The World Should Not Be Fooled!

By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

The Perspective
February 7, 2001

The international community should not be bamboozled or hoodwinked by Taylor's eleventh hour attempt to absolve himself of his direct role in fueling the crises in Sierra Leone, or pursuing his grandiose design of destabilizing the West African region and asserting himself as a dominant voice and a so-called "superpower", or better yet, regional power. His latest concession to disengage from his proxy army, the RUF, grounding Liberian aircraft being used in the transportation of the conflict diamond for arms, and his promise to return RUF rebels back to Sierra Leone, should be viewed as "too little, too late."

This desperate move is only an attempt to delay the possible imposition of sanctions or a strategy aimed at halting sanctions; that is why the international community should not be fooled by these latest gimmicks in his arsenal of lies and deception.

Lies and deception are not only the twin evils that undergird the Taylor regime, but it has become its policy hallmarks as well. A cliché, which perhaps best characterized this regime, can be summed up as follow: "Deny, deny, deny." Mr. Taylor has denied just about everything he has been allegedly accused of. But in its very meticulous investigation of the Sierra Leone crisis, the UN Panel of Experts, have been able to assemble hard facts and evidence that point to his direct involvement.

It is therefore becoming clearer each day, that there can be no escaping from the truth. Now a trail is beginning to emerge that not only examines the enormity of the death and destruction perpetuated by Taylor in Sierra Leone, but shows his handiwork in the deaths of thousands of Liberians and other nationals during the seven-year civil war.

In a compelling new book titled: Behind Rebel Line: Anatomy of Charles Taylor's Hostage Camps, Bayo Ogunleye, the author, a Nigerian, writes:

"All along I had only been reading and listening to news about wars, refugees and hostages. I never had the slightest feeling of how people who suffer these calamities felt until I fell victim to all three (warlords) in a space of twelve months. Indeed, wars, refugee problems and hostage-taken are very tragic. Many, if not all, are a product of man's inhumanity to man. While it is easy and possible to forgive all those who bore direct or indirect responsibility for the tragic events that happened in Liberia, the experience remains a testimony."

Ogunleye was lucky to have survived from one of Taylor's rebel camps. If he had not survived, his skull and bones would have been among the human skulls that were used in these camps as plate-numbers on combat vehicles and the bones of the dead, which served as walking sticks for Taylor's NPFL fighters that he wrote about in what he termed "Africa's Vietnam".

The tragic thing about the Liberian civil war asks Ogunleye:

"Why ECOWAS countries folded their hands, for so long and allowed Liberians to kill themselves for eight good months before stepping in. Had the intervention been thoughtfully planned and executed, civilian casualties would have been minimised."

ECOWAS, however, did not learn from its tragic mistake. As a matter of fact, once again, the ECOWAS member states stood by and did nothing when Charles Taylor, now president continued the killing of opposition leaders and was conducting his "destabilizing campaign" against his neighbors ­ Sierra Leone and Guinea. But now that the international community, and particularly, the UN is about to take a serious action against Taylor and his rogue government, ECOWAS leadership and other African leaders are calling for clemency. This is the highest form of deception and hypocrisy! Who is fooling whom?

Let us not forget that this is the same man who killed many of their citizens during the early part of the civil war because they got involved. At the time, this is what he said:

"Those whom cat has licked their faces, they've got no shame at all, they now come in to disturb the process," referring to ECOMOG's intervention.

ECOMOG's intervention "caused more Nigerian and Ghanaian deaths than it managed to save, Babangida's government made a lot of false claims and propaganda on the Liberian war. A lot of official lies have been told to deceive the public, especially on the activities of the belated peace-keeping force. More than thousand innocent Nigerian soldiers lost their lives fighting a war they were not adequately equipped for. Many did not even know what their mission was in Liberia. Their death was not acknowledged at home as casualties on ECOMOG side were classified; the figure was only known to Taylor, whose fighters were using their bones as walking sticks in order to boost their ego.

"Thousands of foreign nationals died in the conflict, about 99 percent of them in reprisal killings. The most unfortunate of this group were Ghanaians, who believed their government had no hand in the conflict and as a result moved into liberated zones to escape the fighting. By the time they discovered that their Head of State had been mesmerised into contributing troops to the expeditionary ECOMOG, it was too late for them to run from the grip of Charles Taylor. They ran but could not hide from those who regarded Rawlings as an enemy of the NPFL's revolution. Rawlings' mistakes caused Ghanaians to suffer more casualties than any other foreign nationals in Liberia, as they were slaughtered in the thousands," writes Ogunleye.

Clearly, if Africa is going to become a peaceful continent, those who waged war and killed innocent people and destroyed their properties must be made to face-up to the consequences. Because the cost of their destruction of both human lives and properties have caused the so-called victors as well as the defeated parties a terrible price. Even after the conflict have ceased, the survivors continued to bear terrible physical wounds and psychological scars. One such example is the war caused by Adolf Hitler.

Therefore, let it be known that "people can be fooled some of the time, but not all of the time." This is the main reason why despite Taylor's attempt to influence the outcome of the UN deliberation to put sanctions on him and his government, he has dispatched his Foreign Minister Monie R. Captan, and others to launch his new diplomatic initiative, which is intended to avoid sanctions.

But Mr. Captan has been crestfallen! The crescendo of voices calling for sanctions has been much louder. For example, the Deputy British Ambassador, Stewart Eldon has refused to pay attention to Taylor's "Spider-like" offer; that's why, he said "There can no longer be a shadow of doubt that President Taylor has callously been prolonging the conflict in Sierra Leone for personal gain." And his counterpart, Deputy US Ambassador to the UN, James Cunningham agrees that Liberia's current initiatives are "unconvincing and not sufficient," and that "we are concerned that these last-minute announcements, in the face of imminent Council action after months of discussion, are a calculated ruse designed to divide the Security Council rather than to signal any genuine change of policy."

But all that Liberians who have continued to pay the highest price in this dilemma are asking is for Taylor and his partners-in-crimes to be brought to justice. Furthermore, the UN could take similar action like the State of Georgia Senate on the flag issue, which Lt. Governor Mark Taylor described as "a vote that will echo across the South and the nation." Like the Georgia Vote, the UN vote in favor of sanctions against the Taylor government, would be echoed across Africa and the rest of the world, including Georgia.

Taylor should not be an exception to the rule. He should be made to bear the consequences for his crimes against humanity. For Liberians and Sierra Leoneans, that would be the right thing to do! This would be the first step towards justice.

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