Friday, March 14, 2008

Taylor 'made rebels eat enemies'

Charles Taylor ordered militias to eat the flesh of their enemies, according to a former death squad leader at the Ex-Liberian President's war crimes trial.

Joseph "Zigzag" Marzah said Mr Taylor had instructed his fighters in Liberia to eat the vanquished, in order to "set an example for the people to be afraid".

"He said we should eat them. Even the UN white people - he said we could use them as pork to eat."
-- Joseph "Zigzag" Marzah
Story: BBC News

Wouldn't it have been a lot less trouble to just start a rumor? Surely, the mass executions were enough of an example to fear. I suspect there were additional motives, such as cutting corners on logistics or building 'esprit de corps' (pun unintended) among the rebels.

I'm curious as to how the alleged cannibalism will impact the decisions in Taylor's trial. It would surprise many to know that there are no listed war crimes or crimes against humanity specifically citing cannibalism as an offense. Many nations, (including the U.K. and the U.S.) have no laws against cannibalism and perpetrators are usually prosecuted for related crimes such as murder, grave robbery or necrophilia. Lack of laws against anthropophagy complicated a recent case in Germany.

I suspect that the lack of legislation against cannibalism is a direct consequence of the fact that over the years, many Western intellectuals have been reluctant to accept that cannibalism ever existed as an institutional phenomenon. One could also surmise that many Westerners have refused to believe that any but a few 'savages' would eat humans, thus obviating the need for laws against it.

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