Liberian Refugees are not Dangerous
By James Torh
July 6, 2001
According to the July 3, 2001, issue of This Day, a Nigerian paper, Nuhu Ibrahim uttered some incredulous remarks after a courtesy visit with President Olusegon Obasanjo in Abuja. The paper quoted Nuhu as saying that "some West African leaders habour sinister motives against Nigeria in spite of the posture of the government to promote peaceful co-existence and harmony in the sub-region."
The Nigerian government acceptance of the Liberian refugees after they were refused by Ghana, Benin and Togo, must be applauded. But if the so-called human rights advocate had any understanding of history, and sense of perspective of the Liberian civil war, he would have taken note of the fact that President Obasanjo's predecessor, the late dictator Sani Abacha, was instrumental in imposing another dictator, Charles Taylor, on the Liberian people as the result of the influence he wielded on the 1997 Liberian elections.
The Liberian refugees are only victims of the war and prevailing tyranny in Liberia and pose no danger to anyone. The crisis of refugees that has engulfed the West African sub-region could only be eliminated if tyrants like Charles Taylor, Blaise Compoare and others were not engaged in a criminal enterprise and spreading anarchy. Therefore, Nuhu's remarks ought to be condemned by civilized governments and people.
Few months ago, I have vowed never again to mention Charles Taylor and his terror machine planted in my country, Liberia and the Mano River Union Countries, because the more I think and write about it, the more I develop pain. Every time I figure out my country and the horrible situation intrudes on my thoughts, it becomes very difficult to contain myself. I begin to think and think the unthinkable and the question that continues to haunt me is why the dignity of Liberia and Liberians is slipping low? Why our honor and dignity have evaporated that even birds are refusing to live in Liberia?
What bothers me the most and which continues to rub sleep out of my eyes in recent days is the statement made by Nuhu Ibrahim, chairman of the Abidjan based Global Human Rights Alternative. According to statement which was posted and carried on the Internet by allAfrica.com, "Liberian Refugees are Dangerous" . The vile, unfounded and naive conclusion about Liberians coming from a chairman of a global human rights institution is unfortunate and disappointing. What I don't know is his knowledge and understanding of human rights crusade. But indeed, his statement gives us a clearer picture which reflects his abysmal ignorance of human rights. The statement which is slanderous, betrays international acceptable principles of humanitarian law. Pointing his fingers at helpless people who are fleeing the war, the horror and human rights tragedy on the high seas for over twenty five days without food, living on salt water as dangerous is an error on his part. What a pity!
But the crux of the matter is if Charles Taylor, a monster and international criminal, has not instituted terror which is resounding throughout our land for power and wealth, then man like Nuhu would not have chosen to churn out trash and rubbish. If Taylor has not created the atmosphere of extreme terror that reigns and continues to consume our land while our people grieve, then Nuhu would not slip into the arena of uttering unintelligent statements and nonsense that does not merit listening to. If Taylor had not created a pillar of violence and fed on infinite chaos, then the so-called chairman of a human rights institution, would not have labeled Liberians as "heartless people who must be isolated by every lover of peace and security". This is our trouble.
It is true that our national climate has changed due to the imposition of gangsters and high-core criminals on our nation, but my advice to Nuhu is to go back to history, and to read about the role of Liberia, a country that has championed the cause of African liberation and served as founding member of the OAU and ECOWAS. Let it be known to Nuhu that Liberia was a home of people fleeing political persecution from several African countries and the world. So Nuhu needs learn accordingly.
Editor's Note: James Torh is a human rights activist who was arrested for criticizing President Charles Taylor's Government, and was charged with treason. He subsequently escaped from the country and now lives in exile.