By: Zack Garway Whebeor Sharpe, III (August 08th 2005)
"...Gongloe has suggested that when an individual occupies a high position in government, he or she should be held responsible for crimes committed by that government, even if there is no evidence to link the individual to that crime. Gongloe did not point to one act of abuse by Cllr. Brumskine while in government. I believe holding Cllr. Brumskine for anything close to aiding and abetting because he occupied a high position in government is tantamount to guilt by association, an unfortunate line of thinking by a human rights lawyer. Such line of thought has caused the death of thousands of innocent Liberians....."
In his recent article, ‘ Standing for Liberian people or blowing his own trumpet: What is the truth, Candidate Brumskine? ’ Mr. Tiawon Gongloe commences his writing by quoting me. There are several accusations and issues raised in his article that I have addressed in my response. My article will show that Mr. Gongloe’s judgment in, examining Cllr. Brumskine and his mission, has been beclouded by biases. This article will also show that Mr. Gongloe’s motivation for making these accusations is political and does not meet the standard of a neutral human rights lawyer, as he is being perceived by many. Finally, there are prior inconsistent statements by Mr. Gongloe, which will be shown in this response.
Guilt by Association
In his article, Gongloe states, Cllr. Brumskine was in government when some Liberians were arrested, tortured, incarcerated or killed including the late Samuel Dokie and his family. He further states, “The learned lawyer should know that one may condone or aid and abet by silence, or by being a part of government that was so corrupt and displayed reckless disregard for human rights. This is so true for him, because he was not just an ordinary member of the government; he was in the center of decision-making”.
Gongloe has suggested that when an individual occupies a high position in government, he or she should be held responsible for crimes committed by that government, even if there is no evidence to link the individual to that crime. Gongloe did not point to one act of abuse by Cllr. Brumskine while in government. I believe holding Cllr. Brumskine for anything close to aiding and abetting because he occupied a high position in government is tantamount to guilt by association, an unfortunate line of thinking by a human rights lawyer. Such line of thought has caused the death of thousands of innocent Liberians.
In Gongloe's good governance speech published on the Perspective on November 5, 2002 ( http://www.theperspective.org/politics_goodgovernance.html), he said, "Liberians must not engage in guilt by association. The better way forward is to examine each Liberian on the basis of his track record and what he has personally done or said about the governing process in Liberia ." Gongloe contradicts himself by indicting Cllr. Brumskine for affiliating or working in the Liberian government without showing what Cllr. Brumskine has personally done. We should practice what we preach. What a paradox in the case of Gongloe!
Prior inconsistent Statements
In his article, Gongloe did not mention one good thing Cllr. Brumskine did for the Liberian people while in the senate. He said Cllr. Brumskine was blowing his own trumpet when he talked about stands he took to protect and seek the interest of ordinary Liberians. This line of commentary is bias and partisan. He wrote, “ I think it is better for the Presidential aspirant to stop re-writing history by blowing his trumpets of “clean record.
While writing his article Mr. Gongloe was in his partisan campaign mode and forgot what he told the Washington Post about Cllr. Brumskine. In his article ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/03/AR2005060301339.html ) “ The Man Who Would Be President ” published on Sunday, June 5, 2005 , Mr. Jonathan Ernst wrote, " “Brumskine insists that joining Taylor for the 1997 election was the right thing to do at the time: " Liberia was badly in need of leadership." His Senate service taught Liberians that things "didn't have to be business as usual," he says. "I showed them you can have a legislature independent of the president." Benedict Sannoh, a Liberian who was a partner in Brumskine's Washington law practice and now runs it alone, agrees. "In the few months Brumskine was there, the legislature had begun to operate on its own," he says. "After he left, the legislature went right back to its usual mode." Even Gongloe, a critic, seems to give credence to Brumskine's claim. When Brumskine resigned, "some people were disappointed," he says. "Brumskine had given some hope that he would stand up to Taylor ."”
I don’t think Tiawon Gongloe, a lawyer will easily forget what he told the Washington Post. There is a possibility Gonloe is beginning his campaign as some LPP and UP insiders had said, “Gongloe and some of us will go and campaign against Cllr.Brumskine and Varney Sherman for Mrs. Ellen Sirleaf because the old-ma will go for one term and one of us will take over”. I believe Cllr. Brumskine is not an angel but there were some good things he did as President Pro-tempo of the Liberian Senate and Cllr. Gongloe alluded to that in his interview with the Washington post. What an inconsistent man is Gongloe?
Gongloe has said on several occasions that because Brumskine left by way of Roberts International Airport , his claim that he was a threat to Taylor and that Taylor wanted to kill him is untrue since Taylor had his most trusted security men and women assigned at RIA. Is Gongloe implying that those who passed through Roberts International Airport were not a threat to Taylor ? Gongloe listed individuals who Taylor wanted to kill and were a threat to him. These individuals include Dr. Sawyer, Conmany Wesseh, Koffi Woods and others. Where did these individuals and Gongloe himself pass? Didn’t they leave by way of Roberts International Airport ? Since Dr. Sawyer and others left the country by way of RIA, why Gongloe didn’t apply the same standard to them? How more bias and inconsistent can Gongloe be?
On ULIBSAA forum, Gongloe wrote on July 09, 2005 , “What Brumskine, Roland Massaquoi, and others who played key role in the killing and destructive machine of Mr. Taylor should be doing is seeking the forgiveness of the Liberian people”. He went further to say, " In my view Liberians who supported Taylor until the intervention of the Economic Community of West Africa through ECOMOG have a better room for consideration than those who supported Taylor even after the criminal OCTOPUS and April 6, 1996 attacks on Monrovia on October 15, 1992 and April 6, 1996 respectively ". How so? Are the lives of Liberians killed before ECOMOG less valuable? At no time during the civil war did Cllr. Brumskine play any role in the killing of Liberians or was involved in raising funds to finance the NPFL. I know Mr. Gongloe, if he had any such evidence against Cllr. Brumskine, it would have been presented. During the civil war, Brumskine was not a member of the NPFL. Gongloe knows those who financed and executed this war and he does not mention their names in his article because some are his LPP partisans, mentors or friends. I know that Gongloe’s sister, Ms. Edith Gongloe, is a strong supporter and one of the coordinators for Mrs. Ellen Sirleaf in Philadelphia but did not know Gongloe to be a supporter of Ellen Sirleaf. I was very surprised, therefore, when inside sources in Unity Party and LPP hinted to me that Gongloe and some LPP partisans have committed themselves to campaigning for Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the upcoming election. Is his article the beginning of his campaign for Mrs. Sirleaf?Why should he hide behind his human rights title and attack one candidate out of all the candidates that are running? Gongloe is a partisan hack and should admit it because people should know it and understand the motives for his bias writings.
Dr. Patrick Seyon stated in his article carried on The Perspective in April 24, 2000 (http://www.theperspective.org/acdl.html) that the disclosure by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that she and Members of the Association of Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL), which included Dr. Amos Sawyer , contributed $10,000 toward Charles Taylor's war effort in Liberia was news to him. Seyon concluded in The Perspective article that the ACDL members who contributed the $10,000 to Charles Taylor are as guilty as Taylor and his gang of thugs for the massive destruction of lives and properties in Liberia . Dr. Seyon when further and said, “they have very cleverly presented themselves as playing no role in or having any responsibility for the war”. What a ringing indictment by a neutral colleague of the so-called ‘Progressive Godfathers’? It is well known that Sawyer, Ellen and other members of the ACDL supported Taylor with money, advocacy, and propaganda. Apparently when the members of Taylor ’s political wing realized that they were not going to inherit political power at the barrel of his gun, they then opposed him and went to a hotel room in Banjul where they formed an interim government.
Dr. Emmanuel Dolo in his article “Flashbacks From War-Trauma: Reactions To The Reinvention Syndrome” ( http://www.theperspective.org/2004/sept/flashback.html), published September 17, 2004 states, “The first governmental structure that the NPFL was supposed to effect following the Taylor-led coup was fashioned and designed by Sawyer, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Harry Greaves, Jr. Clearly, the role of the opposition movement in unleashing carnage on the Liberian people via their attachments to Doe and Taylor cannot be disputed easily”.
From what Dr. Dolo and Dr. Sayon have written, every man or woman of prudence can conclude that the acts of ACDL members in raising money and designing the government structure the NPFL was suppose to effect are tantamount to aiding and abetting. These members of ACDL were supporting Taylor when prominent Liberians like the Late Jackson Doe, Gabriel Kpolleh, David Dwanyen, Amb. Christopher Ricks, Stephen Yekeson and over 100,000 other Liberians were being murdered. Why would Gongloe exclude the time frame these Liberians were murdered? Is Mr. Gongloe saying that the lives of those Liberians are less important than those killed at the time ECOMOG arrived or during the administration of Mr. Taylor? As a human rights Lawyer, is Gongloe engaging in selective indictment or judgment? Is Gongloe trying not to hold his friends or his favored candidate for president in the October 2005 election responsible for the death of the late Jackson Doe when he is aware that they helped buy the weapon that was used to murder him, Moses Duopu and others? Why would Gongloe not ask them to apologize to the Liberian people?
Gongloe also wrote, “Brumskine sat in the senate while the constitution was violated in many ways. For example, he supported President Taylor in carrying out the unconstitutional act of replacing the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court without cause and without following the procedure provided by law for the removal of judges”. If Gongloe is so much of a constitutional scholar why did he not advise Sawyer to leave in place the Supreme Court bench that Samuel Doe appointed?
Gongloe, who is considered a human rights Lawyer and a member of the Liberian Bar Association, was a major decision maker in the interim government of Dr. Sawyer. Where was Mr. Gongloe when Dr. Sawyer appointed new Justices of the Supreme Court? As a member of Dr. Sawyer’s inner-cycle, did he advise Dr. Sawyer not to change Justice Gbalazah and members of his bench because it was a constitutional violation as he stated in the case of NPP government? Mr. E. Sumo Jones in his article on the Perspective stated that Dr. Sawyer and some Liberian politicians formed an interim government when former Vice President, Dr. Moniba, was around. As a constitutional scholar why did Mr. Gongloe not advise Dr. Sawyer to resign and turn the country over to Dr. Moniba? This selective reasoning shows that Tiawon Gongloe is bias.
Talking about constitutional violation, CHAPTER VI, Article 54 (e) of the Liberian constitution states, “The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission — Members of the military from the rank of lieutenant or its equivalent and above”. In his book the “The Mask of Anarchy”, Stephen Ellis wrote on page 98, “Not only were ULIMO recruits undergoing secret military training at Kankan, Guinea, from 1991, but so too was the core of a new security force known as the Black Berets who were to be put at the disposal of Professor Sawyer’s puppet government in Monrovia as a paramilitary force”. The group was trained without the knowledge of the interim assembly. Upon their return, some members were appointed lieutenants, Captains, etc, without the consent of the interim assembly. Some members of the opposition parties, including cabinet ministers, complained that they were deceived by the government for clandestinely training the Black Beret. Did Mr. Gongloe, an insider in that government, advise the government that this act violated the constitution? Doesn’t Gongloe know this was a violation of the constitution? Why did both the IGNU and Taylor train military groups (ATU & Black Beret) while the AFL was being neglected? There is evidence to show that the black beret was involved in human rights abuses during the interim government of which Gongloe was a major decision maker or a member of the kitchen cabinet. Two mothers wept in the nineties because their sons were pick up by some black beret members for investigation because of their tribes. According to these mothers, the Black Beret officers said that they were suspicious of young men from special tribes because these tribes were strongly supporting Charles Taylor. These mothers waited for days and did not see their sons. What happened to these young men? Cllr. Brumskine has said that anyone who has any evidence that he was involved in human rights violation during his days in the senate should present the evidence before a TRC and he will appear. I believe Gongloe and some officials of IGNU should appear before a future Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to answer questions about what they know about the creation of this group, which murdered some Liberians and was involved in human rights violations. Since Gongloe is considered a human rights lawyer, the international human rights world should question Gonglow about his role in organizing Black Beret because this group violated the rights of Liberians.
Corruption in Government
Gongloe wrote, “Senator Brumskine like other elites of the Taylor government enjoyed electricity and water to the exclusion of the population. The senator then lived in the luxury of Hotel Africa with electricity twenty-four hours while the surrounding areas of the hotel and other parts of Monrovia were in darkness. What did he do for the people of Liberia who did not have electricity and water, and still do not have those basic social services today?”
The record will show, while in government, Cllr. Brumskine stood up for the common people. He created opportunities for several Liberian women to start and operate their own businesses at his own expense. He ran a personal scholarship program that educated several Liberians at Universities in Liberia . He called for investigating Liberia ’s role in Sierra Leone civil war. He did not make any decision that would have brought economic hardship on his people. He opposed government giving rice monopoly to George Haddah. By the way, it was the Government of Dr. Amos Sawyer that assisted George Haddah by financing him to import rice in Liberia , thus continuing the foreign control over this major commodity. Did Mr. Haddah bribe anyone in the interim government? Maybe Mr. Gongloe could help answer this question as an insider in that government. Did Gongloe or any member of IGNU obtain shares in Haddad’s company in exchange for the guarantees? Gongloe did not produce any evidence pointing to Cllr. Brumskine involvement in converting Government resources to his personal use.
In his posting on ULIBSAA forum to Mr. Nat Galarea Gbessagee, Tiawon Gongloe wrote in trying to defend corruption in IGNU, “But let me remind you that in that posting I asked you to be more specific as to the properties and other matters of corruption that you were making generalization about”. Gongloe has on several occasions defended the record of the interim government of which he was an official. On page 136 of the book the Mask of AnarchyStephen Ellis wrote, “For, even in a bankrupt state, with international debts of up to $3 billion, suspended from the United Nations and International Monetary Fund and with an official income of only $20 million, there was money to be had from public office. In the first half of 1992, for example, the Interim government spent some $1.3 million on travel and per diem allowances paid in Liberia ’s official currency, the US dollar, were changed on the black market for Liberian dollars” . On page 185 of the same book, Stephen Ellis wrote, “The fact that the Liberian state during the civil war ceased to be an institution with which binding agreements could be made can be illustrated with an example, that of a German ship’s captain who deposited $116,500 at a Monrovia bank after delivering a cargo of petroleum in 1993. When he came to withdraw his deposit, he received only $45,000. He reported the case to the National Bank of Liberia (now Central bank) which issued an‘unconditional and irrevocable guarantee’ to repay the money by a set date, but failed to meet the deadline. Cases like this indicate the Liberian central bank has ceased to fulfill the functions expected to it by the international financial system”.
Gongloe, was an advisor or a member of the inner-cycle. Did Gongloe advise Dr. Sawyer that a portion of the $1.3 million could have been used to buy Fuel Oil for the Luke Plant on Bushrod Island to provide light for at least Bushrod Island and part of Central Monrovia ? Did Gongloe advise Dr. Sawyer that a portion of that money could have bought drugs for JFK to help our poor masses who could not afford drugs? Did he advise Dr. Sawyer that a portion of that money could have helped renovate the old science building on the University of Liberia campus or help pay the poor teachers who were making great sacrifices to educate the children of the masses? Money given to officials of the IGNU is public record. Can Gongloe tell the world how much he received for air ticket and per diem and why did he receive it at the time the masses were sleeping hungry? Stephen Ellis said in his article that US currency given to IGNU officials were changed on the black market. Why would officials traveling outside Liberia change US dollars for Liberian dollars when Liberian dollars could not have been used outside of Liberia ? Were some of these officials really traveling or converting money for air tickets and per diem to their personal use?
What does Gongloe know about the interim government aiding Charles Taylor to buy arms that were used to kill our People? In 1992, a particular logging company, with the permission of the interim government, transported logs from the Gola forest, Bomi County through Monrovia (Dr. Sawyer held area) to fifteen-gate, Firestone/Harbel and to the port of Buchanan to be exported. These logs were exported from the port of Buchanan to the buyer(s). I saw these logs being transported to Buchanan. Why did the interim government of Dr. Sawyer of which Gongloe was an official gave this company a free pass to transport logs by way of Monrovia to the Port of Buchanan ? Mr. Gongloe should tell the Liberian people why he did not advise Dr. Sawyer that this was wrong. Didn’t Gongloe and other officials of the interim government know that Taylor was using proceeds from the logs to buy arms or were they receiving cuts from Taylor ? After the press in Monrovia began to carry this story an embargo was put in placed. One ECOMOG captain told me that, “You Liberians are not serious, and why did our boys died for Dr. Sawyer and Taylor to do business?” Was Gongloe aware of any business deal between some members of the interim government and Taylor?
Gongloe has praised Christain Herbert (Minister of Planning), Commany Wesseh (TLA member) and Lavala Supowood (Labor Minister) for making "positive" contributions to the Liberian society and condemned Cllr. Brumskine for riding big cars while the masses were suffering. How can our esteemed "human rights lawyer" be so simplistic in his judgment? Is honorable Gongloe not aware that all of his aforementioned heroes are currently participating in the spoils of this kleptomaniac Bryant administration? At a time when the majority of our fellow Liberians haven't been paid for months, his heroes like Commany Wisseh, Lavala Supowood and Christian Herbert are lavishing in luxurious government-owned sport utility vehicles and receiving exorbitant allowances - all at a time when our poor people live under extremely difficult circumstances. Perhaps it would interest our readers to know that Mr. Gongloe, upon his graduation from law school, was hired by Lavala Supowood and is a personal friend of Christian Herbert and Commany Wesseh. Also, these are all current and former members of Gongloe’s party (LPP). Is this what qualifies them as champions of the masses? I'll let you be the judge. Why would a ‘human rights lawyer’ suggest that a man (Lavala Supuwood) who commanded fighters (LURD) that the world saw eating human hearts on TV is a hero? I hope those international human rights organizations that have been working with Gongloe read his article and find out that he is glorifying an agent of human rights violation.
Liberians and the human right world must understand there is evidence to show while Tiawon is hiding under the umbrella of a human rights lawyer, he is clandestinely operating with some political figures in or outside of Liberia to undermine the effort of some journalists who are trying to expose some ills in the society and also presidential candidates they do not support.
Receiving The So-called ‘Progressive’ Torch
Gongloe is in line to received the so-called ‘progressive’ torch from the old so-called ‘progressive’ politicians from the seventies according to an inside source from that group. He is still under the wings of these so-called ‘progressives’ who, along with other Liberians, contributed to the problems in Liberia today and robbed my generation of a great future the late William R. Tolbert promised us (Precious Jewels). My generation never saw the "wholesome functioning society" promised by the Late William R. Tolbert. Today, as I reminisce the seventies, I realize that the so-called ‘progressives’ should have given Tolbert a chance to build a “great nation’ as he promised. Gongloe was brainwashed by these men and today he is still pledging his allegiance to his so-called ‘progressive fathers’.
According to inside sources from the so-called ‘progressive camp’, while working clandestinely with his so-called ‘progressive Godfathers’, Gongloe is to present himself as a human rights lawyer to win the confidence of the Liberian people. I want for the Liberian people and the international human rights world to understand that Gongloe is deceiving the world because he is not real and has political agenda. An e- mail letter, which was intended for Dr. Sawyer, was inadvertently submitted to members of the ULIBSAA forum. See paragraph 7 of an article written at: http://www.tlcafrica.com/article_bettie-1.htm. Members of ULIBSAA forum including some officials of ULAA know that the e-mail is genuine. This e-mail will justify what the inside sources said about Gongloe political agenda. Liberians should not allow the likes of Gongloe who is masquerading as a human right Lawyer and clandestinely pushing his so-called ‘progressive’ agenda to make Liberia worst then it is today. I have faith in God that there will be a new and prosperous Liberia that will not be destroy by those with the mindset of Gongloe and his so-called ‘progressive’ fathers who traded the kaki shirts and rubber sandals for custom-made European suits and diamond earring. Some are today living in expensive homes and riding Mercedes Benz in France , Nigeria and other West African Countries and also aiding in the mismanagement of public corporations’ funds while the masses are living in poverty. Gongloe has shown his true color because ‘Leopard cannot change its spot’.
Liberian should understand that one reason our nation was destroyed is because some Liberians in the seventies, eighties and nineties preached the message of hate and hatred is bad. One can see from all indications that Gongle has a deep-seated hatred for Cllr. Brumskine. Why would Gongloe write a fifteen page incoherent response to a three-paged article "The Need to Be Truthful" ( http://www.tlcafrica.com/article_bettie-1.htm )? Is this a sign of desperation or his usual tantrum upon the mere mention of the name Brumskine? Why would Gongloe state that those who financed and executed wars that killed our people are better off then Cllr. Brumskine who did not sponsor any war and has been preaching the message of reconciliation and forgiveness because this is what we need during the heeling process? Hatred is bad. It destroys individuals and institutions. Is this the message a so-called human rights lawyer like Gongle should preach? Doesn’t Gongloe know such a message killed thousands of Liberians in Monrovia and in other Rebels held areas? Why is Gongloe resurrecting those ideas or bad political philosophy before 1980 that divided us as a nation? Gongloe is coming across as a mad and dangerous man and he should be exposed for the fraud he is.
On September 17, 2004 in his article ‘ Flashbacks from War-Trauma: Reactions to the Reinvention Syndrome ’ ( http://www.theperspective.org/2004/sept/flashback.html), Dr. Emmanuel Dolo wrote, “ One has to acknowledge that the legacy of the progressive movement in Liberia, which Amos Sawyer , Togba-Nah Tipoteh, and others led, has hardly been progressive. Instead, it has been retrogressive, if not reactionary. While MOJA and the other opposition movements did help their leaders to acquire power, prestige, and profits, they hindered the Liberian people from realizing the hopes promised - that positive change was on the horizon. Few weeks before the coup, MOJA had its National Convention in Monrovia and highlighted the theme: "Our eyes are Open; The Time of the People has come. Few weeks after this meeting, some of these same people were appointed to cabinet positions in the Doe Government and soon began to travel around Monrovia under the protection of machine-gun carrying soldiers who now stood between the so-called revolutionaries and the very people "whose time had come."”
This is a critical time in the history of Liberia and decisions we make this October 2005 will either improve the conditions of our people or make things worst. Some of our people may rely on us to help them make decisions in the coming October 2005 election; therefore, Gongloe, with the title ‘human rights Lawyer’and others should write the truth about all the candidates that will enable some Liberians make the right decision and not selectively try to destroy one candidate that will put him or her at a competitive disadvantage because Gongloe and others don’t like a particular candidate or that they are trying to ingratiate themselves to others. This will be unfair to some of our people.
I await a response from Taiwon Gongloe with answers to my questions or maybe some of those young men who cannot determine their own destiny with the help of God but remain bag carriers for their ‘Progressive Godfathers’.
Long live Liberia and the people of Liberia .
About the Author: Zack Garway Whebeor Sharpe, III holds a MBA from the University of Rhode Island and lives in the State of Rhode Island , USA . Mr. Sharpe is an official of Friends of Brumskine, USA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.