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Liberian warlord, General Butt Naked: “Any time we captured a town, I had to make a human sacrifice”

02/06/2012

Monrovia – An evangelical pastor described the atrocities he and his men committed during the Liberian civil war, including magical rituals that involved slaughtering children and eating their hearts.
Joshua Milton Blahyi spared no details as he told Liberia‘s Truth and Reconciliation Commission of his years with one of the most feared militias of the war. Dressed in an immaculate suit, Blahyi, 37, said it was for the TRC to decide whether he should be given an amnesty or prosecuted.
In the days of Liberia’s first civil war (1989-1997), he had led fighters from the feared ULIMO – the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy – that backed the then president Samuel Doe.
It was Doe’s 1990 assassination that sparked the orgy of violence that engulfed the country for most of that decade.
During the civil war Blahyi, known as “General Butt Naked“, said he led a group of young soldiers who fought naked while under the influence of drugs. They were notorious for their cruelty and use of magic rituals. A member of the Krahn ethnic group, Blayhi told how he had been initiated into a secret society at the age of 11 and became a traditional priest. His task became to protect all members of his ethnic group. At the time, he said, he had magical powers that made him invisible.
“Having a special power, I was always a distance ahead of the rest of the fighters when we were going to the front. I used to capture a town first and then I call the rest of the group to clean up,” he said. Before an audience of about 300 people at the hearing, he recalled the atrocities he committed to maintain his magical powers. “Any time we captured a town, I had to make a human sacrifice. They bring to me a living child that I slaughter and take the heart off to eat it.” He did not know how many people they killed, he said. “But for what I did, it is not less than twenty thousands,” he added, breaking down in tears. The hall, which earlier had rung to shouts of outrage at his account, fell silent.
The turning point for him came in 1996, he said. “A lady offered me her child for my sacrifice. After cutting up the child I divided the heart among my boys and myself. “The blood of the child was still on my hand when Jesus appeared to me and asked me to stop being a slave.” It was this experience, he said, that prompted his religious conversion and his life since then, travelling the country preaching his version of the Christian message. Blayhi had come to the TRC hearings of his own initiative.”I was told that TRC can recommend amnesty or prosecution,” he said. But he said he is ready to face trial if need be.
* iol.co.za
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