The Healer Needs To Use More Than Just Bandage For Our Wounds

By Gbe Sneh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 25, 2003

Gyude Bryant
"Absolutely not,'' Bryant said of the idea of a war crimes tribunal. "I think it will do more damage than good. I believe we should by ourselves concentrate on reconciling with each other.''

This is what our Chairman is quoted as saying, soon in the morning. It is just unfortunate that the people have to hear this, especially coming from our Chairman soon-to-be. There has to be a better support provided for this position. Spelling out what damages we would sustain, and weighing them against the good that we would obtain, would do the people a lot more good. Precisely, how do we, by ourselves, reconcile with each other?

Mr. Bryant has to explain to the people how he proposes, for example, to effect a reconciliation between that gun toting murderer, and the heart broken mother, whose ten year old daughter was raped to death right before her eyes? What form of reconciliation is Mr. Bryant going to propose to this woman, having given birth, having faced a next to impossible challenge to fend for this child, all in times of these heinous wars, only to have this child taken away taken away from her, by a brutish combatant, woefully at a time when peace was just around the corner?

Unfolding is the dilemma stemming from that provision of the peace accord which entrusted selection of the interim Chairperson to the warring factions. The last thing that a rebel faction would want is a war crimes tribunal. It makes one wonder if a pledge to forego the institution of a war crimes tribunal was not used as a bargaining chip in the selection.

Just how long have you held this opinion, Mr. Bryant? OK, let’s grant the benefit of the doubt, that no arm twisting went on behind the scene, and that this position has existed all along. It would be rather remiss to assume that as the popular opinion. The people want peace, with justice as a precursor. Liberians are not trying to reinvent the wheel here, Sierra Leone is just next door, lest we wander too far, searching for examples.

There are collateral damages caused by war, and these, as prudent human beings, we do grant. Rampant murders, rapes and robberies, when carried out in wartime are crimes that warrant a tribunal. We are trying to safeguard the future, we want to be guided by the rule of law henceforth. We are striving to put behind us impunity from crimes. That’s the only reason why majority of the people want to take care of these things now, to deter them from raring their ugly faces in time to come. Give us the dawn of the day that puts an end to this nightmare. That’s all, we the people, are asking for. We want to live in peace, not with criminals.

Well, Mr. Chairman, maybe your hands will be tied up so much in the coming two years that you wouldn’t find the time to zero in on this issue. If that really is the case then, say it, and that would be understandable. One thing for sure, there are campaign platforms being put together across the political spectrum, and a common plank will be engraved, in bold-faced letters, WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL. And the support for this position? The Liberian People Are Watching. They Are Saying, Enough Is Enough. And They Are Ready This Time!