Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 October 2022:
There are calls tonight for president Bio of Sierra Leone to respect the rights and wishes of dozens of families to bury their loved ones, shot dead in state-orchestrated executions by the country’s security forces during the August 10th street demonstrations in Freetown and various northern districts.
Since the killing of the 26 unarmed protesters, the government has ignored calls for post mortems and inquests to determine cause of death for each of the deceased, many of whom the Sierra Leone Telegraph has been reliably informed, sustained gunshot wounds to the chest, back of the head, and stomach.
The victims include Evangelist Samson (Photo), the main opposition APC party’s social media activist who was shot dead in Makeni by the military, who the authorities say died in a cross fire between a group of armed youths and soldiers.
But local witnesses have denied the official statement published by the police about the killing of Evangelist Samson. Witnesses say he was picked up by soldiers and taken to a remote area where he was executed.
There are reports of some of the victims as young as twelve, among the dead – yet to be identified at the mortuary in Freetown by their families.
Yesterday, FreetownStories media published the following report:
“It is still not clear why government officials are refusing to speak on the status of the over 20 remains of civilians who have been at the Connaught Hospital Mortuary since August 10th.
“Yesterday, my colleague Mohamed Konneh reported that the families were informed that they will be buried today and were given NLe20 thousand which is around US$1 thousand. Some of them refused to take the money and requested for the remains of their relatives to be handed over to them.
“There is still no official statement from the government on whether they have been buried today or when or where they will be buried.
“There was no notice inviting the media to the ceremony yesterday at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and both the Minister of Information, Mohamed Rahman Swaray and the Minister of Internal Affairs, David Panda Noah have not been responding to my questions about this issue since yesterday.
“I have met with families who narrated how their relatives were killed at their homes and one of them is a lady at Kissy, Thunder Hill, she was to get married in September and since August the family couldn’t get the body to give her a befitting funeral.
“It is very clear that some of these people weren’t involved in the protest, they were either caught by a stray bullet or were allegedly shot dead.
“Our compatriots and their families shouldn’t be treated this way, they deserve some respect and care from the State.”
It is being rumoured also that the 26 civilians shot dead on the 10th of August 2022 will be buried in an undisclosed mass grave tomorrow Monday, 17th of October, 2022, following the government’s payment of twenty million Leones to each of the families of the deceased.
The editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph contacted various government officials to obtain a statement but without success.
This is what the Chairman and Leader of the opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party – Dr Dennis Bright told the Sierra Leone Telegraph:
“I understand that the payment of Le20m for those killed by the Sierra Leone Police on 10th August 2023, will not be paid directly to the families, but merely the cost per victim to bury them in a mass grave.
“My first concern therefore is to establish exactly what the payments represent and to be assured by the Government, that if made, these payments will be made directly to the families, so they can bury their relatives themselves. These families do not need their loved ones to be buried in an undignified manner.
“Secondly, I would also like to understand why the Government now wishes to make these payments, when they maintain that the protesters are terrorists. Is this a recognition by government of wrongdoing? Why the needless loss of life of our compatriots, and why have their bodies been withheld at mortuary until now?
“Thirdly, I understand that the families of each of the policer officers who died on 10 August 2022, received payments of Le100m. There needs to be transparency, not only about how the government determines these payments, but also the families of both the police officers and the protesters need transparency and accountability. There needs to be a full post-mortem conducted on all the victims to establish exact cause of death, so that we can determine the truth of exactly what happened on that fateful day. The government has a responsibility to all bereaved families to do this.”
Alimamy Turay, thank you for your response. I perceive the contention between us to be about the use of names, and the seemingly high expectations placed on Kandeh Yomkella who happens to be the leader of a minority party in parliament. At the forefront of any criticism of the callous and sadistic nature of Bio should be the largest opposition party – APC. Before mentioning the Yomkellas, we should first mention the Chericocos, the Alfred Peter Contehs, the Earnest Koromas, the Foday Yansanehs and many more. You might argue that Earnest and Foday are no longer behind the controls of APC,but they still carry influence, especially Earnest, who travels all over the place to oversee elections on behalf of AU and ECOWAS ; he is an internationally recognised figure. But as Sylvia Blyden mentioned in one of her audios, Bio has Earnest’s testicles in his hand, which makes him powerless.
No, I am not a hero worshipper, I just happen to believe that given the presidency KKY will turn our dear country around without killing a single person because he has a conscience. Bio has none, but the blood of those that he has killed has started to torture him, that’s why he has to bring in a pastor from Nigeria to pray for him, implying that the clergy in Sierra Leone have soiled hands. Perhaps he is aware of the demise of Siaka Stevens. S I Koroma and C A Kamara-Taylor,in whose hands many people perished at Pademba Road Prison. Yes, the very Prison where Bio massacred helpless prisoners in cold blood.
Finally, Alimamy Turay, I must say I like debating somebody like you. Without surrender you put your points across minus being animated.
Each and everyone is entitled to sing for his hero; but you seem to miss the point here Mr Santhkie Sorie. The theme of my comment – pertaining this very article – is about people we look up to to defend us in time of crisis, but end up disappointing massively. Today, our people are being slaughtered left, right and centre by a sadistic diasporan (Maada Bio) who thinks he has the licence to kill and then buy the right of the victims to a dignified burial. Where are the pretenders like Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella who came far away from the diaspora and became a symbol of advocate for the rights of the people? Yain, yain!!!
Alimamy Turay, your piece does attract some attention. It denotes voguish characteristics with Dr Yomkella used as the point of reference. Dr Yomkella has become the beacon for all rendition of criticism evoked by all obnoxious political events in Sierra Leone, notwithstanding the undiluted and undisputed fact that he is not the man occupying State House.
Dual citizenship, Alimamy Turay, has been on the scene since recorded time. Let us start with a simple example: do you happen to know that the former British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who got booted out of office a few months ago, held American citizenship too until he got thick into British politics? Another example: have you observed how football players switch allegiances to be able to play for the country of their choice? Remember Caulker playing for Sierra Leone in the last Africa Cup of Nations although he was born in England?
Some people take on the citizenship of another country out of expediency. Sometimes we do things to get along, however painful it may be. In the case of Sierra Leoneans they see how politicians, starting from the days of Siaka Stevens, continue to sink the nation without an iota of conscience. True, when some acquire the citizenship of another country, especially Western countries, they put on an air of stinky arrogance, but ultimately it gets them nowhere beyond being mouthy about it.
I must draw your attention to the fact that Dr Yomkella rose to Under Secretary General of the UN through hard work and remarkable intelligence and nothing else. To this day international bodies want to have him on their payroll ; this would not have been the case if he had been sacked by the UN. Considering his Service at the UN he must be receiving a decent pension, probably more than he is being paid as an MP.
I believe you are mistaken in jumping into the bandwagon of those who have nothing better to do than to speculate from dusk to dawn that Dr Yomkella is about to return to SLPP. Allow me to remind you that the typical African male does not suffer fools easily vis – a- vis their mother. After what SLPP did to his late mother I wince to think that Dr Yomkella would allow his mother to rollover in her grave to see her son carry out such a despicable act. If you wish to become a non-placable critic of KKY join those of us who believe in him to give him the presidency. Personally it’s either Dr Yomkella or the devil. At least with the devil I know his mission. I don’t know the mission of his cousins like Earnest Koroma and Bio who try to pass themselves as Angel Gibril/Gabriel.
There can be only one reason why Bio does not want to release the bodies of the August 10th 2022 massacre: he is terrified of renewed demonstrations which could spark something sinister for his blood-thirsty regime. The man’s hands are dripping with innocent blood, and his conscience (if he has one) is having the better of him.
We don’t know much about Bio’s private life, but it can be almost accurately deduced that it is not peaceful. The blood of those that he has killed so far must be loudly speaking to him in his sleep, subjecting him to the worst nightmare imaginable all the time; Fatima Bio now has the unenviable task of having to tap him slightly to bring him back to the real world every night.
Some people become more powerful when they are in the spiritual world. The trouble for Bio is that he cannot see them with his naked eye, making it impossible for him to kill them a second time. Let him read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar where the ghost of Caesar appeared to Brutus a number of times. What happened to Brutus in the end? In my O’Level the question was “Caesar became more powerful in death than in real life – discuss “.
But let us bring it closer to home : the triumvirate of Siaka Stevens, S I Koroma and C A Kamara-Taylor sent many people to an early grave, including Dr M.S Fornah, Ibrahim Taqui. Brigadier David Lansana, Brigadier John Bangura. What happened to them in the end? They died undignified deaths respectively. These were people who decided who was to die and who was to live. This fact has sunk into Bio to force him to bring a pastor all the way from Nigeria to pray for him. He didn’t think the catholic priest who united him and Fatima was good enough.
Is a Sierra leonean life worth a thousand dollars ?No amount of money will bring back the dead .The Bio government have not only proven themselves to be incompetent the way they’ve handled the deaths of our fellow citizens , who were only out doing their civic duties ,that is the right to protest or Freedom to assemble wherever and whenever , to voice your anger at the rising cost of living affecting all countries around the world, especially sub -sharan Africa , but the failure of the government to produce policies that will cushion the impact of the economic meltdown have left families up and down the country asking why do we bother to elect politicians in the national assembly , if they cannot come to our aid when to paraphrase Billy Ocean “When the going get tough ,the tough get going .”The fact that the government have made an offer of compensation to the victim’s families of this state sponsored extra judicial killings , suggests there is a degree of culpability by the State to the victims of Bio’s death squads .We are slowly mirroring events of HATI under the Duvaliers , two infamous corrupt and authoritrain regimes ,Francisco Duvalier “Papa Doc”and
Jean-Claude Duvalire ” Baby Doc” both father and son two former dictators that ruled with iron fist and their oppressive tactics by
use of specialist police death square called , Tonton Mackut .Unfortunately for Hati even though their reign of terror ended in 1986 , the Hati of today is still living with the consequences of their actions .Hence the Island is today ungovernable and being taken over by gangs of youths , with AK 47 rifles and American made M16 machine guns ,effectively rendering that Islands nation the poorest country in the western Hemisphere. We are far from such unimaginable circumstances , but the policy of Bio refusing to bury the dead for political point scoring , or brinkmanship makes you wonder what sort of legacy he wants to leave behind and what would he likes to be remembered for . On the present trajectory , histroy will be harsh on him and his government .There is a special place in hell for people like Bio and Foday Sankoh that took advantage of Sierra Leoeans mild manner and sense of tolerance .Where is all the religious elders and Paramont chiefs that came to counsel Bio after the 10th of August food demonstration .?Now is time to speak up .As Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said “:InJustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere “.Today is the families of the victims suffering in silence , you never know tomorrow could be a family member of yours at the cross hairs of Bio’s vendetta politics .Take off your political hat and speak truth to authority .
Where are the Kandeh Yumkellas of this world?
The Kandeh Yumkellas of this world are those that had been in the diaspora and never thought of going back home! They had settled in different countries and naturalized in order to acquire full benefits – including jobs, acceptance and recognition in society, free education, a false sense of identity, and others social benefits. Some of these people even develop funny accents in an attempt to be assimilated into the alien cultures they found themselves. In Kandeh Yumkella’s case, he metamorphosised into an American (2-Simmed) and eventually became an Under-Secretary at the United Nations Assembly. As long as there are good returns to their human capital output, the tendency is for this set of people to forget about home country completely.
Then, apparently out of the blue, age sets in. Their once youthful looks and other attributes take a different spin – a decadent marginal outlook and a depressing spirit to compete. However, echoing in their minds is the prospect of replenishing their fortunes in a land full of gullible people, called Sierra Leone. A land overloaded with ignorant, naïve and ‘collaying’ people that can be easily deceived by diasporans with ‘grammar’ and a false sense of attire. And so, they become con artist and pretend to represent the interests of their impoverished people; though in actual fact, it is just a ploy to maintain their standard of livelihood. Interestingly, some of these opportunists experience windfalls that catapult them to unimaginable positions, including the highest seat of the land – the presidency.
This is your Dr Alhaji Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella. Wow! The local guy from Samu Chiefdom, Kambia District, in the North-western outskirts of Sierra Leone, who lost his way and became a member of the one-tribe-dominated South-Eastern Sierra Leone Peoples party (SLPP). When he was eventually shown the door, he continued his dream of becoming the President of the country, by forming his party, the National Grand Coalition (NGC). Unfortunately, the poor boy’s party did not make a significant impact in the political complexities of the country, except for a sympathetic display in his locality. Now, he is in the political wilderness … And there are rumours that he is in the process of charting a course back to SLPP territory. Kandeh Yumkella exhibits the type of character that can capitalise in any situation if the price is right. Will the crumbling one-clan SLPP party clique genuinely open the door again for this so-and-so political pretender?
Even God is aware of Bio’s dictatorial tendencies .what sort of country prevents even the dead to be buried and rest in peace for party political purposes ? Whether you are a Muslim or Christain, or an atheist , there is no where in the Quran or Bible or even common sense decency ,that allows for this sort of thing to happen . Even at the hight of the RUF civil war , when Freetown was over ran and came under siege from RUF child soldiers rebels wearing their parents clothing with flip flops , and the carnage they left behind , the dead were either given a quick burial or were eaten by vultures, or Stray dogs . For the health of the nation we have to bury the dead . Religiously and in majority of cases the Muslim religion dictates where possible the dead should be buried the same day .What a lot of parlava from this Bio government .A president that claims to be religious and going against all the teachings of the Quran and the scriptures . I honestly don’t know which God Bio is worshiping .For Christ sake these are not even people that died of old age or long term illness, but young people who came out in mass and demonstrated against a cost of living crises that is affecting the entire world .
This sort of demonstration have been going on around the world , after the Covid19 pandemic and Putin’s war of choice in Ukraine, that have added fuel to the fire of Global economies meltdowns . But Bio and his people has a different interpretation of events . That is why we are where we are .Bio’s ego is stopping the families of the people that lost their lives at the hands of his security forces to even be giving the opportunity to mourn and buried their loved ones . What in the world have Sierra Leone slids into ? Our country seemed to be in a permanent fixture of regression to the abyss .If the state are denying them to bury their loved ones , which is the case as it’s stands ,what hope is there for these grieving families to ever receive the justice or know exactly what happened to their loved ones ? Who murderded them and why ?We Sierra Leoenans should search our inner conscience and asked the inevitable question if that was your sister , brother , Mum and Dad or any family member of yours killed in those circumstances by the State and now lying in a mortuary slab , do you think that is okay for Bio to deny you the right to bury your family member ?Or has the state buried the victims in secret graves to hide the attorocties commited against those individuals .That is what dictetorial regimes do .Maybe they are hiding torture marks inflicted on those unfortunate people .Which they know the international community will roundly condemn and ask awkward questions from Bio and his henchmen .I am just speculating but I wouldn’t put it pass Bio and his supporters . My reasoning it has never happened expect for the Excution of Brigediar John Amadu Bangura by the Stevens government which his family was only given an empty coffin .And I stand to be corrected on that .WHERE ARE THE DEAD ?That should be the front and back cover of every newspaper worth its salt that claimed to be independent from government control in Sierra Leone .The question then becomes will they ?
We all knew ,once governments over come the COVID19 epidemic that killed millions of people across the world , and restrictive measures adopted to bring the once in a generation pandemic , like the lockdowns , the millions of deaths ,face mask, business closures , travel restrictions, the development of vaccines , the vaccine deniers , and in the case of Sierra Leone lack of forward thinking political leadership, that is submerged in corruption scandals after scandals , and a weak opposition party , and a National press that have helped whipped up divisions in our country , there is no hell in hope that our country will emerged from these extraordinary Global events with our heads hanging high .These is not a way to govern a country that have gone through the traumas of war , flash flooding, Ebola , Fires , environmental degradation, Corruption , tribal and regional division on party political lines and worst a government and people that appears to have learned very little about what the heck is really going on and how to steer the ship of state from the choppy waters we found ourselves .The government is the problem not the people of Sierra Leone. There must be a third way out of this political and social quagmire we found ourselves. And the politicians are not the answer to our problems .They are the problem .