Taylor’s Associates Decry UN
By: Josephus Moses Gray
June 25, 2004
Recently, the UN took a tough action by not lifting travel restriction on several persons in the Liberian society. The Security Council has also frozen the assets of some of these individuals, accusing them of undermining the genuine efforts by the world body to bring lasting peace to the sub-region. Some of those affected by these decisions are residing outside the country, while others have been stranded in the country due to the travel ban.
They allegedly helped Mr. Taylor in turning the sub-region to a criminal empire. They occupied key positions in the National Patriotic Party (NPP) led government, a government accused of pillaging the nation resources at the expense of the suffering masses.
Six former officials of the Taylor's regime, who now see themselves as victims of the action taken by the United Nations, had a major news conference on June 23 in Monrovia to react to the Security Council’s decision to freeze their assets and restrict their movement. They are Jewel-Howard-Taylor, former First-lady; Jenkins Dunbar, former Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy; Myrtle Gibson, former senator of Sinoe County; Benoni Urey, former Commissioner of Maritime Affairs; Cyril Allen, former Chairman of the NPP and Reginald Goodridge, former Minister of Information, Cultural and Tourisms.
Other members of the Taylor’s empire including Charles bright, form Minister of finance; Emmanuel Shaw, former Advisor to Mr. Taylor; John T. Richardson, former Security Advisor to Mr. Taylor and Mr. Randolph Cooper, former Managing director, Roberts International Airport, were absent from the conference.
These individuals, who looked worried and frustrated over the UN actions, during the conference issued a special statement to take the world body to task for bringing them to book. In their statement, the group said instead of the UN pursuing world peace the UN has engaged into witch-hunting.
According to them, the global body has stooped very low to expend jurisdiction over individuals in member countries, which they claimed violates the rights of individual under international recognized laws. Their statement carried the titled: The UN is the threat to peace and security in Liberia:
“There is absolutely no justification for imposing travel ban on its members and at the same time tracking and seizing the assets of former government officials, private businessmen, and family members of the deposed president”, they noted but failed to justify why they formed alliance with Mr. Taylor and plundered the resources of Liberia during the six years of his regime.
Following the statement, each of the Taylor’s associates spoke individually to question the UN decision to bring them to book. The first to address the press was the wife of the man who ran the brutal regime, Madam Jewel-Howard-Taylor, former first Lady of Liberia.
“This is a violation of [our] rights and it is divisive; it is also hampering the peace process and that the travel restriction is illegal”, Mrs. Taylor said, adding that the UN action intended to punish the children of Liberia and war weary individuals.
Then came Mr. Urey, the former Commissioner of Maritime who enriched himself pillaging the nation’s maritime programs and resources. According to Mr. Urey, for months Taylor has not called him and that someone had misinformed the UN to punish them.
After Mr. Urey, Myrtle Gibson, former senator of Sinoe County who helped to destroy the Barclay Training Center barracks, by some estimates worth United States ten million dollars, built for the national army-the Army Forces of Liberia or AFL. The barracks were destroyed to build the Children Village. The Children Village project was headed by Mrs. Gibson, but after Taylor’s departure for Nigeria she was quoted as saying that the project was illegal in the first place. Though she did not say much, she tried to defend herself for destroying the barracks.
For his part, Mr. Jenkins Dunbar called for the ban on the timber and diamond industries to be removed. Some see his statement as a scheme perhaps intended to afford him the opportunity to enrich him again since he has contact with would-be-investors.
The last to speak was the former Information Minister, Reginald Goodridge, who is highly accredited for beating Taylor’s media drums and restricting independent press freedom. It was during his administration that journalists Hassan Bility and Throble Suah were arrested, mishandled and severe flogged by Mr. Taylor brutal security gangs of ATU, a security group responsible for mass violations of human rights and killings under Mr. Taylor regime.
He described the UN action against him as being “ tantamount to murder”, saying that freezing their assets and restricting them from traveling will affect them, “each of us has family and businesses”, Mr. Goodridge said.
Some observers conclude that the purpose of the June 23 Press conference was to solicit the support independent media. They opine that it is ironic that those who, during the Taylor regime, were muzzling the press are now trying to form alliance with the same press. The news conference was carried on television stations, aired on radio stations and published by the local press.
But several individuals who spoke to journalists at the end of the conference held by some of these members of “Taylor Inner Circle” are appealing to the UN against lifting the sanctions, travel restriction and the frozen assets.
They said the UN decision will have a positive impact on the nation and that the sanctions should not be removed under the transitional government of Gyude Bryant who they also accused of exploitation and corruptions.