Viewing Charles Taylor’s Network trial
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor is on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands for his role in Sierra Leone’s civil war. For the past two weeks, he has been testifying in his evidence in chief will continue to do so for several weeks. His defense is being streamed at the Special Court in Freetown, available for public viewing.
He has so far denied all allegations by prosecution witnesses against him of planning the invasion and supplying arms to the rebel forces of Sierra Leone.
Upon hearing him speak, I was surprised to find out that he is an eloquent guy with good English, having been educated in the United States. He is soft-spoken, detail oriented, the kind of guy who probably generously tip a restaurant waitress. However, I’m not foolish, and I have to remember this guy is being charged for causing the deaths of tens of thousands of people. It’s a sobering reality check every time I listen to him speak.
Knowing that Taylor was educated in the States during the 1970s, I feel a small pang of guilt in my heart for the people of Sierra Leone.
As if I owe them an apology that my country helped educate a man who would later be prosecuted for the recruitment of child soldiers; who raped and ravaged their way through West Africa.
As if I owe them an apology for Taylor claiming that the U.S. government helped him escape from a maximum security prison in 1985, in which he was being held for extradition back to Liberia on charges that he embezzled $900,000 – though I have my doubts about his particular claim of the United States breaking him out.
And as if I owe the people of Sierra Leone an apology for being ignorant of the horrible things that happened here not so long ago, and that it took a flashy American action movie with Leonardo DiCaprio for me to open my eyes and care.
I am not wracked with a vast amount of guilt and it’s not as though I can’t sleep at night as I ponder these things. And if I have any fellow Americans who actually take time to read this, please know that I am in no way anti-American. I love my home country and the rights, pleasures and opportunities that it has provided for me.
But as an American, it’s hard to believe we, the richest nation in the world, had no power to do anything to stop the worst atrocities that occur in other corners of the world. And that continues to be the case to this day.