Our attention was called to an article published here last week asking the question as to who protects the Liberian consumer. The writer was addressing the issue of the many dangerous Chinese made products that had been recalled on the US market after they were linked to deaths of children and dogs. There was no such a recall in Liberia and with Christmas approaching, millions of children on the African continent will be exposed to deadly toys, produced at even lower standards than those shipped to the US. Thousands of children will die, with no one questioning the cause of these deaths. Benefiting from Chinese humanitarian largesse, Liberian and African governments are far from asking questions about the millions of junk toys that litter the sidewalks and markets. African governments, including Liberia, seem not understand that “development” is foremost taking care of the small needs of the people and protecting them rather than being ‘seen and appreciated” by the fictive ‘international community”.
The issue of the protection of Liberian lives and interests from that writer brings us to another issue that we have raised here many a times: the role of Libya Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone which lead to the death of hundred of thousands of people in the two countries and the destruction of basic infrastructure in both countries. It will take an entire generation to heal the wounds afflicted on the two countries by the psychopathic and terrorist policies of Colonel Gaddafi, who now enjoys flowers from Paris and walks with total impunity.
As a red carpet is laid for him in Paris where he will sign contracts worth billions of dollars, the dictator of Tripoli must be reminded and made to pay for his crimes against humanity for the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. His policies killed more people in the two countries than Pinochet - who was temporarily arrested in England - did in Chili in the 1970s.Warlords Charles Taylor of Liberia and Foday Sankoh of Sierra Leone met while they underwent training at the Mataba base in Libya. They had assembled dissidents from their countries and Gaddafi provided them with funding, training and arms to attack their countries.
Charles Taylor and his Libyan-trained and Burkina supported henchmen burned Liberia to the ground, killed hundreds of thousands of people, raped young men and women before turning them into gun totting drugged zombies. In Sierra Leone, Foday Sankoh and his men killed, raped and maimed tens of thousands.
Today, Charles Taylor is awaiting trial for crimes against humanity for his role in the war in Sierra Leone. His lieutenant, Foday Sankoh died years ago in the cells of the UN Special Tribunal in Sierra Leone while awaiting trial. However, their chief patron, the man who provided training, funding and ammunitions is setting up a nomadic tent in a Paris hotel, signing billions of dollars worth of contracts for airplanes, military hardware and other things that will provide jobs for French factory workers and pump more oil out of the desert sand of Libya.
Gaddafi is working his way into the comity of world leaders without ever having to answer for the crimes he committed against the African people. He softened the Bush administration by dismantling his junky nuclear arsenal. However, he will sign a contract with France to buy the same nuclear power he discarded a few years ago to appease the Americans. He paid ten million dollars for each of the victims of the Lockerbie air tragedy where his terrorist agents rained death and destruction on innocent people. He paid billions of dollars for the French UTA flight that was blown up in the African desert. With oil and contracts, he is buying his way into the palaces of the West. In Africa, he continues to intimidate and bribe. He has provided himself with a flying carpet that could soon get him on the doorsteps of the White House.
Gaddafi’s psychopathic and terrorist approach to politics has evolved but the underlying pursuit remains the same as those that propelled an angry and megalomaniac young man to power in 1969. He now speaks slower, moved less but he is still the same man that armed and financed terrorist movements across the world.
After Liberians elected Charles Taylor to the presidency in the first postwar elections in 1997, the first national budget contained about $20 million as payment to Libya for its logistic support to the war. It was the most cynical political move in a country that only had a budget of $80 million. Taylor was ousted in 2003, went into exile in Nigeria through an internationally brokered peace plan before landing in a prison cell in The Hague awaiting trial for crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone.
Since her election in 2005, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made at least three trips to Libya and held long discussions with Gaddafi, seeking help for the reconstruction of her country. During their last meeting, the Libyan dictator all but accused her of betrayal for allowing Taylor to face justice. Gaddafi seems to have forgotten Liberia and its 300, 000 dead as well as Sierra Leone and its dead, raped and maimed thousands of people. Notwithstanding all his rhetoric on African dignity, Gaddafi has yet to show an inclination to take responsibility for the death and destruction he caused around the continent.
Liberians must not expect the West or the UN to put Gaddafi on trial for his political crimes. They must take steps to bring him to face justice. Taylor condemnation and trial by the international community would be meaningless if those who trained him, armed him and supported his terrorist enterprise are left to walk free and parade as world leaders. Beyond Kaddafi, there are others, in Burkina Faso where Blaise Compaoré never made a secret of his support for Taylor, in Côte d’Ivoire and in Liberia who need to answer for these crimes. Hopefully, the trial of Charles Taylor will bring out the truth and embolden both Liberians and the international community to bring to justice those who organized and financed the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Libya, in terms of reparation for the hundreds of thousands of deaths and infrastructure destruction in Liberia, has offered nothing but a few bags of rice and an electric generator. No one seems to want to ask Libya to pay for its role in the deadly wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone and the massive infrastructure destruction that threw both countries into the 19th century.
As Gaddafi buys his way into the hearts of the Europeans and Americans with the power of his oil contracts, Liberians and other Africans must never forget his destabilizing role throughout the continent. They must not forget nor forgive his terrorist attacks and wars on millions of peaceful people, from Liberia to Chad to Sierra Leone and to the Central African Republic.
Just like Taylor, Gaddafi must answer for his crimes against humanity in Liberia and in Sierra Leone. Is an African life worth fighting for?
© 2007 by The Perspective
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