Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman Issues Statement of Condolences to Victims of the Recent Riots in Liberia
November 5, 2004
I speak to you today through the electronic and print media with a heavy heart, a very, very heavy heart. I consider myself an eternal optimist, with faith in the goodness and resilience of our people and hope for the future of our country. Everywhere I go, I talk to Liberians about the enormous possibilities and the tremendous opportunities before us to transform our country and make it a peaceful, more stable and highly prosperous place for all of us. While I am still committed to that dream about our tomorrows, the violence, injuries, death and destruction which started on the night of October 28, 2004 are disheartening to me. The experiences of these past few days are very distressful because those hours of violence and destruction took on a new dimension in our civil conflict – a dimension of religious intolerance and religious hatred. The burning of churches, mosques and schools by Liberians is an experience that I never believed would have happened to us – a God-fearing people.
Religious intolerance destroys a nation; it destroys a people. And once religious intolerance takes root in a society, it is extremely difficult to eradicate. So all Liberians must reject religious intolerance; all Liberians must seek out and bring to justice those who propagate religious intolerance and instigate violence and destruction as means for settling differences.
Once again, my people, we are victims of senseless violence, injury, death and destruction of properties. We are a people generally characterized as peaceful, non-violent, caring and compassionate; but the evil people among us are taking advantage of our differences to sow seeds of hatred and intolerance. This is not the Liberians we are and so we must uproot those evil people from our midst by rejecting their philosophy of hatred and intolerance and by holding them fully responsible under the law for the damage they do to our country and people.
I acknowledge that we are a people of different tribes and two major religions (Christianity and Islam); but as different as our tribes may be and as committed as each of us may be to his or her religion, all of us are Liberians. Liberia is home for all of us and we must live together peacefully in these 43,000 square miles as Liberians. If we, as a people, must transcend nearly fourteen years of civil conflict, rebuild our country and our individual lives, and bring permanent peace, stability and prosperity to our native land, ethnic rivalry, religious intolerance and senseless violence must be rejected by all of us.
Those who choose to take advantage of our religious and/or ethnic differences to stir trouble, propagate violence and instigate destruction of public or private properties are enemies of Liberia; they are wicked people who seek to destroy our country. Some of them probably seek to undermine and subvert the peace process and the stability achieved so far. Before they destroy us and our country, we must destroy them and their evil philosophy of hate and wanton destruction by rejecting that philosophy and by bringing them to justice.
As many as our tribes are and as diverse as our religious beliefs may be, unity, integration and reconciliation are absolutely necessary if we must transcend the degradation and destruction of fourteen years of civil conflict, transform our country and make this place a real home of peace, stability and prosperity for all of us. So I reiterate that those who stand against unity, integration and reconciliation by propagating ethnic or religious intolerance and by inciting people to violence and destruction are enemies of our country and people. Their evil intention could very well be to subvert the peace process and return our country to lawlessness and anarchy. They should therefore be treated as subversives and the full weight of our law must be brought to bear on them and their agents.
If I were to have the power and authority I would deal firmly, resolutely, tenaciously and persistently with instigators of violence and propagators of intolerance and hatred; I will bring to bear on these evil people the strong arm of the law; and I will ensure that their evil ideas and behavior will be uprooted from our land forever. For the moment, I urge the National Transitional Government of Liberia to set up a commission of inquiry, composed of eminent persons, security experts and leaders of both the Christian and Islamic religions, with investigative and compulsory process powers, to thoroughly search for the root causes and the instigators of the violence and destruction which have besieged us since the night of October 28. Anyone found to be an instigator or perpetrator should be arrested and severely dealt with according to the law of this country. Simple arrest and temporary detention, as have been done for similar occurrences in the past, are not enough either as punishment for the crimes these people have committed against us or as deterrence against future occurrence. Arrest, public trial and imprisonment of the culprits should be the first objective of an inquiry; and putting in place a policy and system of deterrence should be the second objective.
All of us are victims of the senseless violence and wanton destructions of these past days; but some of you felt it more personally by the injuries sustained by you or your relations, by the death of a relation, by the destruction of your properties, and the setting ablaze of your churches, mosques and schools. Please accept my sincere condolences and deep regrets. Only God in his omnipotence and mercies can truly console you and bring you relief; but with hope for the tremendous possibilities and enormous opportunities that I foresee for our country’s tomorrows, I am confident that you, as usual, will pick up the pieces and move on with your lives. Your resilience alone will be the first evidence of defeat for those anarchists.
May God richly bless each of you and save our native land from the evil and wicked people among us.
Monday, November 01, 2004
This statement is a supplement