6/5/12

Liberian Civil Wars: Insurgency, terrorism, & revolution in Liberia: 1989-1996 & 1999-2003

Of the many bloody conflicts to befall the various regions of Africa from 1945-2012, the Civil Wars of the continent have been particularly brutal beacuse of the overwhelming loss of human life, mostly non-combatants caught in the crossfire of modern weaponry and geo-political fervor, which often spills into other nations and regions following social and politcal conflict

The Liberian Civil Wars, first from 1989-1996, and then from 1999-2003, are an example of the chaos and bloodshed that can arise from Civil War and internal strife in the developing regions of the World.



Recently the events in Liberia which were so brutal and horrible have come into the news feed once again following their former president Charles Taylor's conviction of War crimes for his role in Sierra Leone's Civil War from 1991-2000. The international tribunal who convicted Taylor was significant because it was the first time since World War II that a head of state has been put on trial and convicted for War Crimes.

Charles Taylor the warlord and later President of Liberia 1997-2003

Liberia is such a fascinating country because unlike every other African nation it had no direct European influence and was the only nation besides the Abyssinian Empire to escape European colonialism.

Liberian settlement became a project for American politicians and abolitionist societies in a 'back to Africa' movement of sorts run by the American Colonization Society, which procured Liberia for freedmen (freed slaves or black men from the North), following their own declaration of independence, an American-inspired constitution was enacted by the Liberians 1847, which disenfranchised those native Africans who were not landowners as few owned land like the Liberians of American descent.

What this American inspired political system established in the long term was a close to one hundred and fifty year rule of the ethnic Americo-Liberian's over the indigenous populations of Liberia. A former American descendant of slaves Joseph Jenkins Roberts became the first and then 7th president of Liberia, one of the last Republican party candidates to hold the office before the domination of the True Whig Party until 1990 and the First Liberian Civil War.

Joseph Jenkins Roberts, First President of Liberia b.1809-1876

Other notable and/or infamous True Whig presidents of Liberia include the fraudulently elected Charles D.B. King, the 18th President, Edwin Barclay, 1930-1944, who strengthened Liberian-United States relations, and William Tubman, who ruled autocratically from 1944-1971.


It was this background of oppression which sparked the violence of the First Liberian Civil War, when eventually the first indigenous descendant president from 1986-1990, Samuel K. Doe was captured and then tortured & executed on film by the rebel forces under Warlord Prince Y. Johsnon. Though a rival of Charles Taylor had slain the former president, Taylor allegedly used his American connections to become the 22nd President of Liberia following the Civil War and Coup.

Prince Y. Johnson during the First Civil War brandishing an American made M16. He is now a senator and presidential candidate

Opposition to Taylor's totally corrupt and inept rule led to the Second Civil War, in which perhaps 200-300,000 or more perished in both Liberia and in neighboring Sierra Leone where Taylor is convicted of financing and supporting genocide and terrorist activities.

Iconic photo of the Second Civil War, undoubtedly a child or young teen soldier

The Second Civil War was marked by its intensity and a hundred or a thousand violent deaths per day sometimes between 1999-2003. Warlords in allegiance with and against the government used child soldiers some as young as 11-12 to fight the conflict in the city streets and jungles of Liberia and Sierra Leone. 

Eventually rebel armies based out of Guinea and the Cote D'Ivoire descended on the capital Monrovia initiating a siege which killed thousands, only ending the war after UN peace keeping forces arrived in Liberia to stabilize the country in September 2003. Their mission continues under a American and United Nations sercurity directive known as UNMIL.

In conclusion the Liberian Civil Wars are a conflict you should know because they had longstanding diplomatic ramifications in regards to Africa (and Liberia's) security and in regards to international law, and  precedent of the responsibility of heads of state in the modern age. 

Warlord-President Charles Taylor among his soldiers

1 comment:

  1. Everyone should see ECLIPSED on Broadway at the Golden Theatre about 4 Sex slaves during the Revolution of Liberia. Stars Lupita Nyong"o

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