Genocide Survivors Want War Crimes Court In Liberia
As calls for the establishment of war and economic crimes court in Liberia intensify, victims and survivors of the Semay Massacre have joined, demanding the prosecution of those who carried out the massacre in 1994 that killed 28 people and destroyed 22 houses.
Our Bong County Correspondent says the Massacre occurred on October 27, 1994. Survivors told our Correspondent that attackers who carried out the massacre were fighters of the Delta Force, a faction of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia of the jailed former President, Charles Taylor.
Investigations have it that many of those that were killed were men and some were entire family (man, wife, and children).
Our Correspondent says every year on the anniversary, relatives of those killed, the Survivors and town residents gather at a mass grave containing the remains of the dead.
At this year event, attendees said the atrocious event is still seared into their memories even after 24 years.
At a monument marking the grave site, initiated by citizens and later improved through a grant from the open society initiative for West Africa people became teary as they listened to a historical reflection of the massacre.
Jerry Cooper, a resident of Samay, said the NPFL soldiers had launched a campaign to reclaim Gbarnga from George Boley’s Liberian Peace Council, when they committed the massacre, accusing the residents of harboring the LPC soldiers.
The LPC soldiers reportedly used the Kokoyah Road, a route that passes through Samay, to attack Gbarnga and later they used the same path to retreat to Grand Bassa after NPFL forces overpowered them in Gbarnga.
“Samay became victim to that effort on the night of October 27, 1994, at about 3:00 to 4:00 a.m.,” Cooper told the gathering.
The NPFL soldiers attacked the town in the night, shooting indiscriminately and setting 22 houses on fire and killing 28 persons in cold blood in this place. It was terrible,” he said.
By the end of the civil wars in 2003, Samay had lost a total of 41 citizens at separate venues and under different circumstances, according to Cooper, those included Bendu Siakor, J. Kpai Siakor, Gertrude Yarkpawolo, Borbor Flomo, Joseph Tamba Tokpa, and Tamay Maai Linga, a well-known traditional midwife.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in its final report, listed NPFL and LPC under the “Significant Violator Group” responsible for committing ‘egregious’ domestic crimes, ‘gross’ violations of human rights, and ‘serious’ humanitarian law violations, including economic crime in Liberia between January 1979 and October 14, 2003.
Fatu Tokpah, one of the survivors of the massacre, witnessed her husband (Joseph Tokpah) being killed, a memory that is still fresh with her today. She could not hold back her tears as she shared her experience during the memorial.
According to the Survivors, it is important that the government of President George Manneh Weah works to things to ensure the establishment of a war crimes court that will prosecute those that committed crimes against humanity.
The Survivors told our Bong County Correspondent over the weekend during a visit to the town, that they continue to be traumatized by the situation maintaining that they will only be satisfied if a war crimes court be established in Liberia.
“Why should they should kill our people it goes free? We must seek justice for those they killed in this place” Nowai Gotolo 52 whose husband was killed during the situation told our Correspondent.
Our Correspondent says another cold-blooded killing of such also took place in Kpamue by the Lofa Defense Force LDF during the civil war according to the Town’s Chief Johnson Galatokpah.
Mr. Galatokpah said when the soldiers got to the town they killed more than ten persons many whom were men and two pregnant women.
“At that time, we were not able to bury those that were killed because we were all escaping for our lives,” he said.
“The Soldiers tied us in the center of the town, I was part of the people they captured in the town and at the time, all my families had escaped. They killed all my friends and even the two pregnant women but I manage to escape after I had pretended that I died during the long shooting by the soldiers” Mr. Galatokpah explains.