Accessed 27 May 2000
Human Rights Watch
Date: 26 May 2000
Sierra Leone: Fresh reports of RUF terror tactics - rebels murder, mutilate, rape, loot and abduct in Masiaka area
"These fresh reports of RUF atrocities underscore the need for the international community to make protection of civilians its first priority in Sierra Leone," said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch. "U.N. forces must aim to expand the circle of protection beyond Freetown as soon as possible."
Soon after taking over 500 U.N. peacekeepers hostage at the beginning of May, the RUF began an offensive action in the Masiaka region. Heavy reinforcements by the United Nations and British troops and a counter-offensive by government-allied militias repulsed the RUF rebels from the Masiaka area around May 14. During its week-long occupation of the area, the RUF committed acts of murder, mutilation, rape, looting, and abduction against the civilian population.
"Kariatu" (not her real name), a forty-five-year-old farmer,
told Human Rights Watch that she fled Masiaka town with her four children
on May 11, when RUF fighters first attacked the town. On May 12, she was
approached by four RUF fighters who asked her where she was going. When
she responded she was going to Freetown, one of the RUF fighters
responded, "We make sure we kill you before reaching Freetown."
The RUF fighters also told her, "Since you civilians are not here for
us, we are here to destroy you." The RUF fighters took away her two
sons, aged twelve and seventeen, and she heard her sons screaming before
hearing gunshots. After evidently killing the two sons, the RUF fighters
"Ramatu" was allowed to leave the RUF jungle camp on May 17, and while leaving she saw the bodies of the five young girls whom she had last seen alive in RUF captivity. "Ramatu" needed the physical support of her five-year-old sister while walking, because of the pain of the continuous sexual abuse she had suffered. She and her two young sisters had to walk for four days before arriving at a camp for the internally displaced near Freetown.
"Mabinti," aged sixteen, left Masiaka on May 20, fearing the
RUF rebels. She walked through back roads far from Masiaka, attempting to
flee to safety. The next morning, as it was getting light, she saw a young
girl and an older man lying by the road. The hands of the young girl had
been cut off, and the older man's right foot had been cut off. Both were