Open Letter to Kofi Annan and the UN Security Council

By R. Wesley Harmon

The Perspective

October 26, 2001

It is said that "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing". Having said this, as a concerned Liberian, I would like to appeal to you [Kofi Annan] and the United Nations Security Council to please consider carefully the implication of a premature lifting of sanctions imposed on the Charles Taylor Regime operating in Liberia.

What has Mr. Taylor done to even justify a review of the sanctions? I'm aware that the U.N. is indicating that he(Mr. Taylor) has made overtures of peace and or reconciliation toward Liberia's neighbors, Guinea and Sierra Leone. That's all it was, overtures. Nothing has been accomplished. Mr. Taylor is still actively recruiting RUF fighters, ostensibly to buttress his fighting force in Liberia's Lofa County, but Liberians, Guineans and Sierra Leoneans know better. The rest of the world will get to know later.

When the sanctions were imposed on this regime, there were certain conditions which had to be met to justify lifting or reviewing them. Have those conditions been met? Why is the UN so anxious to reward Mr. Taylor when he hasn't really delivered on any of his promises. Mr. Taylor is a master of deception, check his record from the war years of the Liberian Civil Massacre. He is known for reneging on one agreement after another. Why would this be any different? For Mr. Taylor, this is what he calls a tactical retreat. He has a saying for this, he puts it this way: "We will talk and talk and talk about the talks." In the end you will discover that he was simply stalling for more time to re-arm.

I'm sure you are aware that Liberians are not benefiting at all from the exploitation of our country's resources. The fallacy being advanced is that sanctions hurt the common man. While that may be true of certain sanctions imposed on other nations, the same does not apply to the ones imposed on Taylor and his cohorts. The sanctions imposed on The Taylor Regime were designed to target only those resources enjoyed by Taylor and his inner circle, specifically the diamonds and traveling. How then can the argument be advanced that they are affecting the average Liberian who hasn't received a government paycheck for months.?

What message is the UN trying to send to Liberians? Should Liberians understand that their opinions do not matter? Should they be made to understand that whether they live or die is not important, it's actually the internal affairs of their country? When will African rulers wake up and realize that it is only African rulers that are still in the habit of amassing huge fortunes at the expense of their countries and its citizens and stashing it outside their countries. In the end it really benefits no one except Swiss Bankers.

The voices of countless Liberians are crying out for relief from this despot. Over two hundred and fifty thousand dead voices, and millions of emaciated live ones. As a son of Africa, what will your [Annan’s] response be? Will you and the UN reward Taylor for nothing accomplished, or will you continue to hold him accountable for his actions not only in Sierra Leone and Guinea, but also in Liberia?

May God grant you the fortitude to stand up for what is just, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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