Liberia: "One baby, One Car
- A Commentary By The Liberian Democratic Future -
The current trial of human rights campaigner James Torh on charges of SEDITION is one of the multiple pieces of evidence establishing the fact that, despite a cruel civil war that killed 10% of the population in the name of democracy and change, Liberia has receded deeper and deeper into the terrible, uglier orbit of state sanctioned terrorism. This bold-faced campaign of terror has made the past look like an era of salvation and indeed redemption. More than this, the arrest and charge of SEDITION against Mr. Torh show the callousness and the hypocrisy of those who drove Liberians into the bloodier hands of a man they told the world was elected freely, fairly, with 75% of the votes as Liberia's "great modernizer", in the word of one black American politician with special love for Taylor.
Again, we must recollect former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's memorable and historic statement on the eve of Taylor's enthronement. The former president, obviously elated that a self-acclaimed Baptist (Taylor), a man he had come to admire and respect as a "family man" even when the NPFL warlord was stuffing young boys in his Small Boys Unit with cocaine to fight his war for personal wealth and later abandon them to helplessness), announced to Liberians that human rights abuses under Taylor the president were "inconceivable." After three years of enjoying his price for mass killings and unprecedented looting spree in the country, human rights abuses have not only become conceivable, but a part of the internationally approved "democracy" imposed on Liberians as a shaky away out of the conflict.
But what exactly did Mr. Torh say that has made the killer regime to organize deprived, and hungry men and women (called Grand Jurors) to indict Mr. Torh? History is brutal revealing the truth. Mr. Torh made his little speech at the WVST High School in dark and pitiful Monrovia which would have gone unnoticed, but thanks to this "Boy Scout Government" that has given the world the opportunity to actually see it for what it is, removing the fascade of democracy which the Carters and Jacksons are so proud once Africans are the targets. Had the regime not felt so terribly threatened at what the human rights activist said to the point of indicting him, the world would have never known the content of his bold statement. In summary, this is what the human rights activist, now before Taylor's Inquisition called justice, said, according to the Indictment issued against him on 17 December 1999:
That the defendant James D. Torh, previous to the founding of this Indictment on 8th day of December A.D. 1999, at about midday (12:00) with intent to advocate rebellion by word of mouth, to incite insurrection against the Government of the Republic of Liberia; did accuse the incumbent President of the Republic, His Excellency Dahkpannah Dr. Charles Ghankay Taylor of conduct which constitutes a violation of his Oath of Office for the purpose of injuring the President in his reputation and thereby create contempt for the President and thereby bring the entire Government to disrepute in an extemporaneous speech at programmes marking the Anniversary and Unveiling of the Flag of the Campus Political (UHURU) of the William V. S. Tubman High School in Sinkor, made the following remarks among others:
1. That Students of the Party (meaning UHURU) who voted for the NPP led by President Dahkpanah Dr. Charles Ghankay Taylor should REPENT for what he termed 'THE WRONG DECISION' that if they were a part of the group that went to the Samuel K. Doe Sports Stadium on July 18, 1997, to pledge support to the NPP, they should repent; that this Government is draining the country and quote 'we are prepared to tell whoever that is in power that it is time for the Liberian people to stand up and tell you to get down".
2. The Grand JURORS do further present and say that the defendant aforesaid, in furtherance of his seditious act, did continue by saying that the present government has failed the Liberian people; that every institution in this country is going while people are opening mini bank account in their homes', where are the likes of the Matthews (UPP leader who was one of the unbending critics against Tolbert and later became Foreign Minister under Doe but now is at the service of Taylor) and others who came sometimes back claiming to be champions of the struggle; today, Taylor is feeding them with few bags of rice, today is the day of the struggle, because, Taylor is running this country in his pockets; this is not a government but Boy Scout: this country needs you for its resurrection".
3. Defendant further remarked that (after donating 2,000.00LD to the aforesaid Campus Political Party) that he declared himself an Official Member and promised to work to ensure victory and to be there in person to celebrate victory sometimes the following week.
4. The Grand Jurors upon their Oath aforesaid, do further present and say Defendant in furtherance of his advocacy by word of mouth, did further remark that while in the USA this year, someone came and told him not to come back to Liberia because he would be killed, but he replied that he had a commitment to his Country and that he was not more than Dokie or Norwai Flomo whom Government had killed.
5. The Grand Jurors upon their Oath aforesaid, do further present and say that defendant James D. Torh at the time and place aforesaid and in manner and form aforesaid, did further make the following remarks: "Where is the government? Yes, everyday they are crying no money but they are buying cars for girlfriends; one baby, one car", defendant alleged.
6. That Grand Jurors upon their Oath aforesaid, still further present and say that defendant, at the time and place aforesaid and in manner and form aforesaid, did ultimately make the following remarks; if don't repent the time is coming when you will be judged by the history of this land for putting into power people who ruin the Country to the extent that you may not find a razor blade in the country at all.
In violation of Section 11.12 of the New Penal Law of Liberia (11.12 Sedition) which states:
1. Offense, A person, owing allegiance to Liberia, has committed sedition, a felony of the second degree, if
a) he advocates by word-of -mouth, writing, or otherwise, sectionalism, countryism, tribalism, parochialism or the like, with the intent in so doing to incite the people to hostility, create disunity among the people and divide the Nation; or
b) he advocates rebellion, incites or in any way promotes insurrection against authority of the Republic of Liberia;
c) he writes or inspires the writing of any document to a foreign government or concern or any official thereof, making representation on any matter of matters properly the subject of internal inquiry and adjustment; or
d) he accuses the incumbent President of the Republic of Liberia of conduct which constitutes a violation of his Oath of Office, provided that at the time of such accusation,
(1) the charge is untrue; (2) the purpose of the actor is to thereby injure the President in his reputation and create contempt for the President.
Contrary to the form, force and effect of the Statutory Laws of Liberia above in such cases made and provided against the peace and dignity of the Republic of Liberia, and against the incumbency of the Office of the President.
And so the Grand Jurors aforesaid upon their Oath do present and say that Defendant James D. Torh aforesaid, at the time and place aforesaid and in manner and form aforesaid, the crime of SEDITION did do and commit.
So, here we are. In short, the human rights activist was jailed (and is on trial) for stating that the Government of warlord turned president Charles Taylor is corrupt and that it is being run from his pocket. The Indictment states a person has committed SEDITION if his accusation is untrue. Additionally, even if the accusation is true, the person is guilty once the reputation of the President is injured. It's like saying that if a person is a thief and a criminal as established by facts, as in the case of Mr. Taylor, anyone saying this is guilty of Sedition because that person is President. To go further in simple terms, the President is beyond criticism under Liberian "democracy" and "law." But let us now take a cursory look at the President and Government's record to establish the basis of Mr. Torh's statements and see the truth in them.
1. Running the Government from the President's pocket:
a) More than a year ago, Mr. Taylor announced that he had bought a fleet of cars for members of the House of Representatives. He further announced that the cars were bought through an undisclosed loan he took. The amount for the cars were never revealed, but he warned the legislatures that he would "personally" seize the cars if they did not follow his personal rules, among them constant visits to their constituencies and no girl friends in his personally donated vehicles.
b) Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Taylor personally distributed US$5,000 to government ministries as their New Year or Christmas bonuses. The money did not come from the national budget. From where did he get the money to distribute as charity as others?
c). The country's Maritime Fund, its only real source of income, is run by Taylor's cronies, amongst them his war-time concubine Agnes Reeves who now lives in London and attends college paid for by Liberian resources.
d) A member of the Legislature recently denounced the manner in which the Maritime Fund was being handled, stating that that transactions were far against the interest of the country.
e) Immediately after becoming President, Mr. Taylor traveled to the Kingdom of Morocco, where he was given US$1 million by that country obviously to buy Liberia's backing for Morocco's claim to the Spanish Sahara against POLISAIRO. Taylor told the nation after protest from the opposition that the money was his personal donation by Morocco. Why did Morocco not offer Taylor $1m. when he was wandering, penniless exile before unleashing chaos and poverty on Liberia?
2. Students' Repentance for Voting NPP and Taylor:
a). It was Mr. Taylor who promised each student a computer if students voted him President. It was Taylor who promised unmatched development programs once elected. Failing to deliver on his promises, he dispatched his "policemen" ( ex-fighters) to flog and injure many students demanding delayed salaries for their teachers. Students in many schools are left to sit on the floor in place of the promised computers. The quality of education is the worst since what they call Liberia existed. The University of Liberia has announced that it may not open this year in the absence of funds. Education in Liberia today is handled by the many NGOS while the Government spends on building the "fastest army" in West Africa.
c) Basic steps such as ensuring human rights is beyond the capacity of a man who came to power on the bodies of 250,000 killed in the name of democracy. Law and Order becomes important only when Taylor's enemies are involved. The murderers of Sam Dokie and Norwai Flomo are still at large while the Government is relentless in ensuring that its critics face "Law and Order."
The President as head of a Corrupt Team
a) It was Taylor who defended his Cabinet cronies for the massive theft instituted after the elections when he said they had to be corrupt because the International Community was not flooding them with money.
b) A number of his own ministers have recently denounced the unparalleled corruption within the Government which in actual, fact, is nothing more than a Boy Scout Club.
c) The reputable Times of London in a pictorial article in October 1999, listed Taylor as the only African, the only "President", amongst 12 international criminals around the world, estimating his wealth at $2.8b. There are more documents on Taylor criminal transactions such as links to Sierra Leone diamonds and the rebel group RUF (Revolutionary United Front).
If truth were the defense, evidence of state sponsored crime, lies, terror since Taylor's inauguration would be limitless, that is if one takes what they call a independent judiciary in today's Liberia seriously. But there is another fundamental issue involved, that of the supremacy of the Constitution over any other law. The 1985 Constitution is unambiguous about the freedom of speech and of the press. It states that no LAW shall be made to abridge these basic freedoms and that any LAW that runs contrary to it is invalid. But with Kangaroo trials now the norm in our "democracy", any confidence in the judiciary as an arbiter of justice is a dream, a fatal one.
The tragedy is that Taylor spearheaded the total disintegration of the country, looting and selling off its equipment to the likes of Blaise Campaori, the Ivorians, in order to get more instruments to send Liberia back into the darkness of deprivation and poverty. Over 250,000 were killed in this process which, he told the world and believing Liberian, was intended to ensure democracy and freedom after chopping his friend Samuel Doe.
Men like former Pres. Jimmy Carter, Rev. Jackson, and other black and white leading Americans danced to his music of terror and blinded themselves to the fact that this man was far incapable of leading his own house decently, let alone a nation. We believe that it is only a question of integrity for such individuals to use their moral authority, whatever is left of it, to ensure that the man they promoted live to the minimum of civilized norms.
The immediate release of Mr. Torh along with compensation for the humiliation
meted on him for exercising his constitutional rights. Reminding a Government
of its failures, its blatant lies, its ongoing campaign of destruction and terrorism,
is good citizenship. The man guilty of SEDITION against the Liberian people
and nation is the very man that is placing the final nil in its coffin. That
he has violated his Oath of Office a dozen times over is well-documented. Taylor
must realize that like Mobutu, Bokassa, his war partner Henri Konan Bedie, he
will not go free. Sooner rather than later, he will be what he should be-a pitiful
and wandering criminal haunted by a horrific past. Not even Jesse Jackson or
former President Carter can save from his destined fate.
This is what Mr. Torh in part means by running a Government from the President's pocket.