Barclayville City: Day 5: Commissioners visit Grandcess City

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Upon arrival in Grandcess, the commissioners were taken to the Majestry building where they met the former acting City Mayor Mr. Steven Toe and the Stipendiary Majestry Mr. Joseph G. Wrokpo. He informed the Commissioners that the city has a prison which is not in good condition; as such they have to offer a room in the building used by the circuit court to be used as a jail. The house which is been used as the circuit court has been used by the city administrative in that capacity since the time of President Taylor. The building was giving to the administration of the city by the government of Liberia at the time, although it is a private building. He said the government was renting the building from the owners.

The Commissioners were then taken to the beach of Grandcess which is been used as the main rout for transportation, wherein people from the county and the town board canoes heading for Monrovia and also use this means to come to Grandcess from Monrovia. While on the beach, a canoe came from Monrovia with people and goods. The journey from Monrovia to Grandcess to Monrovia is two days because the canoe can not travel throughout the night as such it has to make a stop over in Sinoe before starting the next day journey.

Still on the beach, the Commissioners spoke with indigents of the city and they were informed about the salt-beach which is a notorious prison in the area that was used by the warring factions especially the NPFL for the imprisonment of military men and civilians. Commissioners Washington and Stewart spoke with Mr. Isaac Tweh the oldest man in the City who was born on December 12, 1990. He explained to the commissioners that the county is lacking good roads and they really needed assistance in that light so that they can easily be able to mover from their county to another county.

When asked about his occupation, he said he worked with the National Police from 1971 and that he is a 14 class. He said he was shot in the stomach in 1944 while in the police force. He said he was in the police force when Tubman died and he was still part of the police force during the regime of President Tolbert, but he resigned from the police during the regime of President Doe. He said his father and his first cousin died in 1966. When asked about his experience during the war he said; during the wart the people came here and looted all we had. I had to run in the bush with only the cloths I was wearing and he was the war subsided. He said he is presently helping the people of the city as a bone specialist. When ever you have problem with you bone, that is a broken bone, all you need to do is gave him a chicken and he will break the bone of he chicken and use it in healing your bone while you are in a different location. All he needs to do is work on the bone of the chicken that he has broken and as it begin to heal, your bone is also healing. He said as he is working on the bone of the chicken, you will be having the painful effects in you bone and as soon as the born of the chicken is healed, yours is healed.

The Commissioners were taken to the notorious salt beach which was used by all warring factions that came to the city. The prison is such a place that is not conducive at all for living. There are no windows and it is a concrete facility which has no way of escaping except you go through the one entrance which is heavily guided by armed men. The former acting city mayor of the city explained to the Commissioners that a lot of people from the town and other parts of the county were thrown in that prison at different time intervals. He said during the time of General Toe the prison facility was only used for Military personnel who went against his orders, they were placed in that prison as a disciplinary measure.

The nest area of stop was in the country Town where the Commissioners met the absence of the Town Chief who was on the farm and the Clan chief of the town Nah Kankon general town chief and the secretary general to the Paramount Chief, the first lady of the Paramount Chief Jlogba Baleh and an instructor Mr. Allusions Bropleh, were introduced to the Commissioners. More to this Wesses Tarplah, one of the elders advisors, Seipo Mombo a student Angerline Chea, Paul Topie, Charles S Tappeh a student were all introduced by Stephen Toe former acting city mayor.

Toeh Wollor the Clan Chief and John Nimene came in and welcomed all the delegates of he Commission expressing happiness for the coming of the delegation. Mr. Toe informed the Chief and his people about the visit of the TRC.

The chairman was given the floor and he greeted in the language of the people (Batie-o-batie). He said we want to tell you thank you for receiving us into your town. We are all from the TRC. The TRC was established by the government of Liberia and the international community. Other people who agree to the TRC at the time, the political parties, civil society and other affections agreed in Ghana to form the TRC. Everybody agree that when they sign the agreement, the war was over. So we had election and peace is now in Liberia, but for the peace to last and for war not to come the TRC was formed to go and find the root cause of the conflict. Then if we find the root cause of the conflict then we will find solution to avoid this in the future. So in doing that, the TRC has to know who the victims were, how the conflict started and who did all the bad things in the conflict. The purpose for that is for reconciliation and development and we know that we can not have development if we don't have reconciliation so if we know who did the cat and who they did it to and we bring them together we can have reconciliation.

Then when we have reconciliation we can have reparation for the people who suffer during the war. The war affected almost everybody in Liberia so it will be difficult to compensate everybody, but certain people deserve compensation. But the biggest compensation will be for towns, communities, counties for houses were broken down, there no hospitals schools and what have you. So the TRC is going all around the country and meeting with the people. First we sent the statement takers and they took the statements of the people and their recommendations for they want to be done. So to start going around the TRC went to Maryland and all the people from all the districts came and they made their recommendations and we know what they want. From Maryland we came to Grand Kru and we are here for this week and from here we will go to River Gee and we will go all over the country. So we came now in Grand Kru and we started talking with the people and we heard people from all over Grand Kru but we did not hear from Grandcess, so on Saturday we will be leaving and going to the next county. On Saturday we will be talking with all the citizens and on Friday with the women so it claimed our attention for Grandcess, so we told ourselves it will not be fair to come and hear from everybody and not from you, that is why we took upon ourselves to come to you, if the mountain can not come go to the mountain, because our recommendation will be made at the end of the process and we don't want it to be complete without anything from grandcess so we are here with you. So we came to sit dawn and talk to you as brother Steven said. Some of the things we want to know is what happened to you and if there is a conflict that you think the government should involve in and if there is any recommendation that you have you can tell us and we will take note before we go. The TRC is a free process, nothing you tell us will be use against you and put you in jail, the UNMIL is here to protect us, so everybody should feel free to say what they want to say.

At the TRC we are interested in all information besides lie. If you come to us and lie that is the time you will have problem because you will be lying to the whole nation, so what ever you have what happened how it happened we are interested in hearing it. So we thank you for giving us the audience at this short notice. The chairman then introduced the Commissioners and other staff of the Commission to the people of the town.

Representative of the Town Chief: Commissioner thank you, we who sitting here are all Grandcessters and you in our midst now are also Grandcessster, and so what ever we eat you will eat and if anybody say we must go anywhere you will go there we cant leave you and go so thank you your mission is accepted.

Nah Seka Khlon: We Grandcess people we accept you and maybe by group or individually we will come up here and say what is on our heart. We are affected mostly by our cattle which have been taken by the rebels. Most of us are very poor and we are not working and we use these cattle to support our children. This kind of program that you come with we should have made soup for you, but if you look around, you cant even see a chicken, so those of us who parents leave behind without education we are dying. The other children we are bringing forth where will I put hands to push them in school? We just play brave heart that is why we are here, that is my opinion.

Chairman: who killed the cattle?

Nah Seka Khlon: It was MODEL they called our goats, cows, chickens and what so ever.

What year was that?

Nah Seka Khlon: 2003 June, they arrived here by six o'clock in the evening.

So they did not rape, they did not catch children and other things, but only killing of cattle?

Nah Seka Khlon: Some times you lock your house and you go to visit your friend and the war come and you have to run, the house you lock they will enter there.

How long were they here?

Nah Seka Khlon: They were here from 2003-2004

Who was the leader?

Nah Seka Khlon: Chear Wallie

Did they burn house?

Nah Seka Khlon: They did not burned any house, even some of the house were old and when we came form the bush they broke down

Commissioner Stewart: did they tabie?

Nah Seka Khlon: Yes they tabied people.

Coleman: did they carry women and wives and marry them?

Nah Seka Khlon: They forced women to work for them.

How about the small children?

Nah Seka Khlon: Yes they use some of the children as soldiers and workers.

Chairman: How big is Grandcess?

Nah Seka Khlon: We have Newcess, Bigtown and Up town and with in there we have the sectors.

How many hospitals here?

Nah Seka Khlon: One clinic and one hospital. The catholic clinic and a government hospital called Ralitown hospital.

How many hand pumps do you have?

Nah Seka Khlon: We have about 15

Are they all functioning?

Nah Seka Khlon: Some are down.

Prior to the 2003, what happened in this area because we heard all the factions came here,

What were your experiences?

Nah Seka Khlon: During that time in the 90s the war that fought we observed that it was coming so we found a means of protracting ourselves so most people came to take refuge here in Grandcess.

You had arms to defend yourself?

Nah Seka Khlon: Yes

When did you have the defense force?

Nah Seka Khlon: It started in 1993. The LPC was the first to come and they had a base headed by one William B Toe.

Did they beat rape and do other harms here?

Nah Seka Khlon: No he did nothing here, he protected the people, but he use to bring his people here when they did bad and he punish them. He was controlling GK and Sinoe.

Chairman: So LPC had not come here?

Nah Seka Khlon: We were in the middle because LPC was coming from Sinoe and from Maryland and he use to defend the area so that they can not enter.

Commissioner Konneh: before 1993 there was no dream about the LPC, but the NPFL came to this part of the country, so who were hey protecting you from?

Nah Seka Khlon: What I know about, he entered here in 1993 and he was assigned here and at that time LPC was already all around and so he was protecting his people. He was sent here by the NPFL and because of his work the LPC did not enter.

Before 1993, did the NPFL come here?

Nah Seka Khlon: I am not aware of that (consulted) at that time nobody was here.

How did he come here?

Towh Wolloh: When he was coming he never came with man[power and he said people of Grand Kru I am here to help you and so you have to assist ands every sector give 20 people and they were trained and he used them mostly the hunters.

What about Paul Doe?

Towh Wolloh There was a problem between them when doe was sent to the battle front he started doing his own things and when Toe sent to him he beat the people that were sent and sent them back to him and said he was the commander that is where the problem came from between them.

The people he trained were they faithful to the area?

Towh Wolloh Yes they were selected by the chiefs and they were given policies and they worked well with the community.

Since the two of them had a problem, what did the elders do to solve the problem?

Steve Tweh: after he heard this he invited the two of them and he settled the problem. After we went there they did not agree from the first instance and them Monokomoneh sent them to Harper for the problem to be solve.

Commissioner Stewart: what was the role of Nyoundeh Monokomana in the war here?

Towh Wolloh He assisted the people of the county. When there was no food, he sent in the IC for food and he was good to the people.

What about testimonies coming that he committed a lot of atrocities?

Towh Wolloh: That I don not know about, for he did nothing.

Commissioner Bull what is you name?

Towh Wolloh: Towh Wolloh?

Do you know about Nydoweh Monokomoneh?

Towh Wolloh: Yes

Do you know what he did here in the war?

Towh Wolloh: What I know about him is that he was a speaker for President Taylor. He was here to cash money for the people before the war and the war met him and that is how he was putting the people together and helping them. Then MODEL came and they carry all his cattle and he ran in the bush with only the cloths on him. What he is saying that he has realize that what is going on here is serious, we were here when General Tow enter this place. Even though the LPC did not enter here the MODEL did not shoot us but they killed us by carrying our belongings. I was having 45 cows, 15 sheep 40 goats, when we were running, we left all the things we had, no brave man could stand when he heard the sounds of he guns. When they finish eating all of our animals then they called us to town. This heart us a lot we the people of grandcess. They even took all of our clothing. When the 1990 war was fighting, General Toe block the places and so the war did not reach us and we were helping his people with food so we did not see that war.

What I was talking about Nydoweh Monokomoneh, he was here and he was changing money so at that time he was here when the war came and he saw what is going on and he started to teach us how to helpm our self.

Besides Chea Willie who else was here?

Towh Wolloh: Jacob David

Where was general Toe when MODEL came?

Towh Wolloh: He was here when they came and they overpower him and so we all ran away in the bush.

How long did they stay here?

Towh Wolloh: They stayed more then one year here.

What about the prison on the salt beach?

Towh Wolloh: He was using the place for the soldiers that were giving him trouble. When he sent them somewhere and they cause trouble then he will put them in the prison.

Commissioner Dolopei: who was this Jacob and what did he do?

Wassa Taplah: one evening it was in June after Wallie left then Jacob was replacing him, I was having four sheep and as I was sleeping I heard people running behind sheep and when I went I saw them with my sheep and I say it belong to me and he said if I follow him he will kill me and he took all my sheep.

So where is he now?

Wassa Taplah: He is in Harper.

Is that all that happened to you?

Wassa Taplah: Yes that is all.

Why did William B Toe go to Sass town to be a representative and not here in Grandcess?

Wassa Taplah: Because his father is from Sass town and not here, that is why he went there.

Chairman: so is it only your cattle that were affected?

Wassa Taplah: They looted our hospital, our schools they took the roofs and the generator that were been used in the hospital.

Commissioner Coleman: was there any logging activities going on in this area?

Wassa Taplah: There was nothing like that in this area.

Commissioner Dolopei: this process is not a joking process and so we are taking people stories. We are taking this seriously, so we are not joking with it. We did not coming al this far for laughing, if they killed all his cattle and he has only one trouser that is his story, so we should not laugh about it.

Commissioner Konneh: if you have a sickness and you do not go to the doctor your sickness will not be heal, as such TRC is the political doctor of the Liberian people who do not have access to the government officials. If you refuse to tell them your problem, they will not help you, because you have to say what happened to you before a solution can be found. What happened was all over and so we all have problem that we have to solve. All the people signed and they say the only way peace can come is for us to do this that is why we have come form far to come here. You have many different people coming here and now it is your time to talk and you are keeping silent so when you don't talk tomorrow you will regret. If there is somebody in Monrovia who is telling you not to talk, that is your problem because he has everything he want, his children are going to good school and they are out of the country. You are the one here who are suffering and been fooled by the one who is suffering. There were lot of things that went on here and you don't want to say it, if you don't tell us the true the time will come that you will regret.

John Nimene: Thank you for you to reach us here. What making me to come up here, during the war I was having 45 cattle, it was not for myself, people use to bring it to me and when the people capture this are I ran in the bush and while I was there the people killed them. You who cattle I take care of you give me something and I pay my children fees and now I have nothing.

Who did this?

Wassa Taplah: MODEL

Did LPC reach here?

Wassa Taplah: No.

Commissioner Stewart: the way old man Nimene talk about his cattle, it is hurting his heart so if you keep it, you will continue to have it in your heart and you will be suffering.

Commissioner Konneh: how can you say you were not compensated when you had a speaker and you had other positions? In politics it is not about the cash, it is the position that can bring about the assistance.

Wassa Taplah: Mr. Toe, William B Toe worked for the people here and he was not recognize by the people, but it was the late Thomas Nimene that saw him and made and appointed for him at the time I was in Monrovia searching for Job and he had a Bsc. And when Taylor saw him he said oh are you still alive he said I will sent you to Germany and he said he did not want to go there and he was mad an assistant minister. So when the MODEL the sent for him and when he came and the people who he thought were there to help him decided they did not want him and he was told by the people that they can not protect him and he was also on the run and he was captured by the MODEL and so because he was a fighter, they did their thing.

TRC County Coordinator: at this time the Chairman Is speaking through me. I want to thank you for accepting us here and for talking us to where we were supposed to go. We also look forward to see you in Barclayville for the meeting so that you will say what you want to say. So we thank you.

Before you leave, this is Kelvin Youlu, these are the Police they people sent here and they are not doing anything for them, and it is the Community that is assisting them, and they do not get their salaries on time and we are the one that are assisting them here, these are some of the problems we are also facing here.

Wassa Taplah: The people here come through me to tell you thank you for the visit and may god bless you.

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