‘Ethnicity No Shield for Perpetrators of War Crimes’

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LNBA president, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, admitted that the country’s prison facilities are violating the rights of people accused of committing crimes by not allowing them to be arraigned before a court with their legal representation.

-Cllr. Gongloe says in response to Sen. PYJ’s political support

Tough-talking human rights lawyer Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe has refuted claims that the people of Nimba County are not in support of War Crimes Court in the country, even though some of them allegedly committed heinous atrocities against other Liberians during the 14-year civil unrest (1989-2003).

Though Cllr. Gongloe sees the issue of a war crimes court from a general perspective, many of his kinsmen participated in the 14-year civil conflict due to suspected systematic killings of Gios and Manos (two major tribal groups) by state security forces before and during the civil war; something Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, a former fighter, has always used as an excuse for torturing and killing President Samuel Kanyon Doe under the glare of television cameras.

While it is true that such tribal rift existed between the people of Grand Gedeh and Nimba counties, Gongloe said he does not support any form of killing while advocating for a genuine cause as a human rights lawyer.

In a joint press conference with heads of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Monrovia on Tuesday, September 25, Cllr. Gongloe said there is no freedom or immunity for Nimbaians, including Senator Johnson, that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report recommended to a future war crimes court for investigation and prosecution.

“I was once called by my own big brother, Senator Johnson, who questioned me as to whether I have referred to him as a killer. And to be very frank with you journalists, I told him that unless he has a different name or terminology for one who kills, I am certain that he deserves the title “killer,” because he has killed and ordered the killing of people during the war,” Gongloe said.

He brushed aside any reason to be afraid for his life for continuing his advocacy for the establishment of a war crimes court in the country. “There is no reason why I should be afraid,” the learned lawyer said.

“My love for this country, to which Nimba is a subdivision, is more important and above any love I have for anyone, any institution or a group of people who may appear to be my friends,” Gongloe added in his strongly worded opinion.

He referred to the perpetrators of the war as cowards, and called on the public to support all effort geared towards bringing both the victims and those who inflicted the indelible scars on them to the point where the law would prevail.

“Many times I hear people say we should forgive and forget about the ugly past, but to me, it sounds foolish. Meting justice against lawlessness and unorthodox actions committed by people against another group of people is a very unique way to move forward. No one should go unpunished,” he declared.

Another concern of Cllr. Gongloe regarding the establishment of a war crimes court in the country is that the sooner it is done, the better opportunity it will present for pieces of evidence to be adduced.

Affirming Cllr. Gongloe’s assertion of the need to do away with class or ethnicity as the quest for justice swells, the director of Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), Hassan Bility, said inasmuch as he too is from Nimba, he will not stand with those who have inflicted suffering on innocent Liberians.

He said the arrests of Jungle Jabbah, Thomas Woewiyu, and Kunti K, the latter being an erstwhile battlefield commander of the defunct United Liberation Movement (ULIMO) of Alhaji G.V. Kromah, were carried out based on the tips his organization provided to the United States and the French governments.

Kunti K’s arrest followed a complaint filed in July by Civitas Maxima, a Switzerland-based human rights group that works in collaboration with the Liberia-based GJRP headed by Bility.

“What is very important for this case is how it includes in a broader situation former war commanders or people that allegedly committed war crimes all over the world and how they are facing criminal charges. This is one more,” said Romain Wavre, legal associate with Civitas Maxima.

“I believe that this will not stop; this is what the Liberian people want,” Wavre added.

The TRC documented that ULIMO committed 11,500 atrocities beginning in Lofa County where they first launched the insurgency under the command of Alhaji G.V. Kromah.

Author

  • David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

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David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Tiawan Gongloe, truly “ethnicity should be no shield for perpetrators of war crimes’; but equally so, as far as justice is concerned, “ethnicity should be no shield for perpetrators” of judicial mis-conduct and very bad behavior on the part of justices of the Supreme Court and other judges within the Liberian judicial system.

    In other words, your view about ethnicity not been allowed to shield perpetrator of war crimes, contradicts your views and actions viz the impeachment of Kabineh Janeh in which you mobilized your ethnic groups of your home county Nimba petitioning the Legislature to halt impeachment proceedings against Kabineh Janeh of an ethnic group within your ethnic home county who is a perpetrator of impeachment crimes.

    Now, people will see why and how we have always referred to you as a very corrupt and dubious character. You want to shield a perpetrator of impeachment crimes on the basis of ethnicity, but the State should not shelve war crimes court establishment on the basis of compelling national security.

    • I have never agreed with you in some of your postings, but as for this one, I fully agreed. The Learned Lawyer was wrong when he assembled his tribal men for an advocacy against the impeachment proceedings of the morally corrupt Justice Kabineh. His argument was that the SC Justice is a Nimbaian……..as if to say the Chief Justice is not also a Nimbaian.

      But, to be honest my friend, Liberians deserve justice from crimes committed in the past, by their own people and leaders who are currently serving in elected and appointed positions, or some who are just ordinary citizens. I believe people should be held accountable and responsible for crimes they committed during the war. I believe if perpetrators are allowed to roam freely without persecution, this would teach a new generation of Liberians that they can commit atrocities with impunity.

      In as much as we need peace and reconciliation, I also believe justice should be served, and without justice, there would be no TOTAL peace and reconciliation.

  2. if they kill with the sword they will be kill with the sword.so the court system is good for the people they can have trust again the people that kill our people are still there so how you know they will not do it again there must be justice in the country justice for the people

  3. Folks, with time justice will be served. Yet rather than treating symptoms alone, advocates must address a major cause – US meddling and propensity for ‘regime change’ cum American adventurism. Counselor Gongloe isn’t oblivious of the chaos jumpstarted by the 1979 riots and 1980 coup culminating in the 1985 first NPFL and second 1989 NPFL invasions, which, according to multiple public testimonies, were set in motion by US National Security covert operatives. And the human toll over a quarter-million dead, so he should engage in some retrospection and ask himself the following:

    Who encouraged, entertained, and enabled ACDL, the funding and supervisory arm of the warring faction NPFL? Who got information from President Doe’s aide Mr. Sirleaf that he was about to visit with ECOMOG Commander Quainoo at the Freeport, so rushed there to bribe Quainoo for ‘peacekeepers’ to disarm a Head of State and his bodyguards, and then radioed Prince Johnson, a call – with SKD now prisoner – Johnson would respond to by calling the US embassy through radio and on video the whole world watched? Can Liberians imagine what the U.S Army would’ve done after 9/11 had they received reports that the hijackers lived a week in our country: Obliterate Liberia, probably.

    The very fact that as a newly-appointed Minister of National Security in May 1989, I handed a memo to the CIA Director – who was visiting Liberia that September – contradicting his lies to SKD and Security Sector principals about helping the government with weapons, the CIA head of station in Liberia told rebels in Danane, Ivory Coast to eliminate me when they reach Monrovia. His replacement asked policymakers in the IGNU to discourage my recuitment, a suggestion ignored when President Sawyer made me Security Advisor.

    That wasn’t all, few weeks following 9/11, they stopped my pending employment as a contractor with the FBI Branch of Charlotte, NC. It was ironic that a CIA whose motto is taken from John 8:32, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”, harrassed me for speaking truth to their boss in an effort to protect my country from a Civil War that would eventually cost a quarter million lives. That’s why I’am amused by detractors that say comments of mine are “belly-driven”; were I greedy, we would’ve sued the CIA for Human Right violation in preventing me from earning an income commensurable to my experties and experience.

    A war crime court right now won’t prevent repetitions of the likes of upheavels beginning 1979 as long as US clandestine services don’t stop overthrowing Liberian governments America doesn’t like for a variety of reasons, be they economic or diplomatic. And with this Chinese economic assertiveness, only God knows what tricks the CIA Station in Monrovia has up its sleeves. Do Liberians realize the impossibility of protecting our country under such conditions of helplessness, whereby a great power our leaders confide in and rely on has a friend-enemy duality? Would Liberia ever be safe if the US refuses to alter its confounding Jerkyl and Hyde behavior?

    To close, from discussions with few veterans concerned about an American ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over Liberia, they expressed frustrations about the type of future of fear and forebodings that would be bequeathed our grandchildren. Or should all men who can affort it send their pregnant wives and mistresses to born American children for safety? We are many searching for answers, too, Counselor Gongloe: You aren’t the only one looking for affirming solutions in the cause of Mama Liberia.

  4. A very brilliant piece. This is something that all Liberian need to know. That’s the reason I usually comment that we are not in control of our own security. Most of our leaders, if not all, in third countries decisions are evaluated and approved by voices from Washington DC or 10 Downing Street, London.

  5. Adding the improvement of science, technology and mathematics as Bah of the University of Sydney, Australia always says, is the way we will back our own defense. With better science and advance technology, we third world inhabitants and Africans, are sure to stand to bullies, and thwarts the hidden agendas of some destroyers. No one can bully North Korea, India or China. They have the chance to sent ballistic missiles or sent rockets into space.

  6. The purpose of the previous comment wasn’t to make me a hero, just to warn that Liberia’s fragility isn’t only self-induced but comes from former colonial overlords we still depend on for everything. And the revelation isn’t premised on embracing China as a replacement. Not at all, the US and Liberia started this journey and will end it together. Even our present size as a country would’ve shrunk by British and French colonial seizures had America not scared them off; so the alliance was built on solid foundation, and am pro-American until death.

    Nonetheless, US Foreign Relations and National Security structures must know that the abusive relationship can’t continue on the same old, same old slippery slope. Our country is like a wife being beaten, without provocation, repeatedly, by her husband, hence is suffering from battered woman syndrome, a psychotic disorder. The US doesn’t have to undergo anger management treatment, yet has to change its way for the overall health of the marriage.

    The British don’t go around overthrowing governments in a Sierra Leone they built from ground up; roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, libraries, civil service, and so on. America never did a fraction, instead wanted payments in the 1980’s for a Freeport they built during World War 11 for their own ships. America is a cheap wife beater. Liberia won’t file for divorce: she is a faithful and loyal wife. But all she asked for, as the late Aretha Franklin sang, is “respect” and the right to be happy. And is that too much to ask?

  7. No one ever made a heroic standard of your comment. It is just that it explains some of the hidden morals that Lingard in Liberian politic…….
    You are not a hero either…sir

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