Feature Article of Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Columnist: Komla

Is it too late for J.J Rawlings

,,,, and those who committed atrocities during the so called revolution to face trial?

Former President J.J Rawlings in his December 31st commemoration speech over a week ago thanked and commended some solders for their sacrifices and bravery during the revolution. After reading the article, sad memories of those dark days I would rather not remember, came back to mind, and I asked myself what about an apology to those who suffered terribly at the hands of those very solders he commended, don’t they deserve anything? To not acknowledge the sufferings of so many Ghanaians during the commemoration speech is not a true reflection of the revolution.

As some of you may be aware, I have made it my life mission here at the forum to promote peace and unity amongst Ghanaians both here and at home. I feel strongly that there are unresolved issues relating to the revolution that needs to be addressed to enable us to have total peace in Ghana and to move forward, as there cannot be total peace and unity without equal rights and justice. Peace is not the absence of war, neither is it the absence of discussing difficult issues. As difficult as these issues may be, we should not be afraid to bring them to the table for discussion as part of the peace process.
There were so many atrocities committed in the name of the revolution and to simply forget them would be unfair, unjust and morally wrong. J.J and his solders must be held accountable for the atrocities committed, either through the human rights court in the Huge or at the very least, truth and reconciliation council to be set up to investigate the atrocities as was the case in South Africa. We must not let bygones be bygones without acknowledging the wrongs of the past. Healing will only come through acknowledgement and reconciliation.
I have since been asking myself these questions, was the revolution necessary? What was J.J’s true motive? Did the revolution benefited Ghana in any way at all? And what are some of the major successes and accomplishments of the revolution? I have thought long and hard about these questions and have not found any answers. The pretext of the revolution as we were told was to eliminate corruption. Can we truly say Ghana is corruption free today? However, what is certain is that, the revolution made J.J Rawlings and his family rich and comfortable. Also, the revolution inflicted deep physiological and emotional wounds on many Ghanaians. And those memories are deeply in bedded in our minds.
I witnessed several of the atrocities committed by solders in Tamale, where I was living at the time, and two incidents in particular I will never forget. The first incident involved a Police Inspector’s wife. I remembered how she was beaten and humiliated in front of so many people at the Tamale Central Bus Terminal near the central market, and her only crime was simply having two beautiful daughters and a successful business.
The other incident involved solders coming to our house first thing in the morning while we were still in bed. We lived in one of the government bungalows for senior civil servants of the various civil service departments in the northern region. The solders searched our house and the other bungalows in the area and heaven help you if they found as much as half a dozen of mike in your house. I was in my early teens, but I remember very well how parents were beaten in front of their children, hauled away, and came back with swollen faces and bruised bodies simply because their households had quantities of provisions the solders deemed too much, and accused them of hooding. Mind you, these households had children in secondary schools all over the country and needed the provisions to take to school as was the culture and custom of the day. Should we allow J.J and his men to get away scot free for such atrocities? These were crimes against humanity and should be treated as such.
There was a solder in Kamina Barracks in Tamale nick named “consider” who really took the revolution into his own hands and brutalized many innocent people especially women, looking back now, I think he had something against women. He would come to town in his uniform, and picked on anybody of his fancy, and ask silly questions and heaven help you if you provided the wrong answer. I’m sure there are many more stories like this out there. And solders like him should definitely be brought to trial that is if he is still alive.
While time may have healed some of the wounds and ease the pain somewhat, the memories are deeply buried in our minds, and the sorrow will forever remain in our hearts. And the only way we can truly move forward without any resentment, is for J.J and his men to face trial.
The Commanding Officers of the various barracks who allowed their solders to commit such acts of brutalism should also be held accountable.
I strongly appeal to all peace loving Ghanaians everywhere to join the fight for justice and demand restitution and compensation for those who suffered during the revolution. I read somewhere recently that, victims of a revolution in one of the South American countries were being compensated after so many years. Therefore, we should demand compensation for the victims of J.J’s revolution; it would be the right and proper thing to do.
Now, the sixty million dollar question is, is it too late for Former President J.J Rawlings and those who committed atrocities in the name of the revolution to face trial? Please note, this is not about party politics and neither is about tribalism. It is about fighting for equal rights, justice and peace for all Ghanaians in order to move Ghana forward. I strongly suggest that Rawlings and his family take a sabbatical leave from Ghanaian politics as part of the healing and reconciliation process, we have had enough of them already.
Long live Ghana and God bless Ghana.

Komla – The Self – Proclaimed Peace Broker (USA)