Thursday, March 26, 2009

Leader of amputee organization asks Sierra Leone not to forget its disabled people

From Awoko in Sierra Leone:

The President of the Amputees and war wounded Alhaji Ahmed Jusu Jarka has pleaded on behalf of the amputees that they should not be forgotten.

Speaking at a consultative conference organized recently by NACSA at Parliament on the reparation process, he said they as victims are living reminders of the country’s eleven year war stating “we can forgive but look at me, I cannot forget. None of us can forget. We alone know how we suffer and the discrimination and difficulties we face in society.”

He asked that they, like the former ex-combatants and ex-servicemen be treated with equal respect. But he said because of that “some of us were forced to beg in the streets and others are still traumatized. Our recovery has been slow and we as a community are grateful for what aid and charity we got from the NGOs and other organizations and agencies”.

He did not dispute that they benefited greatly from programs but called for it to be continued as he distinguished between the benefits and the present reparations.

Jusu Jarka reminisced how they, the victims of human rights abuses, the amputees, war wounded, the sexually abused, the children and war widows supported the TRC process and willingly engaged themselves in reliving the trauma of the war.

“We listened to the government, the International Community, civil society, NGOs and other stakeholders as you told us to forgive and forget. We stood by you as we engaged in the DDR process to make our country stable and secure.”

He explained how in their communities they saw former ex-combatants ride past them on shiny bikes “yet we supported these people. We saw how ex-servicemen who had lost limbs invested their money in their houses or land. We supported this as well. We knew that the reparations would come and you would not forget us”.

Jarka also called that the dead should not be forgotten by way of a symbolic reminder and education for the past not to be forgotten and for lessons to be learnt from it.