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Human Rights Abuses & Massacres Were Not LURD's Intention...Joe Gbala At TRC...Says War Smells, It's Nasty & Dirty

Montserrado County, Liberia
16 September, 2008
Categorized as pertaining to: Hearings

An executive of the defunct LURD rebel movement says if massacre and human rights abuses were perpetrated by the group it was not intentional.

Joe Gbala, secretary general of the defunct rebel group said it was not the intention of the group to impose carnage on the people of Liberia.

"Our intentions were not to impose carnage on the Liberian people but you know the definition of war. War smells and it is nasty and dirty," Gbala said Tuesday when he testified at the ongoing TRC Institutional and Thematic Inquiry Public Hearing on the Contemporary History of the Liberian Conflict at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia.

Unlike a standing army, he said, a rebel group is not like the military where the leadership can hold combatants responsible for crimes committed.

"No where you can fight a war that you will not experience calamity, but it was not our intentions. If human rights abuses and massacre went on, it was not our intentions," Mr. Gbala who served as managing director of the National Port Authority (NPA) in the power sharing National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) on a slot allotted to the faction said.

Joe Gbala: "Massacres you talked about. It was not our intentions to carry out massacres. Even if we were informed that massacres went on, people went there to investigate, but conclusively we were not informed to the letter that massacres went on. Our intentions were not to carry out massacres and impose carnage on our Liberian people."

Mr. Gbala confirmed that the rebel faction lobbed rockets on the city of Monrovia, but said mortar rounds were lobbed "to pin down the enemies; the so called government forces."

He however said the LURD abandoned the shelling after it discovered that government forces led by General Benjamin Yeaten were using civilians as human shields at Fouani Brothers on Water Street.

Under the theme: "Understanding the Conflict Through its Principal Events and Actors," the ongoing hearings are addressing the root causes of the conflict, including its military and political dimensions.

The hearings are focused on events between 1979 and 2003 and the national and external actors that helped to shape those events.

The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 peace agreement and created by the TRC Act of 2005.

The TRC was established to "promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation," and at the same time make it possible to hold perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and October 2003.

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