Cry FreetownAired February 17, 2000 - 10:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: It's Thursday, February 17th, 2000. Tonight, a special edition of NEWSSTAND: "Cry Freetown."
WILLOW BAY, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Welcome to this special edition of NEWSSTAND. I'm Willow Bay in New York.
Over the course of the next hour, you'll meet a man who risked his life to bring us the story of tragedy and devastation half a world away.
Before we get started, a warning, the first of several that will be repeated throughout the hour: This program contains graphic images and is not appropriate for young children.
Here now, my CNN colleague Jim Clancy and "Cry Freetown."
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): A country searching for peace, suffering through civil war, staggered by the sheer inhumanity of a conflict no one wanted, but no one was able to prevent. "Cry Freetown" is the story of Sierra Leone. Not the whole story, but some of the nation's most difficult todays.
I'm Jim Clancy, and for the next 60 minutes, we're going to bring you that story, first and foremost, through the eyes of a filmmaker who lived it. The pictures are not edited to obscure any part of what the people of Sierra Leone suffered themselves. For that reason, we caution you: This is not a program for children, and even some adults may find the images deeply disturbing.
That said, a part of this story is how much of the world turned its head away from a nation and a people in their time of need. The documentary in just a moment, but first, let's get an overview of the events, the cast of characters.
(voice-over): Since gaining independence from Britain in 1961, the 5 million people of the West African nation of Sierra Leone have seen precious little democracy or glimpsed economic prosperity.
Sierra Leone means "lion mountains." The country is somewhat smaller than Bosnia, but it has endured twice as many years of civil war. It was hoped -- back in December 1996 after five years of fighting the Revolutionary United Front -- a peace deal worked out with British support would finally end the conflict.
Ahmed Tejan Kabbah had been elected president in March with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Barely six months later, a disgruntled army officer named Johnny Paul Koroma declared a coup and forced the president into exile.
Peacekeepers with ECOMOG, the military arm of a West African economic alliance, fought to regain control of the country. The mostly Nigerian force was unsuccessful at first, but by 1998 had gained the upper hand and President Kabbah was returned to power.
Some rebels were tried, convicted and executed. Revolutionary United Front leader, Foday Sankoh, was imprisoned. His supporters surprised peacekeepers in January of 1999 in a stunning takeover of the capital. Sankoh was released.
In July last year, RUF leader Foday Sankoh and President Kabbah shook hands, after reaching a peace deal: a deal that gave amnesty to RUF fighters and other rebels, and gave Sankoh, the former army photographer, a vice presidential post. Other rebels like those of the AFRC kidnapped U.N. observers, complaining the deal shortchanged them in raw political power. A disarmament deadline came and went, but more than half the rebels have yet to surrender their weapons.
Some human rights groups were outraged that after committing atrocities television networks had decided were too gruesome to show their viewers, the rebels of all factions would never be held accountable. Others have charged that President Kabbah was pressured to accept the deal because the West had no interest in getting involved on the ground and that African peacekeepers had grown weary of fighting a war it was clear no one could win.
Nowhere was there a greater feeling of the senselessness of the conflict than on the streets of the capital: Freetown.
Journalist Sorious Samura turned his camera on those streets a year ago as a surprise rebel attack unfolded. He won awards from his colleagues, but he almost lost his life.
Here now is the sum of his sacrifice, of the risks he took, so all of us could see the true story of a nation and a city brought to its knees.
Once again, we caution the pictures are disturbing.
Here's "Cry Freetown."
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, "CRY FREETOWN")
SORIOUS SAMURA (voice-over): I am still haunted by this boy. My camera has saved lives, but not this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator): My name is Gibrilla Kargbo. I live at Dwazak farm. I am a woodcutter. I only came to find fish for us to cook.
I went to Smaila town. Look this is the cut I got when I went to cut some wood. This is only a wound.
Don't you people know me? I live at Dwazak farm.
SAMURA: Could I have done more to save him? Another nameless victim of the endless tragedy of Africa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that man knows me. Listen (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
SAMURA: This is Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone: my country. My name is Sorious Samura.
For most of my life, it's been a good place to live: rich in natural resources, the envy of the West. Much of our wealth has come from things most people have little knowledge of. This should have been a blessing. Instead, they are a curse. They have torn Sierra Leone apart in a bloody civil war, for who controls them controls the country. They are diamonds.
I work as a cameraman editor, much of the of the time for the United Nations Children's Agency, UNICEF, filming the work with children here. But through the '90s, the fighting came ever closer to my home in Freetown. As it grew in brutality, I used the only weapon I had: my camera.
A year ago, my life changed forever. My pictures of the war won me these international awards, but very little of the footage has actually been shown, judged too extreme for television. Now you may judge for yourselves.
In the battle for Freetown, the vaguest suspicion was enough for either side to kill. So many died that bodies were dumped outside the city's mortuary. We had seen familiar parts of the place we lived turned into battlefields. You became glad when you didn't recognize the next body you came across.
In this madness, my job was to record the history (ph) happening in my country, where random roadside justice was the order of the of the day.
(on camera): Personally, I feel that was the only way that people will be able to understand what was happening in Sierra Leone, when they see the true pictures, the real pictures, the brutality.
It was a very dangerous thing to do at the time, but there was a silent majority suffering: suffering for things that they have no idea about.
A lot of the people living in this country don't care about the politics. They don't even know about the diamonds. Ninety percent of the people in this country have never seen a diamond. And there they were, having their arms and limbs chopped off for nothing that was of their own making. And I wanted to document this evidence. I wanted it to be seen exactly as it was happening here.
And for me, it wasn't just about true journalism. It wasn't just about reporting it as it was happening. It was about a nation in dire need: a nation that was being murdered; a country that was dying, that was left to die by the Western world, by the so-called "developed world." And nobody came to our aid.
(voice-over): Just a year ago, things came to a head. Rebel forces were closing in on Freetown. Stories of atrocities spread fear into the people. The democratically elected government of President Kabbah organized this last desperate rally. Its only defenders, the Nigerian-led peacekeeping force, known as ECOMOG.
So where was the help from the West? -- now democracy here was in danger -- nowhere to be seen. Yet, the West had blood on its hands too. Rebels have paid for their weapons by selling diamonds to the West for millions of dollars.
One man suspected of being a rebel was chased into a police station. Had I known at the time that rebels were already mingling with the crowds, I would not have filmed. Later, they were to execute government supporters recognized in the crowd.
Four days later, rebels hit Freetown. On the 6th of January, 1999, I was in this building with a friend.
(on camera): I came over to the window. I watched them shooting at houses. I knew it was dangerous, so I had to be careful, because if they realized that I was filming them or the slightest movement on the curtain, they would have attacked this house, killed me, not just probably me, but probably everyone in the house, and set the house on fire as well. So I had to be careful not to be noticed by them.
(voice-over): The next three days were a defining moment for me: to film or not to film. I took my camera and left the relative safety of my refuge. I began to film openly, but to be safe, I had to pretend that I supported the rebels. I had to do a good job. If they suspected me, then I knew I would be killed.
What happened to the family in this house happened to many others. They provoked the rebels fury when they refused to come out and act as a human shield, so they were forced to remain inside and they were burned alive.
As they tried to escape, rebel soldiers stoned them. The daughter is the only survivor. With rebel soldiers watching, it was impossible to talk to her, but this was the start of what the rebels called oppression; annihilate every living thing.
For some reason I don't know, they let me film. I stayed safe, playing along with their filming requests.
On this occasion, they ordered me to gather some local children, singing their song, "we want peace." The rebels now controlled most of the city, except for the very west of Freetown, still held by ECOMOG forces.
I was taken to this bridge. It gave the rebels protection from air attacks, and it was the headquarters in the west of Freetown. I thought I was never going to walk out of here alive.
(on camera): This is the bridge the rebels were using as the headquarters, and this is where I was brought the moment they caught me. The first thing I did was to pray to God to look after whatever is left of me and protect my children, because I know what the rebels were capable of doing. In fact, the very minute I was brought here, they brought a young lady whom they raped right in front of our eyes. I was forced to look, and there was nothing we could do to help her.
We had to witness these sort of scenes for about three days after we reached ECOMOG, located the area where the rebels were and attacked. At this time, they all had to run for their lives. A lot of them had to run toward the east, which was still under their control,. and I had to make for ECOMOG lines, dangerous as it was though, but I was lucky to survive.
(voice-over): Hundreds of civilians had escaped as well from the rebel advance. Among them, desperate people with terrible stories of what they had experienced at the hands of the rebels.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When they were retreating, the things they did were terrible. They burnt the houses, chopped off hands, breasts and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Those guys, I just can't -- I can't -- In fact, I am too scared of Sierra Leone.
SAMURA: Believe it or not, these people are lucky to be alive. Even if they will now be handicapped for life. The rebels began choppings hands off during the democratic election campaign in 1996. The election slogan was "the future is in your hands," so the rebels chopped the hands off anyone they could find to stop them from voting. Worse, they appointed children to be the ones who use the ax.
It was too dangerous for the international press. One cameraman had been killed, another seriously injured. The seven remaining journalists made the right decision and got out. If this were not my country, then I would have left with them.
It was five days after the rebels entered Freetown when I made my escape to the ECOMOG lines, and if I began filming with the Nigerian soldiers who make up most of the peacekeeping force. They together, with what was left of the Sierra Leone army, were all we had between the elected government and the complete takeover by the rebels. The rebels had had a field day, killing, shooting and burning everything around them.
Now the ECOMOG forces were fighting back, trying to regain ground. ECOMOG forces now moved into the center of Freetown. Civilians were caught in the crossfire. A loan rebel sniper brought the forces under fire. The civilians huddled together for protection while they tried to locate the gunman. (on camera): By time we got this point, there was heavy, heavy fighting going on. This was the most dangerous place to be on Earth at the time. ECOMOG was trying to capture the building on the far side because a sniper was operating from that building. And by the time we got close to the building, an ECOMOG major, armed captain, had already been shot dead. Because of that, ECOMOG went haywire.
(voice-over): Then came news that another senior officer and a Sierra Leonian soldier had been shot by the rebel sniper. One person with a rifle was destroying the morale of these soldiers.
The locals, including small children, watched the full horror of the gun battle in front of them.
At last, ECOMOG soldiers took the building, and found this young boy. As far as they were concerned, this child was the sniper. He would be shown no mercy.
As with all captured suspected rebels, he is tied and will surely face execution.
Another suspect is caught in the same building. He is forced into the street and shot by the street and shot by the Kamajasay (ph) militia, allies of the government and ECOMOG forces.
It looked liked the boy was going die as well, but by fate, the Sierra Leonian minister of information, Dr. Julius Spencer, happened to be in the state at the time, seeing the confrontation for himself. He intervened and stopped the killing.
At that time, ECOMOG viewed everyone as a potential enemy. Anyone rumored to have helped the rebels was considered, no matter where the rumor came from, was considered a traitor and treated accordingly.
Because I had filmed with them on the front line, I was now allowed to film in most parts of the city. I filled many beatings like this one and the executions that followed. Sometimes just because I was there with my camera, they would not be so quick to condemn suspects to an immediate sentence of death.
In a way these, the very people who were supposed to protect us found it hard to avoid the same cruel methods as the rebels.
Kareem (ph) wasn't a rebel, but a neighbor reported that his 12- year-old brother, Mack (ph), had become one. He said he'd seen Mack with a bag believed to have contained money and small arms. By the time I arrived, Mack had already been beaten and killed. Now it looked like his brother Kareem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, we were at the central police station, me and my bossman, Sulay. We were both working together. I swear by Almighty Allah.
SAMURA: Kareem's mother, too, was brutally beaten here. The beatings went on for hours, and then they executed her. Then they tortured or killed her husband, a police officer. Then another brother. In all, four of Kareem's immediate family were killed here -- by peacekeepers.
I don't know how many people were killed here and across Freetown, certainly dozens, maybe hundreds, were buried around the site where Kareem and his family were taken.
I never expected to see Kareem again, but amazingly I found him. His remaining family now relies on him alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Somebody saw them beating me and went on and called my boss, but then I was totally helpless. They beat me. I became helpless. I just didn't know what to do. When my bossman came, he said to them, this boy was not with them. He was all over the place with me, fighting to survive, looking for a way out.
SAMURA: Somehow, like so many who have been caught in this mess, he manages to put food in their mouths.
It is the strengths of people like Kareem that is my countries greatest hope. He has lost so much, but he is drawn to those who still lead him.
On the streets of Freetown, he still sees some of the of the soldiers who beat him and killed so many of his family.
We have an amnesty for the moment between the rebels and the government, and everywhere the ECOMOG soldiers still keep the peace. In the absence of anyone else, most people in Sierra Leone them to stay. They are the only barrier we have between more insanity and the peace we pray for.
(on camera): I'm on my way to look for the child I saw captured and beaten in the back of that truck more than a year ago. I now know his name is Moses. Since the attack on Freetown, I have wondered how all this brutality started over the war over diamonds. We are paying the price for a mineral that here drives everyone crazy with greed and hatred, but in the West, it's a jewel given as the ultimate symbol of love.
Moses now lives by the sea in a rehabilitation center for child soldiers. Most of these children have killed, and yet they are all innocent of any crime. All of them were once ordinary kids before the rebels came. Their parents were butchered before their very eyes. Some were even forced to take part in the killings. The rebel army became the only family they knew, and they did what they did because if they disobeyed, they too would have been killed.
But I am here to see Moses again, and the story of Moses is not like the others.
(on camera): How you doing? You OK? OK. Sit down. Sit down. So, how are you?
(voice-over): Ernest is one of the rehabilitation centers helpers, and this is Moses' foster mother, Martha. To her, the idea of Moses being a child soldier is ridiculous. That's because Moses, who is now 13, has been living in this community since he was 5, when this place was not a rehabilitation center for child soldiers but an orphanage. As long as they've known Moses, he has been mentally handicapped. He cannot speak. He can barely put on his own shoes, let alone fire a gun, but he, like many boys of his age, simply needs love and attention.
(on camera): This is Father Guiseppe Barton. He's been running this orphanage for 30 years, and he's the one who knows more about Moses than anyone else.
FATHER GUISEPPE BARTON: What hurt me most was how did we get to a situation like that, by which somebody could feel threatened by a child of this age and this kind of child? You know, the situation hurt me more than the actual army, because children were used, were trained to bring messages or to inform, as informers, and then to pretend that they were deaf and dumb so that they could not -- they were trained. So the soldier could have been confused, OK. Although, I could never have meant that kind of violence to any child, even if he is guilty, even if he is guilty.
SAMURA (voice-over): What a terrible state to be in, when the authorities themselves fear children. But these soldiers have good reason when apparently innocent children have killed their comrades. No excuse maybe for the summary punishment meted out by some ECOMOG soldiers. But the soldiers see the children all the same, as a lethal enemy.
These are the children at the center who were brought here because of their past. These are children who have killed and raped, but often under the influence of cocaine and other drugs that they were forcibly given. They've been brought here to hope them regain their lost childhood and as a first step toward returning them to their families.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Early in the morning, they attacked us. They went into our room and killed my mother, then they took me with them. I was with them for eight years. I have killed. I have chopped off hands. I have done terrible things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When they captured me, they (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They injected me here (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They said we should not feel sorry for anybody.
This is why I believe God won't believe me. It's not my fault.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When they captured me, they tattooed us.
SAMURA: Where's the mark? Let me see the mark. Show me the mark.
(through translator): Why did they tattoo you? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Because people were running away from them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): On my way, I was captured in front of my father's house. They took me with them. They drugged me. After they have drugged me, I started killing. I killed a lot of people. I can't tell how many people I killed. While I was shooting, I had no idea how many people I was killing. I chopped off hands. I killed. While I was doing this, I wasn't myself. Again, if I had refused, they would have killed me.
SAMURA: So how would you like this country and the outside world to help?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We want jobs, and we also want them to help us with our schooling. Whatever we have done, I beg for God's forgiveness.
SAMURA (voice-over): The colonial powers give much of Africa, including Sierra Leone, democracy, but now when our democracy needs defending, the West looks the other way. If the rich countries won't come to our aid, then we will come to you, pressing at your borders for a chance of peace in the Western world. Africa is the responsibility of everyone, those who have benefited from the riches of this continent, and we Africans who live here now. Share our problems and help us resolve them, so that we won't continue coming out of Africa with these horrible, horrible stories.
CLANCY: In a moment, we will hear from Sorious Samura and others about accountability, and why he risked his life for a story that others didn't even want to see.
CLANCY: In making "Cry Freetown," Sorious Samura was determined to show the world what went wrong in Sierra Leone and what could happen again. We spoke with him and with some of those he blames for the suffering of the people of his nation.
CLANCY (on camera): "Cry Freetown" gives us a look at the terrible ferocity of what happened in that city one year ago, but it can't tell us why it happened, and it certainly can't guarantee us that it won't happen again.
I know you made this documentary to show what happened in Sierra Leone, but is it also a cry for help?
SAMURA: I just felt I had to do something that will appear be a wakeup call to the West, to say to them, hey, take a look, this is what is happening, you need to view it objectively and ask yourselves the questions whether we did enough, whether we did anything at all, or do we have to do more, or what's the situation? Are we going to leave them to just languish?
So basically, I thought this was something that needs to be seen out here in the West, so that they too will know that we left a nation dying, so it's about time we do something. So it was like some kind of a wakeup call to the West, yes.
CLANCY: Sorious, much has been made about the violence in the images that you have shown us. Were they the most violent images that you saw? It would seem that you've seen a lot more than that.
SAMURA: What I used in this documentary is what I would refer to as mild. It's just a case of giving the people a taste -- I mean, a clear picture of what I -- I mean, personally after filming some of these incidents, when I sat back I couldn't watch some of it myself. So there's no way I'll let people see some of these happenings, I mean, these gruesome acts that acts that took place in Sierra Leone, but there are quite a lot that I held back.
CLANCY: You held them back because you had a hard time reliving them?
SAMURA: I think for me it's a real success to get people to be able see these things, but that is why, I mean, I had to hold back some of the pictures, because it's difficult to -- I mean, nobody would want to offend their viewers, and this is what is annoying as well, because the more you try to -- I believe the more the West is trying to protect their viewers from seeing some of these gruesome acts, the more they are creating a situation for innocent people to be killed, to be maimed, raped, and at the same time, in other words, what they are doing is just supporting the rebels, and the rebels are aware of this, that the gruesomer the acts, the less opportunity for it to be shown.
So they just hang onto that idea, and they make sure they do it to the best, so that it will never been seen out here.
CLANCY: One of the most disturbing things I think that anyone who watched your documentary witnessed was how the peacekeepers who came to Sierra Leone to try to bring a semblance of order, when the chips were down, they seemed to have been drawn into the very violence that they came to prevent.
SAMURA: That's had a difficult one. It was a very difficult situation that the peacekeepers found themselves at some stage of the invasion of Freetown. There were children all over attacking them. You just don't know who is who. And like I said, the rebels didn't have any form of identification. It wasn't a conventional war. I mean, these guys were like all over the place. You will see a civilian. The next minute, he's a soldier. He attacks you. You see a child. The next minute he attacks you.
It's difficult to quite understand. I feel for them. But quite a while after things have calmed down, even after that, they kept executing people that were brought forward as suspects, and I felt that is where they lost things. CHIEF ARTHUR MBANEFO, NIGERIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Well, it is the court to decide whether anybody has taken law into their hands in a state of battle, and I suppose in January, 1999, you may be referring to that was a state of battle, to regain Freetown, and to make sure that the elected government was in the city. So what happened there I would not know, but I believe the Nigerians, which normally would have taken into account the Geneva Conventions.
AHMED TEJAN KABBAH, PRESIDENT, SIERRA LEONE: They were here throughout the period, and they saw what was going on, and they saw the type of atrocities that these people committed. Those peacekeepers, they also saw how some of their colleagues were brutally killed. So it really was a question of saying, well, either I'm in a position that I have this one with me here; either he kills me or I have to kill him to see that we move on. Now, I think that's the way it should be looked at.
FODAY SANKOH, REVOLUTIONARY UNITED FRONT CHAIRMAN: What ideology condemns all atrocities, especially maiming, amputating people, killing innocent civilians. We are an organization that believes in democracy, who believe in human rights. So the idea of making all these allegations is to tarnish the reputation of the area or destroy the image of the area and its leadership. So I have nothing against the ECOMOG force. They are our brothers in this region. I think this problem can be solved by our leaders in this region. I've given them my word, and I have to abide on that.
SAMURA: This is why the people are not quite sure. So basically, they just basically hang in there, clinging onto hope, and hoping that this time around, Foday Sankoh and his men mean what they're saying. They're desperate for peace. They just want peace. They don't care about the politics. They just want to set settle down peacefully, and if Foday Sankoh means what he's saying, bravo to him, and that's what the people of Sierra Leone want, peace. That's all.
CLANCY: I was surprised. They allowed you to videotape them even while they were beating people. They didn't seem to recognize that was wrong. Did they feel justified?
SAMURA: Well, to some extent, they didn't quite -- it's not always that they knew that I was filming. And in cases where they knew I was filming, I gave them the impression I really want to help (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this information. But for me, it was a case buying time for them to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on.
But again, somehow I've kept asking myself, does the camera really make people go funny and do very bad things or what? Because it's like sometimes some people, some of these guys see the camera, they enjoy, and act for the camera, so they just let go, they just let loose.
CLANCY: Did others pull back?
SAMURA: No, they just keep doing what they're doing. They're just happy to mete those kind of punishment. They're just happy. Some of them would want to see themselves. Some of them even go the extent of asking me for copies. I mean, after they have done these things they turn around to me and say, please make sure I got a copy.
But it's probably a case of showing how people get drawn or sucked into some of these cruelties if you have seen or witnessed some of these things for long.
CLANCY: Sorious Samura you said you were lucky. You sometimes can't believe that you survived, taking those pictures that were in the documentary. You're now projecting those images on the world stage. It's going to embarrass some people. How about your safety, your family's safety in the future, your ability to work in the country you love, Sierra Leone?
SAMURA: It's a risk. It's very risky. I could be stupid. But it's about time we try and put up with these guys. I'm still thinking it's a real dilemma whether I should go back, but I still think that if I am calling on the West to go and help the African situation, I will equally say to us Africans, we have got a responsibility as well. African journalists have got a responsibility to the African people. We should consider ourselves privileged to call ourselves journalists, to be in a position to be able to talk for people. We should then prepare to take the consequences that come with it, to some extent.
I mean, I know people will say he's saying rubbish, but I think we have got to learn to put up with this these bad guys. Until these bad guys realize that some of us are ready, are willing, are determined to expose some of these things, they will just continue.
CLANCY: In a moment, Sierra Leone's future. How much hope? How much forgiveness is there?
CLANCY: Sierra Leone's future rests on a shaky peace accord that will be difficult if not impossible to enforce should one the country's factions return to violence. A new United Nations peacekeeping force is being deployed to replace the ECOMOG troops the we saw in Sorious Samura's documentary. Countries supplying those troops include India, Kenya, and once again, Nigeria, but there are concerns whether this force is sufficient.
SAMURA: I think the U.N. is still treating the Sierre Leone issue as a joke. We all in Sierra Leone, I mean, all Sierra Leonians are quite aware that the rebels have now considered the Nigerians, ECOMOG, as a part of the fighting factions, and you know, what the U.N. did here simply with this statement that they made openly, that we are going send 6,000 peacekeepers, what they did was just simply to absorb two-thirds of the Nigerians who were there, the ECOMOG force that was there, into the U.N., and then they send the remaining 2,000 or so from India, and Kenya or wherever.
But then what is happening here is that because of this reason, the rebels, to some extent, are considering the U.N. just as they used to think of ECOMOG -- so they're considering them that this is another faction; we're not going surrender to them. Some (UNINTELLIGIBLE) actually did come openly about that, and said, there's no way we're going to surrender to ECOMOG now or the U.N. because the Nigerians are there, simply put.
So at the end of the day. the U.N. really needs to sit down and get the facts right, check out the situation properly, and try to get the balance right.
BERNARD MIYET, U.N. UNDERSECRETARY GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS: We wanted to help the Nigerian troops because you need to reward action and sacrifice made by this country and the army and the soldiers, and at the same time, because of the level of hatred we had, the level of violence, we have requested these governments to provide us with new troops, so we have now directed whole troops which have been in all the trauma, all the memory of the fighting that try to have new Nigerians troops present over there to come back with a new approach and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CLANCY (voice-over): We talked about the diplomats saying that, well, we were doing enough diplomatically. A lot of journalists say, well, we were doing enough journalistically, because I told the story once a month, twice a month. There's some hypocrisy there, too, isn't there?
SAMURA: Every Sierre Leonian will say, well, your enough wasn't enough as far as we're concerned, and I think it was all talk. Were they there? That's the first thing. But it's clear enough. I mean, we don't want to keep going back, but I mean, how many media organizations were present in Kosovo? I mean, how many were there in Sierra Leone? None. None, and you have all the attention. I mean, every second tune to whatever radio station, I mean, turn to whatever TV channel, it's all Kosovo. And so, will they say that that was enough for Sierra Leone? No, nobody at the time to bring out the evidence. Will they say they were doing enough?
As for the diplomats, I mean, I just -- probably, I was blind at the time. I mean yes, sometimes they do this talking, but do they really put their words to action in the case of Sierra Leone? No.
HOWARD JETER, U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE, AFRICA: I don't think that there's a double standard at all. In Sierra Leone, our purpose and our goal was to support a regional peacekeeping operation through the economic community of West African states, and we did that, and I think that different circumstances require different responses. It was ECOMOG that had undertaken the peacekeeping operation here, and we supported ECOMOG thoroughly.
KABBAH: Here we had human beings being slaughtered in cold blood, some of them are too gruesome to mention, and people knew this, and diplomats from these Western countries knew all this, and I assume that they reported to their countries, but we didn't get any real support, and again I must say this, that we, our people responded enthusiastically to the message that we should embrace democracy, and that's what they were working on and that's what -- that's the way they were reacting when all this thing happened, but nobody came to our aid.
JETER: Let me say that everyone in this building certainly was engaged and very concerned about what was going on in Sierra Leone from the secretary, Assistant Secretary Rice, we all worked on this issue and we tried to do what we could in those circumstances to bring the situation under control.
OLARA OTUNNU, U.N. SPECIAL REP. FOR CHILDREN & ARMED CONFLICT: After the restoration of the democratically elected government in the beginning of 1998, in other words, when I first visited Sierra Leone it was really clear that this was a very precarious restoration in that without strong support by the international community, there was danger, and I said, even then that the international community should not adopt a wait and see attitude, and especially it was important at that time to come to the help of the West African peacekeepers.
These very poor countries by and large, they needed support, they needed financial support. They needed equipment, they needed communications. They needed a lot of things that they couldn't provide. They could provide men and women to go into harm's way, but they needed the wherewithal, and where some support was received from outside, it wasn't nearly as much as was needed and no where as much as would have made a big difference in the situation.
And unfortunately, the rebels, who had been very weak at that time, were able to regain lost ground and hit back and reverse the situation and Sierra Leone relived the nightmare of previous years in an even worse form in 1999. That need not have happened.
CLANCY (on camera): You brought us those terrible images of the children, not only the ones that had -- we had seen legs, arms sawed off by the rebels, but also the children that did a lot of that -- the axing of limbs, the children who carried guns, the children who were kidnapped, drugged, and fought on the rebel side. How about their future?
SAMURA: We are talking about the next generation who have -- whose futures have been destroyed by these guys. I mean, all these -- most of these kids know, because these guys used clever tactics to make sure that they eliminated the families, I mean, the parents, the guardians of these children, and they were like the only family left there for these kids to cling on to. So whatever they teach them at that time is what they know, and they taught them very, very bad things, and these kids are supposed to be the future leaders of Sierra Leone.
OTUNNU: Next only to the re-establishment of peace and security, meaning disarming of the fighting groups, apart from these two items the next most important thing for Sierra Leone is how to respond to this colossal challenge of rehabilitating children who have been abused so massively.
SAMURA: These kids are the ones who will be running the country, and until something is done, then we will still be going in circles, because when they get into power, or when they get into positions of authority, all they know is how to do these very bad things, I mean, to -- so it's a case of these children need help. I mean, Sierra Leone needs support. We don't have that resource at all, but the West really needs to come in and come in quickly, otherwise it's going to be a lost cause as well.
BAY: Thanks for joining us for this special edition of NEWSSTAND. You can see "Cry Freetown" again this coming Sunday on "CNN PERSPECTIVES" at 10 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. CNN NEWSSTAND will be back tomorrow at 10:00 Eastern, a full one-hour preview of the South Carolina primary.
I'm Willow Bay in New York. Thanks for watching, and good night.
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