By Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
The sad, sordid memory of Liberia’s historic tragedy of the civil war of plunder, looting, destruction, population displacement, rape, maiming, brutal atrocities of mass murders, extra-legal executions, human suffering and death will live with Liberians who survived the nightmare, as long as they live.
Unfortunately, the Liberians who conceived the idea of removal of the government of Liberia “by force of arms” were the same Liberians who carried out the military-type invasion of the Liberian nation – the civil war – as well as perpetrated the mind-boggling human and civil rights violations; now they are the political rulers of Liberia, roaming the nation and world community as “honorables” with characteristic “impunity”.
This condition of “impunity” obtains successfully despite the fact that representatives of peace-starved, war-wearied Liberians and the perpetrators of human and civil rights violations congregated in the City Accra, Ghana, and hammered out the celebrated Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) designed to end the civil war based on the South African Model of Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which, later in Liberia, was duly enacted into law to lead the nation from post-conflict conditions to modern democratic nation.
The CPA and Results
But the results of the CPA – the TRC and its reports – have been and are gathering dust on the shelves in the offices of government officials (who were human rights violators) un-attended for more than ten years, while they rule and parade the nation unpunished.
Thereupon, the Coalition for Justice in Liberia (CJL), a US-based Civil Rights Activist organization of Liberians, in a letter dated June, 2013, addressed to President Barack Obama of the United States requested US intervention, according to FrontPageAfrica, October 14, 2016, as follows:
“As Liberia stands at the crossroads of injustice, the Coalition for Justice in Liberia (CJL) hopes that your administration will stand behind efforts to hold war criminals accountable everywhere, including Liberia. It should not be this way where international conventions are disregarded or discriminately applied and war criminals are allowed to go unpunished”.
To this letter, President Obama replied:
“No country can claim immunity from human rights abuses or responsibility to confront them. By embracing that responsibility, we will prevent mass atrocities, replace tyranny with good governance. We believe that each of us is created equal with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“For more than two centuries, we have fought to extend that fundamental promise of fairness and opportunity to all our citizens. Many countries have made that same commitment. Nations around the world have pledged themselves to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognizing the inherent dignity and rights to all members of our human family, because even now, we know our journey is not yet finished. . . I believe that work begins with the example we set here (the US) at home. We know from our own history that intolerance breeds injustice, whether it is based on race or religion, gender or sexual orientation.
“These are moral obligations just as our moral obligations to help lift the impoverished corners of the world . . . Yet none of us can be truly prosperous when unspeakable violence continues to rob men, women and children of the chance to live in dignity with basic rights. My administration puts preventing genocide and other mass atrocities at the forefront of American foreign policy and we are bringing every tool to bear in this critical fight. And while we know too well the challenges that remain in places like Sudan . . . Libya . . . Burma and areas of central Africa . . . We are helping lay the groundwork to hold the perpetrators of atrocities accountable, while providing support to those who work for the common good of all . . .”
“Upholding our commitment to universal human rights also means combatting human trafficking, whether it occurs halfway around the world or here within our borders. The United States will continue to lead in this fight. We will keep giving countries incentives to meet their responsibilities, supporting those that pass and enforce anti-trafficking laws and calling out the worst abusers”.
Barack Husein Obama is the son of a Black, African Father and a White, European Mother. He was born in the United States of America, first officially-designated African-American or Black President of the United States. An academic and intellectual of world repute, Barack Obama is an honest, truthful, clean-living, dedicated husband and father. He is, also, liberal, progressive lawyer-politician, intensely committed to the classical tradition of democratic principles and values.
Indeed, it was and is Mr. Obama’s Ivy-League education, personal life and political beliefs and commitment to liberal, progressive democracy with patriotism to country, world freedom and justice that catapulted him to USA national politics, the presidency and to the world stage.
These proven, positive qualities of Barack Obama, an African-American citizen - Ivy-League education, truthful committed family-man, husband and father, successful academic lawyer-politician on the national/international stage - are, to racist America, qualities that should not have been available to Black Americans; therefore, they are negative.
Race hatred or discrimination-segregation
This is a tradition deeply imbedded/entrenched and manifested in every aspect of US life from cradle to the grave yard, relevant issue of the case in point. Today, a minority of the Caucasian or White population of the United States, represented, apparently, by the Republican and Tea Parties Types have been and are burning with the desire “To get our country back” and to “Make America great again”.Indeed, some of these elements have attempted assassination to get their “country back”. Assassination would deprive President Obama of successful retirement of a successful 8-year term of office as President of the USA.
Given this historical tradition of US race hatred with attempts upon his life that is still hanging over his head, President Obama and supporters have been engaged, apparently, in a sort of a “balancing act” but bravely, courageously, based on the relevant facts of world history, for justice, freedom and equality in his foreign policy dealing with black, African nations.
In his comparatively lengthy response to the Liberian Coalition for Justice in Liberia, President Obama made direct references to race discrimination in America, “We believe that each of us is created equal with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness . . . We know from our own history that intolerance breeds injustice, whether it is based on race or religion, gender or sexual orientation”, subtitle reminders of the on-going declared war against Black America by White Police America nationwide and the strange, demoralizing hold on liberal, progressive policies – gun control, peaceful relations with non-white, developing nations, peaceful diplomacy rather than nuclear confrontation with non-white nations, etc., – by Republican and Tea Parties’ control of Congress - the Senate and House of Representatives.
The President made reference, also, to the “the challenges that remain in Sudan, Libya, Burma and areas of central Africa”. The reference to Libya brings back memories of the deadly “No Fly Zone” embargo placed on Libya, while western fighter jets pounded the North African nation with modern weapons of mass destruction and the Libyan Leader, Muammar el Gaddafi, captured and brutally murdered.
Former Colonial Rulers
It is important to note and recall that the nations of Western Europe, former colonial rulers of Africa, are now powerful, dominant members of the United Nation’s International Community led by the United States of America. These former colonial powers are, now, actively engaged in seeking to gain indirect political and economic control of Africa through elaborate programs of Foreign Aid and Donor Assistance through puppet regimes. There are many such governments on the continent today.
Although west European and developed countries have all declared anti-graft, greed and corruption policies with pro-democracy policies, publicly, but instruct their Country Foreign Aid & Donor Agents to cooperate and support the governments on the ground which, in almost all cases, are “strong-man type dictators”, disregard traditional democratic approaches in government/governance, extremely dishonest, ignore transparency and accountability and profoundly corrupt.
Country Foreign Aid & Donor Agents often become important “Policy Advisors” and in constant demand by Presidents and top finance officials of government. These “advisors turn out, usually, with socio-cultural and academic backgrounds unsuitable and inapplicable in our African setting. Moreover, they are paid fabulous salaries to off-shore bank accounts, all expense-paid tour of duty, live in five-star hotels or expensive apartments and top-of-the-line, late model automobiles. Therefore, it is in their best interest, in economic terms to “support and cooperate with the governments on the ground”.
In his rather lengthy response, the President concludes with an Advisory. He states that in “Upholding our commitment to our Universal Human Rights . . . the United States will continue to lead the fight”. But, he added, that “we will keep giving countries incentives (aid and support) to meet their responsibilities supporting and enforcing those laws (such as our CPA-TRC & Reports) passed and calling out (arresting, prosecuting) the worst abusers (human rights violators).
In other words, we (Liberians) must earn the incentives (of aid and support by the United States) to meet our responsibilities; that is, that we must support and enforce the laws passed by arresting and prosecuting human rights violators. It has been more than ten years since the law was passed, but no one is behind bars, but we complain of impunity.
The Liberian people, the body politic, is by far greater in numbers than the few human rights violators and the Political Class, rulers who encourage “impunity”. It is about time that we summon the “gut” and the “political will” to go after these criminals and call the proverbial “spade a spade”. Twenty-seventeen 2017 is our challenge!!