The National Civil Rights Movement Statement on Conditions in Liberia
(Presented to The U.S. Government on May 8th, 2003, at the Washington Protest)
As our women, children, and elders were eager to welcome the joys of one of the most celebrated days, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), under the command of Mr. Charles G. Taylor, launched an armed invasion against Liberia on Christmas Eve of 1989 from the neighboring Ivory Coast. Other rebel factions soon emerged, and the civil war became more painful and costly for the Liberian society.
After the dictatorial regime of President Samuel K. Doe had been toppled and more than 250, 000 mostly non-combative Liberians had lost their lives, forces under Mr. Taylor’s command emerged dominant. The civil war was paused, and Mr. Taylor, having promised the Liberian people a nation of laws and not men, was announced president after “special elections” in 1997.
Since then, the Liberian society has seen dictatorship in all its forms. The Liberian government has committed and continues to commit gross human rights violations against its own people. There have been, among other things, reports of extrajudicial killings, violent sexual acts against females, torture of perceived enemies, forced child conscription and labor, and a long list of illegally detained Liberians.
In line with previous reports as to human rights practices in Liberia, the State Department 2002 human rights report lists some troubling facts about the Liberian government:
“The Government's human rights record remained poor, and it continued to commit numerous, serious abuses. The security forces committed many unlawful killings, and they were accused of the disappearances of numerous persons, especially ethnic Mandingos suspected of antigovernment sympathies. Security forces frequently tortured, beat, and otherwise abused or humiliated citizens. The Government investigated some of the alleged abuses by the security forces; however, abusers rarely were charged or disciplined. Prison conditions remained harsh and sometimes life threatening. Security forces continued to use arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pretrial detention remained common. The judicial system, hampered by political influence, economic pressure, inefficiency, corruption, and a lack of resources, was unable to ensure citizens' rights to due process and a fair trial.”
As the international community joined the United States to mourn the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Mr. Taylor, according to the Washington Post and other credible sources, gave refuge to two senior members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group shortly after the terror attacks. This was a flagrant breach of the United States’ stance as to aiding terrorists, and the close relations the United States and Liberia have shared since the early 1800s. The Liberian society stands united with the United States, and strongly condemns Mr. Taylor’s involvement with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
There have also been reports from the State Department and various human rights groups that rebel forces fighting the Liberian government have killed, tortured, and raped civilians. The reports also state that fighting between the Government and rebel forces has led to the displacement of thousands of innocent Liberians. This is unacceptable, and it must change.
Accordingly, we call upon the Monrovia regime, the LURD, and other armed groups to immediately stop the human rights abuses and find a peaceful solution to their differences. We also call upon the Monrovia regime to timely release the following illegally detained Liberians: Aloysius Toe, Ansumana Kamara, Mohammed Dukuly, Bangalee Sheriff, Mohammed Komara, Sheikh Sackor, Mabutu Kromah, and others.
The United States has repeatedly called upon the Liberian government, the LURD, and other armed groups to halt their respective abuses against the Liberian people. We are grateful for this degree of friendship, and for the assistance the United States has provided us over the past years.
We agree that Liberia has failed to reciprocate in this age of geopolitical affairs, and that it needs to end its state of unbalanced dependency and become a peaceful and productive nation. However, we must confess that the doctrine of containment has not worked for Liberia; it has indirectly encouraged more abuses. We, therefore, implore the United States to become seriously engaged with the Liberian crisis.
In the face of gross human rights violations being committed against the Liberian people, the United States, as a traditional friend, must react strongly. The United States should, among other things: (1) demand that the Liberian government, the LURD, and other armed groups, halt their respective violations of human rights; (2) and inform them that human rights violators will be held accountable and tried under internationally acceptable standards.
The United States should also call upon the Liberian government to timely release all illegally detained Liberians. The Liberian government’s illegally detained list includes names such as: Aloysius Toe, Ansumana Kamara, Mohammed Dukuly, Bangalee Sheriff, Mohammed Komara, Sheikh Sackor, Mabutu Kromah, and others. The Liberian people have suffered too long.
It cannot be denied that Liberia’s neighbors are enjoying the benefits from the direct and timely involvements of some friendly, European nations. The United States, as a traditional friend, must become seriously engaged with the Liberian crisis.
As we walk the streets of the United States, we see: (1) parents and grandparents freely caring for the young; (2) children playing without fear of being abused by the government or rebel forces; (3) siblings dining with access to pipe-borne water; (4) people speaking their minds without fear of being tortured; (5) the judiciary respecting the doctrine of due process; (6) and democracy in all its forms. The Liberian society seeks similar freedoms, and is ready to take the lead role to effectively address its national crisis.
We agree that a democratic and productive Liberia will come when Liberians believe so and work earnestly to achieve it. However, the 2002 State Department human rights report reminds us about the grievous and cruel conditions, which exist in Liberia.
Any recommendation to prolong these conditions must be rejected, and the United States should seek the Security Council backing as to the current International Contact Group on Liberia. The Liberian people have suffered too long.
We believe that the United States has the moral and political authority to help Liberians move forward, and respectfully submit that the time is ripe for the United States and serious-minded Liberians to begin the inevitable dialogue as to a democratic Liberia.
As of today, we give notice to the international community that Liberians will lead the way to effectively address the grievous and cruel conditions in their country.
May God bless the Peoples of Liberia and the United States.
Signed: Alvin J. Teage
Acting Secretary General, NCRM
Approved: Nvasekie N. Konneh
Acting Chairman, NCRM