Where is the Accountability?
By Charles Kwanulo Sunwabe Jr.
September 4, 2002
That the continuing illegal arrests, incarceration and intimidation of certain groups of Liberians by the autocratic regime of Charles Taylor and its criminal entities, the ironically named, Anti Terrorists Unit (ATU), Special Operations Division (SOD) and the Liberian National Police (LNP) force, respectively, are highly unwarranted, there can absolutely be no doubt. As of late, the ruthless Taylor government has elected to mistreat members of the Mandingo ethnic group, purely, it seems, out of his bitter resentment of his partner in the destruction of Liberia, Alhaji G.V. Kromah, who also happens to be a Mandingo.
The most pitiful part of it all is that the psychopathic regime of Charles "Jail Escapee" Taylor has again decided to take Liberians down the road of ethnic persecution and hatred apparently without much challenge. It is hardly any secret that since he ascended to the Liberian Presidency almost five years ago, Taylor has systematically tortured his own people and others, including, human rights advocates, mavericks and intrepid members of the Liberian press, all because they have elected to perform their various duties with prudence. It must be said that with journalistic prudence now seemingly a crime in Taylor's Liberia for reporting on such things as his cherished "pepperbushes" (the President's various business interests), the nation is now bleeding needlessly while the general population lingers in limbo, informational darkness and decay.
In Taylor's Liberia today, it is a well known fact that freedom of expression is evanescent, and Liberian journalists and others who dare to tell the truth to the world about the decaying situation there (our homeland) are immediately subjected to illegal arrests and summary detention. By now, it should be very evident that the severely corrupt government's military brutality, vandalism, secret executions, genocide and other forms of war crimes against the Liberian masses have all but replaced the rule of LAW in the war-plagued country. Also, it can be said emphatically that our nation is now a country of "men" as opposed to one in which the rule of law reigns supreme. Concubines of the "playboy" President and listless men who have limited training in judicial proceedings are today occupying the Liberian Ministry of Justice (or should we say Injustice). Why is it that everything seems to be going terribly wrong with our dear country, Liberia, with no immediate solution in sight? If the need for morality, justice and freedom has ever made sense in the history of our nation, then now is the time to wholeheartedly embrace them! Indeed, we are seriously fed up with Taylor's failures and the ethnic hatred that he continues to cement in the hearts of many young Liberians - our fallen nation's future.
And in all honesty, I'd really like to join Alhaji (G.V. Kromah), like countless others, in calling on the autocratic and idealistically bankrupt regime of Taylor's to cease the unwarranted arrest of our Mandingo and Krahn brothers and sisters on the notoriously dubious charge of espionage despite our personal differences. I mean, I must be fair! In this regard, I'd also like to send a clear message to President Taylor: Mr. President, on April 27th 2002, your security forces illegally detained Mr. Mabutu Kromah, Mr. Mohammed Dukuly and Mr. Molley Bayor, for what your spineless government said, was because of a mere telephone conversation that they had engaged in with your former adversary, Alhaji G. V. Kromah, who happens to be a relative of theirs. Frankly, Sir, there is no legal justification for this act of intimidation and subsequent ones that are being carried out daily by your vast security network. Mabutu, Mohammed and Molley are all fine and respectable citizens of the Republic of Liberia who do not stand accused of the kinds of crimes committed by you, Alhaji (Kromah), George Boley, Prince Johnson, Roosevelt Johnson, and now Sekou Conneh. President Taylor, the reason behind YOUR harassment of these fine citizens of Liberia is very simple in my view - their ethnicity and blood relationship to your former adversary and partner in the decimation of our nation, Alhaji G. V. Kromah. Isn't that true?
President Taylor, if for some weird reasons you don't understand the LAWS OF OUR LAND, then I would recommend that you consult legendary Liberian Human Rights advocates, like, Counselors Samuel Kofi Woods, III and Taiwan Gongloe. This is no disrespect to you either, Mr. President - not at all! It's just that it has become very, very important that whoever rules Liberia from now on should actually know the laws, especially those regarding the FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS of all Liberians. Furthermore, it now makes sense to send former Justice Minister Eddington Varmah to a reputable first, second, third or fourth tier Law School in the United States of America for additional legal education. With augmented knowledge and training in judicial proceedings, he could hopefully return and help to educate you and others about the real beauty of our war-torn country's "workable" legal system within the framework of our existing CONSTITUTION.
Again, the reason for this is simple: Dictator Taylor, it has become exceedingly clear that you and your men are having serious difficulties with the LAWS OF THE REPUBLIC Of LIBERIA - laws that each of you had sworn under oath to "uphold and protect". Worst yet, the Supreme Court of the land, has been defamed, bastardized, and consigned to the periphery of the nation's legal affairs. The toothless pro-Taylor Supreme Court of Liberia has become so disgusting that it is internationally dubbed, "Taylor's Inc". Due process of law has ceased to exist today in the country as murderers run amuck, leading many judicial observers to conclude that you really aren't ready to lead by example. As you know quite well, Mr. President, you have yet to bring the killers of the Dokies to justice, although the main culprit in this particular case, General Benjamin Yeaten, is continuing his killing spree on the so-called battlefront with LURD, after being promoted recently to a Five-Star General. Additionally, let's not forget the pending case involving a Ghanaian-Liberian who was beaten, urinated upon and forced to drink the urine of your equally ruthless son, Chuckie Taylor, as well as other top officers of the ATU.
With all of the above going on, your laughable Justice Ministry yet wants to bring Liberian-journalists, particularly, Hassan Bility, and others to trial for absolutely no reason - none whatsoever! My fellow Liberians, let me be very frank with you all here - we just can't afford to sit idly while Mr. Taylor's "Kangaroo Justice System" initiates and implements jungle justice! We really can't. Isn't it sufficiently clear that journalist Hassan and others have already been convicted of the crimes that they certainly did not commit even before the trial was begun? Realizing that Taylor's justice system is devoid of egalitarianism, it has now become most compelling that the bifurcated and notorious Justice Ministry there be stopped by all means necessary!
Evidently, Charles Taylor and his cohorts are determined to employ the century old deleterious African policy of ethnic cleansing and intimidation as long as it suits their narrowly defined political objectives. It can be recalled that on June 24, 2002, Taylor and his National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Hassan Bility, Ansumana Kamara and Mohammed Kamara on the false charges of operating a secret terrorist cell in the heart of Taylor's village, Monrovia. As darkness befell the panic-strickened city on that terrifying day, the President's death agents also forced their way into the home of Mr. Suku Wesseh and took him away too. Despite a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed jointly by the Liberia National Human Rights Center, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, the Center for the Protection of Human Rights and Legal Consultant Incorporated, the Taylor dictatorship has failed to produce our dear brother, Hassan, in Judge Wynston Henries' Criminal Court "B". The new talk of the day is that Hassan Bility would face a Military Court Martial Board sometimes in August 2002 - something that's "clearly" against CHAPTER III (Fundamental Rights), ARTICLES 19 and 20 of the Liberian Constitution, since he's in fact not known as a member of the military or any other militia group in the country. If the Ministry of Justice cannot be trusted to dispense justice impartially, the question then arises, would a military court dominated by illiterate former NPFL thugs and functionally illiterate Taylor loyalist do the job? The answer is simply no! And so, we could say confidently that there can be no justice in a Liberia where the President is the Minister of Justice, a Criminal Court Judge and the Chief Justice at the same time. Again, my fellow Liberians, we must rise up and remonstrate against the pending injustice that is about to take place in Liberia, specifically in regards to the case involving journalist Hassan Bility, et al.
At this juncture, I would want to inform Taylor and his personalized Justice Ministry that Mr. Bility is not a terrorist - he has never been! In fact, none of the men that are currently being held "incommunicado" by your dictatorship are terrorists. Hassan Bility, Ansumana Kamara and Mohammed Kamara are being unlawfully detained because of their ethnicity, plain and simple! Furthermore, Mr. Bility is being persecuted for his impeccable journalistic style and unfeigned dedication to nothing but the truth. As for Suku Wesseh, his only crime is his biological tie to Mr. Conmany Wesseh. And so, Monrovia, please let our people go! Another thing, please stop the ethnic politics of exclusion and oppression, because there are no terrorists cells in the entire capital beyond Taylor's own ATU. If this worthless government claims to be dedicated to JUSTICE, then it would only make sense for the newly appointed Minister of Justice (Injustice), Koboi Johnson, to immediately bring charges against Charles Taylor, Benjamin Yeaten, Roland Duo and Daniel Chea, amongst others, for the mass raping, killings and looting of personal belongings by men under their direct authority.
In addition, if this government is serious about executing soldiers for the raping of women, especially minors, than let justice begin at the top of the ATU ladder, where Taylor's terrorist son, Chuckie, is said to be the mastermind of all forms of evil taking place in the country. Dictator Taylor, can you and your NPP government accept my proposition? I bet not! On an equal footing, justice should also be done to members of LURD who willfully commit crimes against humanity. Would the Taylor government ever go before the UN Tribunal to seek an indictment against Sekou Conneh and LURD for the crimes that the government claims they (the rebels) have committed against innocent Liberians? Absolutely not! Again, the reason why they won't venture to take such actions is this: Taylor has no moral authority or leadership integrity to go before The Hague. Or, if he should ever try, he knows quite well that the Court in The Hague could indict him first, before even considering LURD or anyone else! After all, he has yet to tell us exactly what happened to the Liberian-Mandingos from Lofa, Nimba, and Bong Counties, etc.- areas that he has previously plundered.
It should be noted also that when a government chooses to oppress, suppress and repress its people, the ugly policy of that government should be exposed continuously before the eyes of the world. In this regard, I'm thankful to Liberian Warlord Alhaji G. V. Kromah for his tenacious efforts in exposing Taylor's blatant policy of ethnic cleansing. On the 5th of May 2002, Alhaji "The Executioner" Kromah told the BBC that he would personally hold Mr. Taylor responsible for any harm done to members of his family who were held against their will by him and his ATU. Additionally, Kromah pointed out that Taylor has earned his share of the looted Liberian money and it was about time that Taylor left Liberia and its people alone. Fellow Liberians, Kromah needs to be applauded for his latest efforts, shouldn't he! Indeed, those Liberians who killed, tortured, raped and looted our natural wealth should all be held accountable for their actions. Why not? But did I really hear Alhaji say that people should be held accountable for their actions? I have no reason to doubt Kromah, but I would respectfully extend the accountability yardstick to him, his ULIMO-K as well as other Liberian Warlords and the factions they commanded during our nation's most recent dark period. Mr. Kromah, don't you think that it is absolutely necessary to do this? I guess you don't, eh!
Alhaji, I would like to draw your attention to a massacre that you and your ULIMO-K carried out on September 28, 1996 in Grand Cape Mount County to be specific. Just in case you have forgotten the site and victims of the massacre, I'm more than willing to help refresh your recollection. On the aforementioned date, "warlord" Kromah, your men who took command directly from you entered the town of Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County, and decapitated scores of innocent Liberians. Do you remember that, General? If so, then wouldn't it be fair to hold you directly accountable and responsible for that massacre, Mr. Presidential aspirant? Please note that I'm not the one who is calling for accountability, but you! All I'm attempting to do here is to honor your victims who unfortunately are dead, and hence unable to demand that justice be sought on their behalf. By the way, here is a short list of some of your known victims: Miaata Barlo, Lutee Barlo, Mama Barlo; Garti Barlo, Tata Barlo, Jenneh Barlo, Satta Barlo, and Sanda Barlo. Isn't it pitiful that an entire family were allegedly gunned down or bayoneted by the thugs under your command? Shouldn't accountability be applied in this case, Alhaji? I sincerely think it should! Would you then join me in bringing the killers of the Barlos to justice? I wish that you could provide me with an answer, Mr. Self-proclaimed exiled Liberian opposition leader!
Beyond the Barlos, Mr. Kromah, there were other victims too of September 28 1996. Again, General Alhaji G. V. Kromah, do you remember these folks - Varney Zodua, Bendu Zodua, Siatta Zodua; Mary Kennedy, Emmanuel Jesse, Morris Kiawu, Varney Farma, Lucinii Sumai, Pop Joe (Town Crier) Momo Zodua, Mary Boyah, Sando (a lady from Gunn Town) and Sando (daughter of Mama Darwolo). General, could you please tell us the crimes that these "poor" Liberians committed against you that provoked you and your ULIMO-K so badly to exterminate them? Alhaji, are you still committed to the tenets of accountability, which you are so passionate about? If so, can we hold you directly accountable for these massacres?
Personally, I think you should be held accountable for your crimes. What do you think, General? It is lamentable, though, that Alhaji G.V. Kromah and others like him are able to reside in peaceful America, while their victims have no means of seeking redress for the brutality meted out against them remain buried deeply in squalor in the land of Kromah's criminal associate, Charles Taylor. Yet, when I voiced my opinion about the presence of this brutal warlord in America, he (Kromah) initiated an inquiry into my ethnicity. But Kromah, please be informed that I am a Liberian just like you. Unlike you, though, I have never killed anyone or looted my country's Finance Ministry. Moreover, my ethnicity or home province has nothing to do with your crimes. The issue at hand in contemporary Liberia is simple as this - those who have committed crimes against our people should be brought to book. So, please stop being spineless, "Pozik"! Let's talk about the emaciated babies, the Geneva Convention, your stolen wealth, genocide, and the desiccated bones of Sinje, Lofa, and Gbarnga of 1994.
If you thought that I have spoken of Kromah's blatant obsession with opportunism in vain, I really haven't! As sympathetic as one would want to be under these very difficult circumstances, it seems that Alhaji is seriously attempting to exploit the plights of Mabutu (Kromah), Mohammed (Dukuly), and Molley (Bayor) just to resurrect his waning, diminished and criminally acquired political status. You see, this despot and opportunistic demagogue can save us all the embarrassment by allowing us (reputable Liberians) to speak on behalf of our brothers and sisters who continue to be unjustly incarcerated by Taylor. Opportunism is Kromah's specialty, and he is desperate to win sympathy from any group of gullible Liberians who would give him their attention. In fact, his mission is to make himself appear like a highly credible individual who could be trusted to lead Liberia and its people. Truly!
To support my view, I'd now like to focus my attention on more stories of Kromah's obsession with opportunism. When the genocidal policy of Taylor and his NPFL forced Liberian-Mandingos into Guinean refugee camps, everyone was aware that these Liberians would one day return to their homeland. By 1991, Liberian-Mandingo refugees residing in Guinea began to consider their possible options to return to their homeland, Liberia. In various refugee camps along the Guinean-Liberian border, they met, discussed and decided that the only way out of their misery was to launch a counter-guerilla warfare against the recalcitrant NPFL, and its totalitarian leader, Charles McArthur Taylor. However, Alhaji Kromah hijacked their forum and established an association under the grandiloquent title, "Movement for the Redemption of Liberian Muslims". Again, greed and money were Kromah's primary objectives. Why this particular title? Well, to get enough funds from the Middle East under the guise that Islam was under threat in Liberia, even though, what was really under threat there (Liberia) was our humanity. Indeed, "con artists", particularly, Charles Taylor, who had publicly called for the execution of Mandingos and Krahns, were determined to purge these particular ethnic groups for one selfish reason or the other.
In "The Mask of Anarchy" (1999), Stephen Ellis, a senior researcher at the Afrika- Studiecentrum, Leiden University (London, England) brilliantly captures Kromah's opportunism and ethnically driven policy in these lamentable words: "Although Kromah was himself married to a Christian woman from a prominent Americo-Liberian family, and had been educated at a Catholic school, he hoped that by emphasizing his Muslim religion he could rally support from Guinea and, perhaps, finance from the Middle East. His organization's executive committee of thirteen consisted of eight Mandingos and five others. He called on Muslims to launch a Jihad against the NPFL, which he accused of being anti-Muslim, by reference to its recent (sic) persecution of Mandingos". Does this sound familiar, folks? I know it does, because, you see, Lieutenant-General Alhaji "the Executioner" Kromah and Charles 'Criminal' Taylor are one and the same. I mean, they are career gangsters who are driven purely by avarice and violence. Furthermore, Kromah and Taylor are hell bend on dividing our people along religious lines, which diverts attention from their failures and creates the volatility that these two thugs thrive on. Isn't it pathetic to declare a Jihad war in a place like Liberia? Of course, every well-intentioned Liberian knows it is! But for Kromah, it made sense not because Taylor's cruelty had to be confronted, but because by shouting Jihad, one could garner personal financial fortunes from the Middle East and deposit them in another New York bank. Make no mistake that Taylor's continuing persecution of Mandingos has to be stopped by all means necessary! But declaring Jihad in Liberia actually works to the advantage of Taylor. Here's a good example. When Taylor lost Grand Cape Mount to ULIMO forces, he told Liberian Christians that Muslims were about to take over the country and drive them out. Being the master of spurious claims who always appear believable, his lies and chicanery worked, and some young Liberian Christians actually enlisted in his army. In the end, it was yet another sad story because those young Liberians that had been deceived fought and slaughtered each other while Taylor, Kromah and their families resided peaceably in the Abidjan and Conakry. What a sad tragedy!
But the only problem with Kromah's declaration of Jihad in Liberia was the fact that Jihad was never really declared against the NPFL. Instead, it was declared and imposed on our poor parents, and with serious cruelty. But one must congratulate Kromah for his Jihad rein of terror in Liberia. After all, our self-proclaimed political leaders recently paraded him in Bethesda, Maryland, as a visionary twenty-first century African leader. Amazingly, he still commands respect and support from some Liberians, even today! As for Taylor, when his oppressive style of governance forced certain groups of Liberians to launch a military rebellion against his draconian regime in 1999, he took to the international airwaves again, and told the world that Liberia, a supposedly Christian nation, was being attacked by Islamic fundamentalists backed by the Government of Guinea. Well, Mr. Taylor, here's one for you - when was Liberia ever a Christian nation? Can you answer, Sir? By the way, Taylor eventually got some sympathetic ears in Virginia (the United States), from none other than Rev. Pat Robertson and his "700 Club". But why did he (President Taylor) say a Christian country was under assault from Islamic fundamentalists? Well, as you can imagine, to divert attention away from his failures, circumvent the then impending UN embargo, and to try desperately to get needed phone calls made to the White House for US assistance to his faltering government, although, he had stubbornly failed to adhere to Washington's demands for reforms in the country.
And so, Charles "Criminal" Taylor, let me knock some common sense into your empty head: Liberia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation. Do you know what that means? I guess not, but it simply means that it belongs to the Mandingos, Gios, Kpelles, Lormas, Kissis, etc., as well as anyone else that's "PATRIOTIC" enough to help the country to finally unite, stabilize, rebuild and move on progressively. It’s no joke that we really have to catch up very quickly with the rest of the world or be left way, way behind!
As for those of us who were victimized by the likes of Kromah, Taylor, Boley, etc., we can only say to the so-called Liberian opposition and community leaders that your blind association with Liberian warlords is an affront to us. What we really need to do is to isolate them. Period! Why should we always associate with these guys who irresponsibly continue to deny the irrefutable? I have stated over and over that Kromah and Taylor are exploiting our silence and our obsession with the many "fashion shows" we foolishly dub, the "Liberian Leadership Conference, Monrovia National Reconciliation Conference", etc, - all intended basically to insulate themselves and prepare for the imposition of future violence on our country and its people. Liberian warlords who are bent on justifying their crimes in the most blatant and aloof manner should be taught a lesson. By this, I mean, gathering as a different Liberian group in Washington DC with a clear agenda - to rescue our literally dead country from these political "bandits". Such a conference should see Liberians marching to Capitol Hill, where Liberia has a lot of sympathetic ears, to among other things, demand the expulsion of Liberian warlords from America. It's that's simple! The plain truth is that Kromah, (George) Boley, and the other well-known charlatans should not be allowed in this country (the US), especially, to take up permanent residence! Not after all that they've collectively done to us. And moreover, Liberians should not continue to condone their presence at Liberian events. It is one thing to be a brutal warlord, and it is yet another to acknowledge one's crimes be remorseful, and attempt to sympathize with one's victims. But our warlords have not done any of these for reasons best known to themselves! Yet, there are some greedy political sycophants among us who are saying that we should be quiet, and as a matter of policy, we should maintain a spirit of equanimity, while Kromah, Taylor and other Liberian warlords remain stoic and unrepentant.
Further, those of us whose parents were brutalized by them (Liberian warlords), we should continuously refuse to endorse the befuddled policy of our self-proclaimed community leaders, who are apparently rewarding crimes. They can rest assure that our endurance would certainly not flag, and our resolve to see them brought to JUSTICE stronger than ever before. Although the spokespersons of Liberian warlords are determined to make the records of their bosses immaculate, we'll definitely expose, hunt down and bring these warlords to justice in a court of law. And so, Alhaji, please note that your stratagem has failed woefully, and we will bring you to justice in America, and very soon too. You were able to defile the nature of HUMANITY in Liberia, but here (in America) the story is completely different - and this is no threat. Now, how did you get into this country, by the way? Did you use your skills as a liar and opportunist to goad unsuspecting American immigration officials into thinking that you were a credible opposition figure in our now bastardized and pathetic country? Or, did you tell US immigration officials that you had to seek political asylum in America because the dictatorship of your fellow compatriot, Charles Taylor, was after you? I won't be surprised at all given your unique ability to deny facts, make spurious claims and advance barefaced lies in your frantic efforts to dissociate yourself from your rightful title, position and wicked past. Alhaji, please remember that warlords like you, Boley and Taylor have no place in this civilized world. We will continue to hold you folks accountable for your various crimes! And, one more thing - we will continue to speak on behalf of the Barlos, Zoduas, etc. More importantly, though, we will bring all of you to justice in terms of a UN Tribunal and a possible lifetime incarceration for genocide! So, for now, please enjoy as much as you can, because your day for reckoning will surely come.
Lieutenant-General Kromah, it must be nice to be able to wake up in the morning, hug your wife and kids, and retreat to your daily job, running your notorious website, the Liberian Orbit. Isn't it? How is the $500,000-plus home that many Liberians allege you and your family own in a Maryland (US) suburb? What was the total amount that you earned while working in both the Tolbert and Samuel Doe Administrations that has enabled you to purchase such a fabulous home? It must have been a whole lot in order for you to be capable of owning a piece of property in this country worth that much money! It is also speculated in the Liberian Community that you have never worked since you immigrated to America. Is it true. Alhaji? How are you making it in this difficult country? Liberians would like to know because it appears that there is a correlation between your current life style and the money that the US State Department, the UN and countless African and international scholars have claimed Liberian warlords, including you, have stolen from our battered country. Frankly, Alhaji, do you sometimes think about how your executioner and blatant genocidal policies deprived the countless parents of Lofa, Cape Mount, Bomi, Bong, etc., of their rights to hug their kids in the morning just like you? Do you know that these parents wanted their kids to become - scholars, professors, business tycoons, lawyers, presidents, etc.? I bet you don't, because you are a warlord who has no conscience, let alone compassion for your victims. In fact, that is why you are so obsessed with knowing my home region in Liberia as opposed to discussing the horrible crimes that you committed against our people.
Again, it is tempting for one to go on and on talking about the crimes of our so-called Liberian warlords, but I'm going to stop here so as to allow myself enough time to catch my breath. But before I rest my pen, I want to importune Liberians of all backgrounds to seek justice for the victims of the Liberian Civil War, and also help to bring our so-called Liberian warlords to justice! And while we are at it, let us bring the money stolen out of our country back to Liberia too, because we can surely use it to help develop our severely devastated nation. In this regard, we should not rest until we bring Taylor, Kromah, Boley, Prince Johnson, Roosevelt Johnson, and now Conneh (LURD) to justice for their individual and collective crimes against our people and nation.
Let us always remember that when justice is being denied, the aggrieved groups and persons tend to resort to other means, like, violence, purely out of the desire to seek full redress. Well, we intend to seek our redress not by way of violence, sabotage, or whatever, but by peaceful means through the courts. But overall, if we are going to reconcile and rebuild Liberia, then JUSTICE must be the pillar and foundation of our new nation.