|Bai M. Gbala
– Former political adviser to President Charles Taylor
– Former Director-General of Free Zone of Monrovia
PRC military junta – Liberia 1980
Source: FrontPage Africa
This is our reaction to the FPA Editorial dated September 28, 2010 under the Headline as indicate above.
Indeed, we believe and hold that those fellow Liberians who, intentionally, willingly and unlawfully, brought hell on earth in Liberia by their acts ethnic/tribally-driven; deeply-divisive; mind-boggling destruction, human suffering, brutalities and death, should and must face the “FULL WEIGHT of THE LAW”, irrespective of socio-economic and political standing in our political community.
However, while we appreciate her concerns, we wonder whether (Mrs.?) Prudence Bushnell, an urbane, elite, Caucasian American, former US Deputy Secretary of State, US Ambassador to Kenya, Guatemala and now a consultant, is adequately prepared – knowledgeable, aware of and understands the relevant ethnic/tribal, socio-cultural, economic, political and illiteracy dynamics that gave rise to the Liberian civil war.
It is very important that we note here that Liberia and Liberians are deeply pro-America. Almost all of Liberia’s leaders, both public and private, are professionals, educated and trained in US colleges and universities; so are thousands of their children now enrolled in US schools. In socio-economic and political terms, Liberia is aligned with the USA; and in personal terms, I am who/what I am today because I am a product of US colleges and university. This, then, is to say that the values and principles of classical democracy – the rule of law and fair play, etc. – that Liberia inherited from the USA are imbedded in Liberian democratic thought.
It is, therefore, in this context that I am in profound disagreement with the several attempts made and being made – arrests/detentions/releases of Dr. George Boley – by the US Department of Homeland Security to prosecute, imprison and/or deport Dr. Boley for criminal acts allegedly committed in Liberia, but where Dr. Boley faces or is under NO indictment for such charges. These charges are, in fact, politically-motivated by some, US-based Liberians, some US journalists and organizations who, apparently, hope to derive economic gains from silencing – detention, deportation, etc. – Dr. Boley.
About three months ago, three individuals who claimed to be agents from the US Department of Home land Security with badges and IDs, led by a man who gave his name only as “Jeff” [tel.(1-716)609-0230] visited me here in Philadelphia. According to them, having read my articles critical of the arrests/detentions of Dr. Boley, they came to assure me, on behalf of the US Department of Homeland Security, that Dr. Boley is being held NOT on allegations of human rights violations in Liberia, but on immigration law violation. I called this telephone number but the gentleman who answered refused to give his full name.
Hereunder is one of my articles setting forth the reasons for my defense of Dr. Boley:
Dr. “George Boley . . . the Notorious LPC”: A Response
By Bai M. Gbala
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA March 7, 2010
Mr. Kirkpatrick Weah, a Liberian residing in the USA, writes in a widely-circulated, internent article (firstname.lastname@example.org, February 16, 2010) that Dr. “George Boley, the man who presided over the notorious LPC, is behind bar. He (Dr. Boley) will be there (behind bars) as long as . . . those who witnessed the atrocities committed by LPC come forward like in the case of Chuckie Taylor, who is sentenced for . . . 75 years in prison” . In other internet postings, Mr. Weah takes the Liberian President (Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf) to task “for blood votes, Ellen pardons George Boley” and “pleading for Boley, what will deads do?”
Closely related, associated press reports include “George Boley of Clarkson accused of war crimes” was the headline on February 7, 2010, in the newspaper, the Democrat and Chronicle by Gary Craig (GCRAIG@DemocratandChronicle.com) and Jeffrey Goldberg writes, “George Boley, Liberian Warlord, Is Finally Under Arrest” (http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com). Additionally, Mr. Goldberg says “I was subpoenaed by a human rights group in Minnesota, the Advocates for Human Rights, to testify against Boley in a defamation lawsuit that he himself (Boley) filed against the group. I eventually provided a sworn affidavit in the case, in which I detailed what I knew of Boley’s activities in the civil war – which is a lot – . . . that his organization, the grossly-misnamed Liberia Peace Council, recruited and armed child soldiers; fed them drugs; and ordered them to rape and kill. For starters (The lawsuit, unsurprisingly, was dismissed earlier this month)”.
Moreover, a “doctored” photograph (herewith attached) shows “Field Marshall” Prince Johnson, Former President Charles Taylor (brandishing an AK-47 assault rifle) and Dr. George Boley, with the caption “what these three guys have in common is killing innocent people”. Wow, what a comparison: Dr. George Boley to Charles Taylor/Prince Johnson in terms of training, experience and the motivation for participation in our national tragedy is, in fact, “comparing apples to peaches”. We will return to this comparison later!!
Thus, by distortions, disinformation, misinformation, exaggeration and down-right lies, Mr. Kirkpatrick Weah & associates have been engaged in a well-orchestrated campaign against Dr. Boley and the LPC for some years in the USA. Their objective is to have Dr. Boley arrested and prosecuted for alleged “war crimes as a rebel and warlord during our civil war”.
This campaign, indeed, is an apparent attempt to internationalize the Anti-Krahn, Anti-ULIMO and Anti-LPC CONSPIRACY of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) designed and dedicated to “wipe out the Krahn People, Grand Gedeh County and Mandingo People from the map of the Liberian Nation”, using Dr. George Boley, a prominent ethnic Krahn citizen of Grand Gedeh County and former leader of the historic, Resistance Movement, the Liberia Peace Council (LPC).
What are the Facts?
Firstly, that the Charles Taylor/Prince Johnson-led NPFL was, in fact, an illegal armed insurgency that invaded Liberia with designs to take political power by force of arms had been and is so self-evident that it needs no proof. For, Mr. Charles Taylor, as leader of the NPFL, has been indicted by the UN-backed Court in the Republic of Sierra Leone for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity; he is also indicted and presently under trial by the International Court at the Hague, The Netherlands, for War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions and Rules of Military Engagement. There are no such indictments or charges against Dr. Boley anywhere as leader of the LPC, a resistance Movement.
On December 24, 1989, the day of the invasion, Mr. Charles Taylor, Leader of the NPFL, announced on BBC Radio Focus on Africa, that the NPFL was engaged in an armed struggle designed to “remove a dictator”, President Samuel Kanyon Doe, an ethnic Krahn Tribesman. Not only that this announcement and subsequent activities by the NPFL provided the convenient, political foundation and explanation for and gave a unique, but tragic, expression to the “assault” upon the Krahn Tribal People, but also that the insurgency rapidly developed into a willful, vicious, systematic manipulation and exploitation of indigenous, inter-ethnic/tribal political differences. This condition inflamed inter-ethnic/tribal passions and gave rise to the historic explosion of our fifteen-year, ethnically-driven, deeply-divisive and deadly armed conflict that severely victimized the Krahn Tribal People, simply because the first indigenous person who became the nation’s elected president happened to be an ethnic Krahn citizen.
Secondly, Mr. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu (an NPFL Ideologue & Poster Man) was not only Defense Spokesperson (Defense Minister) and head of the NPFL fighting forces, but also the No. 2 person (Taylor being No.1) in the NPFL hierarchy – planning, policy, organization, management, operations, etc. (command & control, military style). The name “Tom Woewiyu” was, indeed, “NPFL” and a national/international household-word during the heyday of the conflict. Mr. Woewiyu, in this very important, NPFL policy position, stated publicly that the “best Krahn man is a dead Krahn man”.
Thirdly, thus when “Taylor’s Bloody War” (Mr. Taylor’s own words & designation) finally reached the City of Monrovia and the gates of the Executive Mansion, it gained unparallel momentum with new (non-Krahn, non-Mandingo) “converts” who, with NPFL “freedom fighters” marched the streets of Monrovia and corridors of state power to the cadence of the famous or infamous refrain:
“Charlie come, Charlie come
To eliminate the Krahn/Mandingo People
From the map of the Liberian Nation”
Fourth, upon the capture and occupation of Grand Gedeh County in July 1990, the NPFL announced a policy decision to annex the County, the ancestral land and home of the Krahn Nation, to Nimba County. So, Had “Taylor’s Bloody War” succeeded as planed, Grand Gedeh County, indeed the Krahn Tribal People, would have been wiped off (or eliminated completely from) the face of the Liberian Nation, ceased to exist as a political subdivision and a separate, distinct socio-cultural and political entity, as we know it today.
And Fifth, because of the gruesome atrocities viciously committed against Krahn and Mandingo men, women and children, including occupation of Grandedh County with threat of annexation to Nimba County, thousands of Krahn and Mandingo families fled, as early as February and March 1990 to and took refuge in neighboring Republics of Guinea and Sierra Leone. The NPFL, however, pursued the fleeing, Liberian refugees into eastern Sierra Leone and southern Guinea, ferociously and viciously inflicting wanton destruction, human suffering and death upon them. This development created one of the most critical, turning points in the history of the NPFL insurgency and the resulting civil conflict.
The Krahn and Mandingo men and women decided that they “have had enough” and that they “will run no more”. Accordingly, the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) and later, the Liberia Peace Council (LPC), were formed to RESIST the rebellious, illegal armed insurgency of the NPFL against the Government and people of the Republic of Liberia, particularly victimizing Krahn/Mandingo peoples.
Notions of Resistance Movements are not new; for, these Liberian Resistance Movements (ULIMO & LPC) were organized in the tradition of the Resistance Movements against NAZI, German threat of armed invasion and power-grab by the barrel of the gun during World War II. Notable among the WWII resistance groups are the following:
The Yugoslav Partisans
The Polish Home Army
The Soviet Partisans
The French Forces of the Interior
The Greek Resistance
The Dutch Resistance
These groups played an important role in defeating Nazi Germany; they were not arrested or tried at Nuremburg. This is not to say that zealous members of resistance forces, who violate the Geneva Accords’ Rules of Military Engagement, are exempt from arrest and prosecution for war crimes. The process, however, should and must be based on objective evidence presented in a court of law, not on hearsay, inuendos, mudslinging, character assassination, ethnic/tribal Bigotry, roped in “guilt-by-association” and ethnic/tribal profiling for political gain.
It is very important and significant to note that it was the direct result of the brave men and women of ULIMO (J & K) and LPC Resistance Movements whose sacrificial action drove the NPFL forces from southwestern Liberia – Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, and Lower Lofa Counties. ULIMO-K, under the command Professor Alhaji G. V. Kromah, took control of northwestern Liberia – the cities of Vonjama, Vahun, Bopolu, Makedu (the scene of NPFL massacre), including several towns and villages of Lofa County. Furthermore, the LPC, led by Dr. George Boley, drove the NPFL out of southeastern Liberia, where it (NPFL) had occupied Grand Gedeh County, ancestral home of the Krahn people.
Indeed, it is also very important to note here, for posterity, that if the Krahn and Mandingo Peoples of Grand Gedeh County, in collaboration with the Mandingo People of Lofa, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Montserrado and Nimba Counties had not spoken loudly, clearly, eloquently and acted bravely and decisively in resisting and “standing tall” to the illegal and murderous insurgency by the NPFL, the course of the recent history of our nation would be different than it is today; in that, the relative peace, law & order and individual/collective security now prevailing would not have been possible.
For, Mr. Charles Taylor and his band of “freedom fighters” were forced to restrict their activities in the so-called “Greater Liberia”, consisting mainly of Bong and Nimba Counties and to concede to peaceful, political dialogue and negotiation for the peaceful resolution of our political differences. This approach led, in turn, to the peace conferences and accords, with the final end of armed hostilities and the 1997, general and presidential elections.
Accordingly, contrary to the distortions and misinformation campaign by Mr. Kirkpatrick Weah and Company, Dr. George Boley is not a rebel, one who takes up arms against a legitimate, sovereign government; he is not a warlordlord, a professional military commander. Rather, George E. S. Boley is a professional, educational administrator with a doctorate degree in education (E.D) and years of relevant experience. Comparing Dr. Boley to Messrs. Charles Taylor and Prince Johnson is “comparing apples to peaches”. Dr. Goerge Boley was forced to lead a resistance movement against an armed insurgency engaged in indiscriminate massacre of his ethnic/tribal (krahn) people and rebellion against a legitimate government.
To the Krahn Tribal People, indeed the people of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. George Boley is a Hero.
As observed elsewhere, “my defense of Dr. George Boley arises NOT from or motivated by tribal considerations (although I am ethnic Krahn as Dr. Boley), but due primarily to my nationalist convictions, a belief in and responsibility to the service of our patrimony, fellow citizens, commitment to free, fair and transparent justice under the Rule of Law”
At this crucial point in time in the history of our country, we appeal to fellow Liberians (Messrs Kirkpatrick Weah & Asso-ciates) that it is very critical that we build Bridges of Mutual Understanding, Cooperation, Trust and Unity across Ethnic/tribal Divides; that we should and must disabuse ourselves of the out-dated, discredited notions of Ethnic/tribal Nationalism (“Country-, Congo- and Americo-Liberianism); and that which I describe as Ethnic/Tribal Bigotry – a condition of “fear, jealousy, suspicion, rivalry, antagonism and segregation/discrimination, bordering on hatred, based on considerations of ethnicity.
It is argued, reasonably, that the prevailing socio-economic and political conditions that describe Liberia as a “failed state” are due, in part, to our (hopefully past) unfortunate policy of Ethnic/tribal Exclusivity.