[The Hague – Judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone today found the indicted war criminal Charles Taylor not guilty. Shortly thereafter he was seen boarding a plane heading for Liberia.
Speaking to reporters at the airport Mr. Taylor said, his return to Liberia as a freed man is the fulfillment of a promise made in 2003: “God willing I shall return.” When asked whether he intends to run for president in 2011; Taylor replied: “I’m keeping my options open.”
Meanwhile, in Liberia, news of Taylor’s release from prison has created heightened fear, as large numbers of people have begun filing across the border into neighboring countries. Businesses have shut down. Panic has gripped this nation.]
Before dashing for your remote control to turn on CNN or tuning in to the BBC or logging in to
your favorite online news site or calling your most reliable “EL-They Say” to verify this report;
let me be the first to say what you have just read has not yet happened.
However, any good defense Attorney will tell you that the charges leveled against Charles
Taylor are grave and compelling, but a conviction even at this moment is not an absolute
certainty. Therefore it is possible this fictional scenario could very well become reality. Ever
wondered what would happen if Charles Taylor were to return as a freed man before Liberia is
stabilized? What would you do?
Regardless of his intention, Charles Taylor’s presence will no doubt paralyze the entire nation
and reverse whatever gains have been made since cessation of major hostilities. Furthermore, it
would be almost impossible to hold anyone accountable for the carnage and destruction of the
country’s infrastructure. Efforts to instill rule of law would be severely hampered. Even worse,
Liberia might again plunge into war. Should that happen, this author assuredly will be found at
the center of the fight because lessons of the recent past have shown that Liberians in general are
more inclined to embrace individuals who have inflicted injury upon them. They do not hesitate
to reward, befriend and defend evil while rejecting those who seek to do what is right and just.
As a people we are a great disappointment not only to our rescuers, but also to our own
humanity. Woman and children have been violently raped, many tortured, and more than
200,000 of our compatriots murdered in cold-blood, yet we have shown no compassion or
changed our attitude.
In 1997 massive international pressure was brought to bear on the warlords, leaving them no
other alternative than to abandoned their violent pursuit of power and yield to the democratic
process. The world felt our pain and responded accordingly. In return, we showed our
appreciation by electing a man who caused us the greatest heartache, pain and suffering.
Not long after, people from every corner of the globe rallied to our aid after watching the mass
suffering, deaths and destruction played out on television sets around the world. World leaders
mobilized in our behalf and did what many said was impossible: they backed the first ever
indictment of a sitting African head of state and forced him into exile, creating space for
Liberians to rebuild their lives.
Tens of thousands international troops were deployed in the country to protect the defenseless
citizens, while self-proclaimed leaders were flown to Ghana and hosted with an all-expense paid
trip for the purpose of forming a government that would begin the healing and rebuilding. They
were given the opportunity to map out a new direction for Liberia; instead, this critical moment
was reduced to a circus of continuous merrymaking, selling of votes, wheeling and dealing; not
to mention the bickering and posturing, jostling for position and endless debates. While the
people they represented were being shot at, shelled and starved to death; the group in Ghana
sought only to advance their selfish agendas. Among others, they voted for a Truth Commission
without any intention of accepting its recommendations.
Surely in 2005 Liberians voted against their own best interests in an election that should not have
taken place. It was abundantly clear the National Transitional Government had failed to
adequately prepare the country for post-war civilian governance. The Election, therefore, would
only return power to the very individuals who abused and dehumanized the population. Knowing
this, we went to the polls and conferred legitimacy on our abusers. Now there is the real
possibility that Charles Taylor might yet again disrupt the lives of Liberians. And Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf would rather see thousands more innocent men, women and children die than pursue the
path of genuine healing.
There is still time to avert yet another disaster and prevent further loss of innocent lives which is
bound to happen should Charles Taylor return to Liberia a freed man. We must mobilize all
available resources and demand that the U.N. Security Council authorizes the formation of a war
crimes tribunal that will indict Charles Taylor for atrocities he committed in Liberia before a
verdict is handed down by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Under no circumstance must
Charles Taylor leave that court room in the Hague as a freed man!
If the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration cannot protect the people; the people must take
appropriate action to protect themselves. To this end, Liberians must take matters into their own
To those who have forgotten how we got into this awful predicament, I hasten to remind you that
in 1990 following the assassination of President Samuel Doe the entire government vanished into
thin air leaving the citizens to fend for themselves. The same could very well be repeated.
Therefore we must act now.
As it stands, there is nothing to prevent Charles Taylor from returning to Liberia like a
conquering hero other than an indictment for the heinous crimes he perpetrated against the
Liberian people. Therefore he must again be indicted before the conclusion of his current trial at
the Hague. This way he will be arrested regardless of the verdict and taken into custody.
Stopping Charles Taylor before he enters Liberia will no doubt prevent unnecessary loss of lives.
For the sake of our children and the future of this nation, lend your voice to the call for a war
crimes Tribunal for Liberia.
Call us in Liberia at (+231) 6 538827 or email us at email@example.com
Note: The above article was written few months ago by TQ Harris Jr. And it is a rerun.