Home Governance ‘Butt Naked’ Opens Up On War Crimes Court Impasse

‘Butt Naked’ Opens Up On War Crimes Court Impasse

by News Manager

By: E. Geedahgar Garsuah, Sr.

MONROVIA: It is nearly two decades since the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), on Liberia was signed in Accra, Ghana, on August 16, 2003.

The signing of this milestone peace treaty among the then warring factions and political parties brought final cessation to Liberia’s bloody armed conflict.

During the conflict that lasted for more than a decade (14 years), an estimated 250,000 persons, predominately women, children and the elderly were killed and more than a million others externally and internally displaced.

Six years after the brutal and back-to-back armed conflict, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), with authority from the Accra Peace Agreement (CPA) that was charged with the duty to thoroughly investigate the factors, causes and antecedents of the war, among others has since released its findings.
The TRC’s Final Report, released on June 30, 2009, listed several individuals as being allegedly responsible for the massive destruction of lives and properties that effectively characterized the Liberian civil war.

Among others, the TRC Final Report called for the setting up of war and economic crimes court for the prosecution of all those suspected to be involved in widespread rights abuses, including war crimes, violations of International Law, International Humanitarian law, murder, rape and gang-rape, use of child-soldiers and other egregious crimes.

The report was submitted to the Liberian Government, through the then 52nd Legislature during the Administration of former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The Sirleaf’s Administration, largely played down the full implementation of said report, as the then president herself was blamed along with about 29 other prominent Liberians for their alleged involvement in financing the Liberian civil war.

They were subsequently prohibited from ascending to any public office for 30 unbroken years.

Madam Sirleaf, interestingly, challenged in court her ban as recommended by the TRC in its report, which subsequently cleared her way to contest the Liberian presidency, and ruled the country for two consecutive six-year terms as President.

It also appears as though the current governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government of soccer icon, George Manneh Weah, now president of Liberia, is copying from Ex-President Sirleaf’s playbook on implementing several recommendations contained in the TRC Final Report which include among other the setting up of the war crimes court.

The Weah Administration has been consistently accused by Liberia’s war victims as well as array of local and international rights advocates of foot-dragging in adhering to key recommendations of the TRC Report.

The stance of the Weah-led government on the report has not only bewildered thousands of war victims, but also caught the official attention of a former rebel General, who was notoriously known during the civil war era.

Joshua Milton Blahyi, known as “General Butt Naked”, during the era of the war, now an Evangelist, has renewed his call for the establishment of war and economic crimes court for Liberia.

Speaking to The ‘Investigative’ INDEPENDENT recently at his residence in Mount Barclay, along the Monrovia- Kakata Highway, the once feared rebel general expressed disappointment in the Weah administration for holding back on implementing the TRC recommendations.

According to the ‘repentant former rebel general’, the urgent need to set up the war crimes court for Liberia cannot be over emphasized.

He contended that the establishment and operation of the court would serve as deterrence to others and boost Liberia’s efforts towards achieving genuine reconciliation and peace which are crucial for the development and progress of the country.

The Nigerian trained ‘Evangelist’ who confessed before the TRC, years ago, of being singlehandedly responsible for the death of not less than 20,000 persons told this paper that he was granted amnesty from prosecution by the TRC.

“If I were to calculate—if you’re talking about April 6th, 1996, or throughout the war, or every evil I have committed, it should be not less than twenty thousand people. I want to say sorry, everything I did was devilish, was wrong, and was inhumane,” Blahyi said during his hearing at the TRC.

The amnesty granted him by TRC was based on his remorseful attitude and truthful testimonies given to the TRC hearings which were attended by thousands of Liberians and other international observers.

He is of the strongest conviction that Liberia will not enjoy genuine peace, reconciliation and stability while alleged war crimes perpetrators are roaming the corridors of state power and other parts of the country with impunity.

‘Evangelist’ Blahyi disclosed that although he has subjected himself to a lifelong community service duty through his “Journey Against Violence” program which he says is aimed at righting the wrongs committed during the civil war, he believes the prosecution of alleged warlords including himself will put Liberia in its proper place among the comity of nations which are moving toward the right trajectory.

According to him, any nation that evades justice and threads on the path of impunity cannot attain its full potential among nations of the global economy.

The former rebel general expressed support for others who accused former President Sirleaf of willfully disregarding the setting up of the court during her Presidency because she was indicted for wrongdoing as contained in the TRC findings and sanctioned from holding any public office for three decades.

Former President Sirleaf was sanctioned in the TRC Final Report from holding public office for 30 years for her admittance to providing US$10,000 to the then armed insurgent group, National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), then headed by Charles Ghankay Taylor.

The now popular ‘Evangelist’ equally expressed grave disappointment in the Weah’s government for what he calls abandoning the cause of the Liberian people by his visible lack of interest in the establishment of the war crimes court, an advocacy which former General Butt Naked said helped landed President Weah to the Presidency.

He also referenced CDC’s current National Chairman, Mulbah K. Morlu, who once consistently sounded the trumpet for the establishment of the war crimes court during the Sirleaf’s regime but now seems to have abandoned such advocacy.
“On one of my documentaries, the Redemption of General Butt Naked,” Mulbah Morlu is on that video telling foreign journalists that I will face the war crimes court. When he was interviewed on the establishment of the war crimes court, he mentioned about me going to the court to answer for my war deeds even though I am a “repentant person.” Now that he, Morlu has the voice to ensure that the court is being established in Liberia, what is keeping him quite?” the former rebel general wonders.

Blahyi who is currently the Executive Director of the “Journey Against Violence” initiative that is geared towards recruiting underprivileged and war-affected youths (Zogos) for rehabilitation and skills development opportunities said ordinary citizens must now assume the mantle of ensuring that the court is established so that suspected war criminals would give account of their alleged war deeds before the altar of justice.

According to him, this is because, past and current political actors have not mustered the necessary courage to implement the TRC Final Report which recommends the setting up of the court to ensure that justice is served war victims.

Since his reported conversion to Christianity in 1997, the former warlord has been engaged in evangelical activities across the country.

He currently runs a drug rehabilitation and empowerment program under the canopy of the “Journey Against Violence.”

Reports say since he established the “Journey Against Violence” in 2007, the initiative has helped in rehabilitating and providing Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) for youths in Lower Montserrado County.

It has also contributed to reuniting over 580 less fortunate war affected youths with their families and other loved ones.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment