DATI’s Peace and Reconciliation Agenda for Post War Liberia

Liberian rebel leader and ex-President Charles Taylor is now imprisoned in Great Britain for war crimes committed against the people of Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, he and his co-conspirators have not been formally charged and prosecuted for war crimes they committed in Liberia. This is part of the “messy truths” that must be openly discussed and resolved if Liberia is to regain its status among the comity of nations.

Liberian rebel leader and ex-President Charles Taylor is now imprisoned in Great Britain for war crimes committed against the people of Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, he and his co-conspirators have not been formally charged and prosecuted for war crimes they committed in Liberia. This is part of the “messy truths” that must be openly discussed and resolved if Liberia is to regain its status among the comity of nations.

DATI’s peace and reconciliation agenda for post war Liberia will be implemented using the performing and visual arts to promote peace and reconciliation among all Liberians at home and abroad. The Liberian Civil War was launched in retaliation for the overthrow of the erstwhile True Whig Party government of President William R. Tolbert, Jr., and the execution of thirteen former government officials of the True Whig Party regime. It was engineered by family members of those that were executed, influential Liberian politicians, and dissidents including former ‘advisors’ of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) government and the Doe regime, as well as lobbyists, in collaboration with the sitting President of Liberia, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Liberia’s incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Liberia has been in a state of war and lawlessness since December 24, 1989, with basic utilities lacking for nearly three decades. Mr. Charles Taylor, Liberia’s main rebel leader and one of the founders of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), mysteriously broke jail in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts without being arrested by the United States law enforcement officials. Subsequently, Taylor was left to roam freely and he rained terror on the Liberian people, five American Catholic nuns, as well as citizens from several nations around the world and West African countries that contributed troops toward the Liberian peace process. In total, an estimated two hundred and fifty thousand people were killed in the Liberian Civil War. Thus, this death toll is equivalent to one executed government official of the Tolbert regime to 19,230 innocent and unarmed civilians killed in retaliation for thedeath of one government official executed on April 22, 1980.

According to reliable sources, foreign assassins executed the President of Liberia because of his liberal-mindedness and support for the Non-Align Movement during the peak of the Cold War between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States. In this light, the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) was used as a scapegoat to undermine President Tolbert’s progressive leadership on the continent of Africa and around the globe. The coup was also carried out to cover up the crime under the pretext it was an ‘internal matter’ and that Liberians executed it. Hence, this is the reason the United States government has yet to assist Liberia, to bring to justice Mr. Charles Taylor and other Liberian warlords and perpetrators of war and economic crimes in Liberia, to make up their mistake in killing President Tolbert and igniting a prolonged chain of violence in Liberia today.

Thirteen government officials lined up for execution without due process on April 22, 1980 at South Beach in Monrovia, Liberia.

On the contrary, Great Britain ensured a war crimes court was set up for Sierra Leone, a former British colony, to try Mr. Charles Taylor for the crimes he committed in Sierra Leone, but not for the crimes Taylor committed in Liberia. In this light, Mr. Taylor and his companions have not been formally charged for the atrocities they unleashed against the Liberian people and humanity in the Republic of Liberia. One of the principal reasons has been because the sitting President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf whom the U.S. favors, admitted she contributed financially in the preparation and execution of the Liberian civil crisis. As a result, Mrs. Sirleaf, and other cohorts of Mr. Taylor blocked the implementation of the recommendations of the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC recommendations call for the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia, and thirty-year ban on all Liberian politicians that were involved in financing, and/or that would be found guilty of abetting a culture of violence and impunity in Liberia.

A glaring example of the squandering of Liberia’s financial, mineral, and natural resources. The photo shows a UN vehicle stuck in the mud on a busy Liberian highway. The UN and the United States government pumped in millions of dollars during the Sirleaf administration to develop Liberia’s infrastructures destroyed during more than two decades of war and genocide. Yet, under their watch, former Liberian warlords and their supporters misuse said resources with impunity.

H.E. William R. Tolbert, Jr., 19th President of Liberia & First Grand Patron of Dehkontee Artists Theatre.

Hence, even though there has been a cessation of hostilities and an elected government in power since 2005, much of Liberia’s financial, mineral, and natural resources have been squandered by some Liberian government officials during the Sirleaf administration. Additionally, some government officials were Liberian warlords and individuals who perpetrated and financed the nearly thirty-year civil crisis that has left Liberians destitute and poor.

Also, although the international community forgave the entire national debt of Liberia to give Liberians an opportunity to begin a new economic and political slate, that opportunity was again grossly abused and misused in clear daylight by the Sirleaf government, and in the presence of the United Nations, ECOWAS, European Union, and the United States of America. These countries and international organizations monitored the peace process in Liberia. Yet, they continue to pump in billions of dollars to support the Sirleaf government but they failed to impose economic sanctions on the Liberian government to curb the gross misuse of public funds by some Liberian government officials that committed atrocities against the Liberian people and humanity. Consequently, this gross abuse of the human rights of all Liberians by Liberian warlords, contravenes America’s zero tolerance policy against terrorism and genocide across the globe.

Due to rampant corruption and a culture of impunity, much of the war-torn country’s resources are used by some government officials for their selfish interests while the daily basic needs of the citizens of Liberia are grossly neglected. As a result, the sitting President of Liberia and a Harvard University graduate, Mrs. Sirleaf, describes her own national educational policy as a “mess”.

A glaring example of the squandering of Liberia’s financial, mineral, and natural resources. The photo shows a UN vehicle stuck in the mud on a busy Liberian highway. The UN and the United States government pumped in millions of dollars during the Sirleaf administration to develop Liberia’s infrastructures destroyed during more than two decades of war and genocide. Yet, under their watch, former Liberian warlords and their supporters misuse said resources with impunity.

One of the areas of national development hardest hit by the civil war in Liberia is education. Liberia under the administration of Mrs. Sirleaf lacks an efficient educational system for post war Liberian children. This is part of the messy truths that are referred to in Mr. Weeks’ speech.

Thousands of child soldiers and former combatants that constitute over 50% of Liberia’s 4 million people are semi-illiterate, with barely a fourth-grade education. They have no technical or vocational skills to reintegrate successfully into mainstream post war Liberian society, and no rehabilitation or national reconciliation programs were put in place to help Liberians heal from the trauma of their prolonged bloody civil war. Consequently, the crime rate and armed robberies, coupled with lack of efficient law and order, have resulted to Liberia being in an undefined and lawless state in which rampant corruption is the order of the day.

One of the areas of national development hardest hit by the civil war in Liberia is education. Liberia under the administration of Mrs. Sirleaf lacks an efficient educational system for post war Liberian children. This is part of the messy truths that are referred to in Mr. Weeks’ speech.

Today, Liberia lacks basic utilities such as electricity, safe pipe borne drinking water, lacks efficient health and educational institutions, and the citizens of Liberia are suffering from poor communications system and bad road networks in the country. According to 2006 health survey, Liberia has 5,000 full-time or part-time health workers and 51 Liberian doctors to cater to a population of 4 million. That is equivalent to about 76,000 civilians being attended to by 1 doctor. Most of the hospitals, clinics and equipment were destroyed due to its 14 years of civil conflict from 1989 all the way until 2003.

In addition, there has been a culture of impunity to which the United States and the international community have played blind eyes for the past twelve or more years since perpetrators of heinous crimes against Liberians and humanity could participate in politics and hold key government positions in Liberia. The decision Liberian politicians that were accused of abetting the Liberian Civil War made to participate in politics in Liberia contravenes the recommendations of the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to ban them from participating in politics for thirty years. Instead, international donor agencies have continued to pump billions of dollars’ worth of financial and material assistance to the Sirleaf government that cannot account for, or provide proof as to how the financial and material resources that were donated to Liberia, were used, while the citizens of Liberia live in abject poverty and destitute. Hence, to restore lasting peace and rule of law in Africa’s oldest Republic, there is a dire need to launch a national peace and reconciliation campaign when a new government is elected. DATI’s contribution toward this national endeavor will focus on collaboration with local Liberian artists using the visual and performing arts to promote national peace and unity and reconciliation among all Liberians.

Inadequate health practitioners and facilities for the Liberian people.

A Liberian child soldier conscripted by Charles Taylor and his supporters during the Liberian Civil War. Many of these child soldiers and former combatants are now in their late 20’s and mid 30’s with barely a fourth-grade education. They also lack technical and vocational skills to successfully reintegrate into mainstream Liberian society and the clear majority of them are unemployed, thus contributing to the high crime rate and armed robberies in post war Liberia.

A Liberian child soldier conscripted by Charles Taylor and his supporters during the Liberian Civil War. Many of these child soldiers and former combatants are now in their late 20’s and mid 30’s with barely a fourth-grade education. They also lack technical and vocational skills to successfully reintegrate into mainstream Liberian society and the clear majority of them are unemployed, thus contributing to the high crime rate and armed robberies in post war Liberia.

The Management of DATI will like to launch its National Peace and Reconciliation Campaign in Liberia in 2018, and therefore solicits your kind donations to facilitate its worthwhile peace education and reconciliation project. Funds raised will facilitate the travel of a three-man delegation to and from Liberia to launch the Dehkontee Artists Theatre National Peace and Reconciliation Campaign through the Performing and Visual Arts.

DATI’s Present Fundraising Goal and How to Contact Us – DATI’s Cultural Ambassador Madam Kormassa Bobo and village women celebrate during DATI’s 40th Anniversary. Others include Hawa Porte Quaye, Saigay Sheriff, Annette Landers, and Donnie Delarge.

The funds will also be used to purchase air time, a van to transport artists throughout the fifteen counties of Liberia, and purchase television and radio air time to publicize the events of the campaign. DATI’s Management will implement this program in collaboration with local Liberian artists: musicians, dancers, choreographers, vocalists, etc. You can make a tax-deductible donation to DATI by making check or money order payable to:

  1. Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc.
  2. O. Box 143

Clifton Heights, PA 19018

  1. Or, you can log on our DATI’s official website: www.dehkonteeartiststheatreinc.com and click on the “Donate” button to make your donation through our PayPal account.

3. Also, you can deposit your donation in our Wells Fargo Checking Account # 3931972677, and Routing #: 055003201 at any local Wells Fargo Bank. Thank you for your suppo

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About Cholo Brooks 12178 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.