Liberians are Weary of Self-proclaimed Liberators
By Winsley S. Nanka
The Perspective distributed an article titled "Overdue Credit" by Tarty Teh a self-proclaimed LURD member on Monday, December 3, 2001 in the article, he seemed to have suggested that the armed group called Liberians United for Democracy and Reconciliation (LURD) is not given credit in its efforts to unseat Charles McArthur Taylor from power. He also claimed in the article that LURD has been extremely "careful in navigating civilian population" as evident by the infrequency of ''unholy mention of LURD activities by the international media''. He also stated that he "cannot believe that LURD has not committed atrocities that could end us on the front pages of the world media".
Liberians are not giving credit to LURD in its efforts to unseat Charles G. Taylor because their experiences with self-proclaimed liberators have been unsettling. Cases in point are:
1. In 1980 Samuel K. Doe and his People's Redemption Council (PRC) overthrew the True Whig Party oligarchy headed by William R. Tolbert, and promised the Liberian people justice, freedom, the rule of law, transparency in government and equality. Liberians instead got a brutal ethnocentric military dictatorship that massacred hundreds of Liberians and drove Liberian intellectuals into exile. Samuel Doe was the first modern Liberian dictator to have an organized death squad that eliminated his real or perceived enemies. Samuel Doe also ''presided over a kleptocracy that mismanaged the Liberian economy".
2. Charles G. Taylor invaded Liberia on December 24, 1989 and promised justice, freedom, good governance and the rule for all Liberians. The civil war initiated by Charles McArthur Taylor is reported to have killed over 250,000 people and gave rise to the proliferation of ethnic warlords that devastated the social and economic infrastructure of Liberia. Presently, Charles G. Taylor and his criminal gang are violating the basic civil rights of Liberians at will and plundering the resources of Liberia.
As for Tarty's claims that LURD has been very careful in "navigating civilian areas", as evident by the "infrequent reports of LURD unholy activities" as opposed to the Taylor government, the international media has not widely reported violations of human rights by LURD because as reported, neither LURD nor the government has granted access to its controlled territories. Plus, a government is held to a higher code of conduct than an armed group that is not accountable to anybody. Amnesty International (AI) however, has documented human rights abuses by LURD. AI have reported in various reports during the past two years that there have been abductions, rapes, the killing of unarmed civilians and the burning of villages by rebel groups fighting government forces in Lofa County. LURD fighters are reported by Amnesty International to have raped a 23-year old woman in June 2001. The young woman was reportedly "tortured, raped" and of particularly gruesome note, "a piece of wood was forced into her vagina''.
Liberians do not support rebel activities in Liberia and this is not due to their love for the "democratic" administration of Charles G. Taylor. Liberians have previously been victimized by self-proclaimed liberators including Samuel K. Doe, Charles G. Taylor, Alhaji Kromah, George Boley, Prince Johnson and Roosevelt Johnson among others. In all cases, these warlords advanced their ethnocentric agenda once in power. Liberians are particularly weary of any armed group that has affiliation with previous
Innocent people have been killed in Lofa County by both the government and LURD fighters. In addition, the local media and international media including humanitarian organizations have reported that ten of thousands of Liberians have been displaced, and cities including Kolahum, Foya and Voinjama have been devastated. How many more lives and properties should be destroyed before Liberians realized that there are other internal and external options in removing a dictatorship from power other than wars?