We Make no Apology for Truth
August 14, 2001
We do not want to engage in a tit-for-tat discourse with the mouthpiece at the Liberian Ministry of Information. But it seems almost impossible that the hired pens will ever relent in their efforts to distort the issues and impugn the characters of individuals with whom they disagree. And this is unfortunate, since such approach precludes and inhibits healthy dialogue that could lead to proactive paradigms to our problems. In this space, we have urged our compatriots on the other side to join us in dealing with the critical issues of our time, by concentrating on substantive discussion in our search for solution efforts without the usual character assassinations that they have selected as their modus operandi.
For us, the issue is not about those who tell the Liberian story. It's about those who waged war against the nation for their own greedy, selfish interest. In this case, the issue is about Charles Taylor who destroyed our country in order to become president. He did not devastate Liberia on ideological grounds, nor did he offer meaningful solutions to its problems, but simply to enrich himself and a few cronies. And so our focus should be on him rather than being diverted by his henchmen, who use innuendoes and reckless tactics to conceal the truth. Their malicious attempts to lampoon the messengers are bound to fail because of the overwhelming record of wretchedness in every sphere of Liberian life is testament to Taylor's deviant characteristics. And no pit bull approach will stop us from exposing his vices.
We should view the latest barrage of personal attacks against The Perspective and its partners in a larger context as the work of the Ministry of Information, the propaganda arm of the Liberian government. As the UN sanction takes hold and the arms embargo continues, the regime increasingly has become bellicose in its rhetoric as it escalates the disinformation campaign. But we cannot be swayed by mundane and peripheral distractions.
Besieged by enormous international squeeze and with the United Nations zeroing in on the lucrative maritime and logging businesses, there is nervousness in Monrovia, and one part of a multifaceted approach is to blame Liberians overseas. So, the regime has unleashed its verbal mercenaries against individuals and media outlets critical of its policies. The effort here to divert attention away from a serious United Nations investigation, which could have dire consequences and worsen the already corrosive effects of the Taylor regime.
According to news reports, the United Nations has launched yet another probe into the diamond-for-guns dealing of President Taylor. This time, a United Nations team is investigating Liberia's shipping register following allegations that it's sending funds to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone. Last year the shipping register called Liberia International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) provided $20 million to the Liberian government. United Nations sources also say consultation is ongoing to bring logging under the UN sanction regime.
The Perspective often has confronted such Liberian issues like the one above in a hard hitting manner, but we have made every effort to remain focused on policies, the regime's propensity to pursue undemocratic practices and its notorious human rights record. In the main, we've maintained a sense of civility, and treated peripheral characters, such as President Taylor's supporters fairly decently.
But we have learned over the years that when the facts are against people, they tend to use diversion and other mechanisms - sometimes amnesia and selectivity - as a strategy in their argument. Often they disregard pertinent facts about the discussion and choose a different angle of presentation despite the merits. As time of the inferno horrors of the Liberian conflict eases into the farther reaches of our collective memory, some Taylor's supporters are trying to redefine the effects of the war, attempting to portray ruthless killers as national leaders. We will not allow these revisionists to get away with it.
No doubt, Peter Kieh Doe, in various forms of his pseudonym, and others at the propaganda section of the Ministry of Information are using taxpayers' money to badmouth The Perspective while Taylor, a war criminal, is masquerading as leader and running roughshod over the citizens by stealing the national coffers. We hope, these hired pens are not that misguided to believe that Charles Taylor should continue to expropriate the resources of Liberia as his personal bank account without public accountability, or detailed explanation of how those resources are being disbursed.
In fact, it is dangerous for one individual to have this enormous power without checks and balances as Mr. Taylor has acquired. This lack of legislative oversight, coupled with the impotent political system, has greatly contributed to Taylor's bully propensity of seeing himself as being over the law. It surely nurtures a high level of corruption and conversion of public assets by Mr. Taylor and the group of scalawags or rascals that he has assembled. If Liberia has had a robust democratic rather than a totalitarian political system, a healthy, serious debate of Taylor's involvement in Sierra Leone, when it was initially uncovered, would have averted the international condemnation.
Moreover, the country could very well be on its way to real reconciliation and reconstruction of its decimated infrastructure, both physical and human. But the obdurate power obsession of one man has compounded Liberia's already pathetic situation where limited resources have been channeled to Sierra Leone rebels at the expense of displaced and disabled citizens. Mr. Taylor is dictating our national policies and at the same time ripping off the country.
We know that political opportunists and sheer scoundrels such as the group of hired pens at (MICAT) make their living by preaching the virtues of the Taylor regime, although the international community has condemned Mr. Taylor for his attempts to destabilize neighboring states. His diamond-for-guns policy has Liberia laboring under United Nations sanction today, and he turned Liberia into an outcast state, whose officials are barred from entering other countries. Even a paid apologist cannot assign this terrible disgrace to anyone other than Charles Taylor. So, instead of engaging in this McCarthyism, or making reckless accusations against those who are exposing the evil that has commandeered our country, we urge his supporters and other surrogates to stick with the substantive policy issues.
Mr. Doe made a number of assertions that have no bearing on the issues of discussion: first of all, what does being a journalist or not have to do with what one says about developments in Liberia? Is he suggesting that only journalists have some exclusivity over our national dialogue? Does Mr. Doe not know the right to free expression is guaranteed by Article 15 of the Liberian constitution, and as a citizen, Ms. Musu Haddad, as well as every other Liberian, including Peter Doe, has the right to freely express her views on national issues? Secondly, who does Peter Doe consider to be a journalist, and is he a journalist? At The Perspective, we are interested in the views of the individuals, not necessarily their credentials or professions. And there is no former Liberian government employee on the board of The Perspective as Mr. Doe claimed.
If anyone disagrees with a position we have taken on a given issue, we urge that person to opine his views or refute our argument with the facts in a logical manner. After all, we all are fighting for the future of our country, but distortion, name-calling, innuendo and smear tactics do not promote healthy exchange of ideas that could lift Liberia up from the abyss of destruction.
As we had indicated elsewhere, Taylor's allies and other stooges would have a difficult task trying to convince the international community that Charles Taylor is good for Liberia. Their task is insurmountable not because these sycophants cannot articulate their position, but because evidence is overwhelming that Taylor is a menace to Liberia whose only interest is to rule regardless of the effects on the nation. He is also a danger to regional stability as evidenced by his expansionist designs on neighboring countries.
Since Dec. 24, 1989, everything that Charles Taylor has done has been against the interest of Liberia and to the benefit of himself and a few individuals that make up the unscrupulous syndicate, with a few hired pens receiving pocket change in the process. If we were to make a comparative analysis of conditions in Liberia four years into the reign of President Samuel Kanyon Doe to that of President Charles Mac Arthur Taylor, most Liberians would say they were better off during the former. Mr. Taylor may have succeeded in destroying Liberia by waging war, one of the most intrusive actions of man, but he has been an abysmal failure in providing effective leadership. His main priority is always himself first and foremost, and he uses the resources of the country to acquire those things that make his life comfortable while the rest of the nation suffers.
His arrogance and disregard for international norms and accords have reduced Liberia to the lowest ebb on the world scene and has thrown the country in disrepute. Today Liberia is considered a pariah state which has become a topic of international ridicule, all under the watch of Czar Charles Taylor. Some people want us to believe that all of this is happening to Liberia because of some contrived international conspiracy against Mr. Taylor.
But there is no evidence of this assertion. It's unfortunate that some Liberians have become victims to this naivete by believing an organized plot against Taylor. Perhaps, these people do not understand the inter working of international politics. States do not have permanent friends, they have permanent interests, and with the demise of the bi-polarity in superpowers, most regimes with totalitarian rulers are finding it difficult to adjust. Taylor is a classic example of this failure to embrace democracy and give greater freedom to his people. He is a reprobate with a tendency to destroy, not redeem. Herein lie his international problems. It is not conspiracy.
Other Taylor's associates and hired pens think we should be gullible enough to commend Mr. Taylor for releasing three political prisoners without discussing the underlined reasons why these people were unjustly incarcerated in the first place. And each time they accuse The Perspective for not seeing the good side of President Taylor. We urge these supporters to provide some concrete examples of anything good that this ruthless former guerrilla leader has done for Liberia. We are waiting for their response with open mind.
Rather than providing the good side of Mr. Taylor, one surrogate, Peter Doe, meandered his way into personal attacks by besmirching the character and reputation of Ms. Musu Haddad, a Hubert H. Humphrey fellow and a regular contributor to The Perspective Magazine. Perhaps, President Taylor needs a new crew of propagandists who will better articulate his case. Currently, he is not spending the taxpayers' money wisely. If people who are paid to present a positive image of Mr. Taylor are having a difficult time to find anything positive to say about him or his regime that is a manifestation of failure.
Instead of denouncing our compatriots such as Peter Doe and others caught in this inextricably wretched condition in Liberia, we should remind them of the Milton Teahjay saga, which is a fantastic but somber window into the mindset of Charles Taylor. Until recently Milton Teahjay was a firebrand Taylor's apologist, who fell out favor with the Liberian dictator and was targeted by the secret police for elimination. He went into hiding for fear of his life and finally made his way to the U. S. But Teahjay was not the first - nor will he ever be the last - to eat crow and join those he used to criticize in exile.
As we see it, Charles Taylor and other former Liberian warlords are not under war crimes indictment today simply because of the geopolitical dynamic that emphasizes redressing war atrocities in Europe as compared to other areas of the world. Besides, we as Liberians have not mounted enough pressure on the international community to treat our situation like those in the Balkans. It is high time that we galvanize all efforts and demand the United Nations to bring Liberian war criminals to justice.
The preposterous argument by Taylor's apologists that he is a democratically elected president does not exonerate him from being brought to justice nor mitigate the effects of his actions against the innocent citizens of Liberia. That argument was invalidated recently by the arrest and extradition to The Hague of Slobodan Milosevic by the international tribunal. In other words, Mr. Taylor and other former warlords are not immune to war crimes indictments.
Recently, Mr. Taylor has been making cosmetic gestures by freeing some political prisoners, granting so-called amnesty to opposition figures he drove into exile and declaring August reconciliation month. The latter is a meaningless pronouncement, since there is no evidence of genuine efforts to convene a national conference on reconciliation. Reconciliation entails more than a hallow announcement. It requires the airing of grievances that cause our national division. Reconciliation also encompasses admission and forgiveness, as well as being responsible for one's actions.
But while Taylor failed to meet any of the essential ingredients of reconciliation above, some of his supporters have been singing his praises and the usual platitudes as a leader dedicated to peace and reconciliation, and they accuse The Perspective for not joining the crowd.
The Perspective does not believe Taylor should be given accolades for any of the actions he took recently and here is why: Under Liberian law, specifically section 11.1 of the New Penal Code of Liberia, page 27; paragraph (1), defines treason as follows: "A person owing allegiance to Liberia has committed treason, a felony of the first degree if: (a) he levels war against the Republic of Liberia in an overt manner or otherwise; or (b) he commits any act or acts, overt or otherwise tending to overthrow the government of the Republic of Liberia by the use of force"
On Dec. 24, 1989, Charles MacArthur Taylor, a citizen of Liberia, leveled war against the Republic of Liberia in an overt manner with the aim of overthrowing the government.
Let us dispense with the legal gobbledygook or legalese and speak plain English. According to the above definition, Mr. Taylor should have been charged for treason and tried by a jury of his peers. Yet Charles Taylor is still eluding the justice system in Liberia, and it is our contention that he must be brought to justice like every other Liberian under the rule of law.
A criminal who defies the law cannot and must not be allowed to administer the law over others. Therefore, all actions of Mr. Taylor will be regarded illegitimate until he has met the simple requisite of justice that all men are equal under the law.
For Taylor who has violated section 11.1 of the penal code of Liberia to use the same law to charge and imprison his political opponents is to turn the Liberian justice system on its head.
We urge the Attorney General/Minister of Justice to bring treason charges against Mr. Taylor or resign his portfolio for dereliction of duty or failure to uphold his oath that he will administer the law fairly and equitably.
There will be no peace in Liberia without justice.
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