” War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. “—– George Orwell
When the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) concluded its hearings and recommended prosecution of Charles Taylor and other warlords, barring the Liberian President and thirty current officials and others from running for public office in the future, many Liberians had mixed reactions. The unfortunate reaction of the William V. S. Tubman era, where traditional leaders and other politically charged people came out and pledged their loyalty to the President and officials, began in Monrovia with tribal leaders pledging their support for the Liberian President and her administration.
Doris Parker, a friend of mine and Founder and Director of the Liberian Women’s Initiative taking the oath before the TRC in Saint Paul, MN, June 2008
Here I am, testifying before the TRC also in MN, June 2008. I broke down several times during my testimony and during the testimony of others. There is no explanation on earth for the kind of cruelty Liberians suffered at the hand of Warlords and their armies.
Now that the TRC has completed its job, there were threats against members of the commission for doing a very difficult job. This is even while Charles Taylor, the originator of the fourteen year blood bath is on trial in the Hague for war crimes against Sierra Leoneans. If Liberians do not have the gust to allow the perpetrators of horrific crimes against our people to be punished, how will they have the strength to move on? How can we guarantee that another Liberian terrorist will not come into our country with guns and crazy warriors tomorrow to begin another insane blood bath?
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NOW?
Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia Testifying before the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Liberia on Feb. 12, 2009 (Above)
Photos: Charles G. Taylor, warlord for the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) in the Liberian Civil War (1989-2003)
Current Liberian Senator, Former warlord, Prince Y Johnson, warlord for the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL
Former Warlord of ULIMO-K, Alhaji G. V. Kromah
Former Warlord, Sekou Damate Konneh of LURD
The Warlord of the defunct LPC (Liberia Peace Concil) George Boley
Liberians: A People of Many Contradictions—
Liberians have always been a people of many contradictions. We want peace, but do not work towards it. We want freedom, but cannot stand up for it. We want our leaders to be transparent and responsible, but we quickly heap praises upon them just to get small crumbs from them. We do not want corruption, but we support corruption and corrupt leaders. We do not want war anymore in our country, but when we are told to weigh in on how horribly the warlords have treated Liberians, we cannot accept the truth. How do we resolve our contradictions?
Is it because those that destroyed the country still control the country? Or what is it? Why did the Truth Commission work through all of the horrific stories, the tears, the recalling of horrific crimes against humanity if all we wanted was to come together and dance and drink to celebrate a false reconciliation? The truth however remains: there is no reconciliation with the covering up of the truth, the covering up of hurts without any accountability.
Image by ? Patrick Robert/Sygma/CORBIS
This is Charles Taylor, drunk with power after he and his unruly rebels had run over much of Liberia andcaptured the Omega Tower in Paynesville, near Monrovia in July of 1990.
The Truth Commission & Reconciliation Hearings in MN.
The TRC has made its recommendation; therefore, something must happen.
Most recently, on the July 14, 2009, I was contacted by Jamaican Radio, 93 fm, for a discussion of the ongoing Charles Taylor trial in the Hague. During my discussion via telephone on Jamaican radio, what I was most concerned about was not that Charles Taylor was sitting in court and denying all of the charges against him; I was particularly worried that Liberians did not care enough that Charles Taylor’s war in Liberia deserve even more attention because of the gravity of his offenses in Liberia. I was afraid that if Sierra Leone does not put Charles Taylor away for good, he will return to Liberia and cause more blood shed.
But most importantly, I was afraid that Liberians were sleeping through this all important trial of one of the world’s most serious criminals. There is the Charles Taylor question that every Liberian who preaches reconciliation must answer. What should Liberia do about Charles Taylor if the recommendations of the TRC are not followed? What should we do about the other warlords who are of course, in leadership today in Liberia?
This is what I had hoped by this time. I had hoped that the President of Liberia would have come forward with a statement, and not just a statement, but also, a call for unity and a commitment to stand by the Commission’s recommendations.If there were no intention of following through, why did they allow all of us to go through the hell of recalling our suffering in that war?
I expected something to happen, so I waited for something to happen before completing my blog posting. Instead, there all these people coming out of the Tubman-thinking era that believe that any group of indigenous leaders can line up and pledge their support to erase more than a century of injustices against humanity. That just because they declare their support for the President, then all will be well.
But I have bad news for them; this is not the 1950s or 1960s. The crimes against humanity in Liberia must be brought up to the forefront and discussed everywhere, debated, and those who must be prosecuted, must be prosecuted, those who earned money from such terror, must turn over to Liberia the money stolen over the years, and those who cannot occupy public offices again, must find other means of living. A country that is run by warlords will always go to war again no matter how many of us dance in the streets to declare our support for them. Too many Liberians have died; too many languish abroad; too many languish still in refugee camps; too much is at stake for us to return to the age-old Tubman day of “So say one, so say all.”
Finding My Family
———-By Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Good friend, please help me
Did you happen to see
two boys when you lived in Kataka?
One dark, chubby?
The other, light with dark eyes?
did you see them while you lived in Ganta?
One would have been ten
and the other this tall.
My big boy, Nyema, the small one, Doeteh.
Good friend, can you tell me
if they went to Tapeta?
Were they given weapons, did they kill?
Good friend, can you say
if they walked to Bassa?
Did they starve to death?
Good friend, can you say
if there was a mother walking by their side?
Was she healthy? was she treated well?
Oh, good friend, so this is where
they took them out of line?
Good friend, were they hungry
when they met their end?
Oh, good friend, I will follow
to wrap up their bones.
Thank you, good friend
But how will I know their bones?