In an effort to bolster Charles Taylor’s defense argument that he was a peacemaker who wanted the best for the Liberia people, today’s witness said Mr. Taylor strove to liberate the people of Nimba County in Liberia after they had been persecuted by then Liberian president Samuel K. Doe.
Today’s witness — Teman Edward Zammy, a Liberian national formerly of the Armed Forces of Liberia – focused on issues that precipitated the Liberian civil war in 1989. He discussed how former Liberian president Doe allegedly massacred over 300 people, including children from Gio and Mano ethnic groups, after the infamous “Nimba Raid” of 1983.
The Nimba Raid involved unknown gunmen, allegedly from the Gio ethnic clan, who attacked Yekepa, a lucrative mining town in Nimba County. During the raid, the gunmen reportedly attacked the residence of Charles Julu, a member of the Krahn ethnic group who was at the time commander of the Plant Protection Department at the Liberian-American Mining Company called LAMCO. Mr. Julu’s children were reportedly killed in the said Nimba raid.
In response, the President Doe and his Krahn countrymen in the Armed Forces of Liberia attacked the citizens of Nimba County, killing hundreds of people, including children who were perceived to be members of the Gio and Mano ethnic groups, Mr. Zammy told the Special Court for Sierra Leone today.
“They killed one of the kingsman who was the only geologist from the Nimbanian side that was working with the company-one D.K Onselly. He was a Gio man,” Mr. Zammy said.
“And they arrested so many others. They arrested a lot of people along with 300 Nimba children, from seven years down to babies. They brought them to town and they took them to Sheffling. They killed them and dumped them in a hole.”
Mr. Taylor’s one time friend and former Commanding General of the Liberian Armed Forces, Thomas Quiwonkpa, staged a failed coup against then president Doe two years later, in 1985 (only days after Mr. Taylor’s own mysterious escape from a US prison). After this coup, former president Doe set up a death squad which selectively rounded up and executed citizens of Nimba County in the Liberian armed forces.
Mr. Zammy told the court that the people of Nimba County were highly vulnerable when Mr. Taylor went to Liberia to rescue them in 1989. He explained that along with 168 men from Nimba County, Mr. Zammy was recruited and taken to Libya for military training, where Mr. Taylor promised them that he would liberate Nimba County and give freedom to its citizens.
“He told us, ‘Gentlemen, I have heard your cries, I have heard the cries of Nimba County, my wife is from Nimba County, Quiwonkpa was my friend from Nimba County, Quiwonkpa never listened to my advice. That was why he took untrained people to Liberia to Doe,” the witness quoted Mr. Taylor as saying to them in Libya.
“From today, I am your leader, you call me Mr. Charles G. Taylor, I am your brother-in-law. I will lead you to Liberia to make a change,” the witness further recalled Mr. Taylor telling the group in Libya.
As Mr. Taylor invaded Liberia with his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebels in 1989, he received huge support and many recruits from Nimba County, Mr. Zammy said. They saw Mr. Taylor as the man who liberated them, the witness told the court.
Testimony today was not directly related to the core allegations against Mr. Taylor for his alleged role in crimes committed by Sierra Leonean rebels during his neighboring country’s brutal 11-year civil war. The testimony does, however, link in with Mr. Taylor’s broader defense argument that he was a man of peace who wanted the best for Liberia and for his fellow Sierra Leoneans, and not a war monger who benefitted from the two countries’ material wealth through terrorizing civilians and supporting rebel crimes.
Mr. Zammy’s testimony continues tomorrow.
It seems very evident to me that the truth of what happened in Liberia will always be distorted by those who participated or supported the participants of the atrocities in Liberia . If I helped killed thousands of people because of their ethnicity I don’t think I will admit to it either or better yet help my fellow comrad spend the rest of their life in prison so really these past few testimony sadly don’t shock me. It is very typical of those who participated in the atrocities that happened in Liberia; yet some how I’m still outraged by these testimonies
This testimony reveals something sad…
Many Liberians want to heal and move and and let by gones be by gones but how can that even happpen if there are people who are denying that these atrocities were ever committed while others are coping with losing their entire family at the hands of perpatrators or citizens denying these acts.
All I can say is no matter what side you stand on I hope that this trail and this blog makes those who participate see how divided we are and how much we need to work on uniting as a nation…
Its sad because this is the same mentality I experienced in Liberia, people denying the obvious, only to later admit it and make excuses for the perpatrators.
Those who were responsible for destabalizing our country let’s hold them responsible, ALL of them so that the future generations know that a great offense was committed against the Liberian people and the perpatrators were held responsible and that (accountability whatever that is) is the example for any person or organization who commits these acts.
Anti Taylor or not I’m a Liberian and I’m more invested in the country then the results of this trail or my personal opinion of Taylor. Taylor is only one man yet he seems to divide Liberians greatly, whether Taylor lives or die guilty or not Liberia will GO ON.
ALL I can say is yes we have opinions but let us B more invested in Liberia our country than our opinions. If we can put this same passion toward doing something for LIB, WOW….
Ms. Teage — The issue you raise about the divided state of Liberians is a powerful one which I’m sure must strike a chord with a lot of readers, no matter what opinion is taken on this trial. My question to you and other readers is this: what do you think it will take for Liberians as a people to unite after everything that has happened over so many years? What is needed?
To have liberians united against Mr. Taylor who is on trial today is not hard! First of all, Mr. Taylor shouldn’t be prosecuted for crimes committed in Sierra Leone by the RUF and Liberians who were fighting for RUF. The reason is that, there were Sierra Leoneans fighting for the NPFL, ULIMO, LURD and MODEL but that doesn’t mean that the leader of Sierra Leone sent them. The leader of Sierra Leone is not facing any charges for crimes committed by their citizens against the Liberian people instead Mr. Taylor is. Therefore, the Sierra Leoneans should be held responsible for the crimes committed against their people!
On the part of the Liberians, Mr. Taylor including the others who cause the distructions of Liberia and its people should face Justice! until that’s done, Liberians will be divided on this issue because there are many Liberians who consider Mr. Taylor as liberator while others consider him as their enemy. There were people ( Liberians) who empower Mr. Taylor to carry on the war in Liberia and provided financial support until President Doe was killed.
But those other Liberians are consider God for Liberia today and the Liberian people can see these people serving in higher positions and it’s painful for them.
If you can remember about a week ago, I wrote a comment you didn’t post because it show the identity of some of the perpatrators in the crimes committed in Liberia and Sierra Leone!
Thanks Jocone for your comment. If I understand you correctly, then, the issue is justice in Liberia.
Of course there is the proposal for the war crimes tribunal that we have discussed a number of times before in this forum. However, it is clear from the scale and magnitude of the prosecutions that you and others on this site are envisioning (indeed, I think this seems to be one area where people can unite, no matter what their perspective on the Taylor trial is), that such a specialized tribunal will likely not be enough to address the impunity issues you raise. though a war crimes tribunal could be well placed to prosecute the higher level suspects, the national court systems and perhaps other efforts at a local level which may not be “formal” courtroom justice may need to be employed.
I have a few questions: first, do you and others here thing that is feasible and practical — that is, is there the political will and capacity of the courts to be able to do this, while still being able to address the concerns of citizens about crimes happening today (eg murders, rapes, robberies etc)? And secondly, if there is not the political will at the political elite level, do you see there being an effort by the broader population — both in Liberia and abroad — to try to make a popular push for accountability? Finally, given the very strong community of Liberians among the diaspora, particularly here in the US but also elsewhere, is there a possibility for Liberians to unite in this way and push for accountability back home in Liberia — and what impact would this have on the government?
For sure Tracey,
Justice in Liberia will close the chapter and open a new one! Without that, we will go no where and we will find ourselves back where we were 15 years ago!
I think you’ve missed the point. I believe that Taylor is responsible for atrocities in Sierra Leone, but that’s my personal opinion, you believe he should not be prosecuted but that is your personal opinion, that doesn’t mean that you’re right or I’m right. I could be wrong and you could be right or vise versa; but when we talk about uniting this is far greater than “Liberians uniting against Taylor”. For one second forget about Taylor, forget about ULIMO, LURD MODEL, when I talk about unite, I speak about uniting for the good of the country, not uniting against a former leader.
Our opinions and feeling about this trail should not be what leads us to unite or leads us to be divided, Taylor is being prosecuted for crimes in Sierra Leone, which might be wrong or could be right, but when it comes to Liberia, if he was prosecuted there will be no question of wrong.
The Idea of Uniting is forgetting our differences, opinions, tribes, etc….coming together to work constructively to rebuilding Liberia.
I’m not sure why your first response to Tracy’s question was “it’s easy for Liberians to unite against Taylor”…truth or not that is irrelevant when it comes to Liberians Uniting FOR Liberia.
Is it possible for US as a people to unite for LIBERIA despite our pass hurts, our opinions, and political affiliations?
Imagine that victims of the war are continuosly running into perpatrators, and these people are not being prosecuted for the crimes they’ve done and may never be. And there are young boys/girls now adults trained to kill now living daily with the horrors of their past.
So the wounds of the war is still very fresh…I do believe that
You make a very good point, Ms Teage — and the issue of child soliders that you bring up also raises the complex web of victims and perpetrators – how does a society treat the people who are both?
Where you think the on going trial of Mr.Taylor would have been by now if he was facing trial for the war in Liberia? Now we both have seen in this trial that all or most of the testimonies are about event that took place in Liberia instead of Sierra Leone.
Again if the I had the freedom on this site to discuss issues in detail about this trial, I would have done so but if I did, it will not be posted on this site because it will give too much details to identify perpatrators by names and locations at which they committed these crimes. I mean both Liberians and Sierra Leoneans!
You talk about uniting. How can we unite when for example all you talk about is how Taylor killed the krahns and Mandingoes ? What about all the atrocities commited by the Krahns. This April was the 30th anniversary of Doe executing four of my relatives simply because they worked for the government. You never mention anything about these atrocities which started the blood shed in Liberia.
These are such great questions. When you asked about political will, you hit the hammer right on the nail. One of the biggest problems facing Liberia are not disagreements over what needs to be done, it is will. For the Liberian legislature, even the nomination of individuals to the independent human rights commission (which among other things, is to oversee the implementation of the TRC report) is contentious. To sum it up simply, the process is stalled because many of the legislators and other governmental officials are named in the TRC report and they don’t want to shoot themselves in the foot. So they choose to do nothing, with the consequence being that the underlying issues will never be resolved. Until there is political will to put the country’s needs above one’s individual needs, true reconciliation will remain a dream for Liberia. Altough I happen to support the development of a war crimes court, I would conceed that even if the Independent Human Rights Commission determines this unfeasible, something needs to happen soon to ensure that the wrongs of the past are not repeated.
Paivy — that’s very interesting. I enjoy reading your ideas – you have come out with some great ones today.
To me the next question might be this: to the extent that it is political will blocking the process in Liberia, what can be done to change that will? Here, I am wondering what your thoughts are on whether Liberian civil society groups can place pressure on the government through press statements or reports or other public efforts to let the parliament know they are being watched to see how they handle it and that people are not going ot let them forget about the TRC report; or whether it also needs pressure from the outside (eg other States who also push to see something done with the TRC report). I’m curious to hear what you think might change the current dynamic.
Let me put it in simple terms…LIBERIANS WILL NEVER EVER BE UNITED!!!!.
It’s always some NONSENSE to fuss over. Up til today, the Krahns and Gio are still building up HATES!!!! Then after a century plus, we are still tied up with the NATIVES and AMERICO-LIBERIANS; then we got the HAVES and NOT; of course, the EDUCATED and UNEDUCATED….the list goes on and on and on.
I try as often as I talk anout NPFL and the acts that were committed to talk about ULIMO and others I talk about Charles Taylor because this trail is about Taylor. I do not endorse or support a single rebel leader or faction…they ALL murdered innocent Liberians and I think they all need to be brought to justice…it will be ignorant of me to deny that Doe never killed Liberians Doe slaughtered many Mano and Gios, so did LPC so did ULIMO KJ so did LURD MODEL etc….but I’m continously told this is not a trail about Liberia. I speak about Taylors acts in refrences to what he was accused of in Liberia.
But I assure you and acknowledge that Doe killed a lot of innocent Liberians and so did many other rebel leaders….Im not impartial or when it comes to the issue of bringing the participants of the LIB civil war to justice.
I DO NOT support or stand behind a single rebel faction or leader…its my family my country my home my community that was destroyed and I do not support the men responsible for it.
To answer your question, Tracey, I don’t know what it will take to bring Liberians together, however, I do see hope for the future because I think Liberians have realized two things: firstly, all sides are tired of war. Secondly, the international community has made it very clear that not only are they tired of paying for recovery from war, but that there is also an increasing likelihood that those who use war will be held accountable. As the differing perceptions of Charles Taylor on this forum demonstrate, however, the underlying issues remain and just because individuals are tired of war does not mean that they have healed. To me, the saddest outcome of stalling the TRC process in Liberia is that although the war is over, true reconciliation has not happened. If the process remains stalled, the underlying division will never go away and the very forces which lead to the previous conflict could flair up again in the future.
Hi Paivy — yes, that would be such a shame to have the TRC report go nowhere, especially after so many people in Liberia and even in the US (I think it took statements from the community in Statten Island, and perhaps elsewhere in the US, during the process, right?) participated in the process in the hope that it would promote reconciliation and healing. Not to say that the TRC is flawless — it sounds like there are some problems with the analysis and facts that may impact the credibility of some of the recommendations — but nonetheless, it sounds from people’s perspectives here on the site that this report still offered some kind of path forward that indicated a degree of hope for reconciliation and healing. I have also heard a slight variation of the assessment that you make: that a failure to address the accountability issues outlined in the report, especially some kind of war crimes court, will mean that the underlying divisions will not be addressed and it will make it all the more difficult for Liberia to move past the destruction and long-standing impunity. I’m sure, as you suggest, that the same argument could be made for efforts to promote genuine reconciliation too.
It’s great to be getting your thoughts on these issues, Paivy.
Let me ask you. Ellen single handily turned President Taylor over to this fake court without the input of the Liberian people. Why can she single handily do the same to turn over herself for prosecution or adhere to the 30 years ban? Tracey, these people will be victims of their own acrostic trap. However, it is happening right now.. That is one of the main reasons why she doesn’t want the 15,000.00 U.N troops leaving Liberia. Let them continue to play games. Time will tell.
I know some people have been very specific about how they feel about people who don’t share the same opinions about Taylor as I and many other “antiTaylorist”……but at the end od the day this blogg is somewhere where I come and share my opinions for a few minutes and move on, I’m not here to make arch enemies with no one especially not a Liberian, Like I said before I hold strong opinions yet these opinions will never stop me from being invested in Liberia or my fellow Liberians, whether I support Taylor or not is irrelevant what’s relevant is I’m a young intelligent member of the Liberian community and I can contribut along with many others part of the diaspora in the development of out great nation. Our intellectual capital collectively and corporately serves as a priceless tool for Liberia.
So I hope our opinions as divisive as they’ve been don’t devide us from our one common goal, the development of Liberia…..
Ms Teage – we welcome your strong opinions. You, and others who also share their opinions here, is what makes this conversation dynamic and interesting.
A take on Taylor, the peacemaker.
Taylor as a “peacemaker” is perhaps the greatest preposterous facade or character representation of a man many around the world and especially in Liberia know so well. What is peacemaking – waging war that killed many, displacing populations, and making inflammatory, threatening war rhetoric on BBC? Is that peacemaking or war making? I disagree with the image the defense is trying to portray of a man who caused the death of many Liberians and left many others with physical, emotional, mental, and socio-economic scars.
In the true sense of the word, Mmaking peace takes patience, diplomacy, and political maturity to engage the unpopular Doe administration. It does not mean taking arms to oust the Doe administration and usurp power. If this is peace making, then we have just given a new contrasting meaning to the word peacemaking.
Without the use of arms how else do you suggest Doe could have been removed ?
Davenport knows that CIC Doe was NEVER EVER going to give up power….didn’t we see a documentary where then US Ambassador said he begged CIC Doe to leave along with some of tribe men and CIC Doe refused??
If CIC Doe had gone to Freeport ARMED, you think Prince Johnson would have captured him or so easily??? I don’t know of a Liberian who was against Mr. Taylor’s action at the early stage and that was how he gained strenght…..
I am engaging the use of the term “peacemaker” from a logical perspective. The defense is presenting a paradoxical character representation of Charles Taylor as a “peacemaker.” what is peace making? War, fighting?
You advanced a fine argument but the reality is CT was not a peacemaker, he was the architect and perpetrator of war and violence and this attempt to misrepresent his true character is both laughable and insulting to those victimized.
How did that make Taylor a peacemaker? This is the question! Do you make peace by creating violence and bloodbath?
Davenport,I agree with your comment relating to your take on Taylor as “peacemaker.” Just keep in mind that when the defense is not painting Mr. Taylor as a peacemaker, they often paint him as a “revolutionary.” I feel that painting Mr. Taylor as a “revolutionary” is even more dangerous because it suggests that all means, including armed uprisings, are justified if in the pursuit of ending oppression. The reversal of roles and the creation of a new oppressor, however, does not end oppression.
The prosecution was the one who link the alleged crimes of Mr. Taylor in SL to Liberia. The alleged crimes by the prosecution of Mr. Taylor in SL has been pretty mush disputed, now the prosecution alleged crimes in Liberia of Mr. Taylor is going to be disputed. I know no one is going to try to say this witness is lying.
I also wonder whether taylor did mention to Teman Edward Zammy about the need to avenge the massacre of 13 prominent members of the then ruling class of Liberia, in addition to the regretable senseless killings of the Gios and Manos in 1983. You see, what really happened at the beginning needs research and a prominant settlement that will ease, forever, this barbaric acts against people of any ethnic sets in future Liberia. Therefore, there appears a strong need for a tribunal to prosecute and bring this act to closure! I will not rest until those involved are brought to justice and hope I am not alone on this! Taylor and others who caused all these mass massacres cannot go un-punished!
Thanks for the summary. There was one mistake in the report which I noticed. It was Charles Julu’s wife who was killed and not Charles Julu himself. As a footnote Charles Julu tried unsuccessfully to t over throw the interim government in the mid 90’s . This attempt was crushed by ECOMOG.
Thanks so much Aki — I’ll cross check with the transcript too and address it. THanks so much for bringing it to our attention.
He told us, ‘Gentlemen, I have heard your cries, I have heard the cries of Nimba County, my wife is from Nimba County, Quiwonkpa was my friend from Nimba County, Quiwonkpa never listened to my advice. That was why he took untrained people to Liberia to Doe,” the witness quoted Mr. Taylor as saying to them in Libya.
An attempt to play God. This midget and political dwarf was so full of himself that he had no regard for human rights and the decency of his own people. Now, the rudest awakening is dawning on him that he is nothing more than a nonentity in the scheme of things. The shocking reality is dawning on him the ultimate power lies in the Almighty God.
Friends and seekers of justice for our love ones,
Why are you shock at these known murders now masquerading as defend witnesses lying under oath? A man who murdered so many innocent persons including babies in the wombs of their mothers and yet has no remorse of conscience is a despicable being. Lying under oath to free his master criminal and role model is his nature and should comes as no surprise.
To a murderer lying is a child’s play.
True words bro, true words.
I checked the list of those TRC wants prosecuted and his name is NO WHERE….I say take your fight to TRC and why he was left out in case Liberia gets Special Court.
Does anybody know what’s going on with the trial proceedings? When one clicks on the video link 1 or 2, It brings up a different trial. Thanks in advance.
Hi Africano — yes, the courtroom is being shared with ICC trials. We will try to get the latest schedule so we can post it so everyone can know when to expect the Taylor trial.
Taylor claimed to liberate Nimba, but what happen to the sons of Nimba, Samuel Dokie, Jackson Doe and others? What kind of liberation was that? There were no difference between Taylor and Samuel Doe. Nimba was the victim of both dictators.
This witness doesn’t same to know Charles Julu. Charles Julu was never killed in Nimba. Who did attempt to overthrow the Interim government under Prof. Kpomakpoh during ECOMOG occupancy in Liberia was it not Charles Julu? Charles Julu was appointed by Samuel Doe as Commander of the Executive Guards.
did you watch the testmony of the witness for which you’re claiming that he didn’t know charles Julu? Or you just talking because you read the summaries posted by Alpha and Tracey? I don’t the actually said that Charles was Killed in yekepa in 1983! I hope I am wrong or that will just prove how mis-informed some of you guys are!
I want to be sure here if this witness ( Mr. Zammy ) did say that a group of men killed Charles Julu who happened to be the commander of the PPD Security forces in Yekepa in 1983? If so which Charles Julu are we talking about here? Is it the same Charles Julu who got promoted to General in the ARMED Forces of Liberia (AFL) or is it another error made through editting process by you guys?
The Charles Julu I know to be the commander of the Security forces in Yekepa was ROCK-1, the former and late AFL Commanding General who killed so many people, not just people from Nimba County.
Hi Jocone — Aki raised the same question. Let me double check the transcript and revert. Thanks for raising it.
Why is this man saying such things, all this does is divide Liberians more and more, Doe kill many Liberians and CT did the same so why is he bringing back tribal dispute. CT should be ashame of himself, hasn’t he done enough damage. What does this proof, all the witness should’ve said was Doe kill many Liberians and CT came to liberate them. But when you start going trhough tribal lines all this does is bring bad blood. Now the people in Lofa will say CT kill us too and Koneh came to liberate us. The cycle will never stop.
So I guest the truth now is that CT never came to liberate all Liberians just the ones in a certain county.
This is to show CT evil intentions, once again trying to divide the people of Liberia.
Don’t hold the witness responsible, instead, your anger should be directed at the prosecutor because they are the one who are trying to link the Sierra Leoneans problems to that of Liberia. If you did remember in 1989, the beheaded bodies of liberians found in the street at Freeport, those were people from Nimba living in the Nacny Doe Community. In 1985, Doe Soldiers went to VOA in Careysburg and took truckload of GIO and MANO people to their death.
And you know who led the AFL Soldiers to the hideout of the Gio and Mano people there? I will tell you brother, it was some Madingo people who were doing diamond mining in Gbolo- Town right before reaching into Bensonville. Two of those madingos men involved live in our town and one of them is married to my aunt and have 9 children by her. The other one got 5 children by another woman in our twon. So we have to face the facts.
In 1980, the killing of A.B. Tolbert cause the Ivorian government and the Government of Bokina Faso to support Mr. Taylor. The killing of both the Gio and Mano people cause them to unite against the krahn and Madingo people that prolong and wade the war worst because the Mano and Gio were not that close before the killing of them by the Krahn Soldiers of Doe.like killing of Samuel Urey Jr. a child of a Kpelle woman by AFL Soldiers at the bus stop in Bensonville because of his name Urey!
Today the same thing is going on in Liberia. Recently in Maryland County, the body of a woman was discovered with her body parts removed and a man close to the current Liberian president and a Nigerian pastor were involving in the killing of the woman. So we should be prepared to face the pain of hearing what had happpened!
Who is asking the question?? A Sierra Leoneon, the prosecutor….he is the one who wants us hear and know…I say BRAVO. There are many THEY SAY we heard of, atleast, some FACTS are coming up.
To answer your question to Ms. Teague on May 7, 2010 at 1:21 pm. The answeer is simple. Educate ALL the people, I mean ALL ALL ALL ALL the people, do not leave anyone out, old, and young. Justice for all from here on, treat the people fair, share the wealth and MOST OF ALL, STOP THE CORUPTION.
John Thompson — they sound like excellent suggestions. My question to you: what is needed to make this happen – do you think it is likely? Possible?
I do agree with you for the fact that we need to put aside our different opinions and unite in putting our Country Liberia first and bringing the perpatrators of the crimes committed against Liberia and it people to Justice! But the part that I and many other Liberians don’t agree with you on is having one person prosecuted for the crimes committed against the Liberian people by many of people who are being protected by this trial. I am of the believe that Justice shouldn’t be limitted and it should apply to everyone involve in a crime!
Like I asked this question before and I said: the man who created the robot and the robot who went in the street to cause distructions of lives and properties, who should be held responsible? Should both the robot and its creator be held or just the robot? I will say this again, if Mr. Taylor was on trial for what happened in Liberia, I can tell you that the case should have been over long time ago.
Well Jacone, Ms Teage puts it very well again in simple break down, but if you stay don’t see what a “whole” means then we should move on for now until the end of this trial. Mark my words, if this trial and future trials do not go well with victims, I bet you will see Luwanda in the next one in Liberia. This should neither be taken as threat nor fear mongering, as taylorites will attempt to interpret.This should be taken seriously so we can prevent the next blood shed that may inlude even those of us that live in exile today due to these despicable characters’ behaviors! Taylor should pay for his crimes and those who believe he is innocent should mobilize and petition the United Nations for redress if that’s what will solved their objectives. Apparently those who are true patriots of Liberia are those who want to see justice, and for those who suggest these mascres of innocent civilians in the thousand should go un-punished are the ones that are laying ground works for the next genocide in Liberia!
Fallah, according to you, in order to prevent what you foresee in the future as Liberia “Luwanda”, if this trial does not go well with victims, I will turn to respectfully disagree with you. As we were told by the international people that Liberia has nothing to do with case, How will this case end up being Liberia’s “Luwanda”? Please explain to us why you think this trial will be Liberia’s “Luwanda, if it doesn’t go well with the victims.
You see, that’s why some of us don’t believe in this case and this court. Why can’t they bring war crimes court in Liberia? Tricks and lies will not cut it. Let us be honest to ourselvels, our conscience, and our country. Taylor may be gone tomorrow, but our deeds will surely live after us. Like Ms. Teage rightfully said, Taylor has divided us. However, she did not go into details. The reason why I think she said Taylor has divided us though in prison, is because of her personal experience while visiting Liberia and the many responses from Liberians on this website in favor of Taylor. I also remember you yourself in one of your recent posts of how Taylor message has resonated or is popular with the “YOUTH OR YOUNG PEOPLE”. Let us come together and reconcile this country. The people are no longer stupid. Taylor has opened our eyes. Tricks will not cut it.
Jacone I’m with you…..
when they day comes I hope that all of the masterminds and ALL does mean ALL, be brough to justice for those who have admitted theie guilt and are helping to rebuild Liberia can be given a more lenient punishment…….
Witchful(Wishful) thinking!!! Did you see the reactions by some of the powerfuls voiceing concern about Pres. Johnson-Sirleaf’s name been put on the list??
Today, Liberia is setting up another COMMISSION to investigate the REPORT from the TRC to see WHYs…….And we are ask to UNITE….UNITE my foot.
As a Liberian I have been following the conversations on this blog for w while now. It is quite interesting how people come and express their opinions. In any case I strongly believe that people need to be a little more objective at times.
The issue of the Liberia civil was something that was set to happen some days. Thing may have gone wrong but the system was indeed terrible. Abraham Lincoln once said that if people are not satisfied with their government, they have tow rights; constitutional right or revolutionary right. In the case where the constitutional right fail they are left with the second option and that is exactly what Liberian did. Taylor may have been the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Too often we look at dictators and forget the situations and people who create them. When people create the situation for war there will be war and not feast. In war people die and not dance, people suffer and not enjoy, people rights are abuse and not protected. That is why we should try to avoid the situation that creates war.
And I think that this should serve as a warning for any government to come in Liberia. because if the condition that existed which lead to the war such as, corruption, military brutality, and the abuse of human rights do existed again, I am afraid there might be another war.
Let us not take too much time discussing about war crimes in Sierra lone and Liberia. It is indeed true that those things happen, the question here is did Taylor really support it. That is the link i have been waiting to see since the beginning of this trial. Which I am yet to clearly see
To answer your question…yes I think that unity among Liberians is possible it may take some time and it may be difficult but its absolutely possible. I say it might be difficult because the wounds of victims and even perpatrators are still fresh….there are people who see very often the very person/s who murdered their family but this person is not being brought to justice and may never be brough to justice. And there are hundreds of thousands of little boys who are now men who were coerced, trained, and taught to kill who are living every single day with the nightmare and guilt of what they’ve done…and these peopl live side by side….so reconciliation will take some time.
There are a few things that I think must happen within the Liberian community collectively that will really thrust the reconciliation efforts onto a fast track…..
I think as a nation as a people before we can talk about forgiveness we must admitt that a gross offense was committed against the Liberian people and out brothers sisters aunts fathers uncles etc…were the ones who committed this act not an outsider. Because if LPC and ULIMO and MODEL INPFL NPFL all denied their part in the war then who and what needs to be forgiven or except forgiveness.
I’m ok if no one said sorry because of family members lost but I’m not every Liberian and many people have been holding on to the hurt of watching/ or knowing that their family members were brutally murdered and it hurts more when the main perpatrators still do deny what they did. Even if the perpatrators don’t admit it I think its up to us Liberian citizen to be consious that there are people among us who are finding it hard to forgive and move on and we can be the one to foster unity, we can say to those people I’m sorry about your loss. I feel like some people just need somebody to say sorry about what you went through, or to say tell me about your husband what type of man was he. We need to be know that there are people every day who if they had the chance to reveng will
Ms Teage — your point about denial is an incredibly important one. It raises a question for me: these trials, like the one for Mr. Taylor, are meant at least in part to acknowledge and create a record of crimes committed and to determine whether enough evidence exist to determine who bore responsibililty for them. As we have seen in both the SPecial Court for Sierra Leone and other courts, like the one for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the judgements in other cases have provided a narrative of the crimes that were committed and who was found responsible for them. My question is this: do such judgments create the type of acknowledgement that you are speaking about, even if it is not acknowledged by the perpetrators themselves? If not, how is it possible to create an environment where people who did commit crimes can acknowledge what they have done in the past, and do so in a way that is positive for the community? (And please note, I am not talking about any specific individual here — I am asking a general question about how a society can create structures to help its members move past the horrors they experienced during war).
The way you see this trial is NOT how most see it….Most including myself see it as the MASTER telling his BOY, he will be taught a lesson. For such a trial, and all we get for the most parts are UNRELATED MATTERS is beyond understanding.
Again, I ask, Why isn’t Pres. Kabbah not on trial?? What was the deal that kept him off when some of his deputies are facing jail term and according to them, they got INSTRUCTIONS and COMMANDS wish are the same reasons Mr. Taylor is on trial.
Jose Rodriguez, where are you? We really miss reading from you. I hope you can consider posting as usual. We learn a whole lot from your take on this trial, especially from the different perspective of the innocence of Taylor. I personally think, Taylor is innocent when it comes to S.L. However, I agree with Ms. Teage that Taylor has divided Liberia; even though, he is in jail. It is very important that we reconcile the country. Personally, I don’t think Ellen and the International Community has not gone so far in reuniting and reconciling Liberia. But anyways, Liberia is more important than any of these Liberian political players.
seek revenge and so we as citizens must make a consious effort to be the ones to forgive and help others forgive. But admitting the obvious is the first step.
The next as I spoke up is forgiveness we need to need to forgive those who hurt us and our family and some perpatrators need to forgive themselves.
We need to forgive knowing that the people who committed these acts may never be brough to justice but we want the nation to move forward to we forgive for our peace of mind and for the nations’s sake. If we want to move on and we are still holding on to every hurt and are refusing to intergrate into the Liberian society ( not Krahn gio or our tribal comminity) then how can we work together to rebuild OUR nations? We must make a decision to forgive, forgiveness will have to bea deliberate and intentional act.
A lot of perpatrators could become productive members of society but because they walk around with guilt they are never able to intergrate into society so they’ve been the out cast for way too long, and what break my heart is that from a young age many of these guys did not ask to be a part but were forced into it and many from a young age.
So Forgiveness will help us ALL heal both victims and perpatrator.
Also rehabilation is needed to intergrate ex combatants into society…and I’m very much guilty of this, but we must as a people realize that there excombatants who are remorseful and needs to be treated with care and respect not just as murders. Even for those who are not remorseful we as citizens should still treat them as humans if WE say we want unity.
Lastly I think that the main actors EVERY SINGLE ONE as Jacone stated MUST Be held accountable for their acts. Whatever that means…… I have my own ideas of acountability but it cannot be said that some madman lead forces to raped tortured and maimed and murdered Liberians and they were never brought to justice. I see that as a freeway for future madman to perpatrate similar acts so it must be known not only through words but actions that
such gross acts of human rights violations were not tolerated and accepted by Liberians.
There is a lot more that needs to happen and I can write a lot more but I will say. Admittance, forgivingness and accountability are a few acts that will help foster unity andforgiveness.
I could seriously write 15 pages to your answer but ill stop here for now.
Ms Teage — thanks for taking the time to provide such thoughtful answers. You provided a lot of food for thought for all of us, and raised a lot of important questions that I don’t think we as a global community have got all the answer to yet. It is clearly so complex to create space for people to admit they did such wrongs to their own community (and for them to allow themseleves to admit their own crimes) and for people who suffered from those crimes to forgive. Forgiveness is such a personal, and as you rightly point out, deliberate act. Together, this creates so many variables on a country’s ability to reconcile after such divisions, and a lack of accountability and other efforts designed to help communities heal only exacerbates the ruptures that are so keenly felt at the personal and community levels. I’m sure your thoughts will create a space for many others to contribute their ideas on how they see the way forward for Liberia and for Sierra Leone too in terms of accountability and reconciliation.
And finally, you also sparked a thought after telling us about your recent trip back to Liberia: so many people here are also part of the diaspora from these two countries, I am curious also how people within the diaspora see their own roles in this process, given they are located so far from “home” but are still in many ways so connected to it and its welfare.
This didn’t start with Mr. Taylor….let’s bring the decendents of ALL….from Matilda Newport to the present and find HEALING. It won’t happen so please STOP YOUR DREAM.
I can guarrantee you today, if UNMIL pulls out of Liberia, we will be fighting tomorrow regardless of the SUFFERINGS we are going thru today…..it’s the MIND SET and it won’t change in a THOUSAND YEAR.
You are talking about our problems as Liberians and how it will never change and I am talking about solutions among the Liberian people…im not sure how exactly that is related, uniting to rebuild Liberia has NOTHING to do with Taylor or ULIMO etc..they are irrelvant when they come to us looking pass our differences and politcal affiliations etc, they are also our bitter and hateful PAST, I’m not talking about Americo Liberians vs Native Liberians I’m talking about the Republic of Liberia ‘one nation under God indivisible’ you know our pledge……..What I’m talking about goes beyond this trail and our opinions. I’m and optimist and a realist and I disagree with you 100 percent I have faith in my people and I believe that we can unite again, its ok to have disagreements and different opinions and ‘mentalities’….but that should never stop a nation and its people from developing itself and I submitt to you that that will never stop Liberia from uniting and rebuilding its self….
So thanks for your opinion but I respectfully don’t agree and hope and pray that most Liberians don’t agree either…
Liberians are and will contiously make a deliberate effort to unite despite our pass….
Even in mirror people only see what they choose to see.
This trial is inundated with evidence of Taylor’s support of the carnage in Sierra Leone but you can’t see it because you have chosen not to see it.
Than you Aaron,
You are quite correct. Is there a link here? That is the issue we should be addressing. This whole charade is not exactly establishing this link but rather trying to draw the events in Liberia int the forefront.
The issues raised by many about a possible War Crimes Trial in Liberia is one that has to be considered carefully in all it’s implications. Will this lead to peace in Liberia or only open old wounds which would lead to more division. I am of the opinion that ti would lead to a lot more division in Liberia and in no way serve as a resolution of the problem.
First of all we must consider the extent to which the war was perpetrated abd the key participants of the war. This involved and engulfed almost the entire population within the limit of Liberia. It also involved some western governments and powers who supported this war with money and weapons. Where do we start in drawing up a list of those to be prosecuted? Do we do selective justice like they are trying to do in SL? Is this process to be fair? Or do we grab everone who provided support including the western and African Powers and the key personalities including some of those in high office in Liberia and prosecute them? This process is too complicated and therefore is best left alone or we could risk serious destablization once more. Where does it stop and where do we begin?
We do not need the international community coming up with a solution for stability when in some instances they have helped to fuel it. Liberians have the ability to resolve their problems in the Liberian way. It is when these outsiders start inciting dissention and division when Liberians start crying for revenge. Who killed Tolbert? Was it those 17 men? Of course not we know that there were other hands behind the coup in 1980. Who supportd Doe when he murdered innocent Liberians throughout his 10 years reign and called him their friend despite his record? Who caused the war to perpetuate by supporting different sides during the war, thus leading to it lasting for several years rather than ending in 1990? Who put obstacles in the way of the government duely elected by the people from succeeding in the interest of the people only because they disliked the President?
This is not about wanting peace in Liberia but about looking for a way to get at Taylor. He seems to be the pariah of the West and regardless of what, they want him. They tried the SCSL and it may not work as they hoped so the next is a War crimes Trial for Liberia. This is all about one man again.
What we as Liberians need to keep in mind is that trials do not necessarily solve any problems neither do they unite the people. How has the tial in SL united the people? It hasn’t; neither has it been of any benefit to them. They still languish in poverty and the same dissention that existed remains. The forces that drove people to take up arms still exist.
What we should be looking at is finding solutions to the root causes of dissention in our society. Poverty and lack of education are the root causes. When the people have very little access to the basic things of life and have no education they are easily angry and can easily rebel. There needs to be programs established to lift the people out of poverty rather than looking at some elusive selective justice which only assauges the guilt of some who have targets they need to satisfy.
Liberians have been able to embrace eachother and get on with their lives inspite of the war and do not need a rehatching of the conflict to bring peace. When mothers and fathers can bring home enough money to feed and educate their children and when services are provided for the average Liberian then we will have peace; not some tribunal to further divide the people.
D6es any6ne think that those who fought for all those years will sit and allow people to come and arrest and try them without putting up a fight? They all have supporters and these supporters will also not sit by idly. This could be a recipe for even more instability.
We as Liberians need to rethink this whole philosophy. Liberians are a forgiving people and do not need some tribunal to make them have peace. We just need to examine what goes on in the country. Prince Johnson and the Doe family making peace and hugging. The NDPL, which is the party of Doe wanting to put Richard Tolbert forward as a possible candidate, when Doe was responsibile for the execution of Richard’s father. If we are able to achieve this it tells you that we can amicably live together without some western concept of justice,.
We need to sit under the Palava Hut and genuinely talk things out. We need to encourage the involvement of our elders and traditional leaders to give the red kola and smoke the peace pipes. That is how we make peace Liberian style not some tribunal that does not truly reflect our culture or traditions.
Pertaining to your question about perpatrators who were also victims i.e children forced to fight, the issue is very ‘sticky’ because these boys were taught to become powerful killing machines, they were literally indoctrinated to kill….and so they simly did what they had been taught to do…….one may ask when they grew up did they not develop a consious and the ability to distinguish between what is right and wrong? In Northern Uganda where LRA rebels (Lords resistant army lead by Joseph Kony) use thousands and thousands of child soldiers, a older teen after being rescued from LRA stated that if he ‘did not see blood he had severe headaches’….The last thing I wll try to to is justify the acts of murder, but the fact remains that children were wronged in that they were used to destroy Liberia and their innocence were destroyed alng with the country. So these children now adults need therapy I believe war trauma counseling, the nation especially the government needs to recognized that these children now adults were exploited and their lives have been forever changed….they need rehabilitation, they need respect and they too need to make an effort to rejoin society as many are trying to do already…..
I’m not sure if this will really happen or if its happening because some people will only and always see them as murderes…
And even as I write this I’m still a bit torn about them getting a ‘free pass’ because they were children forced to fight…. honestly there is still a part of me that wonders if they too should bare responsibilty for their actions…..but I nevr have walked in their shoe so Ill never know really what’s its like to be exploited and MADE into a killer, but there’s a lot of sympathy in my heart for those men who I believe are victims…..
I have ideas about what must happen for these men and how they should be treated….yet I’m still torn in my opinion….crazy huh…
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me and asking questions that provokes many thoughts and ideas.
Permit me to add my voice to the discourse on unity. I think the first think to do is to have respect for one another opinions. I am grateful that a number of us can express our views on this site. The second think is for those in exile to have respect for those in Liberia. It is painful to see that most of the jobs in Monrovia are first offered to Liberians living in the diaspora before those at home. It is disheartening to read that people are been push aside in Monrovia after years of service in Liberia, at the peril of their lives, for some former truck driver in the US or Europe. What lessons are we teaching the hundreds of Liberian that graduate with UL each year. That is good to live in another person country?
This sounds selfish and self centered thinking that only Liberians that are in Liberia should be hired over those that are willing to return and help in the nation building. Don’t you forget that liberians in diaspora send millions of dollars back home that is also stimulating the economy of Liberia. Besides, due to “brain drain” of most experienced Liberians to other nations, there are insufficient man power to handle the nation building alone. This new thought Emmanuel George just introduced to this forum says the “deep devide” between Liberians at home and those abroad. Why should it be a problem to hire a capable individual regardless of regional factor? Emmanuel, you can have all the jobs in Liberia, maybe people there should have three jobs each! And forget about national unity in favor of petty envy instead of nationalic feelings of one Liberia! Very very sad period of our Motherland, Liberia!
I didn’t read Emanual’s comment as stating that only Liberians in Liberia should be offered jobs. I think what he was trying to say is that when it comes to nation-building, we should first look among ourselves before looking elsewhere. This idea is not that different from the labor minister’s recent remark that he would be enforcing a law requiring businesses in Liberia to hire Liberians first before hiring workers from elsewhere.
I absolutely believe that these judgments are an acknowledgement of the crimes committed. Many of the perpetrators of acts against humanity (Sierra Leoneans, Rwandans, Liberians, Ugandans, etc..Kosovo, Yugoslavia) may never confess their guilt, but when organizations like ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) or SCSL decides that it will devote its resources to bringing these perpetrators to justice, it’s almost as if the international community is saying that ‘we were watching, we saw the acts you committed against humanity and we are holding you accountable for what you did”. That is why I do not see this trail as a waste of money, even if Taylor is innocent, this trail must take place to declare that. Imagine after the Rwandan Genocide the ICTR was never created in Arusha and People like Peter Rutuganda who used the RTLM radio to promote hunt and kill thousands of Tutsi, or general Augustine Bizumungu who used his position as the Defense minister of Rwanda to murder thousands of Tutsi were never brought to justice, how will that look in the history books, how will that look to your future “could be” Rutugandas, and Bizumungus… The conviction of 41 orchestrators of the Rwandan genocide is an acknowledgement that 800,000-1million Tutsi and Moderate Hutu were killed in the 100 days and that there were men/women responsible and that they were absolutely going to be held responsible. Of course it is impossible to prosecute ALL the participators because of the lack of resources and inability to figure out exactly every person that committed murder, as these people were neighbors, pastors, friends and even family of the Tutsi people, but holding those people responsible is admitting and acknowledging that horrible acts were committed. And I believe such courts and trails for Sierra Leone and Liberia, (hopefully one day), is/ and will be an acknowledgement to Sierra Leoneans, Liberians and the international community that the perpetrators on trail are responsible for many human rights abuses against their own people.
You asked “how possible is it to create an environment where people who did commit crimes can acknowledge what they have done in the past and do it in a way that is positive for the community.
I think that the TRC did that a bit, but I believe that that “TRC like” tribunal or court or commission, is still needed for both the victims and the perpetrators. I’ve used Rwanda as an example so I’ll continue.
In Rwanda, after the genocide unlike Liberia, many alleged perpetrators of acts of genocide where locked up and had been for years without any indictment or trail date. The Rwandan government set up a traditional court system called “gachacha” which you might be aware of meaning “grass root court”, which ordinary Rwandans citizens are taught to lead these trails on open fields, neighbors come and watch and alleged perpetrators confess to the crimes they’ve committed, a witnesses testify to what they saw the perpetrator do, most times the perpetrator discloses exactly how he murdered the victim, the family of that victim is often told where the victim body was disposed, the perpetrator ask forgiveness and comes out of jail. The perpetrator has to perform many community service hours and after he asks for forgiveness he is free to go back to his community.
Now this is a process that I’m not exactly sure how well is working for the Rwandan people as the genocide was 15 years, and many people are still hurting from their loss; also some perpetrators deny their role in the genocide and only confess so that they could get out of jail.
But as I said before this idea of a “grass root” court could be adapted in Liberia. I think it is impossible to trail “EVERY” rebel, and get a conviction; and if perpetrators started discussing how they killed the family members of other Liberians, that could open up a whole new wound for many people. But what if there was something similar to the gachaha and what if it wasn’t mandatory for every perpetrator to ‘attend’, it could be a ‘gachaha’ like ‘court’ where people who want to ask for forgiveness can go and confess, and people who want answers to what happen to their family can go and maybe get answers. I know my family have always wondered what was done with the body of my uncle, well what if we could find out in a ‘gachaha’ like court? It could give perpetrators the opportunity to seek forgiveness without impunity, and for some actually find forgiveness. And for families of victims some could actually get closure, about many questions they have about what happened to their family member.
The gachacha system is only an experiment in Rwanda but I’m sure that Liberia could come up with some type of ‘citizens’ court’ without impunity that could improve the relationships between Liberians. It’s only an idea. And I think it could really help both perpetrators and families of victims, especially those perpetrators who were forced to fight as little children, they could tell their stories, and as these stories are documented maybe it may help foil future events not only in Liberia but other countries…… But of course as I said before these are just ideas I have, and it does not mean that this is the best solution or good solutions…………
I like the idea of the “grass roots court.” It is not a formal western court, and yet it might offer closure for many Liberians who would very much want to know what happened to their relatives.
Hi Paivy – that is an interesting idea. How would you envision such a “grass roots court” would work? Is there anything similar in Liberia at the moment that it could be modelled on? Or might it be drwan from other places — Rwanda, for example, set up community based courts called gacaca after the genocide to deal with crimes that were not addressed by the more formal justice sector. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
Tracey is away for the day. I have already taken away your name from the post.
thanks can u kindly remove that note to tracy to remove my comment.
That too has been taken care of.
What going on with this unity stand by Ms. Teage. Without justice we cannot get unity.
Fallah, I have no problem with brilliant Liberians been hired to work in Liberia. Please read my comments again for clarification but I do have problem with people been hired only because they have lived in the US, Europe or some foriegn land. I do not think it is the best. These things divide Liberians. You may want to ignore it but it is the fact.
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