Liberia’s musical sensation Sundaygar Dearboy has admitted that he was a member of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia rebel movement during the country’s 14-year civil war. This comes after three witnesses testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that Sundaygar Dearboy AKA Michael Davis raped a young woman and murdered several men, women and children in Grand Bassa County during the civil war.
The TRC says Dearboy should come clean and give full disclosure about his actual role during the war. Dearboy told VOA that he was forced to join Charles Taylor’s rebel movement.
“My mother and I left from Monrovia as a result of the rebel insurgency when Prince Johnson took over Monrovia. We walked and went to Grand Bassa County. That was as a result of being conscripted into the rebel group. In fact, I was a direct victim of the situation because I was tortured and beaten on several occasions. And the only option I had at that time was to be part as a child soldier,” he said.
Sundaygar Dearboy denied accusations made to the TRC that he raped a young woman and murdered several men, women and children in Grand Bassa County during the civil war. He blamed some members of the TRC of being biased against him.
“I never, never, and I repeat never did I rape or did I order the raping of anyone or the killing of anyone as was alleged by those people from Grand Bassa County. I see the situation in Liberia that whenever you are accused you are being presumed guilty by even the staff of the TRC because their questions are in line with prejudice. They don’t create an equilibrium; they don’t balance their investigation; they consider you to be guilty before going to even in the eyes of the public. And this is very ridiculous. I don’t think this is why the institution was established,” Dearboy said.
He said the TRC has been manipulated and undermined by certain individuals for their own selfish aims. Dearboy specifically singled out TRC commissioner Massa Washington who he said manipulated he Sundaygar’s photograph in front of his accusers.
“I have come to tell you that I did not confess anything. I did not say that I committed any atrocities. And if they believe that I confessed, that’s Malu Washington who is commissioner of the TRC during the public hearing who took my photo and showed it to the guy who accused me and said is this Sundaygar? I would have preferred for Malu Washington to have produced more than two photographs so that the person who accused me would be able to choose among them. But instead she used one photograph. I think that was intended to direct the alleged victim to be able to say yes this is Sundaygar. And that was very unethical. And she is one of the brains behind making sure that I be convicted as a rapist, as a murderer which of course I did not do any of these things,” he said.
Commissioner Washington said the mandate of the TRC is to find the root causes of the Liberian civil war with the aim of reconciling the country. She said the TRC does not wish to engage victims or perpetrators or even witnesses word for word.
However she said Dearboy must come clean about the actual role he is alleged to have played during the Liberian civil war.
“We would like for Mr. Dearboy to continue to cooperate with the Commission. We can schedule a date where he can come to the TRC publicly and explain to the Liberian people all of these allegations that he says are false. No one is after Mr. Dearboy. I love his music; I play his music a lot. But this process here is not a popularity contest. We don’t care if Mr. Dearboy is the best musician on the face of the earth. We don’t care if Mr. Dearboy is a billionaire whatsoever. We don’t care. We as a TRC will make sure that we are true to our mandate that says no one is above the TRC process. And no one will be above this TRC process. We intend to do our job well and none of us will be threatened or cowed into silence or chicken away. The Liberian entrusted us to do this job and we intend to this job to the best of our ability,” he said.
Washington said if Dearboy feels he was conscripted into the war as a child soldier, the commission would compute his age to and during the time of the war, and if it is proven that Dearboy was truly a child soldier he would qualify for the TRC policy which grants immunity to children combatants. But first Washington said Dearboy must come out and give full disclosure of his role during the war.
Dearboy said he regretted being a member of Charles Taylor’s rebel movement but said he did not kill or rape anyone. He said he has been trying to make the best out of his past.
“One thing we are not in control of that God decided to leave alone is our past. Our past remains our past. We are in control of the presence to make a better future. And so that’s one thing I’m not going to deny that I was conscripted as a child soldier. And this is why I’m using this opportunity to have a foundation to be able to promote or assist every child soldier who a direct victim of the situation,” Dearboy said.