Q: A few weeks ago, someone suggested that the U. S. and other countries not grant visas to Liberian icon politicians to leave Liberia. He argued that these politicians, whom he blames, for causing our problems should be forced to stay at home, during the Taylor presidency. I thought this was a bizarre and strange contention which ignores the rights of the people involved.
What's your take on this issue?
J. Henrique Hansen
San Francisco, CA
A: Henrique, yours is an interesting observation. Many Liberians who are not themselves predisposed to democratic principles often pretend to support democracy. But when they're confronted with a situation which requires a firm stance for democracy, they begin to vacillate and expose their true conviction. Probably, this person is unaware of the UN universal declaration of human rights, which, among other things, protects people's rights to travel freely.
In fact, such decisions are made by the host countries, consistent with their laws governing immigration; their adherence to the United Nations declaration and other international conventions. Is the individual also proposing that the U. S. and other countries, which have given refuge to Liberians, end that protection and ask Liberians to go home, since the war is over? This assertion could have adverse and wide ranging consequences.
Q: Before the recent elections in Liberia, supporters of the so- called alliance claimed such a coalition was the best means to defeat Mr. Taylor. Now that Mr. Taylor won the elections so convincingly, why are they still making this erroneous claim?
David Krangar Johnson
A: Thanks, Dave. This is usual with most Liberian pundits and intellectuals.
Once they have made an analysis of a given issue and the analysis is incorrect, they often rationalize to lend credence to their original point rather than accept the fact that they were wrong. There is no mathematical basis for someone to still claim the alliance could have defeated Mr. Taylor.
If we throw in the votes Mr. Kromah, who was not a member, received, the total will be less than 25 percent of the overall votes.
Q: I have consistently read the trash you guys put out there, and each time the magazine comes out, you have the cunning ability to play on people's sensibility. I realize that consideration has come to pass, that you former houseboys have the nerves to write this dirt you called news. With Charles Taylor at the Executive Mansion, would it be too harsh to revoke your Liberian citizenship?
A: Since we agreed initially to withhold your name before receiving your comments, we will respect that agreement. However, we want to take you to task to point out anything The Perspective has carried that's not supported by fact. We challenge you to give a basis in law which gives the president of Liberia any power to revoke a Liberian's citizenship for enlightening the public. People like you who are relic of the past and enemy of democracy will have a difficult time in the new Liberia. And whether you like it or not Liberia has changed. Freedom of the press is one of those changes you seem to find unacceptable. But you ain't see nothing yet.
Bravo to you guys for confronting the root cause of our problems. I admire your guts to take on those issues others wish will simply disappear. I hope you will not surrender this useful voice of conscience and democracy to disappointment, since Mr. Taylor "won" the elections.
You may be surprised to find out that many Liberians depend on publications like yours for the future of democratic practices in Liberia. You cannot give up now. Keep up the good work.
Jeremiah Sisusa Haynes
New York, NY
A: Many thanks, Jerry. We intend to continue this undertaking. But we cannot do it alone. We need your support, both moral and financial, as it requires articles and money to publish.
Q: From all accounts that I have read, both national and foreign, the Liberian
elections were free. Our people elected the man they thought capable of ending the war. What do you think will be the prospect of future elections in Liberia?
A: Vicki, it's difficult to predict the future of elections in Liberia. By your question, we gather you want to know whether future Liberian elections will be free and fair. No one can tell with a degree of certainty. But we all can do something to ensure that Mr. Taylor does not turn Liberia into a one party dictatorship. And that is active involvement in the democratic process in Liberia. Support the political party of your choice in Liberia and monitor the activities of the government in Monrovia.
Q: Some time ago, you carried an article about the need for war crimes tribunal in your magazine. Since that time, I have not read or heard anything about it again. Is that still an important issue to consider, since the war is over?
Joseph K. Flomo
A: Joe, this is a hot issue. Most Liberians have never considered this as a top priority. So, when it's mentioned, people begin to take cover. Some suggested that the time was not right to discuss war crimes trials during the conflict. They said it would dissuade the warlords from decommissioning their militias. Now, the argument is: it will reignite fighting. Besides, Mr. Taylor won the elections.
This line of contention ignores the basic reason for establishing a war crimes tribunal, which is to bring to justice those who committed crimes against humanity. In addition, there is compelling moral imperative why we should pursue this matter in the appropriate forum. And we will.