Bopolu City: Day 3

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The Second Day of the TRC Public Hearings Proceedings held on Wednesday April 23rd, 2008 at the Bopolu City Hall, Gbarpolu County. 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 his testimony.

Fourteenth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Bopolu, Gbarpolu County

Supo B. David

(First Primary Witness of day three)

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

Chairman: We are pleased to extend our gratitude to you for coming voluntarily to share your experience with the TRC. Could you please state your name?

Primary Witness: My name is Supo B. David.

What is your date of Birth?

Primary Witness: I was born on December 16, 1956.

What are you doing for living?

Primary Witness: I am a Classroom Teacher in a Government school.

You can now please share your experience.

Primary Witness: I am Supo B. David, a Classroom Teacher and a citizen of Gbarpolu County. When the 1990 war started, I was in Monrovia and later, I decided to come back home since the war was fighting. When I came home, it did not take too long when the ULIMO came. However, we went in the bushes for rescue and we were there until the entire ULIMO was subsided.

Few months later we heard a sound from a town in Lofa called Voinjama and we did not take it serious. During that time, our school has been established in my town and the DEO sent to KRTTI for 3 months Teachers' Training. Later, we heard again that LURD had entered Bopolu and the DEC escaped and came to KRTTI and told me the story. When I got the information, I was very worried about my family and right after my graduation, in February, some gentlemen from the same area and me started to come to Gbarpolu. We slept in a little village and the next day, we heard sounds of gun from the direction that we were heading; my friends were worried and I told them that there was no way to go back and so, I asked them for us to have our devotion. After our devotion, we started going towards the direction where there was shooting; when we got in Totokolleh, we did not seen anyone in the town. We continue our journey and while on our way, we met one man who told us that there were soldiers ahead of us.

We did not listen and we continue and when we some where, we saw their gate and the soldiers came out and asked us where we were coming from and where we were going? We simply told them that we were coming from the hiding bush and going to look for our families. While we were answering the soldiers, one of them knew me and he asked me whether I knew him and I said no; then, he told his friends that he knew me and was a Pastor and so they must release us to continue. When we came, I was very lucky to have seen all my family members. Later, the soldiers asked all of us to come in Bopolu.

When we got here, after few days, the government troops advanced and the LURD rebels escaped and went away; when the LURD soldiers left, all my family members were afraid and they asked me for us to leave Bopolu and I told them no, and that we must trust God and we just went in the hiding place in the bush. After a day or two, the Government troops came where we were and took all of us back in town and we thought that was the end of the war. But sometimes in December, LURD came back and this time I decided to take my family to Monrovia. We started traveling and when we got in Bomi, we met the ATU soldiers. As soon as they saw us, they released the other members of my family but they arrested me and undressed me and started beating on me seriously. While they were beating me and they put me in jail; in that process, one of the ATU man called Bill came and said that I was a rebel commander and that I was lying to him, so he was going to kill me.

In the afternoon, I saw the ATU truck and they came and asked for me and they took me from the jail and threw in the truck and started beating me and pointing their guns at me and saying that they will kill me. They asked me why they are beating me and I was not crying? And I told them I was depending on God because I was innocent of their charge they levied against me. Later, Bill was not satisfied and he followed me and took a knife and wounded me on my back and other parts of my body; when I started bleeding, they took the blood and painted my face and head and said I will dead in my own blood and they put me back in jail. After few hours, the MP Commander of the Militia forces came and asked for me and they put me outside and I was lucky and one of my friends who was living in Bomi came and started talking for. After their discussions, they asked him to pay some money and he went to my family and they gave them L$500.00 and they released me. After my release, they took me to their medic and he gave me few tablets. The next morning, a message came from Monrovia that my Pastor was on his way; it did not take long when the Pastor Stewart arrived and took me and my family to Monrovia. When we got in Monrovia, I went to the clinic and got few tablets.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: What year this happened to you?

Primary Witness: In Bomi at the police station in the year 2002.

Which group was responsible?

Primary Witness: It was the ATU, Militia and other people who had black cloths.

You had confusion with Bill before the war?

Primary Witness: No, I did not know him from anywhere.

Commissioner Washington: Was Bill the commander?

Primary Witness: No, just and ordinary soldier because I saw him saluting almost all the soldiers that came there.

Have you seen Bill or heard of him since the war ended?

Primary Witness: Yes, I saw him at the Redemption Hospital.

You had interaction with him?

Primary Witness: No, he just bows his head and quickly went away.

Was your children harmed?

Primary Witness: No.

How is your general health condition now?

Primary Witness: Well, not quite well, sometimes I can have a sleepless night.

Do you remember anyone of the soldiers who were beating on you?

Primary Witness: No.

Commissioner Stewart: Sorry for the problems you went through. Did you file in any complaint or report to anyone?

Primary Witness: No.

When you were traveling from Handi to Bopolu and to Bomi, did you see any atrocities?

Primary Witness: No.

Commissioner Syllah: You say they just gave you few tablets?

Primary Witness: Yes.

How you treated the soul that caused that big scar?

Primary Witness: My wife just used to treat me with country medicines.

Do you know any of the ATU soldiers name?

Primary Witness: No.

The man who freed you knew the fighters?

Primary Witness: Yes, he is one of my brothers who were living in Bomi; in fact, some of the soldiers were living in his house.

Commissioner Coleman: Any of your family members died in that incidence?

Primary Witness: Yes, one of my small brothers was killed during the ULIMO war.

How many children do you have?

Primary Witness: I have 4.

What will be your expectation from the TRC if we invited Bill to meet you?

Primary Witness: For me, I have no problems with Bill; it was as a result of the war.

What will be your word to the TRC?

Primary Witness: Anything that is about to happen, will certainly happen, only God who destines every situation; I will tell the TRC that God will take you through, if we take into consideration what happened during the civil crisis, we will not progress as a nation and people; all that is needed to is that all those who participated negatively must confess their sins and God will forgive them.

Commissioner Konneh: Did Bill say the reason why he wanted to kill you?

Primary Witness: Well, the only thing I kept hearing from him was that I was a rebel commander and was lying to him.

What I gathered from your testimony is that you were always telling them that they were not God, only what God has agreed will happen; and anyone who believes in God truly like what you did, is bound to be blessed. The second thing I heard from you is that war was not the way forward. I also agree with you that we must not use violence to solve any problems, we must be law abiding.

Chairman: When you met Bill at the Redemption Hospital?

Primary Witness: In 2003.

What kind of knife Bill used to wound you?

Primary Witness: It was a kitchen knife with black handle.

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

Primary Witness: Yes, I have few recommendations; I want the TRC or Government to please help us with our school, clinic and my medical care. Thanks.

Fifteenth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Bopolu, Gbarpolu County

Allen Ziama

(Second Primary Witness of day three)

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 very much for coming to the TRC to tell your story and experience. Please tell us your name again.

What is your name again?

Primary Witness: I am Allen K. Ziama.

When were you born?

Primary Witness: I was born October 5, 1942.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: I live Bala Fassama.

What do you do for a living?

I am a farmer, I plant rice, cassava and eddoes.

Primary Witness: Okay, I am again Allen K. Ziama Sr. One of the survivors of the township of Fassama. It was on May 15, 1993, well I have a village in Fassama located on the high way between Fassama and Bella Yalla from there to my village is 2hours. And from the village to Bela Yella is 3hours. We went there my children and myself to clear my farm. On the 14th of May, while clearing my farm. I told my children we should go and build water fence. At about 2:30, we went to the site, I told my children that let us go to the farm. The children say okay, go ahead we are following you. As I went to the site about 10minutes, I went and started clearing the site.

I hear one of my sons Larry Ziama crying and yielding, I say what happen? He say pa the soldiers has entered the town. I say where are they coming from? He said, I don't know. And I told him say let's go for me to see them, he say no. they are too plenty and look fearful. And I told him to follow me. We managed to creep near the farm I was somewhere, where I was able to see NPFL fighter they were dressed in ordinary clothes with their head tie with red head ties. So I told my son these are NPFL fighters, so let's go. But before then, they already arrested three of my children. So there is a village near, call Korbara, I say come let's go to my friend village and explain to him. The distance from my end is 1hour walk and we had to pass in the bushes which took us about 3hours. His name was Mr. Aquoi, he had group of men with him they had gone there to rebuild the houses that were burned. I told him that they have arrested three of my children. So let somebody join me to go to town and report this to the soldiers. At that time, we were under ULIMO K who was controlling the town. They give me four men we left and went to Fasama and told ULIMO K commander. Then we left they told us to give them 10mintes. We went and I saw one UNLIMO K soldiers. He said Mr. Ziama, you brought message that rebel entered the village? I say yes. He say from now, we declare curfew in this township. He said if nothing happen in the town tomorrow we will kill you. I was going to take bath and he kick the bucket of water, we went inside the house we left there until 6:00, 6:00 that morning, NPFL went and attack on the township, while the civilians were in house. They fought for 2hours and I heard ULIMO K saying that if you say you are man come outside and let' s fight. I told my family say NPFL has capture the town. Please your put me in the ceilings because I have no means of going outside. I was there and was saw every thing that was happening, they were singing a song no more Fassama, no more Fassama. The commander name George Woepor said ceased fire and open every house.

Those that can walk bring them, those that will not be able to walk, do any thing you want to do. They open the door and start killing. Chopping people head off firing them with gun. They had cutlasses knives and guns. They catch all the civilians and came in my house. My son in-law who was under the bed they brought him outside and cut his throat. In the other house one man call Mamadu, they brought him out and cut his throat, they went in another town, they killed 300 plus persons. From there I head the commander say soldiers single five and brought those people, we will carry them in Bong county any one that will not be able to reached that his own business From Fassama to Bela Yella they killed about 100 civilians on the road. So these guy were in town, about 3hours, their commander give command to set the town on fire. The smoke was giving me hard time but couldn't come outside. Every body left I came down and couldn't believe my eyes because of what I saw, all over the town was blood so so dead body. I left and went to a near by village where many civilians were, we slept I told them for us to go and see the town because the way I saw the town yesterday, is like they have killed all of our civilians. So we managed and came near the town and ULIMO K had sent reinforcement commanded Abu Kayeta. So when he saw us, he called and say you civilian your come your come and see the civilian dead bodies. Come and help us bury these bodies. We buried 350 in one mass grave in Fassama. The rest of the bodies; we were just able to bury them in various foster. At the result when you go in Fassama, you will not find toilet. And the town automatically buried. Some refugee were on the mission they were about 41, the killed all of them. So we buried these bodies in one mass grave. This is my story I came to tell you this. I saw it. This is what happened in Fassama on May 15, 1993,

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: We say thanks for coming to share this true life of experience and sorry for the life of your relatives. We are sorry, and we say thanks for coming to share the Fassama massacre story with us.

Commissioner Syllah: Thanks for coming, you talked about three of your children been arrested, what happened to them?

Primary Witness: Larry Ziama, Moses Ziama, and Robert Ziama; two have returned and Robert is still in Sierra Leone.

What was there ages and how long they stayed with them?

Primary Witness: Well I can't remember, but they stayed with them two years, Moses was two years old.

The Fassama massacre you talked about, can you tell us while burying the bodies, and were there children women or men?

Primary Witness: Children, women and men. Mostly children were killed by cutlasses.

Primary Witness: Is there any reasons why Fassama was targeted, or massacre?

Primary Witness: No reasons.

Any other commander besides Commander George Woepor?

Primary Witness: No. besides that, no

Commissioner Stewart: Your three children, they all survived?

Primary Witness: Yes

Did they give account of what happen to them?

Primary Witness: They said they were tied.

Where they witnessing the killing going on?

Primary Witness: No.

What experience did they have?

Primary Witness: After they left, they say they did not remember.

The one-hundred bodies are they including the one buried?

Primary Witness: That was different.

Do you remember the number that was buried in different towns?

Primary Witness: Some times two of three

How many toilets were in the town?

Primary Witness: More. Besides the 350 we carry in the mass grave.

Do you have save drinking water in the town?

Primary Witness: No.

Has any feast or memorial service been done?

Primary Witness: Yes during the war, we had feast.

Including the killing in the town?

Primary Witness: Yes.

At any time, have you discussed which way you want to remember the dead?

Primary Witness: Yes, we carry flowers at the grave.

Any listing of those who were killed?

Primary Witness: Yes, we have it. Every house has his listing.

What way can the TRC help?

Primary Witness: To help build monument and put all the names on it. We loose three of our important people from the school. The principal, Vice- principal and the registrar

They set fire on the town?

Primary Witness: Yes

Did they loot before setting fire on the towns?

Primary Witness: Yes.

The man who came to informed you about the firing, was he killed?

Primary Witness: No, he was not killed.

How is the two boys?

Primary Witness: They have come

How?s life?

Primary Witness: Very different.

When NPFL, they have left and gone, how they used to get food?

Primary Witness: We used to give them food.

How NPFL treated your?

Primary Witness: It was terrible.


Primary Witness: I went to the town, Commander Moses Makalee, they collected me and jailed me, beat me and all my properties collected.

Where you in Fassama when LURD came?

Primary Witness: Yes, I was with them as war prison.

How they used to get food?

Primary Witness: They took our food.

Was it done by force?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Did they force young people?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Force young girls?

Primary Witness: They use to toot their load.

Did they rape?

Primary Witness: I didn't see that.

Commissioner Washington: Do you have any relationship with one Allen Ziama who was in the house of representative?

How many relatives died from you?

Primary Witness: One sister, my son and son-law.

What is the name of the son-in law?

Primary Witness: Larry

You said first it was NPFL and then ULIMO K-1, finally who controlled the area?

Primary Witness: ULIMO K.

Which tribe is dominating Fassama?

Primary Witness: The Ballah tribe.

Was there any tribal reasons?

Primary Witness: No.

So what are they evolved in agriculture or what?

Primary Witness: Is a business center.

Was there a company there? What were they doing mining or logging?

Primary Witness: Gold, by the rebels.

Commissioner Coleman: Your Family situation, are your parents dead?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Your wife?

Primary Witness: I have two wives.

Your brothers?

Primary Witness: They are there.

Your sister?

Primary Witness: One died.

Her name?

Primary Witness: Turporkanue

You say one son died?

Primary Witness: Yes

How many children?

Primary Witness: Eighteen

The commander's name?

Primary Witness: George Woepor

Have you seen him?

Primary Witness: Since 2005

Your house is in Fassama?

Primary Witness: Yes.

What condition?

Primary Witness: Very bad. It is leaking.

They did not burn it?

Primary Witness: No. it was like they were afraid to stay and left.

What was the strength of NPFL?

Primary Witness: Very many. They battle with ULIMO K.

Did they win?

Primary Witness: Yes. They told them say if your call yourself man your come here.

All of the factions which one did their best besides NPFL?

Primary Witness: Well, all treated us bad.

Was there confidence in any of them?

Primary Witness: We pay our allegiance to any group that came.

After the election, how was Fassama?

Primary Witness: They gave us hard time. We were not any way in peace.

Commissioner Konneh: Sorry for what happened it pains for one to suffer innocently. When NPFL massacre civilian, your son was under the bed?

Primary Witness: Yes.

What is his name?

Primary Witness: Jerry something. He's my son-in-law

Chairman: Again we say thanks for coming. Were you the commissioner at Balama?

Primary Witness: Yes. 1981-90

Primary Witness: Yes. I was arrested put in jail for 4months 4days by Moses Yakemee August 18, 1990

Any member of your Local authority arrested?

Primary Witness: Yes most of my chiefs

Any Security?

Primary Witness: Yes.

How many houses?

Primary Witness: More then 300houses

Your last your

Primary Witness: For TRC to build a monument and put their names on it. No schools help us build school for our children there is a clinic but no nurse quarters, no save drinking water. No good roads so let TRC look at our recommendations.

Are you still the commissioner there?

Primary Witness: No.

Sixteenth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Bopolu, Gbarpolu County

Jacob Geeton

(Third Primary Witness of day three)

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: Thanks for coming to the TRC. The TRC is all about finding reconciliation and peace amongst all Liberians; that's why we are here so we all can put the pieces together. Can you please tell us your name?

Primary Witness: I am Jacob Geeton

Your date of birth?

Primary Witness: I am 50 years old

Where do you reside?

Primary Witness: I live in Belleh Fassama

What are you doing?

Primary Witness: I am a farmer

Primary Witness: It happened in August 1990 in Fassama when the NPFL captured the town under one Moses Wekles and they killed a lot of people there. The first person to be killed was the Commissioner's soldier. There after people that were running away from the war use to pass through the Fassama town to go to there area and Guinea. but when ever they reach there the commander use to kill them because of what they had and he killed about 300 people who were thrown in the water we use to drink.

This made us the people of the town to put a gate to the town in a place called gate way to be directing people not to pass through the town. Later he was moved and Peter Dan took over and we the civilians were rendering them services and we put on grumble and they took their barrels from us. Then in 2003 the ULIMO was formed in Guinea and they came to Fassama and took over form the NPFL. They made us to bring out our people out of the bush and they said they were going to open the border to bring in their soldiers. May 14 a young man by the name of Harris Boman wrote a letter to the NPFL group the attacked on the 15 under one George Gbamon. While they were coming they captured on Samuel Kuku and they killed. When they captured the town I escaped with my wife but I never went far and they killed about 500 human beings in the town and the rest of the people they took them to Belleh Yallah and across to St. Paul. While in route they killed a lot of our citizens. They killed the old people because they could not walk a long distance.

After that Mr. Ziama and I ran in the bush and we returned after three days and we buried a lot of bodies. I can carry you to the mass grave and we carried some of hem in the toilets. After that they the NPFL came back on July 19 and they killed two people with one little girl that was burned alive and they burned our town with about 300 houses. Then November 23, 2003 LURD came and said they were there to save us from the NPFL, not knowing we were about to suffer and they made us slaves. After that Charles Taylor Normal days came and as I said in 2003 in November the LURD came and they pass through my town and they never killed anybody and did not burned any house. When they got there they asked me to be a part of them and I said I never wanted to be a military man and if wanted to be I would have joined the AFL. They then asked me to be the township Commissioner. They told me to call my people from the bush but I refused on the basis that the other factions said the same thing and they killed our people.

While they were there, the NPFL attacked them in December and they repelled the attack and so we trusted them. They never rapped us or did any bad to us but we use to carry their armor a lot and they were there until the UN came in and we are now free.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: thank you for coming and telling what happened to you and your people. Did you lost any of your family members?

Primary Witness: Yes in the May 15 attack I lost one of my little sisters who I was sending to school and I lost my father from severe beating.

Did he die in the may 15 attack?

Primary Witness: No it was in 1997

What was his name?

Primary Witness: He was Jetton Wah the chief elder at the time.

What was the name of your little sister?

Primary Witness: She was Annie Jetton and she was 15 years at the time.

How did they throw the little girl in the fire?

Primary Witness: It happened when the soldiers attack at which time when the mother was in the bush and they saw the little girl who was walking and they collected her and threw her in the fire.

How did your sister died?

Primary Witness: She was running from where she was to my father's room and they hit her and she died.

Commissioner Coleman: was it only those two people you lost?

Primary Witness: No I lost my two cousins who were teachers

How many children do you have?

Primary Witness: I presently have eleven children and two wives

How about you mother?

Primary Witness: She died in the bush in 2003

Where were the arms coming from?

Primary Witness: Well I can't tell you where they were coming from because they use to carry us to some towns to bring them but I don't know the country they were coming from.

Do you know the type of weapons they were?

Primary Witness: We were carrying automatics weapons but we don't know them

Was it on a regular basis?

Primary Witness: When ever they went out of arms we had to go

Were they attacked in your area?

Primary Witness: Yes they were regularly his by the NPFL and the last one was in 2003. The LURD captured the area in 2001 and were removed and they came back.

You talked about a Helicopter?

Primary Witness: Yes it came to the town to attack and the LURD attacked it and it was hit and it started smoking and it left and never returned. Police was written on the helicopter.

Was the May 15 massacre carried out by the NPFL?

Primary Witness: Yes

I can remember that the number you give are more then what others give?

Primary Witness: Yes because I was there taking the statistics.

This George Wapou have you seen him since then?

Primary Witness: No I have not seen any of them.

Commissioner Konneh: sorry to you and your people for the lost sustained. Was he soldier they first killed armed?

Primary Witness: Yes he went to them with his arm and surrender to them and they tied him and killed him.

This Harris that wrote was he a resident of Fassama?

Primary Witness: No he was a resident of Belleh Yallah but he was slaughter when the ULIMO recaptured.

Can you tell us about this Doley man?

Primary Witness: He was the commander during the ULIMO time and he was rough, he was a rapist and he use to kill without any good reason

Do you know where he is now?

Primary Witness: No

There is a Dolley reported to be a commander in Zorzor, do you know him?

Primary Witness: No

What was your role as the township commissioner?

Primary Witness: My role was to make sure that the soldiers don't harm my citizens and if so I have to go and tell the commander

Did they harass your people?

Primary Witness: Yes and I told the commander and he took action on them, by sending them to the battlefront.

Can you tell us about cobra?

Primary Witness: He was the one who led the LURD from Belleh Fassama through the Gola bush and their behavior was only on their ammunitions which they said they will not play with otherwise they were doing their work seriously.

Do you know about any former fighters in Fassama?

Primary Witness: Yes our own brothers and nephews who fought the war are in the town with us presently.

Which of the factions are represented there?

Primary Witness: They are people from the LURD forces and ULIMO and NPFL because they use to join all the groups that came.

What has been the behavioral pattern of those boys?

Primary Witness: As I said we are all living in peace and some of them are farming and some are hunting, they are contributing to the development of the town.

Commissioner Washington: you mentioned that when the group had a specific name what was the name?

Primary Witness: They were the Bandits

Commissioner Bull: Mr. Witness, I am Commissioner Bull I am just been reinstated by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia as a Commissioner of the Republic of Liberia. The letter will be handed to the Chairman when the time is right. I am sorry that I was not here to listen to you story, thank you.

Commissioner Syllah: was there any reason why the NPFL returned to Fassama?

Primary Witness: Yes there returned was to destroy the town so that the ULIMO will no longer have a pace to be to attack them.

Commissioner Dolopei: you said you had statistic, do you their names?

No we only did the counting but from here we are going to work on that because we want to have a monument for them.

Chairman: additionally we want a copy of your statistics as the incident occurred.

Primary Witness: We had a copy but because of the series of war it lost.

We are happy for the information you give us, it will contribute to our work

Primary Witness: I will take this time to extend my thanks and appreciation to the almighty God and to our hard working Priest Father Garriek who has sacrificed his life to bring us here and we say thanks to the president of the Republic of Liberia and to the Commissioners and members of the TRC who permitted us to be a part of this occasion and to the statement takers who risked their lives to go to Belleh Fassama to take our statements. Besides that I will say to the TRC that we want to through you people Fassama can be open up. There are many developments we are wishing for, but the road is the most tedious one.

Thank you very mush we appreciate is and we want you to rest assure that it will be in our report.

Seventeenth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Bopolu, Gbarpolu County

James Mends-Cole

(Fourth Primary Witness of day three)

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: Thanks for joining us as we all are striving to cement the peace and reconciliation we are yearning for. We are always happy to receive our citizens when they come to share their experiences. Could you please repeat your name?

Primary witness: My Name is James S. Mends-Cole

Please tell us your date of birth.

Primary witness: I was born on September 12, 1949.

What is your occupation?

Primary Witness: I am a Classroom Teacher at the United Pentecostal Mission School in Fassama, Belleh District.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: In live in Belleh Fassama, Belleh District.

Please tell us your story.

Primary Witness: When the war started in 1989, I was serving as Principal and Director of the Pentecostal Mission in Fassa. At the time of the war, MSF was using the rout and they left food and medicines for the mission. After some time, the food and medicines finished and I called one Doctor from Kolahun to send us some medicines and food.

On July 20th, we took off for Fassama and we were carrying 2 jeeps and each of the two jeeps was carrying 20 bags of rice and other medicines. The jeep was arm-bushed and they took the jeeps and started using it for themselves. Right after their arm-bushed, they started raping the girl and women right in our presence. They kept in their area as Prisoners of War for two months. As POWs, we were used to do all kinds of jobs for them. At the time, Moses Whiteclean left and was replaced by one Peter Dahn as commander; as soon as Peter Dahn left, ULIMO came in January 1992, and we ran in the bush again. I personally spent 2 months in the bush. While in the bush, a NPFL group calling itself The Bandits under the command of George walked in Fassama.

When the Bandits got in Fassa, they opened suppressive firing and killed several persons took about 500 of us that were lucky to survived their firing in the town with them Salayea. We were in Salayea with them until ECOMOG came. In that Fassam shoot outs by the NPFL, I lost junior brother and my adapted son. When ECOMOG came, I went back to Fassama; and in January of that year, LURD entered and they took everybody with them again to a village. LURD came as another so-called Liberator and I personally traveled twice for ammunitions to Salayea for LURD. Later on, as they came for men, I was always escaping into the bush. But one day, I was caught and was forced to carry their weapon and while traveling, one of the soldiers said I was not walking fast and shut before me and part of the bullet hit my legs and he wound me again on my back with his knife. So those were some of the experiences I had during the war.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Commissioner Bull: Are you still with Mission and in what capacity?

Primary Witness: Yes, but this time as a classroom Teacher.

Are you related to Edward Mends-Cole?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Where is Mends-Cole?

Primary Witness: He passed away January 2003.

Commissioner Konneh: Can you please name the Political Parties for which they killed these people?

Primary Witness: Yes, we had Armah - he was killed because he was a Muslim, Solomon Yanitee was killed because he had NDPL ID card, and others.

What happened to the people your were carrying?

Primary Witness: After they NPFL arm-bushed the jeeps, they started raping the girls and women right before us.

Some of the people were killed?

Primary Witness: No.

Were you people in combat position when you were arrested?

Primary Witness: No.

Besides beating, was there any other torturing?

Primary Witness: Yes.

You say who adopted you?

Primary Witness: The NPFL soldier commanded by George Whypoe at the time and he killed my son.

Was the mission you were operation affected?

Primary Witness: Yes, greatly.

Which faction destroyed your Mission?

Primary Witness: It was the LURD Forces.

Commissioner Dolopei: Can you remember John Mar-Kelvin?

Primary Witness: No.

Was it not that somebody give information about you that led to your mal-treatment?

Primary Witness: When NPFL was under the control of James Polsen, then the Ministry of Lands and Mines, things was very rough; he once charged the each person one beer bottle of gold and everybody was forced to escape.

Commissioner Washington: What is Mark's last name?

Primary Witness: I spoke about Old man McCay who was killed.

What was McCay's relationship with the Mission?

Primary Witness: No, he had no relationship with the Mission, he was just by friend's brother.

What are names of the 9 of you that were arrested by the soldiers?

Primary Witness: That was Kpadeh Brown, Johnny Forkpah, Jeremiah Flomo, Anthony Flomo, D. Andrew Barsy, A. Bobby Sirleaf and Myself.

Did all you people survived?

Primary Witness: Yes, except for Johnny Forkpah who died during the LURD war.

Who was Peter Dahn?

Primary Witness: He was the Commander of the Bandits.

What were his attitudes to the civilians?

Primary Witness: He was very courteous, he actually established the market we are operation now in our town.

Any of the soldiers died?

Primary Witness: Yes, they were: Saye, Kolleh, George and Massaquoi.

Have you seen George Whypoe since the war ended?

Primary Witness: I saw George Whypoe in 2000 and I wanted to fight him but the people around at the time did not allowed me.

When NPFL did the killing in Fassama?

Primary Witness: That was in the year 1993.

Has George Whypoe come to your town since the war ended?

Primary Witness: Yes, he came to Fassama and at the time, he was in the army so nothing we could do.

How the citizens felt?

Primary Witness: Very bad, but nothing we do as he had his body-guards around him.

What did he do when he came for the second time?

Primary Witness: This time, nothing bad he did because he knew that he wrong the town people during the war.

Do you think he is still in the army?

Primary Witness: No.

Where is him presently?

Primary Witness: No, I do not know where he is and what is he doing now.

You remember talking about a little girl who was killed and eaten?

Primary Witness: Well, I heard something of that nature. One time some of the soldiers were saying that women were also sweet and not just the men alone, so that's why they decided to taste the girl.

What was the name of the girl they killed and ate?

Primary Witness: I was already adopted and was not on the seen.

What is name of your sister-in-law?

Primary Witness: Rebecca Kollie.

They told you how the little girl was killed?

Primary Witness: No.

Commissioner Syllah: What is the name of your brother and son that were killed?

Primary Witness: Samuel Baesay - my brother and Junior Johnson - my adapted son.

Which group wounded you?

Primary Witness: NPFL.

What is the name of the man who wounded you?

Primary Witness: Saye, his friend used to call him GMG Saye.

Why he wounded you?

Primary Witness: I do not know.

How was the condition when NPFL was in your area?

Primary Witness: Very bad.

What happened to the 500 people that they carried?

Primary Witness: Besides those that were killed along the road, the 500 hundred of us were taken to Sanoyea.

What happened to them?

Primary Witness: Many of them went back to their respective area and some are living here.

Chairman: Which faction made your to carry load?

Primary Witness: It was the LURD Forces.

How many persons sometimes used to carry the load?

Primary Witness: Sometimes we used to be 200, 300, and more. We could not cross the Marcona River because the RUF forces were always in arm-bush on the high way; it takes 9 hours from there to Lofa and we used to travel at night.

Were there security officers on the Guinean side?

Primary Witness: Yes, the rebels that used to carry us will leave their guns with the Guinean soldiers and go get the arms and bring it.

What you people used to cross the river?

Primary Witness: We just used to walk in the water; there was no canoe or boat.

What types of guns your used to carried?

Primary Witness: SNG, Calabee, RPG, Grenade, etc.

They had trucks on the Liberian side to carry the guns?

Primary Witness: The only truck they had was the human beings.

Where was LURD headquarters on the Liberian side?

Primary Witness: In Fassama.

Chairman: Thanks very much; your testimony has added more value to our work. Is there anything on your mind?

Primary Witness: Yes, we want to extend our thanks to all the staff of TRC and to Mrs. Bull who took my statement at the TRC office when I went to Monrovia; we also want to tell TRC and the government to help fix our roads, school and clinics.

Commissioner Bull: Please clarify which Bull that took your statement because we have two Bulls at the TRC.

Primary Witness: It was Mrs. Cecelia Bull.

Eighteenth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Bopolu, Gbarpolu County

Siatta Suwary

(Fifth Primary Witness of day three)

The Fifth Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and she 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 coming to the TRC and welcome. Can you tell us your name first?

Primary Witness: My name is Siatta Suwary.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: Gomasue Bopolu district.

What is your age?

Primary Witness: 50 years.

What do you do for living?

Primary Witness: Farmer.

Primary Witness: What happened to me during the 1990 war is what I want to say. We were in town where they call Gomasue. We saw two trucks with Taylor soldiers. They were many with guns. They surrounded he whole town. My ma and I was there, they call her Bendu. She got sacred and ran on the farm road. So my ma started running to the farm. But the soldiers were running behind the women and taking them inside. So I Siatta, they catch me, the man that Bassa man that rape me. S the way the town was looking, we went and call the men and told them so when the soldiers when in the bush they saw the old ma, and they kill her. And my son they call opal, I sent him to go and look for the old ma, when he went, he look all around, and he didn't see her, so on his way back, he saw her body and he ran and said what are we doing here, they have kill our mother. So we got afraid and wanted to run but we thought that they will set arm bush around, so we decided t sleep in our hiding place. So the next day, their commander they call him OO. This man, they call him Siea, His wife name is Kemah, and his daughter is Gorpu.

So while we were there, not knowing they have killed all of them. So one man that use to top palm wine, he was going to top the palm , he saw the body, so he came back and said we are here and they have kill all our people. So we ran and we stay 2 weeks and we came back to our town, nobody was there. So my son put people together and they went to the place where they kill my mother, they did not see the body animals have eaten the body, so they only brought the cutlass that was in her hand and her slipper. All these things happened in April, so we got in may, that month was not easy for us. So my daughter they call her Massa was pregnant, while we were running, the baby die in her stomach. After two days she delivers the baby in my hand. So the rebel caught her and put her in jail, so I say but what are you doing, this girl has just deliver dead baby. It will be better you put me in jail. So as she was crying, in the jail I was also crying. So she stay there, in the evening they free her, al our belongings we never carry a thing from there. So they took us again and brought us to one town, while we were there, the town was not looking good, so we all ran in the bush again. So they took all then from us. S after some times my husband said we should come back in the town, so I say no, I have children I will not go. So we stay in Bomus town for 2 months.

So when we went back in the town my husband was leaving to come out side, some of those children, never had gun but they had knife. So as soon as he open the door, one of t so hem caught him, and they started fighting, but it seems he old man was stronger then the boy, so he started running. And the other boy came and shot him, but God bless him, it never went in his stomach. That night, they kill 7 people that night. So my husband said the thing you were talking that true so let us leave this town. My husband brother they burst his head, and he die, when my husband saw the body of his brother he cried. And now, the man I with is my boy friend, my husband, since the war, I don't know where he is. So the child I have, if I ask him to sent the girl t school he will not do it.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Commissioner Syllah: your husband that got wounded, after they shot him, did you see him?

Primary Witness: My husband was capture n 1990 war, and the man that they shot is my boyfriend.

What is his name?

Primary Witness: Alfred Manie.

How many children do you have?

Primary Witness: We have 7 children, but I lost 3 and remaining 4.

So, the 4 children are they in school?

Primary Witness: One of he child is missing.

What is the child's name?

Primary Witness: Balleh Kamara.

What's about your daughter that give birth/

Primary Witness: Massa, is at the house.

Can you remember the name of the soldier that rape you?

Primary Witness: His name is John, but I don't know his well about.

Which faction?

Primary Witness: NPFL

Commissioner Steward: thank you for coming and sorry for the lost of your husband and your child. Your 1st husband was taken away 1990, was it the same time you child got missing?

Primary Witness: Yes, they captured the two of them.

So, since then, you have not seen your husband?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Can you tell us what year it was?

Primary Witness: It happened in May.

What faction was in control that time?

Primary Witness: LURD.

The people who surrounded the town, that NPFL?

Primary Witness: Yes.

And they kill the people in the town?

Primary Witness: Yes.

How many people were kill?

Primary Witness: 7 persons.

And they burry the men in one hole, and the women in one?

Primary Witness: Yes.

So when NPFL left, LURD took over?

Primary Witness: Yes.

What happened?

Primary Witness: When that thing happen, LURD was based here, so when that thing happen, they sent people to go and burry the people.

So what happen to you daughter?

Primary Witness: She's suffering stomach pains.

Has she been to hospital?

Primary Witness: Yes.

How old is she?

Primary Witness: 30 years.

Commissioner Konneh: you said NPFL cam in two trucks, what did they do when they got in your town?

Primary Witness: When they got in the town with the two trucks full, they went in all the towns, from there, in the evening they started taking women to their beds. My was in the day.

Commissioner Bull: madam witness, I join my colleges to say sorry. The thing you explain here today, it happened to many people. But some of them did not have the time to come here today. But when they write the history book, your name will be written in it, your husband and your children and every one this same thing happen to. So that they will know that you are not alone.

Chairman: thanks for coming and it is time for you to go, but before you go, is there any thing you want us to do for you?

The only thing I want you to do for me, my child is crying that she wants to go school.

Commissioner Dolopei: That one child?

Primary Witness: Yes.

What is her mane?

Primary Witness: Maima Manie.

What class is she?

Primary Witness: 2nd grade.

Is there government school?

Primary Witness: Yes, but no teachers, sometimes for two or three weeks, the children will not go to school.

Nineteenth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings in

Bopolu, Gbarpolu County

Joseph Kollie

(Sixth Primary Witness of day three)

The Sixth 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 very much for coming to share your experience with the TRC; we are always happy when we see our citizens come out to explain their ordeals during the civil war. Please tell us your name.

Primary Witness: My name is Joseph Kollie.

When you were born?

Primary Witness: I was born in 1948.

Where do you live?

Primary Witness: I live in Molorbouzu, Bopolu District.

What are you doing for living?

Primary Witness: Farming.

Please tell us your story.

Primary Witness: From 1990, we past through many things but the ones that actually hurt me is what I am going to tell you people. In our town, my brother was the Town Chief, when the soldiers came, they asked for sleeping place and by brother gave their sleeping place; when day broke, one of the soldiers said that my brother did not respect him because the place he gave him was not good so that was a disrespect for him. They undressed my brother and started beating on him seriously; as they beating him, they gave him raw pepper to eat whiles they were beating him. After the beating, it did not take quite one month and he died.

Questions from the Commissioners:

What is the name of your brother that was killed?

Primary Witness: Mulbah Paypay.

Which town he was Town Chief for?

Primary Witness: My own town, Molorbouzu.

Which group these soldiers come from?

Primary Witness: That was Kromah Soldiers.

Primary Witness: During ULIMO time, I was sitting in front of my house and I saw two soldiers came and they asked me for 10 cups of rice and two chickens and I told them that I never had rice; they forced me to sit down and one of them hit me with the gun on my head, this has caused serious problems for eyes today and I cannot see well.

Where they the same Kromah soldiers?

Primary Witness: Yes, they were Kromah soldiers.

You gave them the rice and the chickens?

Primary Witness: No.

Primary Witness: One night again, plenty soldiers entered the town and they asked us to give everything we had and they started taking all that we had in our houses and two of the soldiers call my wife in my house and when I wanted to go there, they threatened to kill me; they told not to enter the room and I left the house. After few minutes, I saw my wife coming and crying and I talked to her. These were the main things that hurt me and I have to the TRC to tell the story.

You say plenty soldiers came to your village?

Primary Witness: Yes, when they came there, they burnt my 3 houses and raped our women.

They looted all your things?

Primary Witness: Yes, they carried all.

Which one of the faction that was doing that you?

Primary Witness: That was the Lofa Defense Force; they burnt our houses and looted all our things.

Is your wife still living?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Is your child still living?

Primary Witness: Yes.

How old is the child and what is her name.

Primary Witness: Her name is God Knows and she is 8 years.

What is the name of your wife?

Primary Witness: Her name is Jenneh Kollie.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Commissioner Syllah: you say they beat you on your head and you have problems with your eyes?

Primary Witness: Yes.

What happen to your eyes?

Primary Witness: I cannot see well now.

What are the names of the soldiers?

Primary Witness: They were Gio Boys.

You say which faction was responsible?

Primary Witness: I say that Kromah People.

What you did before they beat you?

Primary Witness: They asked me for 2 chickens and ten cups of rice and I did not give it to them.

Have you been to the hospital?

Primary Witness: Yes.

Which hospital?

Primary Witness: Right here in Bopolu.

Can you still see with the other eye?

Primary Witness: Not quite well, when the sun is shinning, I cannot see good.

What is the name of the Chief?

Primary Witness: Mulbah Paypay.

He get children?

Primary Witness: Yes.

How many children?

Primary Witness: 3.

Are they going to school?

Primary Witness: Yes, what help me is that there are no school fees from grade one through grade six.

Commissioner Stewart: Who was the commander in the area?

Primary Witness: No, they were only two.

Who was the big man for soldiers in Kromah area?

Primary Witness: No, when they come for patrol, they used to call the name of Kromah as their big man.

You carry complain when the soldiers killed your brother?

Primary Witness: No, who you will carry the complain to?

Was it in the same town?

Primary Witness: Yes, plenty people were there when they beat on my brother and gave him pepper to eat raw.

You and your wife still together?

Primary Witness: Yes.

How many houses were in the town?

Primary Witness: 13 houses.

You say which group burnt your town?

Primary Witness: Lofa Defense Force.

Who was the commander for the Lofa Defense Force?

Primary Witness: They used to call him Spirit.

Commissioner Bull: Thanks for telling your story. Thanks for consoling your wife; we have heard some stories where some of the men leave the woman; the way you gave your story, it will go down in history.

Chairman: We have heard your story and it has contributed to our job. Is there anything else on your mind that you want to tell the TRC before you leave?

Primary Witness: Yes, I just want tell my counselor here thanks and to all the TRC staff for their good works.

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