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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Columnist: Abrantea, Kumasi

Is It Time To Put Rawlings On Trial?


I can not think of any particular event in the history of the Republic of Ghana, which has riveted the consciousness of Ghanaians, more than the Rawlings' brutalities during the AFRC and the P/NDC era. Ghanaians were shocked with the summary executions of 8 military officers, three of whom were former heads of state, (Gen Afrifa, Gen Acheampong, and Gen Akuffo). Soon friends of the Rawlings, the Chairman of the AFRC junta, were implicated in the torture, maiming, and murder of three judges, and another retired army officer.

The events on the streets against the average civilian were not any different;- merciless beatings, wanton destruction of properties, torture, murder, etc. Those who supported Rawlings’ military junta were intoxicated with revolutionary fervor. The mindless killings, and brutalities brought upon Ghanaians, were not proper, acceptable, or justified. I do not know any single Ghanaian who still believes, such actions were appropriate.

It is amazing to me that some elements among us still characterize the torture of defenseless individuals, as mere "excesses". False imprisonment or house detention for a few days may be "excess", but not torture of civilians, summary executions, whipping of women in open markets for carrying pieces of cloths that they needed to sell to feed the families, kicking of defenseless men and women with steel tip boots by soldiers.

Can any one imagine how it felt to be a defendant in Rawlings Tribunal, or having to explain your net worth with AK 47 pointing at you? How can Rawlings' supporters claim such actions were, “just excesses” in a “revolution”, and such should be excused or even forgotten by now?

We can not and should not forget the murders of the three judges, by close associates of "JJ". As the old adage goes, those who forget the past are likely to repeat the same mistakes. Perhaps, I should add that those who re-write history to white wash the naked brutality of those barbaric actions of so called "revolutionaries", do a great disservice to our a nation at their own peril.

Both the May 15th, June 4th, and December 31st coups were unnecessary. Acheampong was out of power, and Akuffo, had agreed to hand over power to a civilian government. General and presidential elections were already scheduled. The in-coming government could have investigated those generals or for that matter, any individuals, that needed to answer questions. Similarly, the Limann administration was going to face new elections in two short years to effect a change.

In effect, what I am trying to say here is that, in the last two military interventions, since the ban on political activities were lifted, any one, including Rawlings could have run for any office then in May 15, or in Dec 31. There were proper avenues then, as they are now, for any Ghanaian including Rawlings and his men to carry their message to all Ghanaians without resulting to torture, murder, and dehumanization of some segments of the Ghanaian public. If supporters of military junta believe that they can side step the democratic process, any time they have any issue to vent, by resulting to military interventions, then there will be endless coups in Ghana, and Africa. If any time any one has any concerns with the state of affairs, and jumps on the street to demand “revolution”, when there are clear political avenues to vent such concerns, such a society will become chaotic, ungovernable, mess. Unfortunately, that is what Rawlings has demonstrated.

Support for the Revolution.

The so called "revolution" was not as popular as one may think, or supporters of Rawlings will want you to believe. There were political repressions, so the majority who were of different ideological views, or political persuasions had to run for dear life. There were no press freedoms in Ghana, as you and I now enjoy, hence you could not have all the pieces in place.

In my view, no amount of self righteousness should or will ever excuse or explain murder of the innocent, the torture, and maiming of the defenseless at the hands of armed military men, who should be defending the very citizens they swore to protect. The Ghana Armed forces should deeply apologize to Ghanaians for the abuse of power, and severe breeches of human and civil rights of many. Who can forget the tortured body of Rev (Prophet Odiifo) Asare on the streets of Kumasi? There are still lingering reports that the female judge bludgeon to death by Rawlings associates, had body parts missing, (genitalia and breast). Her body was reportedly burnt. Additionally, Rawlings has been linked to many "juju", "medicine men", "shrines"etc., who performed rituals with specific human parts. There are several hundreds of people who remain missing from the Rawlings era.

What happened in AFRC, P/NDC was needless, lawless, actions of "thugs", and should be condemned by all. Individuals who feel the events were “justified”, some how may derive some political satisfaction from such brutality. I find it hard to accept any characterization of the events of the AFRC and P/NDC era as mere "excess". Those actions were not excesses. They were criminal brutalities, which cry out for JUSTICE even today.

Whatever, the satisfaction others may draw from the P/NDC time, it pails in comparison to the damage down to our collective national consciousness. I hope history does not repeat it self, and pray that my fears do not become reality, because those who are shameless, and unapologetic in their defense of the events of the AFRC and P/NDC, may be asking for people like me to raise the banner of justice, one day, in their defense. No matter how one feels about another’s culpability, it reasons to give the accused the chance for fair representation, due process of the law, right to appeal, within the frame work of independent judicial system.

Gross Abuse of Civil Rights:

How will we ever know that the charges, or the so-called "wealth" amassed by the accused were true or false charges? They never had the chance to fully respond to charges leveled against them. That is the tragedy of the P/NDC, and a sad history of bitter taste we endure now. We will never know how really corrupt or innocent those generals, civilians, businessmen, women or the judges were. They died in a military “junta” a sadistic “thirst” for “let the blood flow”.

It is unconscionable that some educated men and women among the civilized, defend the thoughtless actions of the military junta without reservations, or pause for the sanctity of sacred life itself. The “thirst for let the blood flow”, which was, and still remains the mantra of Rawlings, may reflect his proclivity to "political cannibalism", in the 21st century. Rawlings has therefore been dubbed, arguably, as the Ghanaian equivalent of Idi Amin.

Judicial Intimidation:

When Rawlings' associates killed those three judges, and the antecedent judicial intimidation that followed, justice itself was lost, with press censorship, Ghanaians lived in the dark, and the well armed men of the Military ruled with impunity, and indignation. That is the true legacy of JJ Rawlings, and the mindless "thugs" that cheer him.


We should call it as it was. We should stop defending the actions of these military “junta”, so that future “pseudo-revolutionaries” do not have any illusions that the nearly 20 dark years of Rawlings were justified. Nothing justifies murder. Never excuse or explain murder away. Rawlings in my opinion should be put on trial, and if found guilty should spend the rest of his life in prison with Charles Taylor. If any one has any contribution to the national effort let them join the political process, not a stupid revulotion.

The victims of Rawlings, CRY for JUSTICE. Friends Press ON, Until Justice Prevails.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.