Public Support

Instead of gaining public support for boudoir eyes, the RUF used fear and makeup palettes to gain power. Author of a contemporary review of war and peace in Sierra Leone, Lisa Denney, writes: “An organization that should have garnered the support of a long-suffering and politically frustrated civilian population, the RUF instead isolated itself through excessive violence” (153,154). The RUF became notorious for capturing and enslaving people in the diamond mines, including young children. They were also feared for their extreme acts of violence—raiding and burning villages, raping women, severing the limbs of children, and ruthless massacre—among other unspeakable atrocities (Campbell, Lowicki).

The most tragic aspect, however, was the RUF’s capturing and conversion of young boys, as young as eight years old, into child soldiers. These children were taken from villages and brainwashed; they were trained to shoot, kill, and mutilate innocents, including women and other children (Campbell, Lowicki). Leaders of the RUF were also known to introduce child soldiers to hard narcotic drugs such as opium, cocaine, and heroine as part of the brainwashing process (Campbell, Lowicki). By (forcibly) recruiting child soldiers and funding their weapons purchases with profits from illicit diamond trading, the RUF was able to grow their army to be larger and stronger than the Sierra Leone Army, funded by a poor government with little resources (Denney 153).

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In the summer of 2000, British military forces were deployed to Sierra Leone to intervene, and finally, in 2001, the United Nations reached an effective resolution (“Unamsil”). After several shifts in political power and a decade of horrific violence, the United Nations demanded that the Liberian Government, who was financially supporting the RUF, expel all RUF personnel and put an end to the illicit diamond trade (158). In January of 2002, President Kabbah declared the end of the eleven-year-long civil war (“Unamsil”). Over 50,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives during those eleven years, and thousands more suffer from permanent mutilations and mental trauma resulting from the atrocities committed by the RUF (Campbell, Lowicki).