War Against Terrorism: Indicting Libya and Burkina Faso
By Abdoulaye W. Dukule
June 11, 2002
When I interviewed the Minister of Information of Liberia last week, he referred to LURD as a group of terrorists preying on innocent Liberian citizens. I do have a memory and I remember that Taylor and the NPFL did the exactly the same thing that LURD is doing. In fact the Minister boasted that the government had experience in that type of warfare and that's how it is able to contain LURD and minimize the damages. If we must consider LURD a terrorist group, we must conclude that the NPFL was a terrorist group back in 1989. The Interim Government and a few countries in ECOWAS wanted to get the UN to view and deal with the NPFL as a terrorist organization in 1992 but the UN said no. Now we are in 2002 and things have changed. There is a new view about terrorism and there is the fact that there is no statue of limitation when it comes to war crimes.
Those who created, trained and financed the NPFL are still out here and Liberians must confront them in the court of law and make them accountable for crimes against humanity in Liberia and in Sierra Leone. It is not impossible!
Last week, I read in the papers that the Libyan government was negotiating with the families of the victims of the Lockerbie crash to pay them $10 million each, for a total of $2.7 billion dollars. As I listened to the news report, the thought crossed my mind that ...maybe, yes, maybe and why not... We could start to ask Libya some serious questions. I called a friend who has been involved in complicated international issues and her response was that it was not a "maybe" but there was a real possibility here if we put work and time in it. We could sue the Libyan government, along with Burkina Faso for unleashing terrorism against our people and country. We could win!
The Taylor government is now accusing the LURD dissidents as a terrorist group. Let's say that LURD is a terrorist group, because they are using armed violence to achieve political gains, against non-combatants.
Let's go back to 1989. The Libyan government trained men and women in the act of killing and destruction and unleashed them on the country of Liberia. Not only Libya trained the fighters it also provided them with arms and ammunitions and continued its support through training on the ground. Therefore, the government of Libya participated in the killing of Liberians and the destruction of properties in Liberia. Along with Libya providing training at the Mataba base in Libya, more training was provided to Liberian terrorists in Po, in Burkina Faso with the sole purpose of destabilizing other countries that the Colonel did not like. Burkina Faso not only provided grounds for more training, it provided mercenaries to fight in Liberia. The victims of these mercenaries were mostly civilians.
Therefore, against this background, using the Pan Am flight as a precedent and the current international definition of terrorism and Libya's willingness to compensate families of its terrorist action in Lockerbie, Liberia has a right to take both Libya and Burkina Faso to court for terrorism against the people of Liberia and demand compensation. The Libyan government is paying $10 million for each of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie terrorist act. At the same rate, Liberia could ask for $2 trillion dollars, and to that amount must be added the cost of repairing destroyed infrastructure and other physical and psychological trauma caused by the war.
The Taylor government cannot take Burkina Faso and Libya to court, because they were all partners. It would take a new government to do this. If the war crime tribunal in Sierra Leone indicts Taylor, Burkina Faso and Libya must be brought in as co-conspirators. After the criminal case, civil law cases could and should be brought forth against Libya and Burkina Faso for the killing of over 250,000 Liberians and the destruction of our national infrastructure. There is no "if" and "but" about this, it must be done. How long it would take to win the case is another issue but the case can and must be made. It would discourage other sponsors of terrorism against peaceful civilians.
Victims of nazi war were compensated. Victims of bombings everywhere in the world confront killers. Liberians victims need justice one way or another, and bringing the culprit countries to court is just a first step. It took Liberians some 160 years to put together an infrastructure that terrorists trained by Libya and Burkina Faso destroyed over night, killing in the process some 250,000 people. If the victims of the nazi war could point to those who sponsored their pain and agony and win, Liberians can point the fingers to Libya and Burkina Faso as the two countries that presided over our national nightmares. If Libya has accepted to pay $10 million for each of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie bombing, they must be accountable for the lives of 250,000 Liberians and the infrastructure destroyed.
Of course, Liberia always gets the short end of the stick. A few years ago, $26 million dollars were put in the national budget to pay back Libya. What an irony! Liberians must demand redress in the court of law. Human rights organizations, human rights lawyers and the media should ensure that Libya and Burkina Faso are brought in the court of law in Sierra Leone along with all the terrorists they have sponsored and trained over the years. Foday Sankoh is but the tip of the iceberg.
A group of Liberians are currently working to make sure that the war crime tribunal in Sierra Leone does not stop at Foday Sankoh and incorporate Liberian culprits. They must add Libya and Burkina Faso. Libya has already set a precedent by accepting to pay financial compensations to the Lockerbie victims. The government of Liberia by calling LURD "terrorists" put the NPFL in the same category... Therefore, it is just a matter of getting names and a few brave lawyers.
While this goes on, we must not give up the search for the 60 blind still missing. LURD and the government must be made to account for them. They are the last victims of the ever-growing statistics of this war. One must wonder why Father Jenkins has not spoken so far. How he found himself in Guinea, what exactly happened when he was "captured". As the one with eyesight, did he see who took away the blind? Why the silence?