Support Intensifies for Sanctions Against Liberia

By: Musue Noha Haddad

The Perspective
May 3, 2001

With barely four days to the May 7 deadline for UN sanctions on Liberia, activities and highlights have been saturated with campaigns on the sanctions on Liberia. While the Liberian Government rolls in its propaganda campaign, Liberians, friends of Liberia as well as victims of Liberia's anarchy within the sub-region have intensified campaigns for the sanctions to be imposed on the Liberian government. The selective UN sanctions which take effect on Monday, May 7, unless the Liberian government can prove its disengagement from the RUF, include arms embargo, ban on exportation of diamond, grounding of all Liberian registered flights and travel ban on government officials.

Last Friday, April 27, the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) hosted a rally at the United Nations Headquarters at Dag Hammarskjold Park on 47th street and marched outside of the Liberian Consulate's offices in New York in support of the imposition of sanctions against the Taylor Government.

Participants at the rally included representatives of various Liberian groups in the United States, and some West Africans. "...We want Sanction..." was the catchword of the demonstrators' placards. Some of placards read:

"UN must enforce arms embargo against Liberia, We support the UN Sanction, Taylor get your hands out of Sierra Leone and other countries, Stop Violence in Liberia, Save Liberia, Sanction Now.Stop Violence in Liberia, invest in Democracy, UN Don't compromise Justice-Sanction Now, Add TIMBER to SanctionPolitical crimes must be investigated..."

In her statement, the National President of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), Mydea Reeves-Karpeh described the rally as an endorsement of the International Sanctions and Embargoes against the Taylor regime. She clarified that the sanctions will not affect the already suffering Liberians, and explained that the ordinary Liberians are facing a sanction by the Taylor government, describing their situation as pathetic. She then called for increased international assistance directed to rescue Liberians who have become destitute as a result of the poor quality of leadership in that country.

"While we call for the imposition of sanction on the Taylor's regime, we are also calling for international attention to the massive and brutal human rights violations, the abuse of power, misuse of natural resources and the deteriorating social and economic conditions in Liberia", the ULAA president stressed.

Ms. Reeves described as "bogus" the Liberian government statements that it has complied with measures set by the UN to avert the sanction.

In his statement, the Acting president of the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA), Isaac Bantu said the imposition of sanction is no longer the question of if but when. "Sanction must come to save the sub-region", Bantu stressed.

The ALJA described those who oppose sanction as those oppose to a better future for the present and future generations of the West African sub-region.

"Our forests are disappearing, our dignity is lost, human rights violations have mounted, crusade against the press institutionalized and the name Liberia is now synonymous to Evil Incarnate because thieves of the most unscrupulous types have descended upon the Liberian nation", Bantu said.

The ALJA acting president explained that when Taylor confesses that he is weak to develop Liberia, Taylor is right.

He pointed out that the Liberian leader's greed has blinded him of respect for the fundamental rights, adding, "His lust is a danger to our nation and the sub-region. That is why the world must help us by imposing sanctions on Taylor's government to rescue Liberia and the sub-region".

The Consul General in Manhattan, New York, Dorsey Hansford, refused to acknowledge the rally. He was however present at the National Conference on Democracy in Liberia which was held in Newark, New Jersey under the theme - Formulating A strategic Framework For the Democratization of Liberian Society.

Mr. Hansford in an interview said the government was committed to work with ULAA. He however did not mentioned communications and delegations from ULAA to the Liberian government on inquirers of human rights violations without response.

The Liberia Consul General, reinforcing his government's stance, said the sanctions (ban on travel of government officials, arms embargo, grounding of Liberian registered flights and ban on the exportation of diamond) will affect the ordinary Liberian people. He did not elaborate.

The Conference brought together Liberians and friends of Liberia from various sectors of the American society including political parties, private organizations and independent personalities.

Drawing from the three years of Charles Taylor administration, the New Jersey conference resolution among others, resolved that the vision of a democratic and economically developed Liberia includes the full participation of the its citizenry in the governance process, adherence to multi party democracy, tolerance of political opposition, respect of the constitution and rule of law among other tenets of democracy and Nation building.

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on March 7 to impose sanctions on the Liberian government in response to evidence of its involvement in arms and diamond trafficking with the rebels Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone. UN Resolution 1343 adopted on Liberia states that if the Liberian government failed to comply with their demands, sanction will take effect on May 7. Among the demands, Liberia is required to stop its 10 year support to the RUF rebels against the Sierra Leone government and other countries.

Meanwhile, the government of Liberia has embarked on a weeklong media and propaganda campaign to influence public opinion and the Security Council that its role with the RUF rebels in Sierra Leone has been modified and illegal deals within and by government will not be encouraged.

Editor's Note: Ms. Musue Noha Haddad is a Liberian Journalist, presently a Hubert Humphrey Fellow in the US.

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