Preparing The Next Genocide

By Abdoulaye W. Dukule

The Perspective

February 18, 2002

Since the imposition of the state of emergency, which did not come as a surprise to any observer of the Liberian situation, small - almost unnoticeable - acts have been engineered by the Taylor government that point in the direction of a major human crisis just to put the Liberian beleaguered leader in the driver’s seat. Almost a year ago, in an article titled "DesperateTaylor, The Next War" -, we wrote that Taylor would create a humanitarian crisis so that the international community would take him seriously because he cannot afford to be ignored. He failed in Sierra Leone and Guinea, and now he has taken the people of Liberia as his hostages.

The brutality of the 1990 war should have left no doubt in anyone’s mind as to how far this man would go for recognition. He is not simply after money, girls and power, he is after his own soul, buried so deep down like Adolf Hitler, the man would set humanity on fire to prove his manliness. He would burn down Liberia, exploiting every weakness of the Liberian psyche, because he knows so well the mind of people who have been deprived for so long. He knows that he can buy as many Liberians as he wants, he can kill as many fathers and mothers and have their children do his dirty job. He knows the loopholes in the political and social systems of countries opposed to him. He knows that as long as he passes around the little envelopes, he can count on a few “honorable men” to carry out and defend his evil acts.

In the past few days, he has been working hard to get the international community to talk about Liberia. Every morning, his minister of information brings to him clippings of newspapers from around the world talking about the war in Liberia, about the refugees and displaced people crisis and, mostly talking about Charles Taylor. It doesn’t matter what they call him or say about him, as long as they talk about him. As long they say “the president of Liberia…” everything else is ok. A year ago, when Commany Wesseh was in a hospital after ATU beat him almost to death, he said that Taylor was responsible for the attempted murder. Guess what? Taylor did not mind that Wesseh was accusing him of being a murderer. He went into a rage because Wesseh did not say “President Taylor…” and promised that he would teach him another lesson.

We expected the state of emergency. We said Taylor would create a humanitarian crisis in the sub-region to get attention. That’s what is going on now. His untrained and undisciplined militia allows him to carry out anything and blame it on someone else.

In his attempt to call attention to himself, Mr. Taylor has embarked on all kinds of gimmicks, with his very oiled disinformation machine. Blaming LURD, the Muslims, perceived opposition leaders has now become a daily song on the airwaves of the NPFL.

By publishing fake manifestoes from LURD and publishing pictures of Counselor Brumskine, Dr. Sawyer and Kromah, Mr. Taylor is publicizing his state of panic. He is also igniting the fire within his militia, headed by his killer-son Chucky, who masterminded the carnage on Camp Johnson Road in September 1998.

All of this may sound like a masquerade and a naïve attempt by a government to blame others for its shortcomings, but Taylor is ready to go “all the way” and create a massacre of some sort to get the international community to pay attention to him. He is now faced with three choices: 1. Stay president; 2. Be indicted and go to jail; and 3. Be killed or overthrown by LURD. He could negotiate his exit and leave for a country of his choice like Idi Amin did. And if he were an honorable man, he would step aside. But he would stay president at all costs, including his own life.

The stage Taylor is preparing is far from his exit. He is slowly drawing LURD into a corner by manipulating all available public relations and information possibilities. He is also preparing to go after all “progressive” thinking Liberians who from afar somehow associated with Dr. Amos Sawyer. He is putting supporters of Brumskine on the alert by brandishing the possibility of a treason charge. He is scaring Mandingoes away by accusing Alhaji Kromah. Indeed, any of these men could bring him down, one way or the other. He is therefore accusing of all the evil in the world. Someday, we may wake up and hear that hundreds of people have been massacred in and around Monrovia, and Taylor would say that it was done in a fight with rebels led by supporters of Amos Sawyer, Alhaji Kromah and Brumskine. He has set the stage for his boys to go on the rampage. And when that happens, he will negotiate with the international community to disarm his ATU, to lift the state of emergency, to stop the exit visa and to call a national conference. By that time, anybody who wants to stay alive would have been out of the country and he would continue his reign over the rainforest and the diamond mines. People? He never cared for.

We are not using the word “genocide” in vain. In 1990, genocide was committed against the Mandingoes and the Krahns. Many Liberians remained silent on the rampant slaughter of other Liberians simply because they were of a certain tribe. People cried at checkpoints to prove that they were not Mandingoes or Krahns. Thousands were humiliated, killed and thrown to the dogs. Liberians still have to deal with this issue. A few days ago, while addressing the legislature to justify the imposition of the state of emergency, Taylor spoke about “genocide.” And it is on its way, in one form or the other. Except that this time, it won’t be against only Mandingoes and Krahns.

Having failed in all public relations stunts and appeals, Taylor has now resorted to state terrorism. He creates panic and shut the doors on frightened innocent people. With the exit visa, he has now taken the whole country hostage, a form of negotiation well known to terrorists. The ransom he is seeking is simple: the same all terrorists demand, that is to be “taken seriously, to be listened to, to get some respect.”

Taylor sends his boys and girls to shoot in the countryside. Everybody panics and runs to Monrovia and then he makes arrests and imposes new laws. Like a terrorist, he knows the rules of negotiations. He closes down a newspaper and hands a short wave license to Radio Veritas in the same 48 hours. It is all a charade. Why would Taylor allow the radio station run by Archbishop Michael Francis, one of his staunchest critics at the time when he is imposing a state of emergency? Are we that stupid?

In dealing with Taylor, we must not give in to blackmail and panic. Let him play his hand and he will soon stand naked.

The opposition, in and outside must put their differences aside and work hard to get our friends (the United States) involved. It might take a trip to Tony Blair and convince him that his great deeds in Sierra Leone would be short lived as long as the tyrant next door is awake and strong and he might get the US to listen. A coordinated action with democratic forces in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire could serve as a starting point. Thousands of people in each of these countries are suffering because of the actions of this one man and his army of bandits.

LURD must stop playing the game Taylor got them involved in and pursue an agenda for national peace by working with other members of the active opposition. Joe Wylie and others must now know that the true beneficiary of whatever they thought they were doing is Charles Taylor, the man they want to overthrow. He is using them to put in place things he could not have done without their actions on the grounds.

The legislators must divorce themselves from the evils of this man. The Speaker and his colleagues should know that they have a responsibility to the people of Liberia and they will have to answer questions sooner than later. Kekura Kpoto must understand that one cannot play the same game so many times and get away with it.

Taylor got away with his first genocide. We must not allow him the chance to carry out a second one. He is beyond salvation and we must all work to salvage Liberia.

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