Liberians Will Triumph Over Tragedy

By James Torh

The Perspective

February 27, 2002

About three weeks ago, I was away in Europe to honour invitations and attending to some professional duties. My first stop was in Dublin, Ireland where I went to attend global human rights defenders campaign, which was hosted by Frontline, a global movement in the business of defending the defenders. As I step out of the plane, I was greeted with three immigration officers and the one in the front stretched forth his hands and requested for my passport. I sighed and opened my bag and handed my book to the tall and slim fellow who appeared very confident to a call to duty. For a full minute, he inspected my passport, stamped it and then handed it back to me. Behind him was another officer, a huge, tall, and muscled fellow, who shouted on top of his voice, "please let me see". I lifted my eyes and our eyes met, and he must have seen me frown as I was out of breath and the veins on my face were standing and more pronounced ready to resist his request. He hurriedly relaxed his appearance and in a cheerful manner, he walked to me, pat my back and said to me "I want to speak with you because I notice you are a Liberian".

We walked few kilometres away from the other officers with a complete silence, and he broke silence "what is your name?" I am James. He continued, "You know, I did African history at the University and have read lot about your country, Liberia. Your country, the first African Republic has played an important role in the African liberation struggle and has contributed to the formation of African Organization, (I assumed the OAU), the League of Nations and the United Nations." He went further and said, "But I have followed the war in your country and I think your President is not normal... he is a beast." My eyebrows rose and felt the mixture of intense pains, but it took a second to realize what he has meant as soon as his message sunk in me. "I have followed the wars, the anarchy and bloodshed, the terror, the destructions, the agony, the suffering, the unbearable pains of raw grief and the ruthless pursuit of power and wealth. What is happening in your country is gangsterism and it is terrible and shocking and I hope you and your people will triumph over this tragedy." We then departed, as I ran into my host waving my name on the placard.

Then in my hotel room, I sat on the edge of my bed, wrapped my arms around myself, and look out the window. Storm clouds gathered in the sky and frowned with my thoughts racing-when he started following the Liberian crisis? I paused for a moment and began to count the atrocities and the terror that Taylor and his criminal gangs rained on the harmless people of Liberia for more than a decade. The summaries executions and butchering of prominent citizens and politicians including (Jackson Doe, Gabriel Kpolleh, Stephen Yekenson, and many more. Then the massacres that Taylor and his high-core sadists and demons planned and implemented, lost in horror and lack of single act of conscience for the quest of power. The Carter Camp, Dupport Road, Camp Johnson Road, Public Works, and many others that were carried out in rural Liberia.

Then, I remembered the chain of operations that sent thousands to their earlier graves. The operation octopus, a human tragedy that was enacted on the capital, Monrovia on the psyche of Monrovians in the early morning hours of October, 1992. In the span of a few hours in the dead would overshadow the city with chilling horror. The entire population was riddled with terror while the children and women and the elderly were in the state of confusion while Taylor evil was prevailing using innocence children who were drugged and subsequently consumed by wild animals in the swamp bordering central Monrovia and Gardnersville.

Then my thoughts flipped through the April 6, 1996 horror, a holy marriage between Kromah and Taylor that burnt Monrovia to ashes to arrest Roosevelt Johnson, a fellow warlord. All of a sudden, the streets of Monrovia were flooded with bandits, wielding dangerous weapons they were not shy using on innocence people. They looting homes and supermarkets while Johnson was, in the BTC barracks.

Then my thoughts captured the September 18, 1998 incident when Taylor invaded the camp Johnson Community to capture and kill Roosevelt Johnson killing over 300 Krahns at the Public works building and over 100 krahns at St. Thomas Church on Camp Road. But if God is on his throne, why is he so patient? As the pains and angered boiled over in my entire being mixed with sorrow, I frowned and reached for the pillow that was tossed across my bed and buried my face.

Taylor has made my country a land of blood while corruption and crime are epidemic. But indeed, Taylor has achieved his objective of recolonizing Liberia as a rogue state and a fear Republic. He hijacked the economic and running the nation's budget in his pocket. I was shocked, saddened and disappointed that our citizens would sink so low and betrayed their moral ground to join Taylor to turn Liberia to Jesus. How under heavens can you join a man who is believed to house a creature that lived on human blood. What a hypocrisy-so blatant and vicious, a blindness and tragic error in the history of our country.

God, the creator of mankind has a sense of humour after all. Then, I caught my breath and remembered the promised made thousands years ago. A promised that it would not rain forever. Before the world floods, the sun will shine again. And I wondered whether, is the promised for Liberia and Liberians too? God, please help us!

About the author: 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.

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