Bureau of Veterans Affairs? What A Joke!
By Teewroh Wehtoe Sungbeh
The headline I read online the morning of September 19, 1999, went like this: "Liberia Sets Up Office For Civil War Veterans."
And that's not all the story. According to a statement from Jonathan Taylor, who is Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, and a cousin to President Charles Taylor, the "special office will come under the wing of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. It will maintain a database for all former fighters." Beside the compilation of relevant data for those former fighters, the bureau will "cater to the needs of veterans who fought the civil war."
The decision to set up a Bureau of Veterans Affairs, according to news stories came about after Taylor's former fighters protested at a United Nations compound demanding help. These former bandits recently invaded and ransacked the home of a democracy campaigner whom they accused of discouraging the United Nations from helping them.
As the episode to payback the thugs and renegades who wrecked havoc on the Liberian people for seven years was unveiled, the president of the Christian Association of the Blind in Liberia, Beyan Kota, went on record criticizing the government's decision to establish a bureau exclusively for ex-fighters.
According to Mr. Kota "a national office for all disabled people should be established. He said that ex-fighters should not be singled out for assistance. It was government's duty to seek the welfare of all traumatized groups, especially disabled people," he added.
A government is charged to make policy decisions that serve the needs of the entire nation, not special interest groups.
Pandering to the needs of a bunch of blood-sucking criminals and murderers is another example of Charles Taylor's stabbing the Liberian people in the back. He cares very little about them. By setting up a bureau of veterans affairs that "caters" to the needs of "ex-fighters," Taylor is sending a clear message about where his priorities lie. His objective is not to lift this broken country from shackles of his evil hands, but rather he wants to take care of killers from his NPFL. Taylor's strategy is simple. To keep his hold on power, he must satisfy those bandits who made his rule possible. This may sound unthinkable; but dictators are known for the bizarre reasoning.
It's frustrating, and I am sure the Liberian people feel that way also, to see the Liberian "leader" take Liberia through a narrow road. That path that Charles Taylor treads is not only narrow, but it is also deadly.
Not only is our country going through this difficult time, but our people seem helpless to do something about it.
The economy is in the doldrums. Crimes and lawlessness are on the upswing and Mr. Taylor is obsessed with eliminating perceived enemies, and helping his subversive partners in Sierra Leone as Liberia's business becomes secondary.
A Bureau of Veterans Affairs is reserved for genuine heroes and heroines who fought with valor to save their country from the evil hands of a foreign enemy. Such patriots are not only the heart and soul of a country, they are role models that the young, the old, and the disabled look up to for inspiration.
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