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Frequent Mass burial of unidentified people in Sierra Leone

Frequent Mass burial of unidentified people in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leoneans rarely wake up nowadays without getting bad news under President Maada Bio and his corrupt SLPP govt in Sierra Leone.

After Christmas 2020, awful news hits the airwaves when another shocker reverberated in the country following reports of mass burial supervised and executed by the ruling SLPP government. As a result, the people of Sierra Leone want answers NOW from the Health and Sanitation Ministry concerning the recent mass burials of 80 Sierra Leoneans. (Photo: Health Minister Dr Alpha Wurie needs to make a statement NOW to explain what really happened regarding the mass burials).

Latest reports indicate that around eighty people who were classed as unidentified by the Health and Sanitation Ministry were hurriedly buried at the King Tom Cemetery in Freetown much to the horror and disappointment of eyewitnesses and residents of the King Tom suburb in Central Freetown. And worryingly, this is not the first time mass burials have occurred at Kingtom under President Bio’s government.

Hospital sources say the people buried in the mass grave, 80 of them in total, could not be identified by the authorities, meaning, they could not statistically know whether they are citizens of Sierra Leone or foreign nationals who were found dead in the country before the New Year. The mysterious deaths of this large number of people that the violent-oriented SLPP government had failed to properly identify have ushered in more questions than answers.

Observers could not believe the version given by the government and now the rumour mill has gone overdrive to put two and two together to ascertain what could have happened to these poor people. On January 3, 2021, one of Sierra Leone’s most vocal social media broadcasters Mr Ibrahim Fofana known popularly as Ibrahim commented on the mass burial on YouTube: “A lot of Sierra Leoneans have already seen this video. It is really concerning for many of us. We are doing our best not to politicise this in any shape or form. You know in Africa, when these things come up, yes, we blame the government of the day and previous governments.

“We are going to focus on the merit of this particular video that this gentleman gave out as you can see. We will play exactly what this guy has said and we want the international community to pay attention and Sierra Leoneans to pay attention to what is happening in this video. In this 21st century, we expect these things should not be happening anymore, but it keeps on happening in that light. I think it’s time we do the best we could to stop it from happening. So I am asking some critical questions but watch the video first and then I will come and say what I have to say,” Mr Ibrahim noted and then he introduces the Sierra Leone official Mr Sinneh Kamara who recorded the video in the local dialect Krio about the mass burial.

He said: “Good afternoon, my name is Sinneh Kamara. I am the Head of the Burial Team at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. I am also Head of the Sierra Leone Death and Destitute Organisation SLDDO. Today is the 28 December 2020. We are going to bury about 80 people at the King Tom Cemetery including 15 babies, 45 adult males, 20 adult females in the mass grave. We have loaded the corpses in the vehicles. Most of these dead people here do not have any forms of identifications. We are calling upon the National Identification Office to make massive campaigns to issue ID cards to every person.

“Then you individuals walking in the streets men and women make sure you have your ID cards with you at all times. If you do not have Passports or ID cards, please write your names, addresses, and phone numbers on pieces of paper, and in case anything happens to you, people will be able to identify you. We will be able to locate your family if something wrong happens to you. Death is inevitable. As you see today, we are burying these people we need to learn a lot of lessons from this sad incident. If you have people on the streets doing prostitution, this is how it would end if you have no ID cards. With free education, it is better to learn something so as to have employment facilities in life.

“And for those who lead their lives on petty crimes stealing here and there, this is how it would end if you are not careful. Dying as destitute is not good. Look at this person we are taking them to mass burial because they do not have ID cards. We are calling on the government to support the Death and Destitute Organisation. Bravo to the Freetown City Council who provided sanitations for us. Bravo to the Health Ministry for providing the vehicles for us. We need more support from the public and from President Bio for the Death and Destitute Organisation in Sierra Leone. God bless you, God bless Sierra Leone,” Mr Sinneh Kamara speaking on the video from Connaught Hospital in Freetown concludes.

Making further comments Mr Ibrahim spoke again: “I have to thank Mr Sinneh Kamara for making this video and for doing a phenomenal job by bringing it to the attention of the international world. He is doing his job. That is what he is paid to do. He is the Head of the Burial at the Ministry of Health. Thank you Mr Sinneh Kamara for calling on the government and President Bio for help, we know there are billions of Leones there that can solve the identification process in the country. We know you are doing this to make your job easier for the people to be identified. Thank you for doing this. We appreciate this very much.

“However, we have some questions to ask so we can help you in the future to provide a better burial, befitting burial for some of these people who could be dumped in mass graves. We do not want this to happen anymore in the future. We know that is why you brought this to our attention. We will shed light on this so that we will help you and others in your organisation, the Death and Destitute so that Sierra Leone could be a better place for its citizens. I know you are not happy about having 80 people dumped in a mass grave because of the lack of identifications.

“We have lots of questions and we are going to ask these questions. You have seen the video. Basically, this gentleman is telling us that they are burying these people in mass graves. Eighty people died somewhere in Sierra Leone and these people do not have ID cards. That’s exactly what Mr Sinneh Kamara is telling us here. We in the Diaspora, we would be asking – don’t these people have dental records to be able to identify them? Don’t they have a database to have fingerprints and biometrics just to be able to identify these people if they do die? Yes, it is wishful thinking in Africa. Hopefully, we might get there at some point in the future. But right now, it is there that makes this very sad and pathetic.

“You see because when somebody comes out here and tells us that they are burying 80 citizens of Sierra Leoneans, it should concern every one of us regardless of political affiliations. That is why I want to talk about this. Like other Sierra Leoneans, I have lots of questions. For example, where did these people die? Where is the police report? Who reported these deaths? If somebody passed away…. because Mr Sinneh Kamara even claimed some of the dead are prostitutes, this is how terrible the video is. Let’s say some of these ladies are prostitutes and they die on the streets. Who called the police? Who reported this matter? What was the police report filed on that day? Where did they die?

“To say such people died, what radio stations did they go, what TV stations did they go? Something to let the public aware that somebody is missing, somebody has been found dead in such a place. We try to identify these people…. family members should come to help. These are the questions we have otherwise we are calling for urgent investigations into these mass deaths. Again we know that we have lots of arrests in the country, people protesting, they locked up in jails in Makeni, Lunsar, at Pademba Road Prisons. People were arrested and just thrown in jails. What is happening to the Pademba Prison massacre? They massacred over 100 prisoners. We know they buried some of those prisoners in mass graves. These are some of the questions we need answers to.

“The people are concerned. It is important to pay attention to things like this. When you somebody coming out there and telling us that 80 people… for how long they have kept them we do not know, 15 children, this is important. Fifteen children died without us knowing who their parents are. When we say children we are talking about 15 years to 18 years. What are the ages of these children? We want to know. These are the fundamental questions we want to ask because we demand answers. Fifteen children were buried because they died somewhere. We are calling on the human rights organisations, Amnesty International, all these organisations, we are asking the government of Sierra Leone, the Minister of Health Dr Alpha Wurie to give us a statement about these deaths.

“This gentleman who is in charge of the Death and Destitute Mr Sinneh Kamara should be questioned again. We want to see for each of these people, the police report, the time of the reports, who reported it, how it was reported, what measures did they take to identify these bodies? What did they do because you cannot just come and tell us that 80 died and they are going to be buried in a mass grave? These are individuals, these are human beings, these are precious souls, so we are demanding answers from the government of Sierra Leone and I hope the international community would take this seriously,” Mr Ibrahim ended his comments on this sad mass burial incident in King Tom.

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