General News of Thu, 5 Feb 20040

Father 68, was flogged by soldiers

Accra, Feb 5, GNA- The National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) continues to hear more of human rights abuses in unconstitutional regimes in the country.

On Thursday, Mr Stephen Okyere Sakyiamah, a witness, told the Commission that in 1982, members of the then People's Defence Committee (PDC) led soldiers to arrest his father, Opanyin Noah Sakyiamah, 68, and flogged him for selling farm produce at home rather than at the market. There was no law against the selling of farm produce at home, Witness said.

Witness, resident in Asuaba, near Adeiso, in the Eastern Region, where the incident happened, said his father was then the Chief farmer of the community and an elder of the local Presbyterian Church.

Mr Sakyiamah said the soldiers, numbering eight, marched his father from his house through the town to the market.

They removed his shirt and trousers, laid him on a table and took turns to whip him. He subsequently fell on the ground.

When he went to his aid to raise him from the ground, Witness said one of the soldiers booted him and hit him in the groin and insulted him. He said the soldiers had earlier rejected that he should be caned in place of his father, but after they had finished with him, they laid him also on the table and flogged him.

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Mr Sakyiamah said the whipping left wounds on their back, and his father was affected in the waist, kept to himself, and could also not continue with his farming.

Witness said he passed blood in his urine, and added that his wife later threatened to divorce him after the incident. He said he and his father were scared off by the presence of a large contingent of soldiers at the Nsawam Prisons, where they were advised to lodge a complaint.

General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine, a Member of the Commission, described the event as " senseless, disgraceful act that anybody can do" which was "difficult to explain."

The General, a former Commander of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), asked why such brutalities were committed when the nation was not at war.

He said it was good to hear those experiences for the healing process. Uborr Dalafu Labal, also a Member of the Commission said those who beat the Witness and the father rather bore the disgrace of their action, and advised to him to get over the pain.

He advised him to contact the Counselling Section of the Commission for assistance.

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Ex-policeman Mr Peter Wiafe Ofori, another Witness, said soldiers stormed his Drinking Store at Abelenkpe on February 28 1982. He said the soldiers, in two trucks and a peacegoer vehicle arrested him from the Achimota College Police Station hideout, beat him severely and sent him to the Gondar Barracks.

Mr Wiafe said he was detained for one month, two weeks of which were spent were spent in solitary confinement.

He said he was released on the intervention of the W O Adjei Boadi, former member of the PNDC.

He said WO Adjei Boadi said those who arrested him had forgotten that he was in detention.

The Witness said after his release, soldiers had looted his store, and consequently paralysed his business, and prayed the Commission for reparation.

Source: GNA

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