No Excuses - Let Tiawan Saye Gongloe Go!
By James W. Harris
May 14, 2002
With rebels of his arch enemy, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), once again on the move in their declared attempt to oust ONLY Mr. Taylor from power by force, one would think that the government in Monrovia already has its hands full. But probably not!
The government's continuing harassment and intimidation of its citizens, particularly, the internationally known Liberian human rights lawyer, Counselor Tiawan Saye Gongloe, is yet another clear indication that this administration really does not want peace, despite saying so publicly.
How can it want peace when it’s constantly inviting the people's wrath? I really don’t know what the government intends to gain by re-arresting the lawyer, but I can say one thing - it's definitely fueling the Liberian people’s anger, because they just won’t stand for this any longer.
Barely a few weeks after he was released from the S.D.A. Cooper hospital after being forcibly detained there, and obviously still recovering from his brutal torture at the ‘bloody’ hands of known government agents in one of the president’s jails [dungeon of death], which apparently has left him deaf in one ear, the sad news broke last evening that the widely-respected lawyer had again been picked up by security men and taken to their dreaded headquarters in the capital. This latest incident reportedly occurred even after the war-wrecked nation's immigration officers had cleared him at the Robertsfield International airport to depart for Sierra Leone as an observer of that country’s up coming elections on behalf of the US- based Carter Center.
While the ruthless National Patriotic Party (NPP) government is renowned for its cruelty and barbarism, the government's decision to continue its harsh repression of the battered nation's prominent citizens will surely not go unnoticed. Instead, it will bring more pressure to bear on this worthless regime that completely has no idea about what it really means to reconcile (or concile, as one Liberian chose to call it recently).
And for people, including, the executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, who have blindly supported this government based solely on the false notion that Mr. Taylor had been “democratically elected”, I’d say just look at his "record" and what he's presently doing to this humble man, a prominent citizen with impeccable credentials, who has ALWAYS advocated NON-VIOLENCE. Is this the way a "democratically elected" government behaves? If the answer is yes, then I certainly won’t ever want to see how a tyrannical government acts!
But the morally bankrupt Taylor regime should know that the world would definitely not stand by idly why his government continuously harasses and intimidates Liberian citizens, particularly, Counselor Gongloe, on the basis of false suspicions or some other trumped up charges. As it has been told numerous times, if this government has anything of substance against this man of "good conscience", then it must seek redress in the courts of law according to the Liberian Constitution. But it cannot bar him from leaving the country as it is doing for any reasons, not to mention traveling as a member of an election monitoring team.
If the NPP administration knew any better, it would be doing the correct things to convince the international community, especially, the United Nations [which lately extended it’s sanctions regime on the repressive Taylor government] that it is now ready to abandon its old [wicked] ways and rejoin the comity of civilized nations through good behavior. And where would it be better to start than with a little bit of tolerance!
But apparently, the government has resolved to stick with the recent statement espoused by Information Minister, Reginald Goodridge, in reference to what actions are absolutely necessary to be taken in order to ease the very high tension in the country. He said: “Damn if we do and damn if we don’t”, which means that the Taylor government will always be criticized no matter what it does - good or bad. This does not necessarily have to be true, but this kind of reckless attitude is what really is keeping this government in serious trouble. Worst still, the more they believe in, and act upon, this sort of nonsense, the more isolated they’ll become inevitably.
Against this background, I’d like to (again) call on the international community, especially, the United States, the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), and all other peace loving peoples and organizations, to pressure the Taylor government by “any means necessary” to release Counselor Gongloe immediately without delay. Furthermore, they should insist that his immediate family members are given full access to him.
If we as democratic minded people cannot come together and rally around this fine Liberian lawyer, who is repeatedly being persecuted for nothing more than doing the people’s business, then what good are we?