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30th Anniversary of Sierra Leone Civil War Commemorated

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30th Anniversary of Sierra Leone Civil War Commemorated


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The Mano River Women Peace Network Sierra Leone Chapter (MARWOPNET-SL) has commemorated the 30th Anniversary of Sierra Leone’s civil war. The commemoration came following a visit to Bomaru in the Upper Bambara chiefdom, Kailahun district where the first gunshots were fired on 23rd March 1991 heralding the 11 years civil war in Sierra Leone.

The main objective of the visit was to organize series of activities in the community to draw the attention of Sierra Leoneans to the significance of this date for the maintenance of sustainable peace and security in our beloved nation.

The MARWOPNET delegation first visited the Section Chief where the two dignitaries introduced each other and exchanged fraternal greetings.

To observe the day, MARWOPNET and her Peace Ambassadors organized a March Past of pupils and the community people from the police station situated on the Sierra Leone/Liberia border through the main streets of the township to the mass gravesite and monument established by former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah in line with one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC).

Muslim and Christian prayers were also offered at the mass gravesite and monument in addition to the lighting of four peace candles in remembrance of those who perished during the war.

The four candles were lit by the Town Chief, the representatives of the Human Rights Commission Sierra Leone, MARWOPNET and Peace Ambassadors.

This was followed by the Town Hall Meeting on the theme ‘Never Again. Peace All The Way Led by Communities.’

The meeting was chaired by one of the Police Officers attached to Bomaru Police Post, Mr. Brima Gboginia. Statements were made by the Town Chief, Women’s Leader, Councilor, Human Rights Commissioner, Hassan Yarjah and Religious Leaders.

A Peace Ambassador introduced dignitaries at the meeting while the welcome address was delivered by the Youth Leader of Bomaru.

The Chairman of the meeting recalled the war years when people were maimed, killed, and prayed that such dastardly act never happens again in the country.

In his statement, the Town Chief of Bomaru recalled the day when the war started which he stressed was sad for the community and underscored that people should continue to observe the day yearly to remind them about the dangers of war.

The Mammy Queen of Bomaru, Madam Marie Lahai joined other community members to welcome MARWOPNET and the team.

One of the Commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, Hassan Yarjah, commended MARWOPNET for the initiative to commemorate the day the civil war started in the country when people fled for their lives leaving behind everything, when women abandoned their children, that the physically-challenged could not escape the brutal acts of the rebels and stressed that people would never forget that day.

He also appealed to government to support the work of the police to maintain law and order in the community and advised youths to be responsible as they are the future leaders.

The Women’s Leader, Madam Mamie Konneh recalled the day when the township was burnt down by rebels, called for the observance of a minute’s silence for all those who died during the war and appealed to government to prioritize the development of Bomaru.

She also informed the meeting that the late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah constructed the Court Barrie, the mass graves and unfinished monument and urged government to continue with the project.

Madam Mamie Konneh further appealed to government, through the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, MARWOPNET, NGOs and other human rights organizations, to rehabilitate the road leading to Bomaru and bridge linking Pendemba to Bomaru where some people died during the civil war.

In her statement, Hannah Garrick of MAPWOPNET stated that 30 years ago there was loss of lives and property while hundreds died and recalled that what happened in 1991 up to the end of the war in 2002 left a trail of anxiety, mistrust, confusion, killings, rape of women and other human right abuses.

She made reference to Pillar Five of the Sierra Leone National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and 1820 which calls for the need to empower communities to promote a culture of peace, beware of the security of their environment as well as to participate in their own wellbeing, especially in times like this when we have COVID.

She furthered that MARWOPNET is encouraging all to make every effort to keep the peace as war is not good and underlined, “therefore, we should make it a point of duty to preach peace, to be each other’s keeper and to be good neighbors.”

Special tribute was paid to MARWOPNET Peace Ambassadors who have been working very hard to raise awareness about so many issues that give rise to conflict.  She also paid tribute to the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone for their contribution to the success of this programme as well as the UNWOMEN for their support to our Peace Ambassadors Programme and the community for their collaboration concluding by appealing to all present to  leave the  meeting with the slogan—“NEVER AGAIN—–ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. May God bless us all.”

In their reflections, two war victims, Baindu Amara showed the crowd a bullet wound on her right shoulder which she sustained on the day of the Bomaru attack on 23rd March 1991.

AbdulaiSalom implored youths and the security forces to collaborate in order to maintain peace and security in the community.

At the end of the successful Town Hall Meeting with MARWOPNET, the people recommended among others that the bridge linking Pendembu to Bomaru be rehabilitated, that government and NGOs establish skills training centres for youths to learn various income generating skills for self-reliance, that a community centre be constructed for youths to socialize and that the house where soldiers, police and civilians were slaughtered by rebels be rebuilt and transformed to a monument.

The people also unanimously called for 23rd March to be observed yearly as a public holiday throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone and that more security personnel be deployed as there are only four police officers along the Sierra Leone/Liberia border in Bomaru.

Other salient issues highlighted by the people were that some youths were not born during the war years and therefore know little or nothing about the war, that children who lost their parents during the war be awarded scholarships and other support to continue schooling.

A community stakeholder, Madam Martha Konowa, said the house where the first gunshots were fired is still the same with no renovation 30 years after the dreadful incident.  She lamented the fact that Bomaru is still remote, that there is widespread poverty in the community and that those who died during the war period should be remembered yearly.

The people also called for the construction of more water wells in the community as there is only one, construction of a market, good roads and junior secondary school in the community as the children walk miles to access one. In addition, that the transportation system should be improved as the only means of commercial transport is the motorbike otherwise known as ‘OKADA’, which is hazardous.

In conclusion, it was emphasized that MARWOPNET stands for peace. She was established 21 years ago and received the prestigious UN Human Rights Award in 2003 for her work in restoring peace in the sub-region.

With support from UN Women; MARWOPNET has been implementing the Peace Ambassadors Project in 6 Districts. Furthermore, with support from donors and well-wishers, MARWOPNET plans to extend the project to the rest of the country in order to fully imbibe a culture of peace.

Other stakeholders at the ceremony included representatives of the Monuments and Relics Commission, the Security Sector, women and youths.

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