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In USA: Deputy Information Minister ‘Declares War Don Don’ in Sierra Leone

In USA: Deputy Information Minister ‘Declares War Don Don’ in Sierra Leone

Washington, DC March 2, 2011: Not even a state of jet-lag could prevent the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Honourable Sheka Tarawalie, from staying home as he arrived in Washington, DC in the early hours of today.   (Hon Sheka Tarawalie in conversation with Rebecca Richman Cohen, producer and lawyer)

Shortly after settling in his lodge, the Deputy Minister, appointed in December 2010, made a stop at the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone to pay a courtesy call on His Excellency the Ambassador, Mr. Bockari Kortu Stevens.

After spending the day at the Embassy, he attended a cinema in Washington, DC, not to entertain himself but to witness a recount of the UN-backed Special Court trials documented in War Don Don, where in a question-and-answer session that followed the viewing, the Deputy Minister congratulated the producer of the documentary, Rebecca Richman Cohen, a lawyer who had a stint with the Special Court’s Defense team in Sierra Leone, for producing a documentary that eloquently projects the rebranding effort of Sierra Leone.

“Now,” he noted, “the world would be aware that the diabolic war in Sierra Leone is over.” He further explained to an audience of about a 100 persons of assorted background that Sierra Leone has risen from the ashes of war and is now fully engaged in development and reconstruction.

Hon Tarawalie, fondly known as Shekito, heard of the viewing of the documentary War Don Don (the war is over) through an American friend and could not succumb to fatigue as he beckoned to the appeal of the  documentary focused on the trial of the principal suspect of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) Issa Sesay, who, after playing a pivotal role in disarming the rebels and bringing peace to Sierra Leone, ends up “guilty” and has been slammed with a 58-year sentence on a 16-count charge of, among others, rape, murder, conscripting of children, and enslavement, at the United Nations-backed Special Court of Sierra Leone that was set up on the request of the former government of President Tejan Kabbah.

Even though the documentary was focused on Issa Sesay’s prosecution, it was able to make the viewer understand that the international tribunal had some element of madness in their method and manner in which they dispensed justice. At the end of the day, as David Crane the Prosecutor who gathered evidence for the Prosecution opined, ‘is this what the Sierra Leoneans wanted?’ What signal does Issa Sesay’s incarceration send to rebel commanders in places like Sudan, Somalia and other war-affected nations? For Issa Sesay, he sees himself as a victim rather than a perpetrator especially, as according to the video, he had the leadership of the latter-days RUF bestowed upon him by West African leaders, who could do nothing to get him out of the situation that held him responsible for bearing the greatest responsibility for human rights violations and war crimes.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister Sheka Tarawalie has a whirlwind busy schedule in the USA as his itinerary includes gracing an event for the twinning of Montgomery to a city in Sierra Leone, meeting investors of Sierra Leone’s first-ever Special Economic Zone in Indiana, a media outreach event in New York, and meetings with Sierra Leoneans in North Carolina and Florida.

He is expected to return home on the 10th March.

Elizabeth Foray, Information Attaché, Sierra Leone Embassy, Washington DC

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