Written By Bernard Gbayee Goah
President, Operation We Care for Liberia
It is with great optimism and hope that I make this clarion call to all Liberians and friends of Liberia. For more than two decades Liberia has been ravaged by war and excessive corruption. Liberians who were able to escape the atrocities of this period are still subject to an inadequate governmental system that does not provide basic necessities for its people.
Also, As a result of the lack of political will, the current Liberian government has held no one responsible for crimes committed pre and post the civil war. Power cupidity is now paramount while children and women still suffer at the hands of those sworn to protect them. Poverty, ignorance and disease in the aftermath of the war have prevented the country from progressing!
Important infrastructures; electrical power, clean drinking water, food production, security, education and the opportunity to earn a decent income are all memories of a distant past. The medical needs are astronomical. Currently, Liberia is the only country in the whole of West Africa that does not have a modern paved road connecting the interior part of the country to the capital city.
How Liberia got here may not same to be important to many of you. I however, want to remind you that Liberia's infrastructures that vanished did not just disappear by themselves. Aliens from mars did not interrupt a major modern road project ("Ganta-Haper High Way") that would have linked the capital to the leeward countries. Rather, the very people in power destroyed these infrastructures, and interrupted a major modern road project. Had it not been the war, the interior of the country would have had access to the capital. Local agricultural produce would have made their way via farm to market roads that could have been linked to the major cross-country road mentioned. Liberia would not have been contemplating on spending millions of dollars on a hydro dam repair. And definitely Liberia would not have looked up to a post war neighboring country (the Ivory Coast) for electricity supply.
Embarrassingly fellow friends, I want you to know that the current president of Liberia aided and abated the destruction of her own country's infrastructures only to turn to the people of the Ivory Coast for electrical supply even though they too experience a civil war, but refused to destroy their infrastructures. The records are there, but Madam Sirleaf claims consistently that she had no role in the war that maimed and killed innocent people and destroyed the country's entire infrastructure. She must be presented an opportunity to exonerate herself in a Liberian war crime court. If Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is responsible, as the evidence indicates, regardless whether such crimes were committed in Liberia or in Sierra Leon, it is a travesty of justice having indicted former President Charles Taylor, forced him to relinquish power; but yet allow Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to remain head of state even though she also is suspected of war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The evidence shows Ms. Sirleaf played a central role in the planning, financing and directing of a war so brutal, so violent and so devastating that experts have labeled it one of the worst in modern History. Ordering the NPFL forces to attack the then overcrowded City of Monrovia shows the extent to which Ms. Sirleaf was willing to go in order to become president.
Lastly, what I am about to say is very hard to be heard by many, but it is the best way forward.
If Liberia is to survive, we must put aside our petty politics as well as tribal loyalties and just do the right thing. In order for Liberia to climb out of the pit of poverty, illiteracy, lawlessness and corruption up onto the pinnacle of confidence, prosperity, and respect for the rule of law, bitter pills will have to be swallowed. We must be prepared to accept the fact that some people will have to be held accountable. Holding people accountable for what took place in Liberia over the years will involve much pain indeed; simply because change by nature is painful especially if it involves holding our relatives, and friends accountable.
Ladies and Gentlemen, over 200,000 innocent people were killed in Liberia, and all of us as well know that aliens from outer space did not kill these people. We know that those who orchestrated these horrible acts may be members of our own tribes, as well as other tribes other than ours. They may be our brothers, sisters, friends, uncles, and even our fathers and mothers. And we know that some of them are even holding top positions in the current Liberian government.
We should not expect change to happen when we are unwilling to embrace the ruckus that comes with it. We should not expect a better Liberia if we are afraid of the unfamiliar. We must swallow the bitter pills that come with justice and accountability if we truly want Liberia to be a better country.
A peaceful Liberia demands accountability, justice, and reconciliation. Regardless of our connections to them, those bearing the greatest responsibility for atrocities in Liberia must be held accountable. They must not be allowed to walk freely! This is necessary in order to begin genuine reconciliation.
In the spirit of unity, let us all see reasons to demand for the establishment of a Liberian war crimes court.