Opinion

Liberia First: Friendship or Justice, Who’s Side are You On

By Elder Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr.

Jonesboro, Georgia

In the 1970s, I, Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor aka Sam Anthony Roberts, III was a member of a unique group of Liberian students in the United States. In this group were Charles MacArthur Taylor, former president of Liberia, Tambakai A. Jangaba aka Jangaba A. Johnson, Francois T. Wurah, Gabriel Baccus Matthews, Jucontee T.  Woewiyu AKA Thomas J. Smith, Tarty Teh, Nyudueh Morkonmana AKA Philip N. Morkonmana, Blamoh Nelson, Leslie Norman Abayomi Cole, Jackie Goodridge, James Laveli Supuwood, Samuel Polypheus Jackson, Miatta Fahnbulleh, Olive & Dolly Cheeks. The list is endless.

ULAA’s Seal

As active observers of the American political culture, we became inspired by the way the American system operated, especially, the principles and objectives of the US Constitution. In this connection, we found ourselves advocating for the same principles and objectives for our country, Liberia – freedom of speech, of choice, press, civil and human rights like the citizens of the great United States.  To this end, we entered into an unwritten covenant with the Liberian people at home to serve as their voice in advocating for these fundamental principles. In this covenant, we promised the Liberian people at home and abroad that whenever the opportunity was made available to us, we would promote and safeguard their rights to free speech, choice, press, civil and human rights.  But when the opportunity was given us, some individuals among us, violated the covenant by engaging in the worst violence in the nation’s history.

There is this Latin phrase I am fond of: “Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas“, which translate as “Plato is my friend, but the truth is a better friend.” Literally, Plato is my friend, but the truth is more of a friend to me than Plato or “I love you Plato, but I love the truth more.” My passion for seeking truth and justice led me into socio-cultural, economic and political activism.

The problem is government has controlled our lives – starting from obtaining birth certificate to death certificate. Government is politics; therefore, it is naïve to say, I don’t want to be bothered with politics, like many Liberians are fond of saying and doing.  The truth of the matter is, only fools will denial this reality.

However, there comes a time in one’s life when he/she has to make decisions that involve family members, friends and to a larger extent – the government; and when faced with issues of great magnitude that involve friendship and justice, you have to make the right choice between friendship and truth, and . . . if you were me, you would select truth over friendship. This is situation in which I find myself with many of my friends of the 70s and 80s in the struggle for justice and democracy in Liberia.

Covenant Betrayed

When covenant is betrayed, the right thing to do is for justice to take its course.

Brief History of Liberians in the Diaspora in the 70s & 80s

During the 70s and 80s, the Liberian ruling class refused to change its attitude as well as make fundamental changes in the way the government operated; this gave momentum to the Progressives. What distinguished the Progressives from the so-called “liberators” who used FORCE and VIOLENCE as opposed to the Progressives’ PEACEFUL ADVOCACY? The Progressives’ peaceful advocacy did not involve the use of the barrel of the GUNS, and exploitation of our youth to change the unjust system.  Instead, the Progressives chose to educate the Liberian people to bring about change through constitutional process. Instead, the so-called liberators killed thousands of our people in COLD BLOOD, maimed thousands others, destroyed our meager infrastructure and ruined the entire economy. Sadly, the Progressives who did not commit these horrible crimes are blamed for all the atrocities committed against the Liberian people. This is a classic example of William Ryan’s “Blaming the Victim Syndrome!”

Yet, when the opportunity was presented, members of this unique group that I referred to at the beginning of this article, found themselves administrating the affairs of Liberia after 26 years of advocating for change.  They became the new leaders.  How they got where they found themselves is another story.  However the point here is: this unique group did not live up to the covenant established by the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) of which they were an integral part. 

Since our words and actions served as our bond, few of us who did not ascend to the level of greed this unique group practiced, were baffled as to how those brilliant, noble ideas and dreams we once espoused for the Liberian people could be put by the wayside by these individuals. This is where we come in because it is one thing to say what you will do; but what you actually do is another thing. This reminds me of the famous phrase Dr. Mary Antoinette Brown Sherman, former President of the University of Liberia (LU) is fond of saying: “Mr. Talk is Fine, but Mr. Do is Better”.

Now, this is my reason for writing this article! For more than 48 years I have worked tirelessly with social and political organizations in the Diaspora and at home in order to bring about socio-economic and political change in Liberia – through education, by identifying the oppressors of the Liberian people, as well as exposing them ‘BIG TIME.’ But there are, however, always individuals in the group you are a part of with totally different plans and motives other than the ones we agreed to follow. Selfishness and personal greed leads these individuals to come up with good sounding schemes that betray the genuine interests of the people. A classic example is what took place in Liberia and the resulting destruction and the death of innocent Liberians and foreigners. But as long as I live, I am committed to seeking justice for the killings of these innocent people and the destruction of our country. I believe both old and young people working together can have those responsible arrested, tried and, if found guilty, imprisoned. Justice will then be served! This is what Liberians committed to justice and democracy and I seek in our country.

The question this article will address is “What is more important in the senseless 14 Years Liberian Civil War, Friendship or Justice? Who would you favor in this situation? It is not an easy choice for many people. As for me, I favor the victims and will fight for justice on their behalf.

This reminds me of a statement made by Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr. in May 1981 at a program in New Kru Town. The program was sponsored by the New Kru Town Youth Development Movement at which I presented a paper entitled: “Liberia’s Role in the African Liberation Struggle: 1924 – 1980.” 

Dr. Fahnbulleh made the following profound statements in the keynote message he delivered: “In order to change society, you must first change the individuals; because it is the individuals who make the rules by which society is governed.” (Paraphrased)

My understanding and interpretation of the statement was and still is – if the citizens of a country removed a government from power either by revolution or democratic election for not serving their interests; the people have the inalienable right to change the government and the system. If the citizens only change the people who caused the problem and leave the system intact; they have not changed anything. It is like the proverbial phrase: “New wine in old bottles.” By changing the system, you change the mindset (old behaviors) so that the people will not return to “business as usual.” In this case, a ‘Paradigm Shift’ is needed to accomplish the desired genuine change for the greater good of the people.

My late mother (May her soul rest in perpetual peace), Worhwinn Mardea Sarkpah’s philosophy of life which I made my own is: “There is nothing impossible in life that you cannot achieve with God’s help; but the greatest obstacles you face is your indecision to make every effort to achieve your dreams.” 

This philosophy can be applied in whatever we as a people can do once we make up our minds. These days nothing is impossible! For example, the well-known statement – “the sky is the limit” is really true. Instead of Liberians engaging in activities that have mutual benefits for all of us, too often we engage in “What is in it for me, myself and I.” We get our marching orders from our leaders who will — by any means possible — achieve their selfish interests at the expense of the citizenry. The late G. Henry Andrews’ statement served as the appropriate warning to all of us:

…Never again should we allow a president to maintain four to five security forces, stock them with his people, and mold them into robots that do his [her] every wish and command, good or bad, right or wrong, legal or illegal. Liberians must learn and live by the principle that the greatest right in the world is the right to be left alone as long as you don’t break the law. This is followed closely by the right to freely and fairly choose those who will govern you. The third great right is the right to hold your leaders accountable for their actions. In those rights lies the essence of democracy, no matter of what kind. (G. Henry Andrews, CRY, LIBERIA, CRY, March 01, 1994)

You are either for an issue or against it

Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us: “The silence of good people is more dangerous than the brutality of the bad people”. 

In view of the above statement, there can be no position of neutrality by citizens regarding compelling issues of their country; to which I pose these questions: What is your position regarding the state of affairs of Liberia? Where do you stand regarding these vexing issues? Are you one of those who want to play it safe by taking a so-called neutral position while watching from the sideline as injustices are being wrought upon innocent people? Or, are you one of those people who want to live without taking a position? Well, let me say to you that to say nothing about an issue is a position in and of itself. Remember, “Silence is consent!”  

How can anyone with conscience remain silent and avoid taking a position in situations where people are abused and killed with impunity? Find below several examples of “Man’s inhumanity to man” captured in and October 6, 2016 article by Josephus Moses Gray.

Massacres in Monrovia

“According to TRC report, in 1990, George Dweh eliminated the Johnny Nah family in Monrovia. On August 2, 1990: George Dweh led a group of AFL soldiers to the JFK hospital and massacred 250 persons, most of whom were Gios and Manos ethnic groups. Majority of them were seeking refuge at the hospital compound while others were arrested at the gate that was placed on the boulevard at the hospital entrance.

Samuel Saye Dokie and Family

Some of the highlights of the 14 year-ugly past includes the murder in Gbarnga, Bong County, on November 28, 1997 of an opposition politician and former Deputy Speaker of the TLA, Samuel Saye Dokie, who, along with his wife Janet, his sister Serena and nephew Emmanuel Voker were arrested at a security checkpoint in Gbarnga while en route to Sanniquellie, Nimba County to attend a wedding. 

Benjamin Yeaten who is still at large despite allegedly named as committing scores of killings during the civil war. It was alleged that the ex-SSS Director, Benjamin Yeaten ordered their arrest. Following their arrest, Mr. Dokie was brought to Monrovia for investigation and subsequently taken back to Gbarnga. According to information gathered from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) public hearings years ago, among other things revealed that three days later, after the opposition politician went missing, the charred bodies of the Dokies were discovered.

“The Taylor’s regime said it never ordered the arrest of Mr. Dokie.  However, SSS Director, Benjamin Yeaten, admitted ordering Mr. Dokie’s arrest, but denied ordering his killings. Mr. Yeaten was temporarily relieved of his post to assist in the investigation, but due to what the then Taylor’s government described as lack of evidence resulted to Mr. Yeaten’s reinstatement.

The Death of Jackson F. Doe

“Murder in Zorgowee Town, Nimba County on October 20, 1991: Paul Vaye, Henry Kerdiah, George Mansuo and George Karsuo arrested Jackson F. Doe in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, on the orders of Charles Taylor and murdered him in the Nimba Town of Zorgowee.

Massacre at Carter Camp

“On June 6, 1993 NPFL rebel fighters under the cover of darkness reportedly slaughtered close to 600 residents of the Carter camp in Margibi County. The victims include men, women and children in cold blood while the victims were said to be buried on the outskirts of the camp where the fearful and painful incident took place. However, an international commission named and styled Wako Commission blamed the AFL and Black for the massacres. 

Also on December 26, 1992: Joseph Zackor, alias “Gen. Zack”, Nixon Gaye, Francis Duanna and men assigned with them reportedly massacred 35 persons at the Firestone Plantations, division No. 31 while escaping the ULIMO incursion in Kakata. Information indicates a summary execution at the Horton’s Farm in Kakata, Margibi County in October 1992, with Martina Johnson, former NPFL artillery commander ordering the execution of 23 persons arrested in Bong Mines as suspected fighters of disbanded ULIMO.

The Cow Field Massacre in Cow Field

“Other reports gathered from the hearings in Bong County in April 2008 show that about 48 civilians were allegedly massacred by Paul Vaye, Sam Lartee and other soldiers of the NPFL, while the victims were asleep at their home. An NPFL former combatant who also testified said NPFL was responsible for the massacre of 48 civilians.

Witness M. Allen Nicholas, who is known within the ranks of the Taylor’s forces as “Arab Devil,” said the NPFL’s fighters that carried out the massacre were led by the late Nixon Gaye. This is an apparent vindication of the Armed Forces of Liberia that was loyal to President Samuel Doe. Allen Nicholas, the “Arab Devil”, also blamed the Duport Road Massacre on the NPFL but denied that he participated.

In October 1996, other gruesome killings took place in Seyon Town, Bushrod Island with three ex-combatants who, having lured the market women from the Freeport of Monrovia where they had gone to buy rice and bulgur wheat slaughtered the two women; Doris Dekeh and Louis (surname not known). The perpetrators, after murdering the victims, sprinkled kerosene on their remains, covered them with tires and set them ablaze.

On June 28, 1998Nowai Flomo, a market woman, disappeared from her residence in Kpelle Town, near ELWA Junction in the Paynesville district, outside Monrovia. She was allegedly abducted from her house at about 11:00am by nine officers of the SSS, led by one David Daniel, who had gone to visit Ms. Gormie Jartu, a housemate of Ms. Flomo.  

The SSS officers allegedly murdered her after an exchange of words over the manner in which the security personnel drove into the yard. Her corpse is yet to be found. The Police later released all those arrested in connection with the disappearance for what the Police termed “lack of evidence”.

1998 Camp Johnson Road Massacre

“According to the resident in the Camp Johnson Road Area, on September 18, 1998, State Security forces attacked Gen. Roosevelt Johnson, a former warring faction leader, on Camp Johnson Road. The government within 24 hours gave three different reasons for the invasion, which eyewitness accounts say, claimed the lives of over 100 persons. But the Taylor’s brutal regime at that time put the casualty figures at 53. 

“The government first said that its security forces went to evict illegal occupants in private houses when they came under attack. Massacre in the Episcopal Church, Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia, on September 19, 1998 reported by National Human Rights Commission’s Report published October 13, 1998.

Schiefflin Highway

“Also, on Schiefflin Highway on September 19, 1998, one Mark Guahn murdered reportedly 13 persons of the Krahn ethnic group. They were reportedly arrested in Monrovia on charges of being supporters of Gen. Roosevelt Johnson. Murder at ELWA junction, Paynesville on September 28, 1999 Eyewitness accounts: Henrique Cassell, Deputy Commissioner of Immigration and brother-in-law of President Taylor allegedly shot and killed Papa George, a taxi driver, at the Gulf Filling station at the ELWA junction in Paynesville.

Summary Execution in Bong

“According to another witness, on May 11, 1993, Saar Gbollie allegedly executed 17 persons in Bong County while serving as deputy MP Commander for the disbanded NPFL Executive Mansion Presidential Guard Force. The victims were arrested in Lofa on suspicion of being ULIMO fighters.

Another report obtained from the TRC hearings shows that in February 1994, Siafa Normah again ordered the execution of 15 men in Kpakolokuya Town, Bong County during his tenure as army chief of staff of the dissolved NPFL. While a report from Bong County also revealed that in May 1994, Andrew Koah, Alosius Sackie, Gaye Getteh, Saturday Tuah, J.J. Doeh, and Marcus Seebo tied 19 men in a Tarpolin and had them hung over a pile of fire until they died.

“The perpetrators were said to have acted on the orders of Cassius Jacobs, a former infamous rebel general. It was also reported at the TRC hearings that in September 1994, LPC fighters massacred about 300 persons when they fled the fighting between ULIMO – K and NPFL in Gbarnga while in the same month, LPC allegedly massacred over 100 persons at Phebe Hospital. In October 1994, a former NPFL fighter, Saturday Tuah ordered one Junior Vaye to dump the wife and children of James Glasco in the St. John River in Beilah during the fall of Gbarnga to ULIMO.

Massacre in Lofa County

“Besides, collaborating reports from TRC revealed that on January 2, 1993, 18 persons were executed in Voinjama by NPFL fighters while the blood of the victims was drained into a white bucket for ritual purposes. In 1993, six Senegalese ECOMOG soldiers were murdered by Oliver Varnie, Timothy Mulbah and Joe Doe in Vahun, Lofa County on the alleged order of Charles Taylor. Also, in Zorzor, Lofa County, Apolo Jayswen, a former front line commander for disbanded ULIMO reportedly murdered 69 POWs of NPFL in Lofa in 1994.

In January, 2000, another massacre was carried out in Bawon Town, Zorzor District, Lofa County by armed militiamen who massacred 18 persons of the Mandingo ethnic group. Massacre in Zorzor, Lofa County in May 1991: Mangouhb Menior of the NPFL murdered 16 persons of the Mandingo and Gbandi ethnic groups in Zorzor. The victims were accused of being enemies of the revolution launched by Charles Taylor. Menlor was temporarily detained by Isaac Musa and later released on parole.

Massacre in Nimba County

“In August 1993, a notorious NPFL general, Matthew Cheplay, commander of “Wild Geese” and his men reportedly executed 21 persons in Ganta while en route to Sinoe and wanted to loot fuel from a trader. This incident claimed the lives of William Gensee, the wife, and three children of Samuel Luogon. A group of NPFL soldiers led by Dominic Sayeh and Bleh Vah in November 1994, Nimba County, killed 176 persons at the Send at Crossing Point in Nimba County.

The victims were of the Bassa ethnic group while in Ganta, November 11, 1994, General Liberty killed 21 unarmed boys in Ganta during the fall of Gbarnga.  He accused them of being disguised ULIMO fighters. While another massacre in Tappita, Nimba County on September 27, 1995 reveals that former general Jack the Rebel of the disbanded NPFL acting upon the alleged order of Charles G. Taylor killed 105 persons in Tappita. According to reports, these people were killed because they refused to give up their only sawmill in their town.

Some other massacres in Nimba

Massacre in Yarsonnoh, Nimba County in Feb. 1990: A group of AFL soldiers led by Capt. James Celly, Hon. Donzo, Commissioner residing in Ganta, killed 71 persons in Yarsonnoh and burned 52 houses in that town. Massacre in Ganta, Nimba County in Feb. 1990: A group of AFL soldiers headed by Edwin Voker, Commissioner of Sacleapea Mah, Vakaba Bility and Mr. Biabia entered Karnwee, Nimba County and arrested 18 young men under the guise of being NPFL facilitators.

“The victims were taken to Ganta and murdered. Massacre in Nimba County in March 1990: Paul Vaye, George Mansuo, Tarkpor Gweh and men assigned with them arrested Moses Duopue, Stephen Daniels and some of their family members and killed them in Tiaplay, Nimba County. They allegedly acted on the orders of the then Maj. Charles Taylor.

Massacre in Margibi

Summary Execution at Horton’s Farm, Kakata, Margibi County in October 1992: Martina Johnson, NPFL artillery commander ordered the execution of 23 person arrested in Bong Mines as suspected fighters of ULIMO. Massacre in Firestone, Margibi County on December 26, 1992: Joseph Zackor, alias “Gen. Zack”, Nixon Gayor, Francis Duanna and men assigned with them massacred 35 persons at the Firestone Plantations, division No. 31 while escaping the ULIMO incursion in Kakata.

Massacre in Kakata –Bong Mines Highway in 1991: An NPFL fighter code named “Mike Tyson” placed 73 person in a house and burned them to death in a place called “compound” on the Kakata – Bong Mines Highway. The victims arrested as suspected ULIMO fighters.

Massacre in River Gee

“Several other witnesses told TRC hearing in Fish Town, River Gee County that in 2003 militiamen loyal to former President Charles Taylor rounded up 369 inhabitants of Glaro and witnesses appearing before the TRC at ongoing Public Hearings in Fish Town City, River Gee County, said were ordered by former NPFL Southeastern Commander General William Sumo; the TRC hearing also accused former Superintendent of Maryland County, Senator Dan Morrais.

Massacre in Grand Bassa

“The TRC hearing in Buchanan also speaks of killings and brutality against civilians by NPFL and MODEL fighters. According to the reports, on August 19, 1993 former NPFL General, Coo-coo Dennis reportedly ordered the execution of 26 persons in LAC, Grand Bassa County after the victims were accused of being supporters of  LPC while in October 1994, Chinese Japper, another NPFL’s Commander under Coco Dennis, allegedly murdered 186 persons in Grand  Bassa.

Massacre in Sinoe County

“Also in 1993, Mr. David Swen was quoted by The National Newspaper in its December 19, 1996 edition, Vol. #62 that more than 100 humans’ skeletons were discovered at the Francis J. Grant Hospital in Greenville, Sinoe County. According to Mr. David Swen, the acting hospital administrator at the hospital, the skeletons were of people taken captive by LPC in 1993. They were discovered when the hospital staff went in to access their facilities after ECOMOG was deployed in 1996.

Massacre in Rivercess County

“On January 15, 1994 reported by the Daily News Newspaper Vol. 3 # 24: The NPFL fighters killed 232 persons after they were accused of being supporters of the LPC. The fighters were said to have entered the town at about 3:00am and began slaughtering the occupants of the houses marked by the LPC.

Mass Murders in Maryland

“Maryland was no exception; the stories were the same just like happenings in other parts of the country. LPC fighters on April 5, 1995 slaughtered Mr. Abraham K. Gray, a Kru Governor of Maryland and 21 others of the Kru ethnic group. The Prior to his death in the hands of rebel fighters of the disbanded LPC, Mr. Gray received respect from the residents and citizens of the county owing to his leadership style.

“Another witness told the hearings that LPC fighters slaughtered her mother by cutting the victim’s throat halfway until her death. He is the father of Josephus Moses Gray. The LPC according to reports also killed over 150 persons, both in Harper District and Pleebo District, including other towns and Villages alone the Harper-Pleebo Highway.

“During TRC hearings in the county in March 2008, a former employee of the Port of Harper alleged that NPFL Special Forces Commanders led by former President Moses Blah ordered him shot after they broke into containers at the port and looted several vehicles in 1990. Maximillian N. Jah, Sr., now an amputee and former employee of the port’s warehouse department said in tears.

“Jag told the hearings that fighters of the Liberia Peace Council (LPC) wantonly killed civilians and subjected nearly a dozen elderly men and women to slave labor. Viola P. Jones, one of the elderly captives, said the LPC, following its capture of Harper City rounded up more than 10 elderly men and women and forced them to pound rice, fetch water and cut firewood daily.  Viola, a resident of Harper explained that they were also forced to bury dead bodies following summary executions.

Murder in Grand Kru County

“The inhabitants of several towns and villages in Grand Kru County Tuesday told TRC that the ghastly account of atrocities committed by various factions in the county during the civil war. During the hearings, the witnesses said fighters of the NPFL, MODEL and LPC, three former warring factions which occupied the county at various intervals, committed atrocities ranging from summary executions, forced labor and torture. 

Samuel Kloteh Wesseh, 35, said fighters of the NPFL led by one General Samuel Mehn summarily executed dozens of ethnic Krahns in Glaro Town, Grand Gedeh County now River Gee County after they urged them to return to their towns and villages.

The 1996 Sinje Massacre in Cape Mount

“Massacre in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County on March 28, 1996, about 150 civilians were killed and many were injured while about 1000 civilians escaped the bloodbath. But other reports put the number at 25 to 48 while more killings in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County took place in September 1996.

“Unidentified fighters reportedly killed nine prominent citizens of Robertsport, report says the fighters claimed that their victims gave money to another armed group to attack their positions.

The Death of President Doe

“A conspiracy theory has been linked to the captured and subsequent killing of the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe on September 9, 1990 at the Freeport of Monrovia. During TRC hearings in Grand Gedeh, a soldier of the then elite Special Anti-Terrorist Unit (SATU) says the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe was captured by INPFL leader Prince Johnson in the presence of the then ECOMOG Force Commander General Arnold Quainoo.

“Testifying at the ongoing Public Hearings, Officer Jeff Neewray said he was among military and security officers who escorted President Doe to the Freeport of Monrovia on September 9, 1990, where he was captured and subsequently killed by the INPFL. He said President Doe was arrested before the eye of General Arnold Quainoo.

“He told the hearings that while en route to the Freeport of Monrovia where President Doe had apparently gone to go into exile in Nigeria, their convoy was stopped and searched at a checkpoint in Vai Town manned by ECOMOG soldiers who disarmed them saying that weapons were not allowed to enter the Port, Neewray testified.

“Neewray who said he was driving one of the vehicles in the President’s convoy said behind his car was an American vehicle and then the Presidential motorcade of Doe. He explained that immediately upon arrival in the Freeport of Monrovia, General Harrison Pennue followed.

“He said when they entered the Freeport of Monrovia there was an unusual air of silence at which time he sensed something conspiratorial. “At the port after we entered you could even hear the sound of a pin if you dropped it,” he continued.  At the Freeport, he explained, the President handed a list containing names to General Quainoo who complained that it contained huge numbers of people that could not be evacuated.

“It was while in conversation with General Quainoo on the stairs about the number of people to travel that, Prince Johnson arrived and immediately held President Doe by the back of his shirt and took him away by force in the presence of the General who turned his back and walked from the scene into his office. I believed this was orchestrated, Neewray told the hearings.

“Following that, Neewray said there was a heavy and a sporadic discharge of gunfire mowing down to death several of his colleagues saying he believed that the arms used by Johnson’s men were the once seized from them by the peacekeepers.

He said he survived when he dropped among the dead and pretended to be dead too. He said he used his pistol to kill two of the INPFL soldiers who were making sure that all of them were dead. Neewray said he was convinced that General Johnson was acknowledged about the presence of Doe at the Freeport of Monrovia by ECOMOG.

President Samuel Kanyon Doe was captured and killed on September 9, 1990 by the INPFL under the command of Prince Johnson, now a Senator. Mr. Johnson has repeatedly insisted that Doe’s death caused by pains suffered after he was tortured, saying that the ex-President rammed his head against a wall while in captivity.

“While the government is applauded for the reconciliation process in the country, the government should consider that there would be no true reconciliation to melt broken wounds and pains caused by the war if the perpetrators of these humane crimes and gross human rights violations are not brought to book and punish.

“Other countries have done it, why not in Liberia? Let Justice Prevail In The Spirit of TRC Not Impunity. To conclude, I will like to laud the media and other research whose publication and materials helped to document and exposed these unpunished atrocities while the victims continues to grave in their places of perpetual rest.

Let Justice Be Done to All.”

(“Prevail In the Spirit of TRC Not Amnesty”, published in the October 6, 2016 edition of FrontPageAfrica, and culled with written permission from the author, Dr. Josephus Moses Gray).

There cannot be one standard of justice established for those who commit crimes against humanity in Europe, America and another standard for those in the Third World, particularly Africa, and expect to eradicate moral and spiritual decay in the world. The reason those who challenge the government to do the right thing or obey its own laws are ridiculed is that their elected officials resort to playing it safe – by defending the government’s corrupt practices to the point of violating the Constitution they affirmed to uphold and protect. 

The Liberian Constitution is clear about how the rights of every citizen should be protected and defended. It is short-sightedness not to protect the people’s rights to free speech and to peaceful protest. 

I am reminded of the statement by Dr. Tarnue Johnson:

Throughout history mankind has always sought for the most optimal system that engenders a sense of community and shared identity. In the history of humans the transition from hunter-gatherer to communal and civic consciousness was a remarkable process and achievement. I would argue that there was a seed of progress rooted in the very nature of human cognition and social reality that would facilitate this process. Never in the evolution of our social consciousness could one envision that this seed of progress would come to bare fruits thousands of years ago. The germination of this seed inexorably led to the dawn of civilization and the consolidation of forms of order. We have also seen higher forms of cognition and linguistic consciousness, and their attendant social and historical contradictions, as we perceive them to be. All these natural and socio-historical contours have solidified the movement of human beings since the dawn of civilization to more complex and elaborate forms of understanding of cause and effect, order and civility. (Dr. Tarnue Johnson, “Barbarism or Civilization: Which Way Liberia?” Published in The Perspective Online edition of April 29, 2004).

Due to GREED and SELF INTEREST, leaders and their collaborators choose to accomplish their objectives by any means necessary. According to them, the means justifies the end. To which Tony Lawrence says: 

“Too many people are only willing to defend rights that are personally important to them. It’s selfish ignorance, and it’s exactly why totalitarian governments are able to get away with trampling on people. Freedom does not mean freedom just for the things I think I should be able to do. Freedom is for all of us. If people will not speak up for other people’s rights, there will come a day when they will lose their own.” (Tony Lawrence – 1995)

How true these words are today! There are individuals who have sacrificed their professional careers and even their lives in order for many of us to become what we are today: students, community activists, Pastors, Imams, human rights advocates, teachers, parents, etc. It was the sacrifices these individuals made that made it possible for us to have the opportunities we enjoy today. 

This brings into play the relevance of “Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas“, which translates as Plato is my friend, but the truth is a better friend. To put it more bluntly, Plato is my friend, but the truth is more of a friend to me than Plato.

In short, my passion for truth and justice are more important than defending friends or associates. “Be not afraid to denounce injustice, though you may be outnumbered. Be not afraid to seek peace, even if your voice may be small. Be not afraid to demand peace” are some of the few statements I agreed with Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Ex- Liberian President Charles Taylor surrounded by arresting officers

Euripides, a Greek dramatist who lived in the fifth century BC wrote: “Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad” (Crazy). Exactly, that is what happened to Charlie MacArthur Taylor and some former members of the Union of Liberian Associations (ULAA) who joined General Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia (MDCL) in the name of LIBERATING the Liberian people; whereas ULAA’s advocacy was directed at having the government and the ruling elite adhere to freedom of speech/press, respect for human and civil rights, guaranteed by the Constitution for the Liberian people. This is the covenant Progressives in Liberia, the Liberian Students Association and Diaspora community of the 70s and 80s protested and demonstrated for in the United States. It is these guarantees and fundamental principles that Charlie and associates (Blamoh Nelson, Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, Cllr. James Laveli Supuwood, Tambakai Jangaba, Nyudueh Mornokomana, Samuel Polypheus Jackson, et al) compromised which contributed immensely to the barbaric “State of Nature” Liberians and their neighbors found themselves. (See MDCL Resolution of January 9, 2001 http://www.theperspective.org/mcdl.html).

No matter how individuals or a group may try to justify their reasons, human tragedies cannot be camouflaged or forgotten; age and longevity are relevant to the cause for which truth will expose selfish and evil deeds. The Liberian People’s Struggle was directed at the small ruling class who for many decades repressed, suppressed, and exploited their fellow countrymen and countrywomen. Those who dared to oppose the ruling class were imprisoned, harassed and killed. The chambers for peaceful constitutional change were all closed.

But it did not discourage some of us. Instead we found ourselves advocating for the same principles and objectives for our country, Liberia: freedom of speech, of choice, press, civil and human rights like the citizens of the great United States.  To this end we entered into an unwritten covenant with the Liberian people at home to serve as their voice in advocating for these fundamental principles. In this covenant we promised the Liberian people at home and abroad that whenever the opportunity was made available to us, we would promote and safeguard their rights to free speech, choice, press, civil and human rights.  But when the opportunity was given us, Charles MacArthur Taylor, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and some of these former members of ULAA violated this covenant.

Conclusion

Finally, those who committed war and economic crimes should not be in the government or serve as advisors to the current President. The fact that they are occupying these roles undermines the call for genuine peace and reconciliation. I suggest we hold our elected officials accountable to implement the rule of law, control of our economy, natural and mineral resources; persecute those who are engaged in corrupt practices and once and for all, establish War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia with the support of the African Union (AU), not the one-sided-style International Criminal Court (ICC). We need a new African perspective in which our interests are promoted and our people reap the benefits. 

There are some things that do not require compromise; protection of a friend who committed war and economic crimes is not one of those things. Therefore, ALL of them need to be brought to JUSTICE.

Like night is followed by day, so is truth. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before for those of us who believe and advocate for JUSTICE will be exonerated. Assuredly, the people and only the people possess the POWER to make history. Trust me, the Liberian people will gain their consciousness; unshackle themselves of these criminals and fake LIBERATORS once and for all!

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Siahyonkron Jglay-Kay Nyanseor

Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor is an Eminent Person of the ULAA Council of Eminent Persons (UCEP), Inc. He is the historian of ULAA; one of its founding members and the 11th President (1986-1988) of the organization. Elder Nyanseor is an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Also, he is a poet, Griot, journalist, a cultural, social and political activist. He can be reached at: siah1947@gmail.com

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