The Governmentâ€™s proposed inquest is no witch hunt
First of all, let me start by stating that an inquest is not a trial. It is a â€œformal inquiry which is held in a court to determine how and why something happened, and if additional action is neededâ€.
There may not be a trial. It is also very likely that those who would be called upon by the Inquest team to answer questions relating to the deaths of Mr. James Bambay Kamara and others may not be found guilty of any crime or culpable of any wrongdoings. If we try to understand the governmentâ€™s position within these parameters, we would be able to dispel the notion of witch hunting, prejudice, and finger-pointing.
What I seem to hear from some Sierra Leoneans is that we must not go back and unearth the buried because it would ignite chaos and jeopardize the peace for which we have already paid a heavy price. Let us remember that those who had been buried also have families and loved ones who would still be interested in knowing what happened and why it happened. They too need the same peace that we all are yearning to sustain because they are Sierra Leoneans like everyone else and they deserve to enjoy whatever peace the rest of us enjoy. If the establishment of an inquest to find out the cause is what it takes to bring a smile to their faces, I donâ€™t think it would be too heavy a price to pay.
The families do not want to see anyone executed for what they did but it would sooth their hearts to know who did what and what those perpetrators have to say to the bereaved families in return. What happened in Rwanda is ten times what we went through in Sierra Leone. I did not make this comparison to underestimate the loss to Sierra Leoneans but simply to establish a point. If Rwanda could forgive one another after their tribunals, I am hopeful that our nation, which is known for being very accommodating, would do the same and move on.
There are those who would wonder why it took the government and the UN this long to start probing into this matter. Well, let us look at it this way â€“ it took the Rwandan government several years after the genocide to start going after those who perpetrated those acts of violence. The same was true with Noriega, Milosevic, Pinochet, Charles Taylor and many others.
The SLPP did not pursue this line of action while they were in power. I do not have all the evidence to judge them as to why they didnâ€™t; but one thing I do know is that most of the people who were summarily executed were Northerners, and the North happens to be a strong hold of the APC. Could this be a reason why they did not bother? Only God knows.
It should therefore not surprise anyone if the APC decided to pursue this matter. Most of the people who were killed were strong APC supporters, and that is a fact! We, as a political party, are merely asking questions as to why our brothers and sisters were subjected to such gruesome and dishonorable manner of death. We want to lay this matter to rest once and for all but in order to do so, we must search our souls and conscience and bring out the best in us, which is to accept responsibility and offer our sincere apologies to our fellow Sierra Leoneans.Â
To say that APC is going after Rtd. Brigadier Julius Marda Bio because he is the presumed presidential candidate for the SLPP in 2012 is equal to saying that the supporters of the APC are not capable of recalling their history. I say this because the APC does not have to go after Marda Bio because we, as a party, can care less about who stands on the other side against the APC. 2012 is rapidly being defined and predicted by Sierra Leoneans based on the current achievements of the APC. Every day, we see scores of people crossing over to the APC. Marda Bioâ€™s history, as it relates to the NPRC, is known by even two year old boys and girl in Sierra Leone. It is just a matter of time before people start recounting that very history. Therefore, Marda Bio is free to pursue his political aspirations if he so desires; but that must not preclude him from being interrogated if he is found wanting for any of the deaths in Sierra Leone.
This New APC believes in the due process and also respects the rights of individuals. We will not establish an inquest to arrest every member of the NPRC, whether they are in the SLPP, APC or in the current National Army. We will simply ask them questions about what they know or did during the dark days in our history.
We will then utilize the results of the findings to determine what we need to do as a nation to not let this kind of thing happen again in our society. It will also help us send a message to the whole world that no matter how long it takes; every crime will be investigated partly as a way of establishing records of how such crimes were committed and how they were eventually resolved. There is no need for panic! The New APC of Dr. Earnest Koroma will insure that everyone is treated fairly and is given an opportunity to be adequately represented, if they have to be.
If we are calling for the expunging of records of heinous incidents which were never investigated or brought before any court of law, we must also remember that it took only a few disgruntled people for Foday Sankoh to recruit and unleash his venom on a peaceful nation. But I strongly believe that if justice is served through very legal and transparent means, there would be no retribution or disgruntlement about the outcome.
This is the difference between what people are insinuating as a repercussion if we carry on with the inquest; and the peace that we would have brought to the families of the deceased and the rest of the nation of Sierra Leone if we pursue this matter closely in sympathy with the laws of our land.Â Â
So, fellow Sierra Leoneans, there is no cause for alarm. There is no cause for panic. We will continue to respect everyone even when proven guilty or found to be a person of interest in this matter. We will advocate, where necessary and appropriate, and will make sure that justice is dispensed freely and fairly.
Brima M. Turay, PRO, APC-NA, USA
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