No "Red Carpet" Treatment For Charles
A statement issued by the Liaberian Association of Metropolitan Atlanta on August 28, 1999
With the impending visit of Liberian President Charles McArthur Taylor to the United States in September of 1999, the Liberian Association of Metropolitan Atlanta wishes to strongly express its consternation over the willingness of many African American leaders to unconditionally embrace him despite the fact that his human rights records are checkered and punctuated with blatant disregard for life and liberty.
The Community, no doubt, has observed with profound disappointment, and is poignantly distressed over the apparent complicity and the deafening silence amongst some African American leaders like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Cynthia McKinney (D - GA), and Donald Payne (D - NJ) regarding the emerging dictatorship in Liberia. Liberians throughout the U. S. have watched with considerable anguish as these black leaders expressed their terms of endearment and affinity with a man whose substantial contempt and disdain for intrinsic democratic values precipitated his mindless adventure that led to the death of over 250,000 of his fellow citizens.
Clearly, the willingness of some African American leaders to engage the Liberian ruler is not only a set-back to a well defined process of internationally isolating a tyrant whose compulsive behavior speaks to his natural inclination for conquest and dominance over his opponents, but certainly could escalate and embolden Taylor's ability to brutally eliminate his perceived enemies in Liberia and abroad with impunity.
The litany of Taylor's human rights abuses are all too familiar and documented to deserve an easy entry into the community of civilized people. For example, Taylor has mounted every effort over the years to eliminate all perceived potential opponents of his, and as a result, he personally master-minded the death of former opposition leaders Jackson F. Doe, Gabriel Kpolleh, Dr. Steven Yekeson, Madison Wion, Samuel Dokie & family, Joseph Dwanyen, etc. Last September, Taylor ordered his forces to eliminate his rival Roosevelt Johnson and in the ensuing pursuit of Johnson (who later fled into the safety of the U.S. Embassy compound in Monrovia), Taylor's men shot and killed two persons and seriously wounded two U.S. Marines in the US Embassy compound. Though firing on the US Embassy compound was in sharp contravention of international law, Taylor defended his gun-toting thugs who subsequently continued their mayhem on Camp Johnson Road (the main concentration of Johnson's ethnic Krahns) and reportedly killed 368 Krahn women and children.
In yet another blatant act of terror, Taylor's Security men masquerading as ex-combatants attacked the home of democracy activist Conmany B. Wesseh on July 30, 1999, for making comments deemed critical of Taylor's government on a Radio Talk show. Mr. Wesseh's home was stormed, ransacked and looted by approximately 100 men brandishing knives, sticks and machetes and threatened to slice Mrs. Wesseh and her two young children's throats. Other occupants of the residence were brutalized and left to deal with their trauma. These kinds of brazen attacks on innocent people and opposition leaders are not only calculated to intimidate and harass Taylor's opponents, but are carefully perpetrated to turn the Liberian people into virtual compliant subjects of the regime. Taylor's tactics, as unacceptable as they may seen, have decidedly forced many Liberians to be detached from the day to day administration of government and thereby making Taylor a fearsome menace to a population weary of war.
Ten years ago, Taylor launched a brutal and mindless civil war in Liberia to capture state power from the late military dictator Samuel K. Doe. In the ensuing power struggle, Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), trained and armed by the Libyan Government, prosecuted one of the most chilling conflicts in the history of Africa. Taylor's NPFL laid siege to the Liberian countryside and systematically embarked on killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians including, pregnant women, the elderly, children and his perceived enemies. The NPFL's war of attrition and macabre tactics forced hundreds of thousands of Liberians to be displaced in the West African sub-region and forcibly exiled tens of thousands others in Europe and North America.
The resulting madness of Taylor's war led to the collapse of the Liberian state leaving nothing to show except poverty, misery, spiraling refugee population, and a country decimated, which is now dominated by a plethora of terrorizing security and paramilitary networks. To exacerbate the plight of the Liberian people, corrupt security personnel, compromised public officials, NPFL operatives, and an assortment of powerful individuals, including Taylor, have all conspired and frantically looted the national coffers. Since Taylor's incursion into Liberia on December 24, 1989, the country's natural resources have been routinely exploited and exported without benefiting the social services in the country. Instead, the proceeds from these national assets are used by Taylor and his circle of loyalists to support their ostentatious lifestyle. Basic life sustaining essentials are non-existent. Water, electricity and the provision of health and social welfare services are not factored into national priorities in Liberia.
Meanwhile, the regime's restrictive political framework makes it hopelessly unhealthy in building a democratic and core economic foundation for Liberia in the next millennium. The president has shown no remarkable leadership in grappling with the confluence of crises at home, coupled with his unwise dalliance and presidential pageantry have all conspired to paint a portrait of a country driven by anarchy and lawlessness. Taylor has stubbornly refused to create the necessary organizational architecture that must focus on economic and political reforms, reconciliation and reconstruction of a country that he and other warlords ravaged. Even worse, this man has routinely sneered vituperation at the United States for pushing harder for reforms in his regime. Mr. Taylor's cold-blooded voyeurism leaves much to be desired in this century.
In view of all the aforementioned points, the Liberian Association of Metropolitan Atlanta asks that you use your influence to bring pressure to bear on the Clinton administration and the Congress not to accord Mr. Taylor any red carpet treatment during his visit to the United States...
J. Kpanneh Doe
Chairman, Political Affairs Committee
Liberian Association of Metropolitan Atlanta (LAMA)
Theophilus L. Bass
Liberian Association of Metropolitan Atlanta
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