will not happen again and our children will have peace tomorrow. What is your name again?

What is your name?

Primary Witness: My name is Anthony Saykwee.

What is your age?

Primary Witness: I am 49 years old.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: I live in Garmue Kpanta district. I am the town chief.

Primary Witness: 1994, the first commander name was commander Jarkar and he came from the water side and he make friend with me and said I was his own friend in the town. By that time my wife was in Guinea that is where she was living so when he and I became he told me to send for my wife but I was not ready so people talk to me and I went and sent for her to come to me. When my wife came back my mind was free but not know he wanted my wife and one day, he took gun and put it on my shoulder and started shouting from there. My wife was pregnant for 9th months and he took my wife away. Today my wife and daughter with him I stop here. I have many things to talk but I can't talk all here because I na able to talk it.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: Can you tell us about 5?

Primary Witness: My sister daughter, my Niece, every one went in Guinea but no food was in Guinea so this girl came to look for food she and one of her friends and her friend run away but was so close to me. Another one I forgot, one fellow name Tokpah when ever he wanted food, he will put me in a place and aunts will be eating me all over and now today, my foot get soul.

Commissioner Konneh: Who was the first commander leader that first entered your town?

Primary Witness: Charles Taylor general Zoko.

He was the first that lead NPFL?

Primary Witness: Yes

What are things that were done by them at that time?

Primary Witness: People were killed, and they even took human parts and put it in pot.

Did you see it?

Primary Witness: Yes

For what purpose?

Primary Witness: For eating.

Was he the same man who adopted your wife?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Where does he live?

Primary Witness: Ivory Coast.

Has there been any effort made to go and find her, and if there is a way?

Primary Witness: No, I have not been able.

Don't you think she needs that affection?

Primary Witness: I don't know weather she thinking about that.

Do you know the where about of this Ban boy?

Primary Witness: I saw him here last year.

How does he look?

Primary Witness: Short and black.

Can you identify him?

Primary Witness: Yes.

What is your wife name?

Primary Witness: Martha Mallor, because I was not marry to her so it was her father's name.

Your niece that was raped what was her name?

Primary Witness: Malone.

You say your sister died?

Primary Witness: Yes after her daughter die, we were hiding it from her and when she heard it, she fell and die.

What the name of your sister?

Primary Witness: Lorpu

Commissioner Bull: I say thank you for the incident your testimony has reviled lots of violations, killing rape and looting so we will take it and make it applicable on our recommendations. Thank you.

Commissioner Coleman: We want to know situations surrounding your family. You said you went for your wife in Guinea?

Primary Witness: Yes, General Zako, he told me to go Guinea for my wife.

How many children you had?

Primary Witness: Her first born.

Any other children?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Besides, did any other relatives die?

Primary Witness: One of my brothers was coming from Monrovia they caught him in number 7 and kill him. And one was here they kill him.

Can you name them?

Primary Witness: Harris Paye and PA

Your parents, did they survival the war?

Primary Witness: Yes, my father die but by himself.

Chairman: The burning issue that you have now is your daughter?

Primary Witness: Yes.

As a town chief, how are the people in your town now?

Primary Witness: Some houses were burn.

How many houses?

Primary Witness: Normal days 384 houses but now 268.

Any thing else?

Primary Witness: Only to please help us because we have no area and also need people to come and comfort us because we don't have any thing now.

Tenth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Gbarnga, Bong County

Joseph Polee Dioh

(Fourth Primary Witness of day one)

The fourth 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: welcome to the TRC. We are happy to receive you because this is a forum where people who have good intention for the country will coma and share their experiences with us. So we thank you for coming. Can you please call your name again?

Primary Witness: My name is Joseph Polee Dioh

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: I live in Gbonyea town.

Which district?

Primary Witness: Salayea district.

What is your did of birth?

Primary Witness: I am 60, I was born 1947.

What do you do for living?

Primary Witness: I am a farmer.

Primary Witness: I am starting from the 1994. In the year 1994, when Charles Taylor war was fighting around the country, when it reached the Mankoleh Clan, it came to our town in Gbonyea. With in that time they sent us a commander call general Monami. So this commander use to have his soldiers going from farm to farm to take our food away from us. So finally, they start killing people's cattle, like goats and chicken and the rest of them. With that I told my people, well, it looks like some thing so hard coming to hit us so. They said they came to mind us, but the way they doing, if they come to your kitchen, if you don't have it that trouble, I say then that trouble. Then from the beginning of that year, to September 1994, so it was September 10, in the evening, when we heard shooting coming from around the St. John River area. But the firing was so suppressive that every body got afraid. So people started running coming to me, they say Joseph, what is going on, so I told the people, I don't know, but let us stay here, and then later, I will find out because every body was afraid. So I was going to check. So when I was going, not knowing that the soldiers too were all afraid and they took cover and hid in arm bush. So when I was going, the only thing I heard was a clap behind me. When I look back, I saw a man, he call me, and introduced himself to me as colonel Crab, he said the sound that we are hearing, they are also afraid and they don't know where it is coming from. So we should go back on our farms and not move. So I went and call every body and I told them to tell their children, that no body should, move. So we went to bed that night, the whole night, they were shooting, it was not easy, late in the night, around 3 am, not knowing that this people have captured the other town call Gbolo town. So the next day, we went to tell the man, who was the head there. And I became to wonder what was going on, because everything was strange. So they say let us go to the other town call Gbolo town. But when they came, they halted me and put all of us in line and we started going to their big man. When we got there, he ask, who is the big man here, I said I am the one. He said go and bring all your people here, but if you run away, we will kill all these people here. So they give me 3 soldiers. Then I went from farm to farm collecting people, some will be 2, some will be 3 I will collect them and we all came. When we came, they carry us all to that Gbolo town, but on our way going, we started seeing dead bodies every where. So all of the women got afraid, they wanted to run away they say if any body run, I will kill your. So I told them be brave, I say your lets be brave. So we went. When we got in the town, they ask, who is your chief here? They chose me, so they call me out. Then I say God, your people had chosen me, so you be my Leader. So they say they want men power together for them to do their work. So I put some women together to go on the farm to harvest some rice, because that time, they were harvesting new rice. And I sent some people to go cut palm to make oil. So right away, I started doing my work so that how we started living among them. Every day we got to do that work. So one night we were there, when NPFL people attack, it was not easy, that was my first time to be on the ballet field. Some people crying, the guns sound, some people dying. That where I say God, into your hands I commit my spirit, take control, that night, it was not easy, so the next morning, when every thing cease down, their commander call me, and he said they needed people to carry their wounded soldiers to Fasamah. So when they call me to the behind the house, I saw 5 dead bodies lying down there. So they say I should give some people to burry the dead bodies. So right there, I put some people together to burry the bodies, while some people carry the other wounded soldier to Fasamah while some people are brushing, and women are prepared to go on the farm. I say God, it is time now for you to come and join me do this work. So I give men power to burry the men and I give men power to carry their wounded soldiers to Fasamah, then I sent some women them in the field to look for their food. Then when the people came, we all put together and we started doing their work again, then while we were there, one day one little boy was among us, they say he was a single barrel man. They put fear in him, and he said yes.

Then they said all the single barrel group here, we want you to come out. Then the boy under duress, he started naming his friends them, one David Myers of NPFL made those boys a single barrel group. So he started naming his friends. They got all of them about 19 boys, they put them inside they say you people are enemies. So when they put them inside, I went to their commander one Maleki Trouber. I went to him, I salute him, I said chief, you got all my young people yesterday and put them inside, and they are the strength behind this whole thing here to do all the work. Can you give them to me? They say no, if we give these people to you, they will run away, I say no, they will not run away. They say what can we do if they run away? I say I can't tell you, but what ever you think that will be necessary to do to me, your do it. They say ok, come sign paper, when we give you these children them, if they run away with in that 12 days, I will kill you. I said yes, and I sign. So they give me the children, they say after the 12 days, you should bring them back so we can see and know that the boys will not run away. So I carry the young people home, I told them you should not run away, when your go do the work, your must come back until after the 12 days. They say yes, then, mainly what get me discourage, one of the children them they put in the jail, when we go there, one of them disappear, he na there one Buckai because I had all the names of the people that die.

So when the boy ran away, when I look I can't find him. That why get me discourage. So I said, since this is a battle front, let me and my people them go to Gbongai's town then your be here, if any thing, any kind of work your tell me to do I will do it but we na able to stay at this battle front. They say no, when we do that, then your children them, which is Charles Taylor people, will come and your will join them. They say no you are not going. So that next evening again, Charles Taylor peopled hit. Two little children was with us in the town there, gun shot hit them, the other one, God was with her, the bullets in pass in her intestine, but the other one foot got broken right there. Then that morning, they call me, they say there is a job for you again, we want you to give us men power to carry our wounded soldiers to Fasamah. Come let's go behind the house. I went, I saw 4 soldiers, whether they were ULIMO or Taylor fighters, they say you need to burry them. So after that thing, I went back to him again, I said, chief let my people and my self go back to Gbongai, I will still do anything for you. But it will not be necessary for me and these people to stay at this battle front with you. He told his boys them to put me inside because I was troubling him. He say I have decided to go and be a conniver with the enemy. So they told his boys to naked me and put me in jail and they did. So from that morning, they decided to put me out. That day again NPFL hit so only two people got wounded, we were there, and nobody went to Fasamah. So I prayed, I said, God you know my problem let these people let us go. So I went to him again, I said chief I salute you, I say chief let my people go, so he looked at me, and said, it looks like you hard head ahn? So he said, let the people pack their things and go back to Gbongai. So I told my people and we went to Gbongai. So they were happy, when we were going we were singing and praising God. When we got to Gbongai, we got to Gbongai November 15th. Then from November 15th to December 10th, that early morning, suppressive fire opened that morning, the NPFL came to attack the ULIMO that were assigned with us and it was not easy.

So I had the mind but the way we use to lay down in Gbolo town, but the shooting was not easy. So I came out side, I pronounced it heavily in the air, I say if, your any where, your hearing me, your come out side. Please leave the house, let us go in the bush, the sound is so heavy, I can not control it, so come out side let us go in the bush. Those that went to the water side way, none of them survived, they are on the paper. But those that came to me, I made a by-pass in the bush, the whole group was behind me, people crying, the shot was not easy, you can't stand, because if you can't make it to stand. So while we were going, my other daughter said, papa I can't make it, she was pregnant. Right there, pains grab her. I said my daughter look at the sound, hear the gun sound, and it is not like the sound is a distance from us, but if I stand, I say lets try. So I hold her hand. When we ran from here like from here to the parking there, she said pa, leave me, she dropped, and she say I can't move from here again. People were passing, I told the people when you go, go behind my farm the bush there, your go wait for me there, I am coming. So everybody passed. Only the mother and the aunty stay with her. I thought my mother was among the people, behold, the bullet hit her and she dropped behind us. So they began to pet my daughter until when we got to the site, few women went behind the house and she deliver right there. But when I look among the people, I can not see my mother.

Witness breaks down in tears.

May her soul rest in peace then I say problem, I told my wife, I say I want to go back to town to see if I can find my mother. She told me say no, the kind of sound; I don't want you to go to the town, so wait yet. So I went, while we were going to the same station there, soldiers from general Wha, one Edward Wha, that him did the attack, they came and they arrested me, they came they fire in the air, while the people were running, I took my daughter two day old baby, I had him in my chest, then one soldier they call black fire, he say give the child to his mother now because I will kill you just now. He say give the child to the mother, I say I can't give the child to the mother, so my daughter came and held me by the wrist, she say papa, let them kill us together. In the main time, every body was gone. The girl was trembling holding my hand, she say pa, let me die with you. And I was holding the baby, form there, one of his friends came from behind and say don't kill the papai. He took the gun from him easy, he say you wanted to kill the papai and the baby? He say pack you bag let's go in town. Only my daughter and myself, with that young man, we walk, we came to town. My daughter was crying on me, no woman was there, her ma was not there. Then, they carry me, they say lets go.

First when we got to the town the whole town was burned. We had 23 houses and only the 2 churches and 2 houses were there. So when we got there, they took me to the place where we use to get our drinking water. When I got there, that the place where they put the bodies, they say look. When I went and look among it, I can't see my ma, I started crying there right there, I say God, where is she? With in the course, 125 people came from Lofa County and they were with us in the town. But all the people they kill there were 75, because the soldiers made me count them. Some of the people who came from Lofa, they were 25 and 50 people die from our town. I put all of them down, I even show the place to the people when the TRC people went there. That time, that only my and my daughter and that young baby was in that town. In the morning, when I get up, I will look for some thing for her to eat, because that time, there was no salt, I will just cook the cold food like that. So they came again, and they said that their commander say I should clear the town because he wants all of his civilians back. They say I should move the bodies from the town, we are talking about 75 bodies.

When that in the morning, I go to work with the wheel barrel. Some times, I go see this other person lying down they will cut the other side, the other side lying down so, and I will take it with stick, and I carry it to the place I put it. I did that with in the course of one week, and I told them the town is clean. Behold the town chief's wife, I don't know if they carry her in the house, there where she died, on the bed. After I told them that the town is clean, when I was going to the creek, I saw the flies were just coming through the window, when I went to go see, I saw the woman lying down on the bed. I call another soldier, I say come see some thing, I say here is another trouble, he say so I should do what? I move the body from there. And it was just like this now, so I burst the wall. She was on the bed, I haul the bed out side, I carry her to the other bodies. I went and told him I am finished, he say ok, go look for your food. While I was going to look for my food on the farm, I said well, since I can't not find my mother since one week, let me pass the by pass. When I was going, my mother just left the road small, that where she was lying down, with her small bucket at her head. I came right back, I told him, I say I find another body again in the bush, he say let's go, when we went, I told him, this is my mother. He says what can we do? I say I will burry her. That time, the body was getting decay now. I brush the place, I cut stick, I put stick under her, I burry my mother, I put her in the hole, I cover her. After hat, there was another command, they told me, that I have to move from place to place, collecting all the other civilians and bring them back to the town. When I was going, my daughter cry with me, she say who and I will be with the soldiers? Then one of them said, go, I will take care of your daughter. So I went, I started getting the people from place to place, until we all came back to town. And, when I heard about the LURD rebel war, the last war, I told the people I say civilians I can't make it, because the God that save me the first time, might not save me again this time, so I have to leave you. So when I was going to Totota, majority of the people follow me again, there where we were, until the war finished. That's the story.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: we want to thank you for coming and we sorry for all the bad things that you experienced. And we want to also thank you for been a good leader to your people. So at this time, commissioners will ask you some questions.

Commissioner Konneh: I wan to express our sympathy to you for the death of your mother and those that were killed. Your testimony terms to suggest to us plenty people did not make a mistake to leave with you at such crucial time. Even those who died, they are in their graves, but they still have you at the backs of their minds. For the courage and so we want to commit you for your courage and bravery. Can you tell us the name of the general?

Primary Witness: I told you the first general NPFL sent to us was General Monami, he was a Mandingo man.

You said when NPFL attack in September, what happen?

Primary Witness: I said the first people that were minding us ran and left us.

Which of the force was colonel crab?

Primary Witness: He was NPFL, one of Charles Taylor man.

Where was the shooting coming from?

Primary Witness: It was just in the same area, but from my town Gbongay to Gbolo town, it is just abut 10 minutes walk.

That means that ULIMO drove NPFL form the town?

Primary Witness: Yes, they drove them.

You said you saw so many dead bodies, were those civilians or soldiers?

Primary Witness: They were all civilians.

You said they took you to swear?

Primary Witness: Yes.

What were they saying?

Primary Witness: I can't understand their language they were speaking Mandingo.

Meaning you people should swear you loyalty to them?

Primary Witness: Yes.

And they told you people to not go out when they were shooting?

Primary Witness: Yes.

The bodies you said you saw, were they soldiers or civilians?

Primary Witness: They were all soldiers, but I can't tell if they were NPFL or ULIMO.

Who was this general Wha?

Primary Witness: General Wha was the first commander of NPFL.

What is the distance between your town and Fassama?

Primary Witness: It is about 3 days.

You use to provide food for them, where did you get the food form?

Primary Witness: It was our own food, because rice was getting rape.

You said some body was arrested for being a single barrel, was it true?

Primary Witness: Yes, one general Myers put them together.

Did the town people follow you?

Primary Witness: Yes, they follow me.

And when you came back after ceased fire, how did the town look?

Primary Witness: The town was down even till now, but it is jus that it is our home and there is no where to go.

What was your experience when NPFL was in your town?

Primary Witness: At first when they came, they said they came to mind us, but later, they started taking out things away and eating our food, all our cattle.

What about ULIMO?

Primary Witness: I will not say any of them was good because they all raped, sold our food and things.

You only talked about 1994, what was your experience from 1990 to 1993?

Primary Witness: Well, the only thing I experience was that this man, Prince Johnson pass through our town to go to bong mines, and later general Myers came.

So, INPFL did not harass any body in your town?

Primary Witness: Oh, they came, another group call themselves, the marines, they say they came to mind us, but in the night, the will take all of the marry women or not so all the young people ran from the town.

I ask about INPFL did they do anything to you.

Primary Witness: No, they just pass through our town.

Commissioner Bull: Mr. Witness, I want to thank you for coming, and it shows that you are a leader, and they say a good leader foes not look for a good name, but a good name always follows a good leader. And that even now, not only in your town, you can go to the other adjacent towns and serve as a chief. We want to thank you for narrative.

Commissioner Coleman: thank you for coming to share your story and I want to join my friends to extent gratitude to you. How long were you chief of the people of Gbongay town?

Primary Witness: I began their leader, during the war, and even after the war, they put together saying even though I was from different region, they made me their chief.

And were you living in that town?

Primary Witness: Yes, I was living there, when anything happened there, the pe
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