US-based Liberians demand Justice for war victims
By Alloycious David
A group of Liberians based in the United States yesterday, September 18, staged a “peaceful protest” at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, demanding justice for individuals killed during Liberia’s 14-year brutal civil war.
Liberians, under the banner of “Peace and Justice March,” paraded placards bearing photographs of former and current Liberian presidents, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Weah.
The placards also had photographs of alleged victims of mayhem reportedly committed during Liberia’s Civil War. The series of protests, which was broadcast live on social media (Facebook), coincided with the commencement of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 73) in New York, the United States of America.
Liberian human rights advocate, Vandalark Patricks, organizing chairman of the “Peace and Justice March,” said a cross-section of Liberians had gathered before the UN Headquarters, urging the world body and all partners to unconditionally prevail on President George Weah, in order to ensure justice, accountability, and the strengthening of the rule of law at the very top of his government’s agenda.
“For too long we have cried for justice, but those responsible to dispense that justice have not listened to the cries of Liberia’s war victims,” Patricks said in a petition statement obtained by our reporter. He said Liberian war victims see the failure of their leaders to dispense justice as a form of deception and evasion of justice for thousands of people who were killed during Liberia’s “senseless” Civil War.
Patricks said that it is about time the UN pressure the Liberian Government to revisit the issue of justice for past heinous crimes committed during Liberia’s civil crisis, notably by establishing a special war and economic crimes’ court, to investigate those that allegedly committed atrocities, in order to bring justice to the victims, punish the perpetrators and strengthen respect for the rule of law.
“This is our demand and the world must listen now,” Patricks said, adding: “Despite the commission of those heinous atrocities against our people, most of the perpetrators of the war have now been recruited to work in high profile positions in the President Weah Administration.”
He said that the recruitment of perpetrators of war and economic crimes could suggest to anyone that President Weah is not only oblivious of the bloody past, but very guilty in his heart, despite his “innocent appearance as a humanitarian.”
“The March for Justice Campaign firmly believes that securing justice is crucial to sustaining the peace surplus that Liberians have longed so hard to realize,” the rights campaigner added.
He also told the UN that as victims of the bloody past, “we are very much aware that Liberia’s brutal armed conflict (1989-1996, and 1999-2003) was characterized by the commission of widespread and systematic violations of international, human rights and humanitarian laws that included the rape of women and teenagers, the disembowelment of pregnant women, and the subsequent destruction of unborn children, human beings slaughtered like animals and sometimes eaten like barbecue.”
Copies of the group’s statement were forwarded to the Human Rights Section of the United Nations, the UN Security Council, and was also sent to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Civitas Maxima, International Criminal Court, The Hague, US Congress and US State Department, Patricks told our reporter in a brief chat.