A Position Statement Issued by the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF)
Publisher of The Perspective
Former warlord, Alhaji G.V. Kromah, took The Perspective to task about a series articles the magazine carried, underlining, Kromah’s role in the Liberian civil war. Apparently Mr. Kromah is upset about tune and contents of a few articles that began chronicling the devastating effects of his role in the civil war in Liberia in a dramatic and revealing way. It seems quite obvious that Kromah and the other Liberian war criminals do not want the truth to be known.
As a means of concealing their roles, Kromah and Taylor have used various excuses to justify why a national investigation of the war should not take place. President Taylor says such a meeting would rehash old painful memories that would hurt, not heal, national wounds and contribute to national reconciliation. Besides, Taylor’s surrogates contend, that as president Mr. Taylor cannot be tried for war crimes.
Meanwhile Alhaji Kromah is claiming he and other factional leaders were given immunity from prosecution by the Cotonou Accord of 1993. He also implied in his argument that he and his guerrillas were the good guys who did not engage in atrocities against the Liberian people. Here Mr. Kromah is trying to be both slick and cunning. Though he claimed he did not commit any war crimes yet he is hiding behind the immunity shield. Many questions persist whether an abrogated agreement, which did not take effect, can still be used to absolve the signatories from criminal responsibility. Does the 1993 immunity cover subsequent atrocities committed? These are issues for lawyers to answer.
But as laypeople we know this much. The granting of immunity presupposes the commission of a crime. In an immunity the recipient is exempt from prosecution if he or she cooperates with the authority in solving a crime or agrees to end an act or action that contravenes the granting authority’s interest. In Liberia’s case, ending the war in 1993 was the interest of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for which it granted immunity to all warring factions.
However, overtaken by anger and frustration because the issue of accountability and justice won’t go away, Alhaji Kromah decided to launch a personal attack against Managing Editor George Nubo. Instead of using the opportunity to refute each of the allegations or assertions that he thought was a mischaracterization of his involvement in the Liberian tragic civil war, Kromah arrogantly berated Mr. Nubo, calling him a miscreant, and he accused The Perspective of being “consumed by avarice and bigotry” that we did not understand the dynamics of Liberian war and that we have got the whole ethnic thing backward.
We believe Mr. Kromah’s failure to address the burning issues that many Liberians are concerned about did injustice to what could have been a serious, interesting and spirited debate by his reductio ad absurdum approach and sleazy diversionary ramblings. But he had a choice.
In his efforts to obfuscate the truth and mislead the readers, Kromah made a tactical move by skating into peripheral issues, which intrinsically, have little or no bearing on the discussion at hand. Not only did he employ this tactic of sidestepping legitimate concerns, substantive and germane questions, raised by the Liberian people in their quest for answer, he also without foundation plunged into prevarication. Like his partners-in-crimes, Charles Taylor, Roosevelt Johnson, George Boley and Prince Johnson, Kromah believes by distorting the truth and making terroristic threats would absolve him of any responsibility, and make issue of their devastating actions in Liberia fade away.
Frankly the man is consumed by animus to the truth, and seemingly amnesiac to the fact, that all the questions that had been raised by our writers are in the public domain. Yet this superintendent of cannibalism camps attempted to cast himself as a sort of legitimate political leader. He is not. And we are not intimidated by his “I suggest you stop playing with fire” threats.
Such threats and intimidation only strengthen our resolve to rededicate ourselves to demand accountability from all Liberian war criminals. Perhaps Kromah is unaware that there is a database of his actions in the Liberian civil war that can be readily downloaded to expose him, and remove the veil under which he has is hiding. This scamp, pretending to be a politician, should not be considered a serous participant in the democratic debate unless and until he is ready to answer some nagging questions about his role in the civil conflict. No doubt, we will unmask his true character and those of his acolytes.
But before we do that, it is important we set some facts straight. In his tirade against The Perspective, Mr. Kromah made a number of erroneous assumptions about the management and operation of the magazine that are reckless in content and without foundation. He assumed that one individual member of the magazine’s board of directors – George H. Nubo – has exclusive power to decide what articles are posted could not be further from the truth. In his eagerness to consign blame to others, which in effect shields him from addressing the pertinent issues that had been raised, Kromah shrewdly meandered into fanciful speculation.
He characterized The Perspective‘s staff as a bunch of foolish, uninformed people with limited knowledge, acting like informed individuals. He said, “The joyless schematic about the invention (Internet) is that certain web barnyards have become the breeding ground for ninnies entrapped in primitive ignorance, posing as intellectuals. They are not only psychologically imprisoned, but they convince themselves that their waste pasted (posted) on the web hurts their intended victims, and is worth the miserly coppers given them by their remote controller in Abidjan. All they achieve actually is an imagination of success, for their key targets are more focused on how to hasten the apocalyptic sojourn of the pariah regime back in Liberia, and do not have time for jazzercise.”
On the surface, this assertion sounds like a tough talk from a person of resolute purpose and resolve. But applying simple logical deduction, it reveals an embittered, contemptible character predisposed to venomous rhetoric, which in reality is a dastardly toothless pit bull, afraid to confront his adversaries on a leveled playing field. Who is The Perspective‘s remote controller that is giving the magazine miserly financial support? Why would a tough talking warlord, whose guerrillas feasted on human flesh to embolden their fighting prowess so that they could overpower unarmed, traumatized civilians be a weak-knee to name Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as chief patron of The Perspective? Or is it because there is no iota of evidence to support the charge, in which case, an innuendo intended to distract and misinform the reading public?
We can understand why Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is anathema to some Liberian politicians, especially those who took part in the last elections, and we appreciate their frustration since no other politician has emerged on the political scene to match her international recognition. But that is the failure of those politicians to make their case to the Liberian people. Each prospective candidate for public office must tell the constituents why he or she wants to be their leader. That person must clearly demonstrate a genuine desire to make a positive difference in the lives of the people. That’s the role of a candidate.
The Perspective cannot be blamed for the politicians’ failure to make their case to the Liberian people and the international community. Their inability to coalesce a coherent and unified position stemmed from the fact that there are too many chiefs and too few Indians. And while they bicker among themselves, antidemocratic forces are solidifying their grip on Liberia.
As for the charge of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s bankrolling The Perspective is an absurd speculation without foundation. And we challenge all those who use this contention to give the basis of this ridiculous assertion. Otherwise they should stop this malicious insinuation the magazine is being funded by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Frankly we are not surprised that some Liberians cannot believe that a group individuals, with limited resources and personal obligations, would embark on an expensive endeavor of the magnitude of publishing and maintaining The Perspective, both hard copy and online editions. But we felt it was incumbent upon us, as Liberians that in the face of western media’s lack of interest to give adequate coverage to our tragic civil war that someone should step up to the task of telling our story. It never crossed our minds that we needed masters’ degrees in journalism to do it. And for a group of “ninnies entrapped in primitive ignorance”, we believe we have done a damned good job.
As he continued invective against The Perspective, Kromah wrote, “Applying methods of media content analysis, I deduced that Nubo and his associates were allergic to Liberian public figures who were not of the Kwa-speaking ethnic grouping of Liberia, particularly Mandingoes and Muslims (Their paymaster has some maternal Kru connection.)”
Again the former guerrilla leader’s words are in conflict with the reality of what is known and available to the public. With the information we have in our archives, it’s inconceivable for credible analyst to reach the same conclusion that Mr. Kromah reached. Either Kromah’s methods of media content analysis are deeply flawed, in which case, his finding and conclusion are meaningless, or he failed to correctly interpret his findings, thus prejudicing his own work and making him a pseudo media analyst. Had the Alhaji carefully and properly browsed the totality of relevant information in our database for his analysis, he would have found a dossier containing several pages in our archives castigating Americo Liberians for their role in our ongoing crisis. We urge him to read our Liberia’s Ugly Past series. Mr. Kromah could gain valuable insights to help him redesign a credible model for his media content analysis.
It was a difficult and unpleasant exercise to do that series. But we were compelled by the events of the civil war to provide a historical background and understanding of the Liberian tragedy, not because we hated Congo people. Liberia is a tiny country where most citizens are interrelated. Some us became instant enemies to old friends, relatives and associates for what they called “washing our dirty laundries in public”. Since then our circles of friends have significantly narrowed.
It is the price we paid for venturing into the taboo novelty of confronting our past. Such action shows courage and determination, and it should be an opportunity for open, earnest discussions as we search for genuine resolution to our problems. More than anyone else, we at The Perspective understand that Liberia cannot be developed if its people remain divided. This is why Kromah’s charge of bigotry against Mandingoes and Muslins is as hollow as his claim that he and his brother did not steal from the Liberian treasury.
If Alhaji Kromah was the “good” warlord during the civil war, why is he invoking legal technicality to prevent a war crimes tribunal or a genuine truth and reconciliation conference in Liberia? If he is “more focused on how to hasten the apocalyptic sojourn of the pariah regime back in Liberia”, why not join us in a dramatic, defining way to call for credible war crimes tribunal for all factions? What is he afraid of?
This would change the political dynamic in Liberia and contribute a heightened awareness to the issue of accountability and justice. We challenge Kromah to call for international war crimes tribunal, as he claimed he had done the past.
Until he is prepared to address the issues we have in this piece, he cannot be regarded as a serious peaceful politician. There is no discernible difference between himself and Mr. Taylor. Both men committed atrocities against unarmed civilians. If we want to bring Taylor to justice, then we must also bring all the other former warlords to justice.
Until these men account for their actions in our civil strife, and unless they are given commensurate punishment for those actions, peace will continue to elude Liberia.
Issued this 19th day of September 2002, in the State of Georgia, USA.
Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor
George H. Nubo
Abraham M. Williams
Published in the September 19, 2002 Edition of The Perspective.
2002: From Siahyonkron Nyanseor’s Archive