Former rebel leader and prime war crimes suspect Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, appears to be paranoid by the increasing campaigns and calls for the establishment of a war and economic crimes tribunal for Liberia, threatening to unleash massive resistance and go after key advocates, including fellow lawmakers here.
The Nimba County Senator, who broke away from Charles Taylor and founded the defunct rebels Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia or INPFL that captured and mutilated President Samuel Kanyon Doe to death in 1990, threatens to attack homes of his kinsmen, for being supportive of the war and economic crimes tribunal.
Over 300,000 people were killed in the violence that spanned from December 25, 1989 to September, 2003. Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission or TRC lists PYJ and other warlords as people who committed heinous crimes and crimes against humanity during the country’s civil war, calling for prosecution.
He specifically names Representatives Larry P. Younquoi, Samuel G. Korga and Cllr.Tiawan Gongloe as members of his kinsmen pushing for a war crimes court, and vows that he and his loyalists will go after them in their respective homes.
The renewed threat comes when some groups of Liberians, calling themselves victims of atrocities protested Monday, 12 November before the United States Embassy near Monrovia and in principle streets, demanding prosecution and justice. Monday’s protest was preceded by a one-day National Justice Conference held on Friday, 09 November at the Monrovia City Hall, rallying support for the establishment of war and economic crimes tribunal for the country.
Jointly organized by several local and international advocacy groups, including the Global Justice and Research Project, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) of the United States, the Advocates for for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch, the forum was graced by former United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, Stephen Rapp, and the Country Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights here, Dr. Uchenna Emelonye.
Both officials express support for the formation of the court to curb impunity and avoid a repeat of violence. “We very much recognize to prevent atrocities in the future – murder, rape, the burning and destruction of homes and communities and livelihoods – one needs to held responsible, at least the major actors of those crimes, to account”, says Ambassador Rapp.
But Senator PYJ had on several occasions, publicly threatened that any attempt to have him arrested would be strongly resisted with a magnitude of force that could lead to renewed violence in Liberia. He threatened to deploy men armed with single barrel guns in the bushes to resist his arrest.
Meanwhile, Senator Johnson has ordered police in Ganta, Nimba County and his supporters to arrest one Emmanuel Wongen, for accusing him of training rebels in the county.Speaking on a community station recently in Ganta, Emmanuel accused PYJ of training men to resist his arrest for future prosecution.
Since he made the statement, state security forces in Nimba are yet to publicly invite Emmanuel Wongen for questioning. Instead, they have gone on his (Emmanuel) farm and arrested his 17-year-old son Perry D. Wongen along with others to show Emmanuel whereabouts.
By Thomas Domah/Nimba–Editing by Jonathan Browne