Liberian Groups Intensify Sanctions Campaign

The Perspective

February 14, 2001

Leading Liberian community and political organizations and individual Liberians in the US, Canada and Europe, have urged the UN Security Council for swift sanctions against their country for its violent intervention in conflicts consuming neighboring states.

At the same time, the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers, has joined mounting calls on the Security Council for sanctions on Liberia. "We are already now in the process of the boycott (on Liberia)... and I do not hesitate to make a judgment to the international community to be even tougher on that," he urged. The former Dutch Prime Minister, scheduled to meet Taylor today as part of his West African tour, vowed strong words -- "strong in terms of threats, strong in terms of the possibilities for him of a positive outcome," Reuters reported.

In a letter recently sent to the UN Security Council which is now debating sanctions, three Liberian groups (The All Liberian Conference, Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia and Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas) urged sanctions because they, noted, there is evidence,(against Taylor) for his continuous black market dealings in 'gems-for-guns trade,' and support for the murderous RUF". They said, "Because of Taylor's intransigence, coupled with his recalcitrant behavior towards the international community of civilized nations and, his lack of basic human decency, Africa's oldest democracy has become both a laughing stock and a "whipping boy" in the world. Therefore, we are left with no choice but to register full support for sanctions against the Government officials of Liberia and their family members. As the grave nature of this matter requires we request of this august body for our representatives to testify at these hearings".

They accused Taylor of diverting money "to finance (his) war in Sierra Leone and Guinea" and therefore contended that "sanctions are necessary because this is the quickest way to make our Government live within the norms and behaviour of the international community and respect the African brotherhood". They added that "Taylor and his friends may attempt to impress you that money from the timber sale is used to build schools, hospitals, roads and restore some basic social services, this is far from the truth. In fact, the Nation's largest Hospital, the John F. Kennedy Hospital remains closed".

"We are convinced that the recent United Nation's Commission report on the Taylor Government's activities in the region does not point finger at the Liberian people but it clearly documents the involvement of our Government in profiting at the expense of the lives and properties of our brothers and sisters in the West African sub-region, particularly Sierra Leone. Not to mention such activities also put our nation's young men and women in harm's way', they said..

" Our support then for the sanctions is not to punish the Liberian people but to bring to bear pressure on those involved directly or indirectly in the affairs of illicit trade and gun running which continue to rain havoc on the people of Sierra Leone, Guinea and the entire sub-region. By and through the actions and inaction of President Taylor and some members of his Government to halt the trafficking of diamonds, timber and weapons of destruction, and ignore advice to cut off all political, military and financial support to the Revolutionary United Front, our beloved Liberia has now become a pariah and rogue state in the international community of nation states. This failure of President Taylor to cease and desist from these acts compel us to declare our unwavering support for the international sanctions against President Taylor and the Liberian Government officials.

"As former participants in the Liberian peace process, we embraced the results of the election as a sign of peace, democracy, reconciliation and above all, saw the relative peace as an avenue for regional stability so that our Western African brothers and sisters of ECOMOG can return to their families. Unfortunately, our hopes and expectations of putting our nation back on its feet remain on distant shores because of the behavior of the Taylor Government.

"We are aware anti-sanction forces may argue that any form of sanctions would hurt the Liberian people on all levels and may even accuse us of being out of touch with the reality on the grounds. We caution you that such ploys are being argued only by Taylor Government's so called West African friends and some Liberians who may be profiting directly or indirectly from the "blood money" and illicit activities."

The groups further accused Taylor of "The pillage and plunder of our resources for personal gains", contending that, "Liberia's new image as a pariah state cannot go unnoticed. The world has witnessed events after events of ethnic hatred, religious intolerance, repression of fundamental rights, abuse of power and authority as well as the continuous deterioration of the quality of life in Liberia. No effort is made by the Government to provide basic public services such as electricity, running water, health care, or means by which Liberians may produce their own food. There is no school or hospital funded by the Government of Liberia that is functional today in Liberia, and public schools are almost nonexistent. In other words, educational facilities are at the bare minimum and the security of the individual is non-existent. President Taylor has ignored all efforts at dialogue and continues to mismanage the resources of our Country".

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