29.07.2003 Feature Article

Rejoinder: Rawlings Responds to Women Demonstrators

Rejoinder: Rawlings Responds to Women Demonstrators
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As a Ghanaian, like many other citizens of Ghana who witnessed and/or experienced the atrocities and gross human rights abuses committed against innocent citizens of our motherland after the June 4, 1979 and the December 31, 1981 coups staged by Flt. Lt. Rawlings, I was baffled to read the last line of the ex-president's statement that "I want the truth but the truth should be accomplished with justice," in his response speech to the women demonstrators that appeared at Ghanaweb News section (GNA) on July 15, 2003. I find it rather disheartening that the leader of a past administration that was plagued with serious human rights and corruption scandals could pretend to care about Ghanaians.

In fact, it sounds ridiculous and very awkward for the former president to demand a chemical interrogation before mentioning the names of the 15 top New Patriotic Party (NPP) officials he allegedly claims to be involved in the murders of the 34 women in the late 1990s. This is because if he is truly patriotic and has the interest of the state at heart, he should readily give the names of the culprits to the police for further investigation without further delay. My view is that, irrespective of ones party affiliation, we should all desist from playing politics with other people’s grief. I think such a former statesman who claims to be a good and patriotic citizen of Ghana should not joke with such a sensitive issue that is of national importance. If the former leader is not able to put forward any substantiated facts in the case within the shortest time possible, then one is inclined to believe that he is creating confusion to divert attention from the tales of atrocities committed during his 20 years 'reign of terror' that are re-surfacing at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) hearings. The period of his presidency was the time these murders took place, if he had any such information, he should have fixed them before leaving office.

Does the former president want the 'truth with justice'? Then he should just mention the names of the NPP officials who are supposedly responsible for the murders of these innocent women. By providing the names, the former president stands to gain more than any Ghanaian since this will vindicate him from the rumours that he used some of the women's body parts for 'juju'. He should also bear in mind that before coming out with any names, he should have credible evidence to prove to Ghanaians beyond any reasonable doubt that he is not just making up stories. If the ex-president is someone who truly claims to stand for the truth, justice and accountability, he should appear before the NRC to either admit or refute the numerous allegations that have been leveled against him, (especially the unresolved case of the murder of the judges and the army officer).

It’s about time Rawlings desisted from hiding behind Victor Smith as his spokesperson in his attempts to avoid the truth and justice regarding his involvement in the torture, assault, imprisonment, and murder of innocent victims during his 20 years reign of terror. Again, if he is someone who takes responsibility for his actions and inactions, he should come up with a punishment much deserving for himself for deceiving Ghanaians about his intentions in his two coups. I wonder how a former leader whose style of governance was reminiscent to that of Augusto Pinochet of Chile or Idi Amin of Uganda, and has one of the worst human rights record in Ghana’s post-independence history, can claim to stand for truth and justice. Most Ghanaians are now aware that the name Rawlings is synonymous with 'deception' so he can no longer prey on their minds.

Given the substantial degree of importance of the murder of the 34 women and that of the high court judges to national security, and the air of uncertainty surrounding these cases, Rawlings should come clean of what he knew or did not know to avoid being dragged to the court for misleading the state, making false and unsubstantiated allegations and spreading fear among the Ghanaian public. He should also know that the NPP as an entity can take him to court for libel and defamation if the party chooses to do so should he fail to mention any names. I think it's time someone put the ex-president in his rightful position in Ghana's political history. It is one thing for one to lament that he/she stands for truth and justice and another thing to practice these noble attributes when the person is the culprit. The former president should understand that it takes more than words to prove that he stands by truth, justice and accountability. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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