Fighters Terrorizing Bong Residents
By Steve V. Jarvey
Posted November 13, 2003
Fighters of the Liberian crisis are said to be terrorizing and subjecting residents of Bong county to severe hardship and untold sufferings.
A fact-finding report gathered from Bong County reveals that residents of the county seeking sanctuary in the outskirts and areas surrounding Gbarnga are the most vulnerable to forces believed to be LURD fighters.
At Gbecon town in Kokoya District, several residents especially men, are said to be forcibly rounded up, flogged and compelled to push defective vehicles moving empty tire rims from the bushes to Gbarnga. Most of these vehicles had been looted and hidden in the bushes during the the past intense battles.
In other areas of Bong like David Town, Zoweata, Panta, Kpaai, Gbenequelle for instance, heavily armed LURD fighters forage the bushes and arbitrarily harvest farms cultivated by the residents, and order the young women to beat the rice while the men are forced to tote the consignment (several tons) on their head all the way to Gbarnga.
In Bono Town and other parts of Sanoyea District, according to the fact-finding reports, the residents there are subjected to a rather brutal form of slavery.
The ‘manhood’ of the men residing in the towns and villages are tied to a string of wire in a process, the fighters call”talk truth”to force the panic-stricken residents to reveal their buried treasures such as steam mill machines, jewels and cash.
The reports also gathered that several of the young girls in Taylor Town, Yandiwon and other parts of Suakoko District have been forced to marry or live with fighters. The report said anyone who refuses to abide by such offer faces humiliation.
At the same time, former militias loyal to the former president Charles Taylor regime are also said to be carrying out similar cruel and barbaric acts in the Totota area and Salala District bushes still under their control.
These armed gangs, according to the fact-finding reports gathered in Central Liberia, are moving about from towns to villages in the bushes, stealing the residents’ belongings and sometimes forcing the war-ravaged people to tow looted goods on their head several miles away to their(bandits) bases.
However, when Caesar Gblah who is claiming the superintendency of Bong county on grounds that he was appointed by the LURD leadership coupled with citizens petition was contacted, he noted that Gbarnga is calm due to the administration of civil authority in the area.
Mr. Gblah however, acknowledged reports that several complaints have reached him in Gbarnga pertaining to constant harassments, intimidation and molestation of the residents in other parts of Bong County.
Meanwhile, reports of assault on the lives of peaceful civilians on the Bushrod Island by fighters of LURD seem to continue unabated.
These reports, according to some of the victims and even residents of the Island, have made most Monrovians afraid to cross the two bridges linking Central Monrovia to Bushrod Island for fear of either being assaulted or their personal belongings taken away by LURD fighters, who are seen to be very much uncontrollable in the area.
Among numerous complaints of assaults that have been pouring in the offices of this paper is the report involving one Mr. Roland S. Johnson and seven LURD fighters.
Explaining his ordeal in a complaint issued over the weekend, Mr. Johnson alleged that on last Thursday, while driving from his mother’s residence in Logan Town, seven LURD fighters assaulted him.
He said the whole episode started while he was driving towards the main road as the fighters were walking on the lane which he was driving on.
Mr. Johnson said, in trying to get their attention he honked his car’s horn but the fighters charged at him saying he had driven into them, and further made them “scary”.
“One of the guys came shouting at me, saying that the car’s view mirror had hit him and the rest began to assault me. They opened the doors of the car and started kicking and slapping me, took away my car key and my cell-phone, and continued beating me until I was helpless. Some friends arrived on the scene and begged them to give me my car keys.
“I then managed to get back into my car and noticed that the kick-starter and the clutch were damaged and the car couldn’t start”, he lamented.
Continuing further, Mr. Johnson said, “I took the complaint to the UNMIL soldiers at the LIPCO, Bong Mines Bridge checkpoint, and looking at how I was bleeding, the soldiers told me to report the case to the UNMIL office at the Freeport where I was later informed to take the case to civil authority because it was of civil nature”.
He said among other things, that all attempts to retrieve his cell-phone from the fighters and seek redress from either UNMIL or the LURD High Command failed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson is calling on the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), UNMIL, Government of Liberia, American Embassy, LURD High Command and all human rights concerns to come to his aid by arresting the situation as his life has been threatened.