Until lately, there hasn’t been much interest in the war crimes trial of former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, which has been grinding along for three years now. However, ears did prick up earlier this month when the otherwise ho-hum story-line of mass murder, mutilation, and beyond savage child exploitation was jazzed up by testimony that British supermodel Naomi Campbell met Taylor at a charity dinner in 1997 and charmed him out of some honest-to-goodness souvenir Sierra Leone blood diamonds.
Go figure. I guess if he was from Wisconsin, it would have been cheese.
It’s pathetic that only blood-drenched bling and a fabulously rich world-class beauty can tick up public interest in Taylor’s fate; because those things don’t distinguish his crimes. The civil war in Sierra Leone is defined by the children — not swanky charity events and spoiled supermodels. And I warn you, it will shatter your heart if you look into it too deeply.
Innocents always suffer during war, but the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone took it far beyond that. They viewed youngsters as military equipment, pure and simple. An exploitable harvest of innocent minds to be scalded in a vicious mental acid of shock, grief, loss, terror, torture and then marinated in cocaine and marijuana until they become pliable murdering robots for the RUF and a conduit of more riches for Taylor.
In their quest for power and control of the country’s diamond wealth, the Liberian-backed rebel group terrorized a reluctant civilian population with mass amputations, mutilations, rape and sexual abuse, looting, murder and the use of child soldiers.
According to the Times, during that trial, a young woman testified about her lost childhood at the hands of the RUF: