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War victims vilify 'lying' Taylor

BBC News website readers who were affected by the conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia explain why they believe ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor, on trial for war crimes, is lying about his conduct.

You can send us your views and personal accounts using the postform at the bottom of the page.

KAI MUS, 27, REFUGEE, BAKOTEH, THE GAMBIA

Charles Taylor's involvement in the Sierra Leone conflict was visible and unquestionable. I want to tell you why.

On Friday 23 October 1992, rebels entered Koidu town in Kono district - my hometown in Sierra Leone.

Generic image of Sierra Leonean refugees fleeing war in 2000
Sierra Leoneans continue to live as refugees throughout West Africa today

I will never forget that day.

I was a child.

I was a child in my uniform.

I was preparing for school but then my parents called me back. Everything in town was chaos. Everyone going here, there. The violence. The trouble. My aunt was killed. We had to flee into the bush.

A week later, I lost my half brother. We were in the bush for two-and-a-half weeks until we passed through to Guinea.

We stayed until my father had a stroke and he was paralysed. We came back to Sierra Leone to Freetown but after sometime we returned to Kono district.

For some nine months during 1997 when the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) took the country we again had to live in the bush.

We were living on wild yams and fruits because we didn't have rice.

To eat wild yams though you need salt to make it taste OK so my brother and cousin used to go to where the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels were. They would work for them the whole day, mining diamonds and then for payment they would be given a cup of salt.

It was on one of those days that they saw a helicopter fly into town.

Later they saw a gentleman, in all white with a walking stick in his hand, around the Yengema diamond area. There was talk after, among the people, that this man was Charles Taylor.

Again why I know that Charles Taylor was involved in my country was because most evidently of all the rebels who entered our town, they were speaking the 'pigeon English' that is spoken in Liberia.

They couldn't speak Creole like we Sierra Leoneans do. They were speaking a Liberian dialect.

I am not God to judge Taylor, but surely even if the court discharges him, the blood of our relatives that died in this senseless way, will fight the cause.

JIMMY BERNARD, 36, MARKET TRADER, MONROVIA, LIBERIA

Charles Taylor is a wicked man.

I'm very, very happy that he's on trial because my father died in the war and my mother died in the war.

He was behind all the war business.

He is on trial for what he did in Sierra Leone, not for the war here that killed my parents, but still I am happy.

He made war here and he did the same across the border in Sierra Leone.

UNISA DIZO-CONTEH, 26, TEACHING CO-ORDINATOR, LONDON

Charles Taylor: "I have fought all my life to do what I thought was right"

I am extremely angry that Charles Taylor is dismissing the charges brought against him as "lies".

However, I'm not surprised as he is a man capable of trying his best to deceive people of his evil acts.

If it was not Charles Taylor's support to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, in exchange for our diamonds - if the RUF wasn't getting ammunition from Charles Taylor - then the war wouldn't have lasted for 11 years.

Without him, the RUF would not have had the capability to carry out such barbaric acts on the people of Sierra Leone.

There is a strong link between the diamonds and the arms that the RUF had; what we saw.

I am angry because I lost a lovely brother and two other family members and Charles Taylor provided the tools that resulted to their death, as well as the deaths of many thousands.

I hope Taylor goes to hell.

I believe that the other reason why he supported the rebels was because when he was a rebel and waging war in his own country, Sierra Leone was used as a base by the Nigerian-led West African intervention force, Ecomog who were trying to stop him and his rebels.

It is a common understanding among Sierra Leoneans that Charles Taylor took this as a violation of the Manu River agreement - the deal that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone signed saying that they would never interfere in each other's countries affairs.

By hosting Ecomog, Sierra Leone had violated the Manu River agreement and so I suspect revenge was another reason why he supported the rebels against the government.

ALEXIS DAVIES, 24, REFUGEE, CONAKRY, GUINEA

We as Sierra Leoneans know that Charles Taylor was involved with the war in Sierra Leone in one way or the other.

TAYLOR TIMELINE
1989 Launches rebellion in Liberia
1991 RUF rebellion starts in Sierra Leone
1995 Peace deal signed
1997 Elected president
1999 Liberia's Lurd rebels start insurrection to oust Taylor
June 2003 Arrest warrant issued
August 2003 Steps down, goes into exile in Nigeria
March 2006 Arrested, sent to Sierra Leone
June 2007 Trial opens in The Hague

But Charles Taylor is a very intelligent and manipulative man.

Under fair judgement, it will be very difficult to find him guilty because those that he dealt with directly - Foday Sankoh, Sam Bockarie (aka General Mosquito), Jonny Paul Koroma and other top Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leaders are dead.

So as a matter of fact, who is going to provide hard incriminating evidence against him rather than hearsay.

The people that do have evidence are not coming forward because they never had the licence to sell the arms they did, they illegally bought and sold Sierra Leone's diamonds and therefore they are implicated.

International arms dealers and those that were buying the so-called blood diamonds should have been brought to book to prove that they did business with Mr Taylor and received diamonds as payment from him and those diamonds will definitely be traced back to Sierra Leone.

I think the court should call on former [Sierra Leone's National Provisional Ruling Council] NPRC top brass as prosecution witnesses.

Maybe they will bring something up because they pursued the war [they fought against the Revolutionary United Front rebels] and they might know something; they are military men after all.


A selection of the comments we received:

We are all victims of the rebellion Charles Taylor started in Liberia that spilled over into Sierra Leone, and the facts remains that atrocities were committed in both wars. The pain, torture, trauma, and agony brought upon the people of Sierra Leone have becoming an issue of conspiracy. I say conspiracy because being guilty is different from proven guilty. In order for an individual to be proven guilty for charges such as the ones brought against Taylor, the prosecution must be able to present hard and concrete evidence which they have not to this point presented; and which they do not need anyway. The prosecution did not have to bring over 90 witnesses, all they needed was one. Why? Because regardless of how hard Taylor fights and how good a defense his defense team provides, He's going to jail. Charles Taylor's trial is just a continuation of his struggle with big powers which he will not win. This is one of the "make him guilty" trials, I already know the outcome.
Glenn Gbakoyah, Minneapolis, USA

I am a Liberian, a number one person who wants to see justice prevail. Charles Taylor role in the Liberian conflict is unquestionable as a one year old child can clearly see the hand writings on the wall; talking about the war in Sierra Leone, I think there is more to be proven then basing allegations on mere rumours, imaginations and emotions. If the court must find Mr Taylor guilty, then it must be beyond all reasonable doubts. More besides, I believe this is an injustice to those victims as the trial of Mr Taylor, while the key perpetrators are been left out, can not bring about justice; neither will it establish the actual cause of the conflict and make know those who bare the greater responsibility. But if it must be, then let it be justice and not sympathy.
Barthalomew Wilson, Monrovia, Liberia

I was in Liberia during Sergeant, later General Samuel Kanyon Doe's reign. It was a peaceful country until murderous Charles and his colleague Yomie Johnson invaded the country and started the war. I believe all accusations against Mr Charles Taylor are sustainable because his men were brutal to the point of satanic and Taylor was their commander-in-chief. They butchered both Liberians and non-Liberians and extended their activities to Sierra Leone. Nigerian (Embassy) House in Monrovia was raided and all found within the premises were brutally murdered including two Nigerian journalists who were armed with only cameras and jotters. Charles Taylor is a talented deceiver that could speak himself out of trouble but there are overwhelming evidence against him this time around. In the whole saga, he was a one man disunity crew and does not take kindly to opposition even as head of Liberia's General Internal Services Agency while serving under late Doe. He is qualified for the maximum sentence as warning to other would be Taylors and some old dictators still hanging around in Africa. Impunity does not pay and this is an opportunity to sound it loud and clear.
Cyprain Ikeche, Lagos, Nigeria

There is obviously no doubt that Mr Taylor is not telling the truth. He is responsible for fuelling the war in Sierra Leone. Many Sierra Leoneans strongly believe that had it not been for his interference in the war, the war would not have lasted longer than it did. Sierra Leoneans are therefore demanding for justice to be done and to be swiftly done.
Joseph P Abu, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Charles rang havoc on us and ruined my childhood. The fear and damage he did me and my entire village can never be repair. His forces killed 300 innocent people on July 12, 1990 in the town of Barkedu, Lofa County. My brother Mohamed Dolley and many of my relatives and friends were among the victim. This man destroyed the life of million young people. There should be no mercy for Charles Taylor. Let him rot in jail.
AB Dolley , United States

I lost my mother and many loved ones during the rebel incursion to Freetown. I lost my first decent job Network Operations Manager of Mobitel (SL) Ltd; the first Mobile Phone Company in Sierra Leone when the rebels attacked Freetown and destroyed all the Base that I got in 1998 after graduating in 1986. It was not easy as I lost everything I had except dear life as my house was looted beyond recognition and rendered jobless for close to six years. There are many things this platform cannot accommodate to explain the suffering myself and family went through because of this carnage. Can you believe that someone will enter your house broad daylight and ask for your car keys and cart away all your belongings because he carries a gun and you have seen him gunned down someone few minutes back and you give without refusing or they have raped your neighbour's children because they carry guns???????????
Sylvester Osborne Williams, Freetown, Sierra Leone

I think every men should be accountable for his action and President Taylor is accused of doing some horrible crimes. But the law is not made to serve as a haven for revenge. It's serve as a place for justice, which require a process. The law is not based on "what you think you know". It's what you can prove without a reasonable doubt. Yes, it's bad when the law protects the guilty but it's created to protect the innocent and every man is innocent until proven guilty. It's an embarrassment to the history of Liberia to accuse a former president without strong verifiable evidence.
Al-Solo Nyonteh

It is no doubt that Charles Taylor led a rebellion in Liberia while the late Foday Sankoh led one in Sierra Leone. It is true also that Taylor's rebellion caused atrocities in Liberia just as it is equally true that Foday Sankoh's rebellion caused mayhem in Sierra Leone. I am a Sierra Leonean and terribly suffered from that senseless brutal war. But, what I am seeing here is a kind of proxy war against Taylor on which Sierra Leone is being used. Looking at the whole Taylor trial thing, there are a lot of suspicions and unanswered questions. Why charge Taylor with Sierra Leone war crimes while he was not the rebel leader that announced himself leading the war in Sierra Leone? There is something fishy that the international community is up to. Why should the ICC be influenced by some world powers to bring Taylor to trial for Sierra Leone's crimes and not Liberia's war crimes? For all I know now, the Sierra Leoneans will never know the truth about the brutal war we suffered especially with the death in prison of the key players. It is a pity and a shame? I weeping for Sierra Leoneans. Taylor's trial should go ahead because it has been sanctioned by the powers that be but Sierra Leoneans have still not been served justice. If Sierra Leoneans who were responsible for these crimes were charged and their explanations incriminate Taylor, I believe the world would have no reasons to doubt whatever accusations are levied on Taylor. I look forward to the ICC to administer justice not by emotions but by facts.
Alie B Bangura, Philadelphia, USA

Mr Taylor is a liar. He can only fool people who haven't seen his atrocious nature or those who are gullible. I was in the vicinity of the Mano River bridge between Liberia and Sierra Leone in March of 1991 when Mr Taylor's NPFL forces launched an early morning attack on Sierra Leone. I can still remember the beginning of the bombardment that morning. My elder and younger brothers and I were just walking into the coffee farm that morning when it started. And I can confidently say that in the weeks and months that followed that initial attack, it was basically Mr Taylor's forces that were fighting in Sierra Leone. The same people who were Taylor's commanders and fighters were the same people that carried out operations in Sierra Leone. The man is a consummate liar and has a wicked nature on the same scale of the Hitlers and Stalins of this world. I'm sure they too would have claimed innocence for their crimes.
Lamii Kpargoi, Monrovia

I was born in Sierra Leone in 1990. You can't imagine as a child worrying about being killed by rebels or your hands being cut off, or watching members of your family being murdered by thugs. This dog deserve to die like his victims. But we all known the realties of these courts. They will probably exile him with a nice house, cars, rights. While his victim are living with the pain everyday. He shows no remorse towards the wars he caused. God bless.
Sheku Fofanah, Winchester

It is a sad day today because it reminds me of the years lost by Sierra Leoneans and Liberians under such a brutal and manipulative butcher. First of all he is still defiant and persuasive as before, no remorse. Thank God my beloved sister who fell in an ambush during an attack by the RUF will finally rejoice in heaven while Taylor, Issa and others are facing the full force of international law.
Jonas L Williams, Groningen The Netherland

I was a soldier in Liberia when the wicked, tyrant terrorist, president Charles Taylor was ruling. He killed so many people and amputated many as well. Mr Adokia and wife, who were opposition to him were brutally killed. The UN should make sure he is executed or else they are encouraging terrorism in the world.
Emmanuel Okoi, Ugep-Cross River, Nigeria

Mr Taylor will never say the truth about his clandestine activities with the RUF. He is a bad example of every good thing. He should remember that trial awaits him in Liberia for the atrocities committed during our country bloody civil war. Shame on you Mr. Taylor!!!
J.AH A. Quayeson, Freeport Monrovia, Liberia

In a BBC broadcast on Focus on Africa with Robin White, Charles Taylor had vowed that he will make Sierra Leoneans taste the bitterness of war. And indeed we tasted it. So why is he denying any involvement? Why was Liberia and the executive mansion a safe haven for Foday Sankoh and the infamous mosquito, Sam Boackari? Let nemesis have its way.
Emanuel, Lome, Togo

I am a Liberian living in the US and I lost my mother and father during Taylor's wars. BUT I still don't understand how a single man can be responsible for a regional war. If this court want to help the Liberian people like me, to bring JUSTICE in Africa, the court need to arrested all the parties involved. It seem that the west have special interest in Mr Taylor.
Max O Vargbelee, Stockton, CA

I quite agreed with Max, indeed Mr Taylor was the leader instructing his boys to executed his orders but there are other parties to this war crimes and if justice should prevail I strongly agreed that all involve in this war crimes from 1989 must be brought to justice.
Fashakin Joseph, Ajegunle , Lagos, Nigeria



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