Gbarnga City: Day 4

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The Fourth Day of the TRC Public Hearings Proceedings held on Thursday May 22nd, 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.

Twenty-Fifth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Gbarnga, Bong County

George T. Kendima

(First Primary Witness of day four)

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: Good morning and welcome to the TRC; we want to say thank you for coming; TRC was organized so that we all can express our past experience as relates the past conflict so that we can find the solution. Please tell us your name again.

Primary Witness: My name is George T. Kendima

What is your age or when you were born?

Primary Witness: I was born on December 8, 1977.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: I live in Bong Mines, Fuamah District, Bong County.

What do you do for living?

Primary Witness: I am a farmer now.

Please tell us your testimony.

Primary Witness: My story goes like this, in 2001, I was upper-turned to attend the BWI; I was doing both academy and technical training; two of my friends joined me for us to o on a weekend to visit our parents. While we were on our way to our parents, we did not know that the war had become so rough and we came in contact with a general called Shavy and he arrested us. General Shavy took us to his base and said that we should be train since we were able men. When we got on the base, one of his fighters called Loose-Talk took his knife and hurt me on my side because I was like resisting and telling them that we were students and did not want to train; they finally took us where they were training the other people. There were many people on the base at the time.

After two days, they gave us arm to guard the certain portion of the base; they carried my friends to the other side of the base and I was assigned with him. My friends managed and ran away but unfortunately for them, they met Loose Talk on the way and he brought them back on the base. When they got back on the base, Loose Talk told General Shavy that these two gays were running away; right away, General Shavy said that no one can see his base and run away so he was going to set example on them. They brought by friends right in our presence and executed them.

It did not take too long and there was an attack in Bopolu and they sent us there to fight; when we got there, I just went under the bush and lay down and they started fighting, shooting for almost three hours and later we heard General Shavy calling that we should the bush and come in town because he had captured the town. I saw the other fighters going to town and I followed them. A day later, LURD came with counter-attack and I managed to run in the bush and started escaping from there; while I was going, I met three boys who were hiding in the bush; I went to them and told them my story but they were afraid but one of them said that they should show me the road to town. The four of us started going towards the town and we did not even walked for one hour and we fell in General Shavy's arm bush and we were arrested again and taken to town. When we got in town, General shavy knew me and he sent me different side and they jail the boys. When I went to go check for the boys the next day at the jail, one of the fighters guarding the jail told me that they had killed the boys and I should and see their dead bodies; when we went, I saw the bodies of the three men.

The next day, there was another attack and we started going, I met the operation man and he caught me and said that I was leaving behind so when I am captured, then I will show the enemies where they are; while he was carrying me, I managed to escaped and went Bong Mines and I left there until the war ended and the Peace Keepers came. When disarmament started, one of my friends gave me rocket to go and disarm; when I got on the line, General Shavy ordered his men to take me from the line and that I was not a soldier, they took me from the line and took the arm from as well. It did not take too long when I saw Shavy in a new pick-up and he said that he was working in Firestone as Chief of Security; his fighting name is General Shavy and his real name is Joseph Duo. So I want the TRC to bring this man to justice, he caused some of us to be holding cutlass today.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: Since the war ended, have you been back on campus?

Primary Witness: No, the Company is not opened; I am just doing my farm work.

Commissioner Syllah: What are the names of the men that were killed?

Primary Witness: They were: Makarvelee David, Abdullai Kamara and I cannot remember the name of the other man.

Can you remember their age range?

Primary Witness: No, but I think we were all in the same age range.

What is the name of the fighter that killed these men?

Primary Witness: It was General Shavy.

How these men were killed?

Primary Witness: They cut their throats with knife.

Is Shavy still in Firestone?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Why general Shavy took you from the disarmament line when you went to go disarm?

Primary Witness: I the time they forced me to join them, I used to hide myself from him all the time, so I think that was his reason.

What are some of the things you saw the fighters doing?

Primary Witness: I used to see them with human parts with gambol seed around it and somebody will be carrying the pot on their head before them when they are going to the battle front.

What grade were you in before the war?

Primary Witness: I was in the 11th grade.

How the parents of the men killed got the news of their death?

Primary Witness: I knew the parents and so I told them the news and how they were killed.

Commissioner Stewart: Which year this thing happened to you?

Primary Witness: It was in the year 2001.

Was general Shavy an ATU personnel or a militia?

Primary Witness: He was an ATU personnel and he at the time that it was the President that sent him to control the militia around the area.

You heard about any Bandits Group?

Primary Witness: Yes, he organized that group and they had the Solari group that used to have the human parts with them at the battle front.

Do you remember name of anyone of their commanders?

Primary Witness: Yes, I used to head about Dolo and Prince.

Who was in control of Kakata at the time?

Primary Witness: It was Cucu Dennis.

He used to visit the base?

Primary Witness: Yes, twice; he used to bring food and other supplies at the base.

He knew about the killings by these fighters?

Primary Witness: Yes, I think he knew because when you enter the area, you will see all the dead bodies and it will be smelling; and each time he came, he never used to asked why these people were killed and by whom.

What are some of the things he used to do when he comes on the base?

Primary Witness: When he comes, he will just call for formation and divide the supplies he brought, sometimes T-shirts and other goods.

Who were the bodies that used to be around, was it civilians?

Primary Witness: Most of them were civilians.

What kind of gun they gave you at the base?

Primary Witness: They gave me LAR.

They trained you before sending to the battle front?

Primary Witness: The only training I had was just to shot and how to put the magazine in the gun and from there, they sent me on the front line.

What is the name of the area you went to disarm?

Primary Witness: I went to Bong Mines.

Commissioner Coleman: Where was the base located?

Primary Witness: It was located at Service Station way in the mine.

Which year they arrested you and your friends?

Primary Witness: In 2001.

Anyone of your family died during the war?

Primary Witness: No.

Commissioner Konneh: What is General Shavy's real name?

Primary Witness: His real name is Joseph Duo and his fighting name is General Shavy.

What are the names of the other three men they killed and you saw their bodies the next day at the jail?

Primary Witness: I did not know them, we just met in the bush and they decided to help me to show me the road when I ran away from general Shavy.

You say it was General Shavy that organized the Bandits?

Primary Witness: Yes.

How do you know?

Primary Witness: He used to give orders to the fighters to do anything he wanted them to do.

Was he a member of an organization?

Primary Witness: I only heard say that the only way his friends/enemy bullets will hit him except the person does not have private parts; he made this remark when he killed my friends.

How many time Cucu Dennis visited the base?

Primary Witness: Plenty times, some times he and General Varney used to come visit us.

You say Cucu Dennis was aware of all the killings the fighters did?

Primary Witness: Yes, because when he comes, he will not ask questions as to who killed those people.

How many times you witnessed General Shavy killed civilians?

Primary Witness: Plenty times; one time some people came and told him that LURD was planning attack on his base and he said that they were enemies and he killed them.

Have you come to the TRC to tell us what you did or to report General Shavy?

Primary Witness: He is the one who denied me the opportunity to go to school and also disarm; I would have completed school by now.

Can you face General Shavy at the TRC anytime when he is call?

Primary Witness: Yes, when he sees me, he will know.

How many times you went on the battle front?

Primary Witness: I went to the battle front two (2) times.

Did you at any time remember where you killed anyone at the battle front?

Primary Witness: No, no, when the fighters are firing I used to just go under the trees and lay down.

You say you did not kill anyone?

Primary Witness: No, to my oath, I did not kill any one.

Commissioner Dolopei: What kind of human parts the fighters used to have?

Primary Witness: The human heart, the liver and sometimes I used to hear him say the only way your gun will hit him except you do not have private parts.

You say them eating human being?

Primary Witness: No.

Chairman: You were engaged in battle two times, what was it you did there?

Primary Witness: When we went to the battle front, I lay down under the tree and they fought for more than three hours and I later just heard General Shavy saying come to town, I have captured it, and we all went to town.

What kind of weapons they had?

Primary Witness: They had GMG, Rockets, AK-47, and plenty others.

What kind of training they used to gave on the base?

Primary Witness: People used to die under the other one they bad-wire, when you go under the bad wire, he general shavy will be shooting over your head and when you get up, the bullet will kill you and nothing will come from inside.

They buried the bodies of those killed?

Primary Witness: No, they just used to throw the bodies in the hole the where the company left behind and the training continues.

Women were on the base?

Primary Witness: Yes, women were the main people who used execute orders very quickly.

You saw children on the base?

Primary Witness: Yes, I saw about four (4) children.

Who was this Loose Talk?

Primary Witness: He was the main bad man; he just used to killed people anytime.

What other names Loose-Talk had?

Primary Witness: Only the Loose-Talk name I knew.

Can you please describe General Shavy?

Primary Witness: Yes, he was an ugly small man, he used to plat his hair and he was light skinny in complexion.

Now that you have completed your testimony and we too have exhausted our questions, is there anything else you want to say before you leave?

Primary Witness: Yes, I took this time to come from way Bong Mines; I really want to see Shavy brought to justice so that he will know that there is law in this country. I thank you.

Twenty-Six Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Gbarnga, Bong County

James Kahakie

(Second Primary Witness of day four)

The Second Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.

Chairman: Mr. Witness, good after noon and welcome. As we welcome you, I want to introduce you to us the commissioners because you will be interacting with us in the next few minutes as such I want you to know us.

What is your name?

Primary Witness: My name is James Kahkie

When were you born?

Primary Witness: I was born 1937.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: I live in Handi, Fama District.

What do you do for a living?

Primary Witness: I am a farmer.

Primary Witness: I thank God that I am here. TRC has sent for us to come and express our feelings. After this war, some of us are suffering for what really happen to us. Especially I sitting down here. Really the beginning of this war, 1990 I was living in Handi. First we heard news that war is coming, war is coming. And we don't know the difference of war. One time we heard that war was in Liberia. We were doing our thing them. Until one time people were still fighting. But I could not believe it that the war was reaching to us. So later on, I saw one guy I think that was in June. He went to Bong mines he was the NPFL commander they call him Kokah one Gio man. That the first time they attacked in Bong Mines, so people went Handi and told us that the people have also captured Bong Mines. So you people should not sit down here even they looking for Mandingo people, and the Mandingo people were in our town, they all escaped and we stay. When the people entered the town, because we were the elders that were living there, they call us. When I went, they say here is our people here, here's our stranger. Our saviors, they come to save us so we greet them. You know why? When you scare you can do something. You have to do something, but I say the people get gun. Then they come to redeem us? I don't know how they will redeem us? They said, you should not feel bad, we will do something good for your. They say your just show us where soldiers are living. We say, we don't know. They said if your lie to us when we catch your we will kill your. That time those soldiers had crossed St. Paul River and gone to the other side. We were not having soldiers here. So they said here are the strangers. We took cola and give it to them and say okay we give ourselves to your, we are one. Your must feel free nothing will happen to your and so we were there.

That time NPFL used to send rice. They carried rice they call all of us. They divided the rice among the people. After few time, they were not receiving rice, so later they call the citizens. And they said well, you people are here and we came to fight for your, for the food business, your will be feeding us. But they say who is the elder? They took me to be the chief elder among the other group. I use to be receiving the food and I divide it. So I told the people they agreed. So each time they use to come. Every week they collect rice and the amount that they will receive from me, they give me receipt. So when the rice was finishing, then they used to go in the bushes to collect things. And the people use to complain saying they sent rice but the soldiers were going and collecting there things. And I said to them what I should do when the people have guns?

So we stay on that and bear it until, almost two years. So later on we heard that another war was coming, it was ULIMO, so it was not easy, each time people coming and passing by us, crossing the rive, coming in town. So I say this war is not easy, I told my wife, I did not want to stay, she said I should just bear it. I said because when people come from far off coming and going, when the people reach here, what will they do? Myself didn't take it to be any thing. But when ULIMO entered, they went Handi to move NPFL. That's the time they attack. It was not easy. All those soldiers that were there, they all run away and went in the bush. When day break those of us who did not run away, they collected us, and they told us if we knew where NPFL soldiers where, we should let them know. We said we did not see any of them, and so we were with them and they said they were not like NPFL soldiers but they were coming help. So just how we were acting to NPFL, we starting to act the same to them. So some one told me say, maybe the same devil that was here maybe that's the same devil. I say let's just bear patience, we will see. So not knowing, NPFL has gone to make another attempt to come and move them. That's the time you use to hear about massacre. That's the same night they went and attack Handi. It was not easy, but I was not in the town that night. I was to the other village, Jahkpala, Handi. So they went there, where NPFL, ULIMO they fought that night, it was not easy. We our self we went in the bush, we slept there day break, we can't see NPFL, when they did that, they escaped. So we were there, two days, they call us again and said, you people sent your children in the bush to set for us? And we came to delivery your and you people don't want to concord with us. That you people get the children here why you did not bring them? We say but I did not know, that soldier to soldier. Then they started to damage us. Each time, they come; they will start to beat people. So I went there and told them say it was not so because, we don't know how you people can fight. When one group leaves another group comes. And so when the other people come to fight your, you want to blame us? So we were there until one day, because they use to point at people. Because the people in Handi say that I get money, I get houses there. So they people came they kill people but they did not burn my house. So for that reason, my son was fighting with them, so that's why they didn't burn my house. They burn other people houses. And I said no my children did not join soldier. And one man was there and he said how about your foster child? He said, you didn't have some body who you were raising here? I said yes, one time my brother born his son in Bong Mines. At time I was working in Bong Mines, he died but the child I took care off until he man for himself. He is after his school. He said but that's the man we talking about. I said but the man is not with me. They say any way, you are not responsible but why they burn the other people house and they did not burn your own? We will kill you. You will not enjoy your own house. That's the crime they put on me. I say, I don't know anything about it. Infact, my children they are not soldiers, they are here.

So they tie me and put me in my own house and say if I don't pay the money until 7:00 o'clock, then they will kill me that evening. My wife them were crying, so I told them say your don't cry. The commander in Bong Mines was call T, then they went and explain it to T. and he say oh, your go and bring this man, and they went and sent form me and they carry me to Bong Mines. At time I knew that I was not going to live again. Because when that was the only commander when he says this, it will happen. he call me and ask me I say well, my children they are not soldier, but the man who was a small boy here, that my brother's son, but he's a man now for he self I don't even know where he is now, he's marry. So he say for that reason, myself my ma advise me not to join soldier. The way how I force myself, if I kill somebody, they can't go and kill my ma, if I am a soldier, let me bear my own panty. So for that reason, we will not kill you. He asked me what I get for him. I say well, I don't have anything and I don't know if I will live? Well, he made a statement. He said the one who make this, he give it to me. I think you can read it. He told me say go back to Handi. If anybody touched you there, that person you and him will die. And they give it to me we went then they free me. After they free me, you know sometimes is good to do good. You know the children that were there, I use to feed them with food. One boy said to me if you stay here, they will put different crime on you, try and find your way in town. So that same day, I came back to Bong Mines. When I came I was hiding my self, then I told one man who was a soldier, I said Barwou, please help me to carry me in town because people use to walk by land to get to Kakata. So I took my two sons with one of my daughters. But the group was too much so I didn't take all of them with me. I left some of the important ones because if I could move them, they were going to hold them responsible. So I carry the bigger ones.

We walk from Bong Mines the whole night we got to Kakata in the morning 6:00. To pass to Kalaymue way to get to Bong Mines is was not easy. So when we got there, we still in Kakata two night no food. So I told the children say let's try and find way in town. So one of friends told me say just go BWI, there where you will find ECOMG soldiers they can bring truck they will help you. So when we got there, I say your pleased carry me. They say okay, pay 300dallars. They put my family and my self in the car, we went in town. When we went in town, I pass and went straight to Lakarey Mission. When I was working with the company, one security man was there he and myself were friendly, they call him Allen, he was on Lakarey Mission I was there with him he carry me to Mr. Benson. Mr. Benson carry me to his big house, nine rooms house because he his self he was scary he was not living in his own house he told me to be there with my family and mine the place no rant. I was there, and they give me place to make cassava farm, potatoes farm, feeding my family. Even some of them are there now, even one is there going to school, Philip Kahaie. So after the war cease my wife went for me and say James come there is no more war the people are free they are not hampering people. I told her that they say another war coming again; they couldn't believe it so I went back. Two years times again we heard that the war was coming back, which they call dissident war. So I became to say that oh, if I knew I couldn't come. So I say that?s the same thing, the people will give me hard time. So we were there again war came I was not able to escape. So I was with them. We saw another group from Monrovia, we saw ATU they were the one in control. They went there and say they will take care of us; they will give us every thing that we want so we must not be afraid of them. I was in one room they took the other apartment. Not knowing they making another plan for me. So somebody went and told them say this man get money, he get three women. So they took the woman from me and all I had and so I was not afraid again. They went to my village which they call Woekoma, I bought two steel mill after the company pay me off, I carried there I was doing my business. So they went and took that mill and brought it to Handi. The man who was living there that was one Dennis living there.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: You say what Dennis was doing?

Primary Witness: Kuku Dennis, they are the one who were with the people. He was living there?

Where?

Primary Witness: Farma. They get a little town there, there were he had his own the soldiers.

So I went and put this report before him and say the people brought all my things here. My mill they went and looted all from there and brought it, so I told them to give me it and they didn't bring it back. He said what was the mill? I said the mill was across. He said okay, the mill was across suppose now dissident could come and take it, what you were going to do? I said but that's the reason why God make it to be on your side, because you promise that you will save us. He did not talk anything. Not known he himself already promise to carry that mill, so he told the people to go for it. So they brought the mill. Everything they put it in the car, they went and burn my house, they took the zinc out right before me, and they say I should buy the zinc I say no, I don't get money. My wife told me say when you buy it they will take the money and you will lost both side. So I didn't do anything, they carry it. So that's one of the major things that hurt me. They tied me of course, but God bless me they didn't beat me, but all my properties. Right now I am in Handi I am doing farming work again. The children are going to school no money, the only thing they are cleaver, they finish high school they want to go college, but small one there I don't know where he's getting money from, but he putting himself in college, sometimes he can call for money I don't have. Again this Handi, this ULIMO war, they destroyed our people for nothing and I don't know the reason. One man they call combat Gayah, he was the commander there, Mandingo people went there they were fisher man every time they use to kill the fish, one time they went and lay their net, so Gayah use to come, he will say the fish is small. So the next day, when he go there, he himself will go and check that net, so when he went, the people say don't go there the net is not good, he was dress in uniform so he got in the canoe they went and took all the net with the fish. While coming, they went under the water, he left there. So the people say we who are living in Handi, we are witchcraft we are the cause of it. Then they sent soldiers from Bong Mines, they went that evening, twelve of our family they tie them and kill them. And they sent for another people across because their believe was that they are the one that live under water. Town chiefs upon, town chiefs they were going to kill more then hundred.

Later on one fellow they call him Amos I am forgetting his name. So they sent for him and say they people are killing our people here. So he went there and ask a question say why your killing this amount of people here for one person business? They put stop to it that's the only way the other people could survived. That's the ending of my story. But I can't explain what all went on but they destroyed. I myself sitting down nothing to do now, I am a victim. I work with Bong Mines for ten years, no job and I want my children to go to school.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: The main one that caught your heart is what you have explained?

Primary Witness: Yes, my mill is gone.

Your mill was taken away, three-thousand dollars was taken away from you too?

Primary Witness: Say twelve thousand dollars. I got some over sea and I got some from free zone. That was two mills almost to twelve thousand.

That's twelve values?

Primary Witness: Yes.

What about cash, they took cash from you?

Primary Witness: Yes,

How much?

Primary Witness: 6000LD. Because they say if I don't give that money they will kill me.

So it was 6000LD taken from you?

Primary Witness: Yes.

You presented a paper, what is that paper?

Primary Witness: It was clearance from S-2 commander.

So it is a paper to say that you were free?

Primary Witness: Yes, to be free. That was the day I was going to die. Because it was the reason I did not stay there. If I was going to stay there, they were going to put another crime on me because, they say that my son went and brought war back to them. So all that destruction they made he was the cause. Because they didn't burn my own the house but they burn houses there. And my son self he was not there at time. Since then, I have not seen him.

Since then, you have not seen your son?

Primary Witness: No, I have not seen him; I don't know weather he survived.

Thank you very for coming to express your self. That's the reason why we have organized this TRC, so that people can come and say what is inside people heart. And so we say the war is over, we get peace, we know the concern of every citizens and government know what to do, the Liberia people know what to do, to make sure that we don't have conflict coming into our country again. And we say sorry for your son and any other relatives that die during the war.

Commissioner Konneh: Can you tell me when you started experiencing all these things what you have just explained during the war?

Primary Witness: From 1990 up to dissident war.

How many warring factions went to your area?

Primary Witness: NPFL, ULIMO, and ATU they are the one that took my last thing. The dissident I didn't see them. They were across and we were on this side.

Who you call dissident?

Primary Witness: I don't know. But they just use to call them dissident.

What was your experience with NPFL?

Primary Witness: On my side, it was not good.

They did don't any thing in that area?

Primary Witness: They didn't beat me only my property I told you and my Money, they took money from me. I was the leader for them as elder. Anything we get for them I use to divide it and they never harm me. After the attack, they were not there again. Then ULIMO took over.

What NPFL did in your area there?

Primary Witness: They destroyed. The massacre that took place there they are the one.

What they destroyed?

Primary Witness: They killed lot of people there

Civilians or?

Primary Witness: Yes, civilians.

Did they loot any thing from you people?

Primary Witness: No, they didn't take my mill.

Did they recruit any young people from your area?

Primary Witness: Plenty they are the one who cause of it.

They said your son was among them?

Primary Witness: No, not my son now, but some body who I rear. My brother's son, he was among them, but that time I did not know, they just say he join them.

He joined which group?

Primary Witness: He joined NPFL unknown to me. I use to advise them, but he is the only one that joined. S And since that time I have not seen him I don't know weather he's alive.

Who was the commandeering officer of ULIMO J that you know?

Primary Witness: ULIMO J that Johnson.

ULIMO J was Johnson, ULIMO K was Kromah. Which one visited your area?

Primary Witness: Both of them went there. As for ULIMO J, I saw the man himself he went and spoke to us.

You know who was the commander of ULIMO J?

Primary Witness: But that's what I telling you, Amos Sayea.

What about ULIMO K?

Primary Witness: ULIMO K that Johnson.

You said, NPFL, ULIMO J,ULIMO K visited your area, among the three groups, which of group that real did the civilian killing, looting and ect?

Primary Witness: Most people brought complain .Because some times when the people bring the complaint to me, when I want to judge it they say I speaking for the people. So Edward said let every body speak for their self. And for that reason, sometimes when they bring some matter, we will not judge it according to the people's satisfaction. They use to say you wrong this person. One time they went there, this same Johnson asked me what we were doing for the people. Well, I told them say we feeding the people. They go on the farms and the people seed rice that there, they will take it from the people. Then I said you should advise them. Then they say oh that food business you talking here, so it was hard on me. So some of that matter that they used to bring here I use to be scare to judge. So when you carried your matter, I say I am not in power. They use to go all on people's farm taking things that they not suppose to take. ULIMO, NPFL and also ATU they use to do it. That the last one gave us hard time.

Commission Coleman: What is the name of your town, what district or county that these incidents happen, particularly at the beginning of 1990, where were you living and what happen?

Primary Witness: I was in Handi, Fama district, Bong County.

There you were a chief or you were a spokes man, what was your title at time?

Primary Witness: I was there as elder, that was my mother's village.

So you were the head?

Primary Witness: Yes.

During the period 1990, before ULIMO came there was NPFL right?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Were they the one (NPFL) that took your steel Mill?

Primary Witness: No, I say the last people.

So when they came there 1990, before ULIMO, what did they do to you and your people, did they do any thing bad, or they just introduce themselves?

Primary Witness: NPFL did not do bad thing from the beginning to me they were alright, until ULIMO went that's why I brought this paper.

So your problem started when ULIMO came?

What year was that?

Primary Witness: 1994

1994, when ULIMO came, you know who was the chief of the head for the ULIMO group that came to your town Handi?

Primary Witness: ULIMO head name was Johnson that the only man name we used to heard.

You saw him, he himself, he went to your town?

Primary Witness: Yes.

So when he came to your town, what they did do there, they did fight with NPFL to move them out, or what happen when they first came? Because you said, NPFL was there before, so for them to come it must have been a struggle?

Primary Witness: Yes, they were there. We were all living together first when NPLF was living there, later on before ULIMO came to move them out. That's the time now we started having problem. After ULIMO captured the place, NPFL went out.

So you said that your son had join NPFL?

Primary Witness: Yes.

You said some thing about when they burn the houses in the town; they didn't burn your house because your son was there?

Primary Witness: Yes, they say that my son went and told the people that they should not burn my house, that's was the story they brought to me.

That was before ULIMO came when they did the burning of the houses or that was after the ULIMO when the war came?

Primary Witness: When the people entered to attack, that was NPFL that's what I telling you until ULIMO attack them until they went away. They wanted to come take over again that same night that was the time now they fought and they burn houses, they killed lot of people. I don't know which one, NPFL kill or ULIMO kill, but when day break now, we couldn't see NPFL people they all escape they took some people from there again and carry them out but we are they one who stayed again with ULIMO and they are the one who said that we put our children in the bush to kill them.

Which one was the one that actually took all the things from you ULIMO or the NPFL group?

Primary Witness: No. it was not NPFL. No, my Mill was there they didn't carry it

And also did they bother any of your family people. They did rape any of the women in your family or your group during the time the ULIMO or the NPFL came there?

Primary Witness: No.

Besides your son, who joined the NPFL, did any body else in your family got hurt, kill, or abuse from this whole war experience?

Primary Witness: No.

We move up now to the 95 time up to ULIMO period where we had suffering, where the houses were burn and the Mill was taken. What time was that?

Primary Witness: That's just the same time they went for the mill.

What year?

Primary Witness: 2007

Who was that new group, you know the group they call LURD?

You know the LURD group?

Primary Witness: Yes.

You know any commander in that group that came to the town?

Primary Witness: No, because they didn't cross. They were over the water.

So the government forces that came to protect your town that was the ATU group?

Primary Witness: Yes, they are the one that say they coming protect us, they are the same group that carry our things them.

So they were the one that did that bad thing to you, the steel mill, they took the cash. They did do any bad thing to your family at that time?

Primary Witness: No, only my property they took.

So they were only concern about the money and the mill they didn't come and raped any of the women, they didn't hurt any body nothing like that?

Primary Witness: No. well on my side it didn't happen.

Commissioner Dolopei: You explained this story about the soldiers who went on the canoe to go and fishing, your warned him and he refused and went and the canoe felt and he died. Which group was that, was it the ATU? They came in the town and kill people including twelve of your people, can you please give me the names of the twelve people who died if you can remember

Primary Witness: Yes, I can remember some; My uncle Kutuma Barclay Acting Clan chief, Golay, Yah Dumah the general town chief, Zoe, my mother in-law, Duralow

Commissioner Stewart: You mentioned Kuku Dennis, what Kuku Dennis do to you?

Primary Witness: After the people took the mill from me, he was in controller on that side.

What side was he controlling?

Primary Witness: From Handi, I say he had his base right in Kpan town. From Handi you come to his base. He was ruling the people there he and Varney, Taylor sent them there. So they were controlling everything there. So I carry the complaint to him and say the soldiers people took my mill.

The Varney what is his full name?

Primary Witness: I don't know. We didn't ask them, we were scared of them. But that's his name Varney and Kuku Dennis.

And what happen?

Primary Witness: So when they took the mill I brought the report to him and say chief please let the people give me that mill they took. That's my mill. And he asked me and say suppose that was dissent that took your mill; were going to get it from them? I told him I say well, that's what God say I should be on your side so you can help me. He didn't talk.

And the mill was been taken?

Primary Witness: Yes, until now.

Do you believe that he sent for the mill?

Primary Witness: Yes, because they didn't give me hard time. I knew he's the one who sent for it. That morning he sent message to Gakpalea, that every body that there they should come and cut grass not known he had already make a plan to go for it that mill so when the people came, they brush the whole and they say they should not to go home and so some of them escape. When they went they grab them and put every one of them in jail, so that they will not move. Soon in the morning, they return every body across just to go bring that mill. So he cause of it.

In St. Paul River?

Primary Witness: Not far from the island.

Your mill was on Duplu Island?

Primary Witness: Behind Duplu Island, when you cross the water, every thing we do we cross the water. In farming, we cross the water.

So that in Gbarpolu?

Primary Witness: Weather that Gbarpolu I don't know. That's Bong Mines That the same Bong County, my village, Landma, Laybanma, the boundary behind there.

So the people who were in town that taken these things the report to Kuku Dennis, Kuku Dennis was in charge, he was in control of all of them?

Primary Witness: Yes. All the soldiers that were there he was in control of them, but he was not living across on this side, he was in Handi.

And then you carry the report to him?

Primary Witness: Because the people went, they sent people there to bring it on this side. Bong County is behind the water.

During the time they took your mill, any fighting went on in that area?

Primary Witness: No.

The rebel ever came there at the time?

Primary Witness: You know when the people captured Bong Mines, we that live across they will go and get us and bring us across so. Which means the place is free. They don't like to live back there because they say the water is there. Any thing, they are on this side, because we the Bong County people we there every times, because we get our things there, sometimes when we want go for food in the night, they can put soldiers behind your to go and bring food. Themselves they can go and collect food from there. Some times then which means they will want stop us, so that we will not go and bring our own food maybe so they will go and bring every thing. So that's what they use to do.

Chairman: Your mill that was taken, you saw them putting it in any particular car, to take it away?

Primary Witness: The people had their own car. I am telling you some thing, if the people take something from you, they don't want you to even be around them and they don't want you to see what they are doing. So when they catch you now, some times they will just kill you because they don't want you to explain any thing.

So you get to hid yourself?

Primary Witness: Yes, but my people that were there told me. Even one hand pump was there that day; they put it in the car.

In NPFL car?

Primary Witness: No, ATU. NPFL didn't carry my mill; ULIMO didn't carry it, but ATU

Your Nephew who you real as your son, can you tell us his name?

Primary Witness: We just used to call him Joseph Kahaie, but his other name is Gbanah his Kpelleh.

What was his age at the time he went and join?

Primary Witness: He was born in Bong Mines, 1970.

I did not hear you say any thing about your wife or children what happen to them during that time?

Primary Witness: That one I don't blame any body some times. Because being that I was not having nothing again, to feed the women, some of them can love to soldier men them all that one there. We all were in the same town, I know them. So myself I just cut off from all that one there. Some times when they there, they look frown on me, and people tell me say be careful and there was no way to come back in Monrovia again.

They use to force people to take their wives away from them?

Primary Witness: Yes, they carry. So after the war, my one went back and apology and say that's not any thing, being that we been together no way, we have twelve children.

By your other wife, or you and all of your wives had Twelve children, twelve children in all?

Primary Witness: Yes, twelve

All the children survive the war?

Primary Witness: Yes, one die but it because the little boy mother was inside the house after they attack Handi, he didn't even tell his mother that the people are here, he took the baby and run away. He took the baby and carried the baby way to Belemue way when we came to get the baby, whole year, we can't get the baby, and we can't get him. So the baby died from him. That's the only one that died from me. He didn't come

Who was he, was that one of your sons?

Primary Witness: Yes, that's one of my sons and we were looking for him and the baby. So the baby died. The boy is in Monrovia now.

Your big son is in Monrovia now?

Primary Witness: Yes.

So the baby that die what's the baby's name?

Primary Witness: They call him Nykollie Kahaie.

How old was Nykollie at the time?

Primary Witness: She was not even correct one year.

So which of the factions took your wife?

Primary Witness: That this same ATU. They were loving to them I can't say they take her. She was loving to them so myself I cut off. The thing what hurt me, they took her. But she came and apology. I move it from in my heart, but that's not too much, I can think about it.

So that's all your wives they took?

Primary Witness: Not all, but some of them, two love to soldier man so I left. I leave that one there. I didn't hamper myself because, certain time to get food to eat myself it was hard, so why should I disturb my self for woman business.

So the other one is still with you?

Primary Witness: Yes, one came back and the other one they are in town with the children

So two went with the soldiers and one came back?

Primary Witness: Yes.

That's the one stay with you now?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Thank you very much. You said that's ATU who did it?

Primary Witness: Yes, ATU hurt my feelings more.

All the people that were killed, especially when NPFL back pass the ULIMO J and came to the town, you can tell us the number of people you think that were killed In Handi?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Primary Witness: Oh no, they too much. Because that's Monday night, the people use to come because they went to us you know, they went to check that night it was just good some of us didn't out that kind of way, so they were in the house. So when the people came, they collected every one of them. So that why make it they kill lot of people.

That's was more then fifteen persons?

Primary Witness: Yes, more then fifteen persons

More then hundred?

Primary Witness: I didn't count it but it can be more then hundred. So the dead bodies they buried it, the balance they put it in the hole.

So your buried until your were tire burying?

Primary Witness: Yes. Then all the other bodies, we put it in the sub pit tank

So that how many graves your dig?

Primary Witness: I don't know.

Primary Witness: I have not been there, some graves right to the compound. The other one they use to double them, that the massacres now that happen then they bury them in the grave.

So the ones your put in the sub pit tank, it full the sub pit tank?

Primary Witness: I don't know but they put more people in side. Only more bones were there but they took it away and they repaint the compound.

But some body told your that it was two hundred and fifty persons they put in the graves, one church building was destroyed; can you remember the church building?

Primary Witness: I don't know the church building name.

Thank you very much Mr. Kahaie, you have told us every that was in your heart, or that some thing else still there you want tell us before you go?

Primary Witness: Only advice. I just want to advice. The advice mostly going to the war, the war is over. But the youth, we just talk about this war, war, war here. The war just last in Liberia here because of the youth. The young people they don't think too much, all this arm thing that we talking about, when they get money , the person will go and look at you because he does not want to do any physical work to get money, he will say this pappy get money, this pappy get this, now then all these things that happening is only our own children they are the one who make it the people can't go across St. Paul River they don't know where I hide my mill, but our own people them, the youth mostly involve. So my advice to them is, today we are talking this but it left with them is not us again. If they go with this advice, sometimes, Liberia will build. But you get malice for your friend because you get money, and if I can work you don't get it, the man get food, the man get this, that's what make us suffering today. Because they use to do it. That my advice to them. So that's just my advice it has happen now, right now I can't get my mill, I can't get any thing. Those that we are boring them now they the one will face the problem.

So you say, during the war, because of money, because of different, different things. You said the youth was fighting the war with different culture?

Primary Witness: Yes.

So your advise now is the youth should find some thing to do, physical work that they can do to earned them money so that they will put their hands in war business again?

Primary Witness: Yes. Right now, our own children now they can't help you to brush farm. They are not able.

They want money?

Primary Witness: Yes. They want money from you, Pappy not doing that, pappy not doing this. You get to sell before you get some thing. They use to the war now taking people things by force some of them, they don't want learn.

Some of them are doing arm rubbery now?

Primary Witness: Well, we can see some of them. Some of them when they grab them you can see them. Mostly it's going to the youth.

Most of the young people they are garbing them now?

Primary Witness: Yes.

That advice is not only coming to the youth or to us here but to the whole country. So all of us get to put hands together and find way to make sure the youth go to school and find something to do because, if we don't do it, it becomes a threat to us because by their stealing and arm rubbery. Thank you very much we hear your advice, and with this advice, I am very, very sure it will be included in the final advice from the TRC to the government. Thank you very much, and please have our sympathy again for the death of your nephew and your son, and for all the terrible experiences you went through in Handi. Thank you for coming to the TRC. I hope after here your heart will lad down small becaus3 all those things, were heavy on your heart.

Primary Witness: Yes, I was doing my work. Yesterday I was going in the bush when the people looking for me to come. I was going to set my ambush and I left from there, just for me to come and do this.

Ambush for the meat?

Primary Witness: Yes, I don't like to eat bad food. When you come in Handi, look for me you will see my house, I not in hiding when you ask for Kahaie you will see me. Some times I can be on the farm so you will not see me but I there 90 days.

Okay thank you, I see you smiling, you laughing now, all of us we happy now that you come, you talk to us, everything okay. Thank you very much Mr.Kahaie.

Primary Witness: And you, thank you.

Twenty-Seven Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Gbarnga, Bong County

Omasco Keller

(Third Primary Witness of day four)

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: welcome to the TRC. We thank you for coming to make your contribution to our section of looking for healing and national reconciliation tour country. By giving your testimony from your perspective, people will know what happen and then we can reconcile. So we say you are welcome. Before we start, Can you kindly repeat your name?

Primary Witness: My name is Omasco Dahn Keller.

What is your date of Birth?

Primary Witness: I was born October 18th 1967.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: I live in Handy in the Fuamah District.

What do you do?

Primary Witness: I am a farmer.

Primary Witness: Firstly, I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity. My story is about the war, my experience, had to do with the capture of ULIMO in Bong County. Then, some kind of attack from the NPFL and I lost some of my friends. I will like to inform you that all my life I spent my time in Fuamah District, I was born in Bong Mines, went to school there. I was there when NPFL enter June the 6th 1990. We were taken from classes; we saw some of the killing activities, by then it was Mandingos and Krahn they were killing. Because of that, we could not stand it we ran away and went across the St Paul River where we live for one week and another NPFL troop attack, so we decided to come back to the town. We said there was no need running from them when they were already ahead of us so we came back and then in the same June the 28th 1990, when Prince Y. Johnson enter into Bong Mines where he stay with us for one week and later he left. When he left it took two weeks before NPFL forces came back to town. While there, peaceful civilians were being accused of giving seat to Prince Johnson, we were the ones that were giving information to them; innocent civilians' lives began to be trouble. They became to persuade the people, so from that time on peaceful man could not live in Bong Mines anymore myself had to leave; I went back to the district headquarters where I live now Handy. From 1990, to the days we began hearing about ULIMO attacking from the Mano River Congo, and they began to advance on NPFL until they reach the headquarters of the former Bopolu district where we call now Gbarpolu County.

There they live for some months, later they decided to move on NPFL in Bong County that is in Handy. On the 8th of December 1992, while I was sitting on my porch, ever since my mother born me, I have not seen the moon light shinning like that. The moon was shinning that if you see me from afar, and you know me, you will recognized me. So when I was there that night, when I saw 2 men running from NPFL defense gate, but we the civilians never knew what was happening. And they pass and went to the direction where NPFL had their headquarters and this check point, their commander was one 18 year old boy, he was from Bassa, they use to call him one colonel Soka. When they went, after 15 minutes, we saw up to 18 heavily arm men matching towards the direction those arm men were going.

And so, when they got close to us, I heard general Sankor order his boys to arrest all civilian men in the house where I was living in. and I got arrested my and one of my cousin call Abraham B. Truhau and other civilian men that was there with me. So we walk to him, you know, Sankor use to be a friend when he was there. So I thought it was a joke, then I ask him chief what happened? Then in fact, he kicked me and said get the hell in front of me lets go. So it's like he was using us as human shield to know the unfolding uprising in the area after getting the information from the two men that brought the news. So he put us in front of him to this direction. The former Bong Mining Company Director had an Airstrip in the area there, where we crossed. We approached the district football field there; we got to one of the strategic gates there, which was guarded by some RUF soldiers who left Sierra Leone to trap ULIMO. There when we reach there, they halted us. I remember ULIMO and NPFL had a command password word: NPFL had the simply one that said ?Advance to be recognized', the commander that was using us as shield told us to respond, yes it is friendly forces. And so they permitted us to passed, and when we passed, by then I think we all know that Liberia was not destroyed up to standard. The straight road was there, you could see another person coming. By then we saw three other arm men running coming from that direction but they were not in shirt, they were wet with one gun. This commander Sankor halted them. And they yield to his commander, he told them to dropped their arms and they did, He commander me to walk and take the arm and give it to him, which I did.

When I brought the arm, we all gather, and he began to ask, these 3 men began to explain, and they said that they received heavily armed men at the post which they had been minding, that the two men that we controlling the two 60 calibers had been killed. So his fear came into us, we as civilians but we had no means to escape because we were already in their hands. He took two guns, two of the rifle AK 47 and gave it to two of the Sankor soldiers and they told us to go. In fact commander them that any attempt from us to escape, we should be killed, Taylor knows about what was happening. He told him, carry them, I am here I will be making connection for more man power and if there is any thing, I will let you know. And we started going. While walking, ULIMO had already captured the crossing point and had come deep in to where we were walking. There is an old car, right to the intersection where the former Bong Mining Company had their hydro; there is a road from the power house crossing where ULIMO had their men sitting there.

When they heard us talking, the jump down and took their hiding positions in the bush until we reach to them. When we got there, we passed. We enter the kola bush, Mr. Milton's kola bush because of the shade you could not see any thing, even if some one was very close to you. There we began to hear the heavy sound of men walking. So the two men that had the guns, said halt. So he said, advance to be recognized, ULIMO had the word, ?Who you', when they said it, they knew that was NPFL, so they open suppressive fire and luckily for us, the 2 Sankor soldiers that were with us died. And we jump in the bush. We travel some 30 to 35 minutes, day broke, that how we heard that they have captured Bong Mines and there was heavy launching there. Before the day could clear we heard a car coming with jubilation saying that Bong Mines had fallen. And that how, when you hear that Bong mines fall. Up to 8:30 that morning, ULIMO had deployed all of their people in the bushes to get out all the civilians to come for registration. By then ULIMO was led by one general Goso. He was the general for them. But he got kill in Kakata.

When we got to Handy, we were taken to Bong Mines for save heaven as they said; where we lived until the 1st of January 1993. NPFL launch it first counterpart attack. And ULIMO was able to repair this attack, and later on they made their own military laws to the district headquarter Handy where we had to live with one Combat Zaryea. When we got in handy, really thing were very fine, but we were always invited in a meeting, with the words that while we are in Handy any attempt from the NPFL people, they will massacre we the kpelleh people, because the kpelleh people were in support of NPFL so we should continue advising our brothers so that there will not be any attack. Well, we were always praying that there should be no attack from the NPFL while there. So we stayed there until the 11th of February 1993. Before the 11th of February there was a fisher man who came from Mali to fish because over there in Handy there was the St. Paul River and he use to fishing and bring, it to Combat Zaryea for the soldiers to eat. So on the 11th of February, I don't know what stimulated him; actually, he decided to follow this man to the River bank. While I was there I observe Zaryea had one jump suit; it was on that day that he took out the jump suit, until that day. So he went that day on a canoe, he did not see the Fullah man so he took the canoe and went on the water. And according to the Fullah man, since we came over there, he has not kill fish like that. So he went behind them and took the fish and brought them. But before this day, one Lutheran Evangelist call Oldman Vangbare, and he establish friend ship from combat Zaryea, he use to give him fish when ever he gets fish for the soldier's food and give it to him. But on this day, he brought $12 and gave it to combat and said he wanted fish. Then he said Oldman, you my Oldman, take the money and I will give you the fish you want. So this day when he went not knowing any thing about water; because of the weight of the fish in the canoe, he got drown and died in the water 10: 00 clock that morning. That where the problem started. That morning, the old man call Oldman Gbelley, said, let all the able body men gather at the river side to find his body.

So that morning we went to the water side and luckily for us we found the body. So one other man was there, his name is Negar papai, who was a Krahn fe
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