Comment/Sierra Leone/Liberia/Libya : US Congressman Brad Sherman (Democrat, California) thinks in the wake of NATO’s expensive operations in Libya to contain Muammar Gaddafi’s attempts to kill protestors and the budget battle on Capitol Hill, the seized Gaddafi money, totaling over US$100 billion, should be used to pay for the Libyan no fly zone operations. That makes sense because of the humanitarian nature of the operations.
What also makes sense, humanly, are some Sierra Leoneans and Liberians at home and abroad campaigning for some of Gaddafi’s apprehended money be given to their struggling country as mandated by the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone. Short of charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone authorized Gaddafi to pay compensations for the victims of the civil war some of whom were murdered, raped, maimed and mutilated.
Over a million Sierra Leoneans and Liberian were killed as a result of the Gaddafi induced war. Gaddafi did train, finance and encourage the deadly rebel groups Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia.
Swinging between sanity and insanity, Gaddafi came to the agonizing conclusion that he has caused irreparable damages to some Africans and decided to give some sort of financial aid.
Gibril Koroma, the Sierra Leonean publisher of the Vancouver, British Columbia based thepatrioticvanguard.com, making the case for Sierra Leonean victims wrote that, “A couple of years ago, Gaddafi realized he had hurt Africa too much and he started what he may have considered a reconciliation process by giving away millions of dollars in raw cash and all sorts of other gifts like cars and tractors to African leaders. He has also been financing the United States of Africa project scheduled to kick off by 2017.”
But the real victims of Gaddafi’s atrocities – amputations, murders, raping, maiming and mutilations – the ordinary, innocent Sierra Leoneans and Liberians did not receive any of what Gibril Koroma indicated. Now is the time for them to get their compensations direct from Gaddafi’s looted billions. Their case is as reasonable and human as US Congressman Brad Sherman’s arguments for NATO.
The Sierra Leonean journalist and academic Aroun Rashid Deen, currently a doctoral candidate at New York University, in making the case for Gaddafi to pay compensation to Sierra Leonean and Liberian fatalities, argued that “Muammar Gaddafi was the mastermind and key financier of the brutal war that left hundreds of thousands dead in Sierra Leone in West Africa in the 1990s. The war would not have happened in the first place had it not been for the desire of the Libyan leader to punish the government of Sierra Leone for what he regarded as its siding with the West in the 1980’s when Gaddafi was at loggerhead with particularly the United States and Britain.
“It was also part of Gaddafi’s broader agenda including his geopolitical ambition to destabilize much of West Africa and establish satellite states in the region to be headed by puppet regimes that will be doing his biddings. The decade-long war ripped Sierra Leone apart. Thousands of its victims, whose arms and limbs were chopped off by rebels, were reduced to paupers, roaming the streets as beggars in Freetown and other cities. Children as young as a day old were also among those whose arms and limbs were hacked off by Gaddafi’s rebels. Pregnant women, too, were disemboweled with delight in their display of ghastly brutality.”
Jesmed F. Suma, of the US-based Sierra Leone Policy Watch, a policy think tank and civic engagement group, argues insightfully that, “In 2008, in an unprecedented act of contrition, Italy agreed to pay reparation of US$5 billion to Libya for Rome’s past injustices for 30 years as colonial master over Libya in the early years of the last century. Also in 2008 Libya was ordered to pay US$6 billion to the victims on-board the French Aircraft UTA Flight 772 for Libya’s role in the bombing of the flight over Niger in 1989. In addition Libya agreed to also pay US$1 million to each of the other 170 non-American victims.
“Libya also paid the US Govt. US$1.5 billion for Libya’s role in the Lockerbie Bombing that took the life of 270 victims and for the Berlin Disco Bombing that killed 3 and wounded 200. Now with regards to Sierra Leone and Liberia, Gaddafi sponsored a rebellion that killed thousands of poor, innocent men, women and children. These victims deserve the same justice as the victims of the Lockerbie bombing or the Libyan victims of Italian injustice.”
If Gaddafi has paid all these sums of money for his evil schemes, the time has come, through African and global institutions, for him to do same to the over million Sierra Leoneans and Liberians either slaughtered, raped, or maimed.
The Sierra Leone government, the diaspora Sierra Leonean lobby, the Mano River Union, the transnational African lobby, the Economic Community of West African States, regional giant Nigeria, the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, and the African Development Bank, among others, should campaign for Sierra Leone and Liberia to get some of the billions of dollars seized from Gaddafi for the damages he brought upon these countries.