The transcripts of the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia. More…

And we have here a press statement made by the ECOMOG force commander Major General Timothy Shelpidi on Wednesday, 22 December 1998.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is Major General Timothy Shelpidi, ECOMOG force commander, speaking. Over the few days there have been certain developments in the security situation of this country which have created panic among you. It is now necessary for me as ECOMOG force commander to make this statement.

As you are by now aware, there has been rebel activity in certain parts of the country, including the outskirts of Freetown. There have been rebel attacks at Masiaka, Kono, and in the Freetown area at Waterloo. I wish to assure you that ECOMOG is in control of the situation and is presently engaged in seeking and destroying the rebels, wherever they are. We, however, need the full cooperation of you, the civilians. It is clear that the rebels thrive on creating panic amongst the civilian population, causing mass movement of people. This makes it difficult for the security forces to act decisively, and many times our forces have had cause to withdraw from an area in order to avoid civilian casualties.

You need to be aware that the rebels are using your fear to achieve their objectives. Do not panic and abandon your homes at the sound of gunfire. This is what the rebels want. Stay in your homes. Organise yourselves into a neighbourhood watch. Report any suspicious movements or strange characters to the nearest ECOMOG or police position. Even if you have had to move from your homes, be on the alert. The rebels may have mingled among you, pretending to be displaced people. Keep a lookout for strange looking people among you and give information to the security forces.

Once more let me assure you that the security situation is under control. We need your support to enable us to deal decisively with the rebels and end this menace once and for all. We cannot do that if you panic and flood onto the streets, thus providing cover for rebel activity. Cooperate with ECOMOG, listen to the radio for accurate information and instructions, and please stop spreading false rumours."

Now, Mr Taylor, I bring this to your attention for this reason: Note the date, 22 December.

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