The Endangered Species: Number “13” and the Krahn People

The “Final Hours!, Mercenaries to be Released?”

 


By: Bai M. Gbala, Sr.




The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
May 13, 2015

                  



 
 
 
 
Sept 18, 1998: Camp Johnson Massacre

Here we go again! It is the fate of the Endangered Species before the nation’s Supreme Court, proclaims and questioning by two of the nation’s newspapers – the New Democratand the new Dawn, both on May 6, 2015. The magic number is “13” and the Krahn People.

Do not get me wrong, simply, because I am Krahn, Elder and, perhaps, the so-called recognized and leading “Head Huncho” in critical analysis/articulation of and opposition to the issues - socio-cultural, economic and political - of life-threatening, brutal and deadly impact, exclusively, because of ethnic/tribal considerations. But a short trip backward into our recent past will give you and my critics an idea of “where I’m coming from”, Americans say.

 The-now, world-known and declared Major Leader of attempts to “wipe out the Krahn and Mandingo Peoples from the face of the Liberian nation” was, still is, my Friend & Brother, “Charlie”, although I was, still am, one of the most consistent, severe critics of Mr. Charles M. Taylor’s NPFL adventure, a process during which an estimated quarter of a million of powerless, innocent and unarmed Liberians lost their lives, with massive, people displacement, including the loss of three years of my life in prison for doing nothing. But, “there is no hard-feelings”, I told Former President Taylor at the Executive Mansion after release from prison; “because prison, to a serious politician, is as important as graduate school is to a serious student” – credibility and knowledge.

Earlier, I confronted “Charlie” with the death a common friend, a comrade-in-arms, the late G. Moses Duopu. While students in the USA during the 1970s, as leaders of ULAA, we led marches, protests and criticized our political leaders here at home. “Charlie” Taylor was one of our loyal members. As President of ULAA, Mr. Moses Duopu’s home was the venue of several of our meetings and plans. Mr. Taylor courted and married young Tupee Boakai from the Duopu household in Newark, New Jersey. The young woman, Tupee, is Mae Duopu’s younger sister and Mr. Moses Duopu’s sister-in-law.

So, back home, during Mr. Taylor-led, NPFL insurgency, I confronted “Charlie” about his (Charlie’s) alleged involvement in the bayonet-killing of G. Moses Duopu on an isolated road in Logatuo, Nimba County. Mr. Taylor’s response was, “do you believe that, Bai? The ‘Gon-ka-nus’ killed their own man, not Charles Taylor”.

The issue of the Krahn People

Now, with this little piece of history, we fast-forward to some of the historic, memorable episodes of our recent past and today’s realities, continuing, deadly fate of the Krahn People.

During our nightmare of the civil war, the brutal history of which is still fresh in the minds of most Liberians, the Leader of the rebels, Mr. Charles McArthur Taylor, was maintained in murderous power by war-front commanders-executioners, with such spine-chilling titles or nicknames as “Rambo”, “Gio Devil”, “General God”, “Man-Pass-Man”, “One-Man-One”, “Pepper-And-Salt”, etc. and at checkpoints or gates awesomely known as “No-Man-Pass”, “God-Bless-You”, “Kuwait”, “Give-Me-Blood”, and execution centers where life or instant death was determined by ethnicity, membership in the national armed forces or employment by the national government.  Krahn and Mandingo refugees – men and women, young and old, with children - were plucked, forcibly, routinely, out of fleeing lines and massacred brutally.

 Attorney Theophilus C. Gould

Today, we are being entertained with the legal prowess Mr. Theophilus C. Gould, Counselor-at-Law, in the trial and conviction of Krahn, Ethnic/tribal People. From our national record, we find that:

1. Mr. Gould was Member of the Taylor-led National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) illegal insurgency, a murderous organization born out of and rose to (Liberian) national and international, political “fame and success” due, mainly, to close, supportive, friendly and mutually-rewarding relationship with neighboring Republic of La Cote d’Ivoire, as we shall see later.

 2. Cllr. Gould has been, now is, Chairman of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), the political party that grew out of the illegal insurgency of the NPFL.

3. Cllr. Gould, member of the defunct NPFL, but now Chairman of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), is Legal Counsel to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and now, leading, prosecuting attorney of the Krahn, Ethnic/Tribal citizens charged with being mercenaries in war in La Cote d’Ivoire, a people against whom the NPFL attempted an ethnic-cleansing, genocidal war.

Our Wondering Thought
In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is reasonable, indeed important, to wonder in the manner as follows: (a), Are the Ministry of Justice and Cllr. Gould fussing political party politics,  beliefs, objectives, based on ideology, into law enforcement? (b), Is it not reasonable to conclude, therefore, no wonder that the Ministry of Justice has not been able to extradite to Liberia individuals accused of criminal acts to stand trial, especially, persons having NPFL connections? (c), Is it not reasonable to conclude, that Cllr. Gould’s prominence, as leading, prosecuting attorney of a people against whom the NPFL, of which Cllr. Gould was an ideological member and now Chairman of its Political Party (NPP) which attempted an ethnic-cleansing, genocidal war, is in furtherance of this attempt as well as fulfilling NPFL’s mutually-rewarding relationship with the Republic of La Cote d’Ivoire? This, too, we shall later.

 Meanwhile, we present a repeat of our article below for the information of our compatriots and readers in general, mindful of the wisdom that “those who ignore the mistakes of history are likely to repeat them”.

 Ethnic/Tribal, Political Witch-Hunt: Number “13”
And the Case of Krahn People
June 19, 2014

Elsewhere, the article, The Ivory Coast Connection (The New Dawn, June 18, 2014) was our reaction/response to the most recent trial and acquittal of 5 and “unanimous” conviction of 13 of the 18 Grand Gedeh County, Liberian citizens finally charged with being mercenaries and prosecuted on the same set of evidence, according to defense attorneys. The Grand Gedeans were arrested in 2011, indicted for multiple crimes of mercenaries, murder, rape, arson and theft-of-property, kept in detention for three years, while being prosecuted at three, different trials on amended indictments characterized by charges and counter-charges of bribery, jury-tempering, etc., with offers of plea-bargaining to become state witness, in order to ensure guilty verdict. 

Today, June 18, 2014, the trial Judge handed down a life sentence for the “13” defendants in confirmation of a guilty verdict obtained bribery – paying US $500 to each juror through court bailiff, a Mr. Kpehe, according to a defense attorneys. According to the New Dawn, “the (trial) judge underscored the testimonies of some (defendants turned state) witnesses who claimed they fought alongside their co-defendants . . . in the Ivory Coast”.

Indeed, this case has been and is a “political case” by our government. The leading, prosecuting attorney, Cllr. Theophilus Gould, according to the New Democrat (New Democrat, June 16, 2014), in his final argument, told the jury that “Liberia will be attacked by Cote d’Iviore if you, the jury, find the defendants not guilty” and noted that “you do not want to be responsible for war between Liberia land Cote d’Ivoire”. Is this evidence?  Of course, not.

Butthis is a must-win-by all-means and at all costs, political case in the same tradition of the Charles Taylor’s witch-hunt arrest, “trial and conviction” and sentence of “13” ethnic Krahn citizens in 1998 and 20 years in prison on false, politically-motivated charge of Treason to avenge the military trial, conviction and execution of 13 former officials of government.

Other Facts of our Recent History
 
The near-total destruction of Liberia and its socio-cultural, economic and political order, its infrastructure and the profound human suffering and death were the result of the December 24, 1989, armed invasion of Liberia by the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). Mr. Charles McArthur Taylor and several of his Liberian, member-leaders of the insurgency gathered in Abidjan and environs, La Cote d’Ivoire, organized, planned and launched the invasion through the Ivorian/Liberian border town of Logatuo, Nimba County, made possible with the knowledge, approval/permission by the government of the Republic of La Cote d’Ivoire for Ivorian-Liberian border crossing. In other words and in fact, the government of La Cote d’Ivoire “aided and abetted” this criminal act of armed aggression against the sister Republic of Liberia. During this period (December, 1989), the Head of state and government of La Cote d’Ivoire was the late President, Houphouet Boigny; Mr. Alassane Ouattara became Prime Minister, shortly, in 1990. 

During April of 1996, Mr. Charles Taylor of the NPFL, in collaboration with Alhaji G. V. Kromah (a Mandingo!) undertook a deadly ethnic-cleansing attack upon the late, General David Roosevelt Johnson, leader of ULIMO, an effort designed to silence the-then resistant, effective, military voice led by Krahn and Mandingo people against the NPFL. Although this objective failed, but the city of Monrovia was an armed camp of brutality, human suffering and death on “April 6”, as the day was called and remembered to this day, with several homes and public buildings looted and  many innocent citizens, including the wounded, fled the city and country on the famous Buck Challenge, a Nigerian freighter.

After becoming “President of this nation” (Liberia) with awesome state power at his disposal and the declared policy of “jungle justice”, Mr. Charles Taylor continued his plan of Ethnic- Cleansing. On September 18, 1998, President Taylor ordered an all-point-bulletin of unprovoked, military attack, code-named “Surgical Operations”, upon the peaceful, relatively Krahn-settlement/community, including the residence of the late, General David Roosevelt Johnson, on Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia.

Several, innocent civilians were shot and killed by military and security forces, including the arrest of several, ethnic Krahn citizens. Of the arrested, only “13” Krahn ethnic persons were taken to the “Taylor court”, charged with the usual, “one-size-fits-all”, convenient, false, vicious and politically-motivated, first-degree felony of “Treason”; denied legal counsel of choice, “tried, convicted” and sentenced to ten (10) years in prison. Upon appeal, the Taylor Supreme Court of the nation did not only uphold the lower court verdict, but added ten (10) years, for a total of twenty (20) years!!

The “trends” of vicious vilifications and unfounded attacks upon the Krahn people of Grand Gedeh County began with the “April 12, 1980 Event” that brought young, Samuel Doe, an ethnic Krahn, to Liberian, national, political power and, later, to become the nation’s first, indigenous citizen elected president of Liberia. Although Samuel Doe and the Krahn Tribe are not one and the same and that the constitution and laws of Liberia recognize the right of all eligible citizens (citizenship, age) to participate in politics – seek and be elected to hold any office, including the office of president – indigenous or tribal citizens were systematically “discouraged” by both covert and overt acts that gave rise to unwritten rules of indigenous (or ethnic/tribal) exclusion.

Thus, the election and assumption of national, political power by indigenous Samuel Doe was as unusual as it was disturbing and unacceptable to the nation’s minority, ruling class. This condition awakened, reinforced and created anew our latent, traditional Ethnic/tribal Bigotry – local/regional/national jealousy, rivalry, antagonism, discrimination/segregation, etc., now directed against the Krahn people.This condition, unfortunately, developed into fear, suspicion, hatred, anger, etc. on the part of our nation’s historic, minority rulers; for, they questioned and vigorously opposed the struggle of “this uncivilized, country people” who dared to assert social, economic and political opportunities and rights heretofore reserved for and enjoyed by them.

Most importantly, the Charles Taylor-led NPFL insurgency that began on December 24, 1989 gave expression to the “assault” and hatred upon Krahn people; it provided the foundation upon which fear, suspicion, jealousy, segregation/discrimination and hatred were and are based. Proclaimed (on BBC Focus on Africa) as an “armed struggle to remove a dictator (Samuel K. Doe, an ethnic Krahn) in order to restore to the Liberian people the right of free choice  in the selection of their leaders”, but the insurgency rapidly degenerated into systematic manipulation and exploitation of ethnic/tribal, socio-political differences, inflamed passions and gave rise to the ethnically-driven, deeply-divisive tragedy of Liberia’s historic civil war that targeted, specifically, and victimized, severely, the Krahn people, simply, because the first, indigenous citizen who became the nation’s president happened to be an ethnic Krahn.

Although this “trial, conviction and sentencing” of “13” Grand Gedeh County citizens is an apparent continuation of the NPFL tradition of Political Witch-Hunt against Grand Gedeh County and people will, perhaps, be appealed to the nation’s Supreme Court, we entertain nor expect no up-set or rejection of the lower court’s decision, but affirmation with, perhaps, additional, possible excessive punishment, as it was in the case of the 1998, famous “treason trial/conviction/final sentence of “13” Grand Gedeans.

Related Article:
Grand Gedeh Association Welcomes Release of Prisoners
Conspiracy to Eliminate the Krahn Ethnic Group

sylvester krah
Let me first of all extend my deepest gratitude to you oldman gbala for such a comprehensive historical presentation on the terrible days of the krahn ethic group.
The krahn ethnic group that should be seem as a hero of democracy in our political dispensation is on the contrary being totally humiliated i all forms.

with respect to the 13 grand gedeans currently being sentenced to life imprisonment without justifiable legal evidence clearly demonstrates the preconceived motive of this government.

During the arguments in the court of competent jurisdiction, government legal team glaringly failed to provide justifiable legal evidence that warrants prosecution against those innocent grand gedeans. the case involving these 13 grand gedeans clearly shows how bias and incredible the legal system of Liberia is under this regime.

what is most important is that through out this struggle the peace loving people of grand gedeh county have being very respectful to the fundamental law of this nation,despite the glaring reality of this government bias legal system.
we will continue to be very patient because the lord will one good day vindicate our brothers.

Sylvester Nenneh Geebarh Boque Clabadee Krah
sylvester krah at 03:27AM, 2015/05/13.
Anthony
With all respects to a man,many Liberians considered objective during the Doe administration. It is unfortunate that Mr. Gbala is allowing himself to be caught up in a bias circle of defending the issues regarding the krahn ethnic group in Liberia vs The Liberian people in the court of public opinion.

He has forgotten that the war against the Doe administration was the people uprising against the administration,in similarity to the True Whig Party government. Many soldiers in the Liberian Army, put down their arms in favor of the rebels,while others joined the rebels to fight against the Arm Forces of Liberia (AFL)they felt was predominantly from the Krahn ethnic group. Why did this happened?

Being a person from the Krahn ethnic group,it would be appropriate in the court of pubic opinion to recluse oneself from the defense on the issues in discussion, for the reasons of being charge as a bias reporter or a bias defendant.

The Krahns should assume the attitude that the Samuel Doe administration is over and assimilate into the society as law abiding Liberians and not a privilege group in Liberia.

Liberians must unite and learn from the mistakes made in the past to grow as a nation.There is no amount of defense to justify and point fingers at the horrific events that have happened in the oldest nation in Africa. We need to heal and leave the past to our historians.
Anthony at 07:19AM, 2015/05/13.
aminata
Sad history but the ropes have not pulled bush enough. Charles Taylor carged with aiding and abetting xyz. How about those big powers behind the atlantic and mediterranean oceans, will we foreget about them too and focus on the small gbapleh only?
aminata at 08:43AM, 2015/05/13.
Sayzay  Beyan Samah
Again, Mr. Gbala, I am having a difficult time understading your article. I have a relatively higher education but I still can not relate to your style of writing. Your sentences and expressions do not express a complete thought which is fundamental in a sound writing. Everytime I try I get frustrated.For example, what are you trying to say in the below paragraphs:

Do not get me wrong, simply, because I am Krahn, Elder and, perhaps, the so-called recognized and leading “Head Huncho” in critical analysis/articulation of and opposition to the issues - socio-cultural, economic and political - of life-threatening, brutal and deadly impact, exclusively, because of ethnic/tribal considerations.
==
The-now, world-known and declared Major Leader of attempts to “wipe out the Krahn and Mandingo Peoples from the face of the Liberian nation” was, still is, my Friend & Brother, “Charlie”, although I was, still am, one of the most consistent, severe critics of Mr. Charles M. Taylor’s NPFL adventure, a process during which an estimated quarter of a million of powerless, innocent and unarmed Liberians lost their lives, with massive, people displacement, including the loss of three years of my life in prison for doing nothing.
Sayzay Beyan Samah at 01:58PM, 2015/05/13.
Bassa Boy
I respect the writing skill and style of Bai.It is rare finding more people in Liberia in the age range of Mr.Gbala with since strong power of the pen.Kudos old man Gbala.

Aminata,I do not know what you reading or how you reading Bai's article,the message is clear as daylight.The paragraph you highlighted as your point of concern is clear and understandable. I copied that portion of your concern to my 16 years old high school student and this is how she interpreted .

First my daughter committed to memory "Head Honcho".She said she liked the words which means a person in charge of responsible for other people.She asked me Dad you are my "Head Honcho".Thanks Bai,U added another vocabulary to my daughter long list of vocabularies.She loves reading a lot and looking for new words.

And then this how she understood the first paragraph,"Do not get me wrong, simply, because I am Krahn, Elder and, perhaps, the so-called recognized and leading “Head Huncho” in critical analysis/articulation of and opposition to the issues - socio-cultural, economic and political - of life-threatening, brutal and deadly impact, exclusively, because of ethnic/tribal considerations...."

"Dad", she said," the writer is simply saying he hopes he is not judged wrongly by those reading his article because he is from the Krahn tribe,or he is a Krahn Elder,or as people think of him as head,or big man responsible for the krahn people well-being,or because he always writes and speaks on critical issues national concern..
Bassa Boy at 04:07PM, 2015/05/13.
sylvester moses
"He has forgotten that the war against the Doe administration was the people uprising against the administration….Many soldiers in the Liberian Army, put down their arms in favor of the rebels, while others joined the rebels to fight against the Arm Forces of Liberia (AFL) they felt was predominantly from the Krahn ethnic group. Why did this happened?"

Anthony, or whosoever, you’re distorting the recent past, so how do you expect others to “leave the past to our historians”? From all indicators then, the country was doing well with Doe and Reagan. And there was unity within AFL until the refusal of the commanding general to take orders from his commander –in – chief to transfer as secretary general. (You can ask the only PRC member alive, Gen. Jeffrey Gbartu, who lives in Charlotte, NC and comes from Nimba county). Of course, at the time, the past oligarchy and those who lost jobs in the PRC administration, including Ellen, only trump card to return was to divide and conquer them.

From then on distrusts set in, which resulted in the attack on LAMCO, the assault on Charles Julu’s house, and about two years later the Mrs. Sirleaf’s financed 1985 invasion. Doe and some in the AFL weren’t angels, but their culpability was more in the military disproportionality of their responses to these murderous provocations stoked by vengeful people ready to regain power. That General Philip Khama worked with Taylor, and General Dubah is with Ellen shows many Krahns moved on; let her release the Khahn “political prisoners” to show she wants the nation to start healing.
sylvester moses at 11:25AM, 2015/05/15.
sylvester moses
Anthony, nonetheless, I agree that “Liberians must unite and learn from the mistakes made in the past to grow as a nation. But to “unite” the country, the president must be a unifier; to “heal” its wounds, a healer, and for us to escape the stagnation of backwardness in order to “grow” as a nation she must be a farmer. And what better ways to start than getting rid of “political prisoners”, corralling corruption and waste, investing in infrastructure to create jobs, and halting the trade of Liberia’s long term national security interests to Quattara and his foreign backers for her short term military protection. The only armor she needs is to reform governance.

Reference Krahns not being a “privilege group”, you sound like those who see so – called Congua people as a privileged group in Liberia, and try to fan a Congua – Country divide. The fact is that the vast majority of the so – called Conguas have been undergoing the same hardships caused by perennial bad governance just like the vast majority of the so- called Country people. A visit to some settlements would reveal how many labor on farms to provide for themselves. Let’s stop fanning ethnic hatred and similar wrongheaded foolishness if we want reconciliation, and peace, Anthony.

sylvester moses at 04:05PM, 2015/05/15.
Anthony Cofrancesco
Mr Sylvester Moses, I am not distorting the events of the Liberian Civil War because I am not a historian to record events that make history. I was with my family in Liberia during the war. I saw history unfold before my eyes. I am an eye witness to the events and is narrating what I saw.

I believe you were out of the country during the Civil War and relied on hearsay from past officials about the events. This could very well be from a bias point of view. I would be cautious not to repeat in print what I did not see but heard from a Mr. "They Say."

I must repeat, the Civil War began and advanced before my eyes and I am providing first hand eye witness events.

Sir, your narrative of the events leading to the Civil war are from hearsay and not from any person reputable. Whether the events were from Jeffery Gbartu or anyone else,the story still needs to pass the test screen to be considered valid to be included as a historical event.Other than that, it could be coming from Mr. "They say" who sees things from his own perspective and is speaking from a bias point of view. Therefore I believe you are the one distorting history.

Please let us understand that my narrative of the war was about events that occurred during the war because I was on the ground and saw what I mentioned.
Anthony Cofrancesco at 12:30PM, 2015/05/17.
sylvester moses
Mr. Anthony Confraceso, if you were familiar with the events leading up to the 1985 invasion, and the 1989 insurgency, you would’ve appreciated why I mentioned the former PRC member. Ironically, your statement about “his own perspective and is speaking from a bias point of view” seems to fit you to the T. It is your interpretation of the events I questioned, not whether you were present. By the way, I was in Liberia for the duration of the events you alluded to in your comment.
sylvester moses at 10:01PM, 2015/05/17.
Anthony
I doubt your presence in Liberia from 1979 (Rice Riot)to the 1989 invasion because your story is not an eye witness event,but a referral from a PRC member for his version of the story.

As a paramilitary personnel you would have been aware of the events as they unfolded in order to protect the state,Liberia. You did not need Jeffrey Gbartu to provide information.Bye the way,if he was so knowledgeable about events,why he did not remain in Liberia as an old soldier, defending his country as the late President Samuel Doe did. The late President died defending a country he loved. Where was Jeffery Gbartu during a critical period of events.Please don't let us go there.

I can understand why your story is sketchy and bias.I repeat,your narrative of events that led to the war is from the view of what you want to believe.
Anthony at 05:45AM, 2015/05/18.

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