Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Liberian Artist Denies Attrocities



I’ll Face TRC, Clear My Name’
...Dearboy Fires Back, Denies Murder Rape Claims
The start of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to hear testimonies of victims has implicated a popular Liberian artist, Sundaygar M. Davis alias "Sundaygar Dearby", into the commission of attrocities during the more than 14-years of fratricidal conflict, but but the Liberian musical artist seems not to be happy with the allegation brought against him at the TRC forum on January 8, 2008 at the Centinnial Pavilion, denouncinthem with a pledge to face the Commission so that he would clear his name.
As the www.frontpageafrica.com/ reports today, Dearboy felt the need to decisively respond to the allegations widely carried in a bid to convince his many fans of his music - a big hit at parties and a top player on radio stations across Liberia and among the Diaspora Liberians’ party scene. So when a damning allegation surfaced Tuesday

“I am equally as shocked as many of you may be to learn of the allegations published in Front Page Africa and other publications, in attempts to tarnish my reputation. For your information, I, Sundaygar Michael Davies (Dearboy), am innocent of all of the alleged allocations, Dearboy told FrontPageAfrica late Tuesday night. ‘I Preach non-violence’" he reacted. The singer added: “Rest assure that these allegations are fraudulent. I am a Christian and I have never had any intentions to hurt anybody for any reason. Secondly, I would be the last person to hurt my own indigenous people. Anyone who has heard my music would attest to the fact that I preach non-violence.”

Asked whether he knew any of those making charges against him, Dearboy would only say: “I am returning to Liberia as soon as possible to prove my innocence in the court of law. I want to extend my thanks and appreciation for your prayers and continued support. I don’t know who those people are and I haven’t met them before. but I was so shock when I heard the news,” Dearboy told FrontPageAfrica late Tuesday night.”

One of those in question was witness David Saiware, who says he was ten-years old when an alleged incident involving Dearboy took place in late December 1994, following the recapture of the area from forces of the defunct Liberia Peace Council (LPC).

The hearings being conducted under the theme, ‘Confronting Our Difficult Past for A Better Future,’ will run through January to July 31st this year. During the opening ceremony, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urged all officials and Liberians to give the process their fullest support. The President called upon Liberians from all walks, including herself, to respond to the TRC when called upon to do so, thereby avoiding the need for the TRC to use its subpoena powers. “Be honest and truthful in telling your experiences,” the President urged witnesses.

On Tuesday, Saiware accused Dearboy” of committing untold atrocities leading to the death of his sister in his home town, Gardour, Grand Bassa County. Saiware said Dearboy was one of the commanders of the now defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NDPL) rebel groups that ordered 25 men to gang rape his 16-year old sister Rita who later died. I spent a lot of time to build this reputation of mine and I have contributed beautifully to the success of Liberia in bringing peace in our culture - through my music. So I don’t see why I would be able to do such a thing.
He said because of the incident, he had to abandon school. He later moved to another relative. Saiware alleged that Sundaygar Dearboy was an NPFL Commander who hated odd numbers. “When ever he counts a group and there is an odd number, he will kill one person to make the number even. For example, if he counts a group and the last person is an odd number, that person will die whether a woman or man,” little David told the public hearing. He admitted that he feared coming to testify because of the popularity of the singer Sundaygar Dearboy because as a little boy, Sundaygar Dearboy could do anything to him.

“I can say the man is a singer now and is popular. I didn’t want to give this statement but the death of my sister was hurting me; that’s why I made the statement,” David said; adding, “When the people came last night I refused to come today because the man who I will be testifying against is in Monrovia and it’s where you all are carrying me. He’s well known. However, the people promised me protection; that’s why I’m here.” Saiware said he has refused to play the popular singer’s cassette. “I don’t want to hear it at all to my righteous God because as a Bassa, he should not have killed his tribesmen, rather protected them.”

He said at the time he was quite young; but when questioned by one of the Commissioners as to whether if he saw a photograph of the Liberia singer he would recognize it, he would recognize it, he replied in the affirmative. At that junction, when one of the Commissioners exhibited a musical CD of Sundaygar Dearboy to him and asked, “Look at this; is that the same person you are talking about?” He immediately recognized the photograph as that of the former NPFL Commander.

“This is the man I’m taking about to my righteous God. That’s him here; but I don’t even want to hold the CD in my hand,” he said. Saiware’s allegations were supported by two other witnesses - Emmanuel Jimmy and Paul Flomo, who accused Dearboy of wanton destruction and rape during the period of the war. Jimmy accused the musician of even raping his daughter Beamondyu, who at the time was 13 years old, and now resides in Harbel, Firestone; while Paul Flomo accused Sundaygar Dearboy of being the man behind the burning down of some 14 huts in Gardour Town, Grand Bassa County.

Flomo accused Sundaygar Dearboy as being responsible for the beating of his father, Alfred in 1994. His father later died on 8th February 1998. When questioned whether the beating was responsible for his father’s death, Paul could not really say, but did blame the death of his father on Dearboy. On Tuesday, Dearboy declared that the allegations were totally untrue. “I spent a lot of time to build this reputation of mine and I have contributed beautifully to the success of Liberia in bringing peace in our culture. So I don’t see why I would be able to do such a thing.”
Dearboy is hoping that his fans, family and friends give him the benefit of the doubt and his chance to tell his side before the TRC. “To my fans, well-wishers, to my supporters to my family, to my wife, my children I want them to understand that I am a Christian and I never had any intention of hurting anybody. I would be the last person in fact to hurt my own indigenous people, whose culture I am trying to promote.

I don’t know where this is coming from but I want all to have credibility and respect and still trust me and I will return to Liberia to make sure that I get to the due process of law and face whoever or the institution that is responsible for initiating this process and I will be coming to Liberia and I am not going to disappoint them. I am a law abiding citizen and will definitely defend myself against whatsoever have been said about me and clear my name.”

The Dearboy revelation took many by complete surprise Tuesday and many are still finding it difficult to comprehend, much less believe. On the popular OnLiberian Medium and the Concerned Liberians chatrooms, the issue is drawing heated debate and discussions. "I had never thought reading or following the TRC process but man this story is terrifying. So it means that doing this process, some of the people we have come admire and love are the very same people raped and killed people? My God, have Mercy and give us Grace,” wrote James Kollie, who says he was touched by Saiware's story and “truly hoped that God will give David the courage to forgive Sundaygar as we bring healing to our land and country.”

Anger was boiling for others like Cooper Kweme, who wrote: ”There is no Liberian who has not visited a function and not dance to the music of Sundaygar Dearboy. The testimonies of a boy about the atrocities committed against his family by Sundaygar Dearboy when he was a rebel commander in Taylor's NPFL, give be goose bumps. Our hearts will boil with anger as we hear more of the truth about what happened in Liberia. The Sundaygar Dearboy story will catch a lot of people off guard. My mouth is full and a minor headache is beginning to affect my person.”

While many are already jumping the gun on the celebrated singer, others like Amos Zumo is hoping that Dearboy would be given the benefit of the doubt and a chance to clear his name. “I hope we don't jump to conclusions so fast. Let's hope that there are not jealous people in the background "cooking this up". Having come to know Sundaygar somewhat, I am inclined to believe Sundaygar's denial and sincerity at this point. I hope we can give him his day. Let's not forget that there are bigger fishes out there roaming untouched to date.”

As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) began its public hearings in earnest today, three Liberians alleging to be victims have testified before it. The first of three witnesses to take the stand accused the renowned Liberian singer, Michael David, alias “Sundaygar Dearboy” of committing untold atrocities leading to the death of his sister in his home town, Gardour, Grand Bassa County.

Today’s hearing was held in camera and broadcast live throughout the country. The TRC is conducting the program under the theme: “Confronting Our Difficult Past for a Better Future.”
The first witness, David Saiware, to the astonishment of all in the Pavilion, revealed that singer Sundaygar Dearboy was one of the commanders of the now defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NDPL) rebel groups that ordered 25 men to gang rape his 16-year old sister Rita who later died. Witness Saiware, who was 10 years old at the time, said the incident took place in late December 1994, following the recapture of the area from forces of the defunct Liberia Peace Council (LPC). He said because of the incident, he had to abandon school. He later moved to another relative.

He alleged that Sundaygar Dearboy was an NPFL Commander who hated odd numbers. “When ever he counts a group and there is an odd number, he will kill one person to make the number even. For example, if he counts a group and the last person is an odd number, that person will die whether a woman or man,” little David told the public hearing. He admitted that he feared coming to testify because of the popularity of the singer Sundaygar Dearboy because as a little boy, Sundaygar Dearboy could do anything to him. “I can say the man is a singer now and is popular.

I didn’t want to give this statement but the death of my sister was hurting me; that’s why I made the statement,” David said; adding, “When the people came last night I refused to come today because the man who I will be testifying against is in Monrovia and it’s where you all are carrying me. He’s well known. However, the people promised me protection; that’s why I’m here.”

David said he has refused to play the popular singer’s cassette. “I don’t want to hear it at all to my righteous God because as a Bassa, he should not have killed his tribesmen, rather protected them.”
He said at the time he was quite young; but when questioned by one of the Commissioners as to whether if he saw a photograph of the Liberia singer he would recognize it, he would recognize it, he replied in the affirmative. At that junction, when one of the Commissioners exhibited a musical CD of Sundaygar Dearboy to him and asked, “Look at this; is that the same person you are talking about?” He immediately recognized the photograph as that of the former NPFL Commander. “This is the man I’m taking about to my righteous God. That’s him here; but I don’t even want to hold the CD in my hand,” he said.

Two other witnesses of the town, Emmanuel Jimmy and Paul Flomo accused Sundaygar Dearboy wanton destruction and rape during the period of the war. Emmanuel Jimmy accused the musician of even raping his daughter Beamondyu, who at the time was 13 years old, and now resides in Harbel, Firestone; while Paul Flomo accused Sundaygar Dearboy of being the man behind the burning down of some 14 huts in Gardour Town, Grand Bassa County.

Mr. Flomo accused Sundaygar Dearboy as being responsible for the beating of his father, Alfred in 1994. His father later died on 8th February 1998. When questioned whether the beating was responsible for his father’s death, Paul could not really say, but did blame the death of his father on Sundaygar Dearboy. The second witness, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Walker, a Baptist prelate and head of the Lott Carey Baptist Mission, took the stand and gave a chronological history of the events from 1979 to 2003. He said he was prepared to be around to serve as a resource person if he was needed.

He accused the leader of the defunct rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), Sekou Damate Konneh for burning down educational facilities of the mission that he says has greatly affected the smooth operation of the institution.
Rev. Dr. Walker accused the defunct rebel group of using the campus of Lott Carey Baptist Mission as launching pad in its bid to capture Monrovia. He’s claiming reparation of over US$100,000. For him, it’s his own sense of reconciliation.

The third witness, Michael Biddle said his family lost their father, the late Cllr. Patrick Biddle, for an interview he granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in defense of soldiers loyal to the late President Samuel Doe. He refused to disclose the names of those who killed his father and chose to give them to the TRC in confidence.

Despite their testimonies, they have all pledged their commitment to forgive their alleged perpetrators.

1 comment:

Michael said...

i was shock and even reported it in my blog too.