ULAA Issues Independence Day Statement

The Perspective

July 27, 2001

The Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) extends hearty congratulations to all Liberians at home and abroad on the 154th anniversary of our national hegemony and declaration of political independence. On July 26, 1847, Liberia declared its independence as the first African Republic, and proclaimed itself as the LONE STAR on the then colonized African continent . Liberia is unique among African nations, and yet still remains an integral part of a fully independent continent. In spite of our recent history as a problem state in the international community of nation-states, Liberia must be acknowledged for having a long history of influencing African affairs and global relations, which clout is out of proportion to its economic and demographic indicators.

Four years after the end of the Liberian civil war, which laid to waste much of our infrastructures and decimated a quarter of our population, every phase of Liberian life and aspects of our struggling society, stand at the critical crossroads in our national journey to build democracy and sustain development. As we celebrate, Liberians must continue to contemplate which road leads to lasting peace, genuine democracy and sustainable development. On this supposedly joyous occasion, there is very little to be gleeful about in post-war Liberia. More than at any time in our national history, our centuries-old promise of freedom seems far-fetched. Democracy is a sham, peace is elusive, and development is neglected. On our natal day, Liberians everywhere are shaken about the uncertainty of our national future. We lack the trust and confidence in the Taylor Government to make Liberia a better place to live , work, and raise our families.

The civil war ended, presidential elections were held, and the Liberian people looked forward to good governance, peace and security, as a conducive environment to pick up the broken pieces and move ahead with their shattered lives. Today, a near-sighted leadership has dashed the hopes and aspirations of the Liberian people. Political gimmicks, economic hardships, social deprivations, military adventures, religious intolerance and ethnic tensions engulf Liberia. Widespread dissatisfaction with the current Liberian Government led by President Charles Taylor has kept some Liberians on the edge of either giving up the hope of a better Liberia or pursuing violent means to remove the present Government from power. Notwithstanding, many Liberians are sticking to the founding principles of our country, that under the rule of law, the people of Liberia can and will find the constitutional means to recall or remove any Government that is not working in the best interests of the Liberian people .The Taylor Government is no exception, and must be an example of the rightful exercise of the power of the people to make and change governments at their own will and pleasure.

Since the ascendancy to power of President Taylor and his National Patriotic Party [NPP], deteriorating conditions in affect real people, ordinary but patriotic Liberians. Basic social services are in disarray, including poor schools, poor medical facilities, poor power, poor water and sewage system, and a poor state of virtually all other public services. Meanwhile, the skeletons of war have come alive. We have gone back to war, among ourselves and with our neighbors who assisted us to stop our war and keep alive our million or more refugee population. The Liberian people are facing fire again. There is smoke everywhere, and where there is smoke fire looms.

As we celebrate our national independence, the veterans of war have returned to a theatre that makes no distinction between armed combatants and civil persons. Today, there should not be any celebration in Lofa County because that region has become a hotbed of violence and insecurity between military forces loyal to the Taylor Government and armed resistance forces led by the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy [LURD]. The Lormas and Mandigos are on the verge of renewed hostilities in Lofa.Nimba County is on the verge of a major surrogate war, whereby anti-GUINEAN government forces allegedly supported by President Taylor and LURD military forces allegedly supported by the Guinean Government are on a collision course destined to dislocate that region. The Mandingos and the Manos /Gios are fearing that rising tensions might lead to armed conflict in that area. Remnants of the armed conflict between the NPFL and the ULIMO-J/ULIMO-K/LPC alliance during the civil war has escalated into noticeable discrimination by the TAYLOR Government against the Krahns and the Mandingos. The national border with our neighboring state of Sierra Leone is sealed, and the border with neighboring Cote d'Ivoire is a fertile ground for an Ivorien insurgency ready to take Abidjan. The diamonds smuggling and arms trafficking charges against the Taylor Government that led to the imposition of United Nations sanctions against Liberia tore apart our fragile international image. From being a beacon of freedom in 1847 to a rogue state in 2001, it is all but clear that our country has grown older but not wiser.

Liberians are nervous and seemingly disappointed with the state of national affairs in Liberia. A movement of massive brain drain benefits the developed countries, in particular the United States. Meanwhile a state of permanency of refugee status in neighboring countries is the order of the day. There is no movement of people and new ideas pointed towards Liberia. As the people go away, the future of our homeland remain awash in tyranny and underdevelopment. Many Liberians have virtually given up on the future of Liberia, remaining in exile and seeking to permanently settle in other countries for political freedom and economic security. Liberians at home are living in fear, with a real thinking that anything can happen at any time. The country's problems are now manifested by a growing fear that no grand celebration of Independence Day will dissipate.

The Union of Liberian Association in the Americas (ULAA) wishes to call on All Liberians involved in the civil conflict in Lofa County, other parts the country, and positioned at our national borders to lay down their arms and join the freedom loving people of Liberia in deciding the present and future of the Taylor Government through peaceful means laid out in the Constitution of Liberia. ULAA, in unison with all Liberians and their various organizations in the United States, shall continue to advocate for the democratization of the country as provided by the Liberian Constitution. Our celebration of Independence Day must also be a rallying cry for the real institution of constitutional democracy, rule of law, government transparency and accountability, and respect for human rights and civil liberties, such as press freedom. The struggle for a better Liberia, which also happens to be the motto of ULAA, is first and foremost about uniting our people and rebuilding our country. This is a difficult task, but a patriotic call to national duty requiring each and every Liberian to commit their individual and collective efforts. In our national rally for democracy and development in Liberia now, and not in the future.

We will need the assistance and goodwill of the international community. Let us take heed from a passage in our national anthem, "IN UNION, STRONG SUCCESS IS SURE ". Let us not despair during this critical period but keep the faith that together, "WE SHALL OVERCOME''. Remember, unity is not the same as uniformity. We are all different with unique gifts and personalities. Our nation is also a land of diversity. Let our diversity in thoughts and actions be the basis of our national strength and resolve. Let this 154th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Liberia be the national day for a new beginning in the service of our one nation and one people. Our national rally for democracy and development begins today. Let us work harder than ever to have a joyous celebration on the coming 155th anniversary of the birth of LIBERIA. On that day, let freedom reign in our country and let Liberians become a free people, at long last.

Issued in the City of Baltimore, Maryland, USA this 26th Day of July, 2001

Mydea Reeves-Karpeh(Mrs.)
National President
Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas(ULAA)

Click the links before for related articles:
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Happy Birthday, Liberia!
LAMA Plans Independence Day Activities
The Bleeding Liberia Celebrates 149th Independence

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