Grand Gedeh Association Condemns Killing of Aid Workers

(Press Release Issued by Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas on March 16, 2003)

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

March 17, 2003

The Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas strongly condemns the attack on Toe Town, a border town in Grand Gedeh County which, prior to the recent attack, was refuge to more than ten thousand Ivorian and other West Africans fleeing fighting in neighboring Ivory Coast. We condemn the killing of the relief workers and other civilians as a result of this cruel incident. There can be no justifiable reason for the killing of innocent civilians, particularly aid workers who are providing humanitarian assistance to our people.

The attack on Toe Town was reported by Liberian Government authorities on Friday, February 28, 2003. The government reported that it captured the town from fighters of the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), who had earlier captured the town from government soldiers. More than two weeks have elapsed since the government’s statement and there has been no comments from LURD to either confirm or deny their involvement in the attack. However, the government’s statement has never been verified by credible independent sources. We, therefore, support the call of the Secretary General of the UN for an independent investigation of the situation.

We call on all armed forces in the region to see reason and end the nightmare of the Liberian people. Our people have suffered long enough! The Liberian people, including the people of Grand Gedeh County, deserve the right to rebuild their towns and villages without the fear of yet another wave of intense persecution.

We also call on the Liberian Government to create in the country an environment conducive for all Liberians to return home. Shamefully and embarrassingly, the word “Liberian” is becoming a byword for evil, destabilization and destruction in the West African sub-region. The government can demonstrate its intentions to fulfill this long over-due national responsibility by creating a level-playing field for the ensuing national elections.

Like many Liberians, we would like to be optimistic that the Liberian Government has heard the cry of the people, but we are concerned that, less than ten months to national elections, there are still major obstacles to creating a secured environment in the country. There are even signs, based on recent reports, that the situation in the country, vis-à-vis free movement and expression, may be getting worse. We are calling on President Taylor to ensure that the hope of the Liberian people is not dashed once again.

Jackson N. Wonde
General Secretary

William G. Nyanue
National President