Civitas Maxima Takes War Crimes Court Awareness to Students

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Flash back: Cartoon depicting war-time atrocities and the quest for justice.

Civitas Maxima and its local partner, the Global Justice and Research Project, will today end its three-day artistic youth conference, which is aimed at assembling the voices of youth in Liberia’s quest for justice.

The three-day conference, according to a press release, brought together over 60 high schools students from across Montserrado County, to discuss Liberia’s preparedness for a war crimes court.

The release added the first day of the workshop, which was held on November 5th, opened with a documentary that shows how countries that have experienced massive human rights violations have addressed the legacy of the past.

“After the documentary, the group identified overarching themes, considering how war-time memories are conveyed through storytelling, and the role of the theater in telling these stories,” the press release said.

“The cases against alleged Liberian war criminals in the US and Europe have opened up a vibrant dialogue within our society about how we want to deal with our past.  All parts of Liberian society need to partake in the discussion, including artists and the youth,” Said Hassan Bility, Director of the Global Justice and Research Project in Monrovia.

During the second day of the conference, which was yesterday, the release focused on the use of cartoon to campaign for justice for victim of war crimes.

The release further said that the Cartooning for Justice gathering sought to empower the younger generation to use their creativity to participate in momentous debates around justice for war-time crimes through cartooning.

“During this gathering, the participants, who mostly came from the artistic community, debated the various dimensions of the conflict; they also considered the complexities of the implementation of justice mechanisms for those past crimes,” the release said.

The release added that today’s conference will focus on the adaption of  Musu’s Diary Cartoons by Flomo Theater, designed by Civitas Maxima and the GJRP, as part of their Liberian quest for justice campaign that seeks to inform audiences about the trials of alleged war criminals happening outside of Liberia.

“Theater is one of the most powerful tools we Liberians have to really talk about the war. Telling stories through theater, action and movement, we can paint a picture of what has happened and work together, actors and spectators, to come up with a way forward,” the release said, quoting Alex Lassanah Swaray, Director of Flomo Theater

In 2017, Civitas Maxima published Musu’s Diary Cartoons, which illustrate the story of a young Monrovian girl who seeks to reunite with her family that was torn apart by the war. Chronicling her personal adventures while trials of alleged Liberian war criminals take place abroad (i.e.: Jungle Jabbah, Thomas Woewiyu) Musu, with her little brother Varney, embarks on a quest for justice and fights the boogeyman, a mythical figure that haunts Liberia. Flomo Theatre, in cooperation with Civitas Maxima and the GJRP, will adapt the cartoon’s story into a theater road-show that will travel through Liberia’s interior in 2019.

“We believe that local populations have the right to accessible and unbiased information about any trials of alleged war criminals, especially those that take place in other countries, ” Nathaly Leduc, from Civitas Maxima, said in the release.

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