Here are selections from the testimony of a former child soldier (that I briefly discussed re: ‘protective measure’s issues’ on yesterday’s posting) at the Charles Taylor Trial yesterday (Monday, May 5) in the Hague.
His testimony covers:
1. His kidnapping and being “marked” by the rebels (meaning carving “RUF” initials into his skin):
W: …When we were taken to the house next door, we were all locked up in the house and other people were brought there as well. We were all kept there until morning. There were 4 rebels who came in the morning, including Kabila and Mohammed, and 2 said they had come to ”mark” the boys and girls. There were 150 total that had been captured, including 50 boys and girls.
Pros: What do you mean by mark us?
W: When they said they were going to mark us, I didn’t know. But then they carved AFRC on forehead of a boy and RUF on his chest using a razor blade. The marking was done by Kabila and Mohammed. All the boys and girls were marked this way. The older ones were taken out. The younger ones were 50 in number, and were both boys and girls. They marked me as well, Kabila carved RUF on my chest.
Pros: What were the ages of the boys and girls?
W: I couldn’t tell at that time. All ages.
2. “Training” he received:
Wit: Kabila said that our group should be in the advanced team so he took us to that bush.
Pros: What kind of training did you receive in the bush?
Wit: They showed us how to crawl in the bush and how to dismantle and clean guns.
3. Drugs they were given by their “commanders”:
WIt: 55 and O5 ordered that all the boys be trained. Kabila and Mohammed helped trained us and he gave me two blue tablets?
Pros: Did you experience any feelings after you took those tablets?
Wit: My eyes were red and I started feeling “bold”.
Pros: What happened after you took the two blue pills?
Wit: 55 told us to loot and kill the people in the village and we went to a house with 5 people including two men, a women, and two children. Kabila demonstrated to us how to do it and hacked the first man on his neck. I then hacked the woman next to him and hacked her on her chest and hacked her on her side and I hacked the child with her.
Pros: Can you slowly take us through how you killed these people?
Wit: I hacked the woman on the back of her neck and on her breast with a machete. I hacked the child on his neck and on his side. One of them begged me not to do it but Kabila told me to do it or he would kill me, so I hacked him as well and cut off his head.
wit: We used force to open the door, when we entered we met two men, and we said you pretended you were not here… He said these words, and I said, you were in here and we were knocking, and the other boy said, that hand that you refused to open the door lets amputate them, so I took them outside and took the Machete and told him to step on the hand of the other man and I hacked it three times and it was cut off.
Pros: What part of the hand?
wit: the left hand, down at the wrist, after that, we took the other one outside too, and I amputated that one at the elbow.
Pros: As you amputated hands of these men did they say anything?
wit: they were crying, they were saying, we just took what we wanted.