River Gee Citizen Writes An Open Letter To The Diplomatic Missions On Boundary Dispute And Illicit Mining In Her County

Miss. Beatrice Karpeh – River Gee County woman who has sued Chinese mining group for criminal trespass and mischief

The communication is to alert the Missions intervention to resolve a boundary dispute between the people of Gbeapo-Tartuken in River Gee County, and the people of Barrobo in Maryland County, and to seek their intervention to curb an ongoing illicit mining now destroying environment and sources of life of people in the area.

Beneath the dispute, on one hand, is an obscured gold mining being done by a Chinese group known as Jin Long Resources Technology Liberia Ltd who a River Gee County woman called Miss. Beatrice Karpeh has sued at the Stipendiary Magistrate Court in Karweaken City for criminal trespass and mischief in relation to illegally operating, and deliberately destroying cash-crops on her late father’s village known as Besiken. The Chinese have done this for nearly two years now.

On the other hand, beneath the dispute, hundreds of illicit Ghanaian, Guinean, Nigerian and other gold miners pillage the land and damage rivergee (a waterfront) using dredges and Mercury the international community has prohibited.

Again, kindly give this the widest coverage as it seeks to check wrongdoing speaking of abuse, land grab and other obnoxious behaviors in the Gbeapo-Tartuken area.

Beatrice’s lawsuit, the Gbeapo Land Redemption Council, and Movement for Generational Change in River Gee County unwavering support and work with her to the end.

AN OPEN LETTER TO DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS IN LIBERIA 0022

Monday, March 22, 2021

GBEAPO LAND REDEMPTION COUNCIL

 

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS IN LIBERIA

Your Excellences:

Request to intervene to Settle Boundary and Land Disputes between Gbeapo-Tartuken and in River Gee County, and Barrobo-Tugbakwlah in Maryland County

Kindly accept our compliments and best wishes.

We humbly inform you of boundary and land disputes between the people of Gbeapo-Tartuken in River Gee County, and the people of Barrobo-Tugbakwlah in Maryland County. The disputes are characterized by the latter violently seizing and possessing the former’s village known as Besiken deeply situated in the territory of Gbeapo-Tartuken. Thus, we respectfully request you to intervene in efforts to settle the conflict, and kindly suggest your intervention be to ensure the Government formally demarcates the boundary based on but not limited to the tenets of the following legislations and documents:

1.“An Act Creating The Township Of Jargboken And Providing For The Governance Of Same Within Gbeapo District, Grand Gedeh County, Republic of Liberia; Approved: January 10,  1990 And Published By Authority: March 26, 1990 By The Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.

  1. “An Act Creating River Gee County Comprising Webbo, Gbeapo, Tienpo, Potupo, Sarbo And Chedepo Districts And Seventeen (17) Chiefdoms, Respectively, And Providing For The Governance Of The Same; Approved: March 16, 2000 And Published By Authority March 23, 2000 By The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs”.

 “An Act Creating The Land Rights Law Of 2018, Republic of Liberia; Approved: September 19, 2018 And Published By Authority October 10, 2018 By The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs”. 

  1. “Department Of Mines Procedures For Obtaining Mining Rights/License”. 
  1. “REPORT: Civil Society Working Group On Land Reform In Liberia Fact-Finding Mission To Gbeapo-Tartuken In River Gee County And Barrobo- Tugbaken In Maryland County, On The Besiken Farmland Conflict; Prepared By: Alphonso Henries, Florence Malorbah Dorley And Paul Larry George; September 30, 2020”.
  2. “A Chronology: How Come The Barrobo Tribe In Maryland Seize And Sell Land Belonging To The Gbeapo Tribe In River Gee County – Resolution”.

Your Excellences, we perceive that the seizure and possession occurred with the acquiesce of dodgy individuals in the Government who are Barrobo kinsmen, and their associates with interest in the illicit gold mining being done on their behalf by undocumented Ghanaians, Guineans, Nigerians and even Chinese they have drafted to Gbeapo-Tartuken and to Besiken.

Your Excellences, the Ministry of Mines and Energy granted a Chinese group known as Jin Long Resources Technology Liberia Ltd, mining license under Maryland County even though the land-space allocated to the group under the license jointly encompasses Gbeapo-Tartuken’s Besiken in River Gee County, and Barrobo’s Tugbakwlah in Maryland County. Whereas the Chinese have built their camp, and mine in Besiken destroying cash crop and other live-trees there, they have a ‘Social Corporate Responsibility Contract’ with Barrobo ONLY and pay monthly royalties to them, and undertake development projects in their towns. The people of Gbeapo-Tartuken surmise the Chinese do this with the influence of the Barrobo’s kinsmen, and their associates linked to the Government of Liberia.

Your Excellences, the people of Gbeapo-Tartuken are small in population, have very small amount of educated people, not represented in the Government, and are therefore uninfluential. However, it is of late that one of them, Mr. Jonathan Boy-Charles Sogbie – a renowned former national footballer – was elected Senator of River Gee County hoping he will elevate the matter chiefly that he is a member of the House of Senate’s Committee on Mines, Natural Resources and Energy. Nonetheless, the small population and non-presence in Government are part of the undercurrent reasons for the marginalization and abuse the people of Gbeapo-Tartuken see and painfully endure. Simply put, the people are poor and helpless. As a result, the Barrobo with whom they coexisted, trample on them because their kinsmen in the Government encourage them to carry on. Among the prime engineers of the callous behaviours is Maryland County Superintendent George Prowd. He is the front-runner in falsification of land deeds and certificates to support Barrobo’s fictitious ownership of Besiken. Through this medium, we ask President George Weah to check this swindler.

Your Excellences, Besiken was established many unrecorded years ago by Gbeapo Chiefdom Paramount Chief, Joe Karpeh. He inhabited it along with his brothers (William Toe, Samuel Dweh and John Wleh and lately his son John Karpeh) until his death in January, 1985. The relatives continued to manage the village up to the civil war in 1989. The catastrophic upheaval displaced every Liberian. Thus, Besiken inhabitants fled, and did not return at once even when the crisis ended in 2003. Amid the protracted war, the Chief Karpeh’s brothers and his son died leaving the village unoccupied. It is this absence, and the discovery of gold and other minerals that largely prompted the Barrobo supported by the unscrupulous officials of Government to seize and possess Besiken, to date.

Your Excellences, the Gbeapo-Tartuken people continue to be peaceful and calm as if they are weak in spite of the provocation and dispossession of their village. In the Gbeapo-Tartuken people’s effort to question the Barrobo about the seizure, the latter seized and seemingly murdered two men (Nyanwein and Victor) of the former. The fact is the Gbeapo-Tartuken people are tough and strong regardless of their size, and capable of retaliating the deaths of the two men. Yet, they do their best to seek the Government’s intervention to resolve the impasse, but get lukewarm feedback.

For example, on April 24, 2020, the Gbeapo-Tartuken people issued the Position Statement mentioned of above, to announce they would start a tribal-war with the Barrobo if the administration failed to address the six (6) counts they’d advanced. According to them, they issued the Statement to highlight the problem in order to propel the administration to act. Thus, perhaps, on July 1, 2020, Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf brought face-to-face the peoples of Gbeapo-Tartuken and Barrobo, and investigated the matter in Fish Town, River Gee County.

At the end of the daylong dialogue, the Minister declared that he and his entourage were to head to Gbeapo-Tartuken, and to Besiken on July 2, 2020 to conduct a survey to formally demarcate the disputed boundary. That would have automatically settled the question of who owns Besiken because the village would have fallen on the side of Gbeapo-Tartuken in River Gee County. Regrettably, the very important exercise never occurred. The Minister reneged citing COVID-19 fear. Therefore, to date, the demarcation has not been done without word about when it would happen. Nonetheless, Minister Sirleaf has been able to settle similar boundary disputes in Lofa and Nimba Counties, respectively.

Your Excellences, the probable disinterest of Minister Sirleaf in the matter, the people of Gbeapo-Tartuken insinuate, is a strategy to give Barrobo room to maneuver including to complete the illegal Land Deeds and Titles they are processing to legitimize their purported ownership of disputed Besiken. They conceive that he is doing so to please the Government officials who could impress on President George Weah to retain him as Internal Affairs Minister or dismiss him if he mishandled the controversy.

Your Excellences, the people of Gbeapo-Tartuken have exerted manifold effort to amicably resolve the crisis but get no concrete redress. For example, they brought the problem to the attention of the UNDP, the Embassy of Ghana in Liberia, the media, and to the Civil Society Organizations’ Working Group on Land Rights and Natural Resources through formal letters and meetings. Specifically, their representative made a presentation to the CSOs who ultimately made the issue a policy priority. Thus, in August, 2020 with funding from US-based Resources Rights Initiative, a mission of the CSOs conducted a weeklong fact-finding trip to Gbeapo-Tartuken, Besiken and to Barrobo in Maryland County respectively. The mission interviewed parties to the conflict and did a formal report with recommendations mentioned of above the Government is yet to lift for action.

 Your Excellences, the people of Gbeapo-Tartuken made the latest efforts to highlight the situation. During President George Weah’s visit to River Gee County in February, 2021, they ensured the issue was included in the speech River Gee County Superintendent, Philip Nyenuh read to the President hoping the President would resolve the matter speedily. The next move they made is a lawsuit they have started. On March 16, 2021, they sued the Jin Long Resources Technology Liberia Ltd., a Chinese mining group to the Stipendiary Magistrate Court in Karweaken in River Gee County for: “Criminal Trespass; and Criminal Mischief” which violate Sections 5.2and 5.5 of the Penal Law of the Republic Liberia. The people of Gbeapo-Tartuken see this as the last effort to legally settle the dispute. In addition to these, they respectfully implore you, Your Excellences, to intervene to redeem their land, village (Besiken), and to curb the ongoing illicit mining.

Yours respectfully,

 

Weah Karpeh (Mr.)

Spokesperson

Gbeapo Land Redemption Council

Phone Numbers: 0777-960-248 / 0880-149-481

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