No, It Is Not The Americans; A Historical Account Of How Far We Have Come In Pursuit Of Ending Impunity In Liberia

…Another perspective to Senator Edwin Snowe's Statement on Liberia's relationship with the US Government

BY: Hon. Jefferson T. Koijee | Former Mayor, Monrovia City Corporation|

Finally, impunity is on the verge of falling. I salute all patriotic sons and daughters of Liberia. We like to congratulate the Senate and  House of Representatives for bringing impunity finally under attack.

It is also prudent to recognize our Former TRC Commissioners: Rev. Gerald Coleman, Cllr. Jerome Verdier, John H. T. Stewart, Massa A. Washington, Dede Dolopei and Oumu K. Syllah, who signed the Final Report of the TRC, even amidst threats to their safety and that of their families. These former Commissioners exhibited true patriotism and love for Country by putting Liberia first above all else in the discharge of their duties.

Congratulations to His Excellency Pres. George Weah who instrumentally helped in the disarmament and rehabilitation of thousands of ex-combatants who participated in Liberia’s decades of civil conflicts.

President Weah’s consistent effort in maintaining and sustaining the cherished peace of our country remains an enviable feat.

I need not pause to quickly reflect and recognize comrade compatriot and Chairman Emeritus of the Mighty Coalition for Democratic Change, Mulbah K. Morlu, who founded and presided over the first mass based human right advocacy & civil society grouping; The Forum for the Establishment of War Crimes Court in Liberia.

With the  death of Comrade Abel Saye Voker who was a staunch member and Vice Chair for International Affairs and scores of other compatriots, of the Forum for the Establishment of War Crimes Court in Liberia, who with our lives at stake, prison being our home, and misdirection of state resources from the Government of Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, injected state resources into our organization purposely intending to destroy our efforts, yet we preserved and fought to end Impunity in Liberia.

The Unity Party Government under Ellen, did all within its powers to disintegrate  and hasten the demise of the organization; be as it may, few courageous members resisted this malicious quest and attempt by providing me a space and opportunity by the Chairperson to becoming the youngest Secretary General of this historically mass, broad based movement.

I recall vividly that Hassan Newland in 2009 August 13 at the arrival of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Liberia, our mass assembly at the Foreign Ministry calling for the full implementation of the TRC Report saw the  Unity Party unleashing its state security on us, leaving us with severe bodily harm, brutalization and many of our comrades incarcerated. Hassan Newland, the worst affected, remained hospitalized for weeks. I was once arrested and incarcerated for days, for leading a pro TRC demonstration in Monrovia calling for the full implementation of the Commission’s Recommendations, particularly the War Crimes Court.

Key faces in that protest included: Jerome Saydee, Augustine M. Manaballah, Barsee Carr Barley, late Armstrong Jenia, Prince Forkpa and others who lie in martyrdom.

With many attempts that didn’t suffice, the Unity Party then finally succeeded in disintegrating the institution including offering jobs and handouts to some of our members which then led us to move towards membership with the National Student Intellectual Council of Liberia (NASSICOL) along with one of Liberia’s erudite, academician and intellectual,  Phil Tarpeh Dixon.

That institution with a burning desire for student activities and Justice, took an unprecedented and historic decision by challenging the 2009 bid of Senatorial Candidate, the late former Warlord of ULIMO-K, Alhaji G.V Kromah. We asked the Court to uphold the thirty years ban from public office of all indictees as recommended by the TRC in its Final Report of which Warlord KROMAH, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and others are listed.

While we appreciate history being made by the House of Representatives and Senate to endorse a Resolution to establish the war and economic crimes court yesterday, as a young man who is also a victim of the carnage that took away over 250,000 lives, I have always known no matter how long, that impunity would have been brought to an end.

While I respect Hon. Edwin Snowe for his courage in speaking his mind about America-Liberia’s relationship, I politely and fundamentally differ with his opinion that the problem we face is not just about America.

No, the problem we Liberians face is us Liberians, because we Liberians are our own worst enemies. We are a bunch of hypocritical people who celebrate the West against our own who are sometimes framed and maligned in the pursuit for development and the well being of all Liberians. We know the facts yet refuse to speak truth to power.

Flagrant disrespect for due process, wanton abuse of others rights, denigration of people’s hard-earned reputations, rights and privileges, will all get violated because people hate other people.

Sadly, that’s not America’s issue but our fellow Liberians who celebrate these conspiracies against their fellow countrymen though they know the truth.

Senator Snowe, it will interest you to note that even beneficiaries of your generosity would become the first to ostracize you, keep distance from you and treat you with complete disdain and contempt when the table is turned. How then do we blame America? It is the Liberian hypocritical nature that the US is aware of. Like it is often said “The Court cannot do for you what you cannot do for yourself.”

To conclude, we live with a faulty perception that those who work in government, automatically become thieves, tyrants and bad people right in the faces of our traditional, civil society practitioners and religious leaders.

Once we thrive on self-hate for each other, why should we then imagine that strangers are our problems? Until we begin to generally liberate our minds from self-hatred and stop being the author of our own shame, embarrassment and destruction, Liberia is going nowhere.

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