Liberians Rally for Justice

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Demonstrators gathered at the American Embassy to present their petition demanding the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia (Photo: Greg H. Stemn)

Demand establishment of war and economic crimes court in Liberia

Hundreds of Liberians under the banner “Campaigners and Victims For Justice,” yesterday, November 12, marched through the principal streets of Monrovia to present petitions to the American Embassy, European Union, United Nations and to the office of President George Weah, calling for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes’ Court in Liberia to seek justice for victims of the 14 years civil conflict (1989-2003).

The protest march which created a traffic gridlock across Monrovia, was well attended by a mix of old people, youth, children, and even street hustlers including Zogos, who sang and danced as they trooped from their assembly point at the Centennial Pavilion to the United States Embassy and then to the European Union office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and finally to the United Nations headquarters on Tubman Boulevard, crying for justice for their loved ones and families victimized during the war.

In a related development, a separate group of demonstrators had also besieged the entire Jallah Town route connecting the Capitol By-Pass demanding the restoration of electricity to the community, which the protesters claimed had been in darkness for over three weeks.

Meanwhile the war crimes protesters continued singing and chanting “We are the victims we can’t get tired, the pro-poor government we want justice, Liberian people what you want….we want justice, your leave us oh da justice we want…”

A concerned Liberian resident from Canada, Emmanuel Savice, who led the protest action declared, “We are serious about justice and accountability because no country will develop without ending the culture of impunity. If you ever think that God will come down and bless us, the two hundred and fifty thousand souls will continue to keep us down until we seek justice in this country.”

Emmanuel Savice

When asked about the views of those Liberians that are calling for restorative justice, instead, Savice angrily said, “We want retributive justice for our people we lost their lives. You can’t tell me what I want. I lost my three brothers, one sister, my mother is still mourning for them. That is why I am pushing for international justice for every human being who his or her life.”

Continuing, Savice said the current government campaigned on a platform for justice, “so they must stand up and listen to the cry of innocent Liberians who lost their parents and other relatives during the war and give them justice.”

The protesters in their Petition said that crimes committed by the perpetrators violated international criminal laws, international human rights laws and international humanitarian laws and therefore they should not go unpunished.

Savice said there are facts and evidence that tell the sad and ugly story of the country which is readily and conspicuously available in every nook and cranny of the country.

“Heads of warring factions were involved in the massive killing of our people and the destruction of our country and they still walk freely in the midst of their victims that they violated, degraded, abused, vilified, raped and sexually enslaved during the heydays of their violence,” he said.

Savice said, “These war criminals’ massacred and engaged in extra-judicial killings, and other unthinkable crimes against their victims and they still linger in the minds of Liberians, owing to the fact that justice is being delayed and denied.”

He said the sorrow and agony of the Liberian people lie in the ugly fact that these very war criminals have been rewarded with state power in all its ramifications, thereby giving them political control over their victims against their will.

“This kind of scenario continues to torment and psychologically affect the people of Liberia.  It is no secret that the Liberian brutal civil war produced numerous massacres like the killings of the five Catholic Nuns, the Sinje Massacre, the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Massacre in Sinkor and others,” he said.

The petitioners said only a War Crimes Court will bring justice to the families, relatives, and friends of victims who were gruesomely murdered and raped. Savice said seeking justice for these barbaric crimes is the only way to right the wrong, reconcile the country and its people and finally end the culture of impunity in Liberia.

“It will be sad, regrettable and shameful for the world to let these atrocities go unpunished. It will be disappointing and a mistake for such heinous crimes to go unpunished. These appalling crimes must be investigated, and the required judicious measures taken to avoid replication in the future,” he said.

Savice further maintained, “Also on record is the persistent greed and dishonesty of leaders of the country who also, with impunity continue to unduly amass wealth for themselves, thereby subjecting the entire citizenry to horrible poverty.” He said the constant wave of corruption which pervades the country keeps the people in a state of poverty and disease has denied them basic life incentives because people elected to power personalize the country’s wealth at their detriment.

He said corruption in government must be wiped out to bring about the needed development in the country. “Corruption is eating up every part of Liberia, impoverishing 90% of the citizenry. It is eating up the entire country making development stagnant,“. Savice said corruption is the vice responsible for reducing many citizens to beggars on a daily basis and it must stop, he emphasized.

Author

  • Hannah N. Geterminah is a 2016 graduate of the Peter Quaqua School of Journalism with diploma and series of certificates in journalism from other institutions. She has lots of knowledge/ experience in human interest, political, Health, women and children stories. Hannah has worked with the Daily Observers Newspaper and the Liberian media for the past years and has broken many stories. Contact reporter; [email protected] WhatsApp;0770214920

13 COMMENTS

  1. A wise person once said, “Wars almost never end the way starters of wars had in mind.”

    The damage done by key players of Liberia Civil War should not be taken likely. The heinous acts committed during Liberia Civil War have caused irreparable damage to the country and people of Liberia. Therefore, these violators should be brought to justice.

    However, proponents of a War Crime Court should seriously take into consideration the security risk of establishing such a court in a fragile country like Liberia. Proponents of a War Crime Court should pressure the Weah Government to work with the United Nation to move Liberia’s war criminals to a more secure venue like the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague (Netherlands) for prosecution.

    It’s very interesting to note the present timing of this request. Nothing was done to establish a war crime court in Liberia when the United Nations Mission to Liberia (UNMIL) lasted 15 years (2003-2018) in Liberia. During that time, UNMIL provided peace and security to Liberia.

    Why didn’t Liberia government (either the Interim Gov’t, or President Sirleaf) work with the United Nation to establish a Special Court of Liberia for War Crimes just as Sierra Leone did to prosecute individuals responsible for committing serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sierra Leone….that resulted in Charles Taylor serving 50 years imprisonment in Great Britain while others perpetrators are now serving lengthy sentences in Rwanda?

    Hypothetically, during those crucial 15 years, if a Special Court of Liberia had been established, UNMIL had the manpower in place to deter or put down any security threat to the country if violent crisis were imminent during the trial of these perpetrators….thus putting a lesser risk to a fragile country as compare to proposing a War Crime Court setup now that post a greater security risk to Liberia.

    Just for security reason, I think a secure and neutral venue is necessary to try these perpetrators who committed war crimes in Liberia. This will help minimize the risk from interrupting Liberia’s peace and democracy which the international community fought so hard to help Liberians restore.

  2. A wise person once said, “Wars almost never end the way starters of wars had in mind.” We fight for the death of our relatives that were killed without reasons. Remember, we have the same fingers used in the trigger to kill. Let avoid future genocide in Liberia.

  3. I continue to wonder why up to now thy this court is yet to be established in Liberia! There is no need to tell us that the war devastated the soul of our nation; people lost brighter future, thousands of kids died who could have been the light of our country today, our cultural and social fabrics met their end during those horrible years of killing, hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, fled the country to seek refuge wherever they could leading to almost half of them not coming back to their motherland Liberia… and even if they want to come back, what do they come to do or where to live. and the worst of it all, the perpetrators are the ones leading our future into further darkness and uncertainty.

    I continue to ask myself why will we be mean to our very soul like this. Why is it so difficult to weed out a handful of criminals in an effort to prepare a better Liberia that will be seen as a safe heaven?

    We are waiting and prettily waiting see what will happen in the near future about this matter.

    God Bless Liberia!!!

  4. “Hundreds of Liberians under the banner “Campaigners and Victims For Justice,” yesterday, November 12, marched through the principal streets of Monrovia to present petitions to the American Embassy, European Union, United Nations and to the office of President George Weah, calling for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes’ Court in Liberia to seek justice for victims of the 14 years civil conflict (1989-2003)”

    You people are so naïve and its unbelievable. I am not against the idea of establishing war and economic crimes court in Liberia. But look at the people you are praying to for help to establish the court: American Embassy, European Union, United Nations. I don’t know if this is willful blindness or we’ve completely lost our senses. But don’t you know that America and these agents are directly responsible for the Liberian Civil War just as the Liberians you are trying to prosecute? Even Charles Taylor himself told you this during his special court hearing in Sierra Leone in front of the world how the United States was sponsoring militias to go into Liberia to cause havoc. And needless to say that Charles Taylor himself was a CIA agent working for the United States of America which they (America) have confirmed. Oh, I guess you are the only people who don’t know this. America is the reason for the Liberia Civil War.

    America and her agents sponsored Charles Taylor to go to Liberia and overthrow Doe. Ask yourself the question: Who let Charles Taylor out of jail in America? Charles Taylor was locked up in jail in America, who the heck let him out? And don’t you go about telling me how at the utterance of abracadabra, he magically disappeared out of one of the most secured prisons in America (Boston Plymouth correctional facility) and ended up in Liberia overthrowing Doe.

    Leviticus 19:15 “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor”

    John 7:24 “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment”

    But you are honoring America and their agents, looking at their great might, you are afraid to confront them for their for the wrongs they’ve done. And one reason is because they give you handouts, you’re prepared to ignore their wrong doings and go to them for help to hang your own people. It was their (America) greed and insatiable appetite for our resources that caused the war in the first place. Am afraid to say but those young men and women who participated in the war are much a victim as yourself. Our fight right now should be focused on preventing things like that from ever happening in our nation. You should be fighting to prevent nations like America from ever getting the opportunity to undermine our nation ever again. But these are the same people you are running to for help to establish war crimes court, that in itself is injustice at the highest degree. And believe me God is not asleep.

    If you really want the war and economic crimes court established, we must do it on our own using the aid of other African nations or bodies. Apart from that, this is mere foolishness.

  5. The interview with Mr. Emmanuel Savice, a demonstrator from Canada, speaks volumes of the fact that demand for a war and economic crimes court is a pretext for a multiplicity of old grievances. The danger of unloading all of them on a new government – bequeathed a sluggish economy, pervasive poverty, and a weakened public safety infrastructure – has been noisily and continuously downplayed by partisan media cheerleaders. It, therefore, never surprised critical readers that journalist Jonathan Payelayleh, a former Daily Observer type setter and fawning news stringer with BBC, was assigned in February 2018 to bait President Weah about when he would establish a war crime court.

    Well, according to knowledgeable old timers, unfortunately, in our country, some self-centered, self-absorbed, and self-entitled elites inculcate the notion that it is all about them. So as long as others are at the helm running things, they don’t have qualms about secretly joining forces with foreign agents in stoking crises that could cause chaos. It would explain the one-sided dialogue extended now to a rash of street protests by the exertions of so-called voices of the people who stayed dumb in the dozen years rule of Revolutionary Iron Lady EJS: Bloody hypocritical theatrics, no doubt.

  6. justice for the people yeah…so and why not your people die my people also die I was not there so I do not know what happen but god-jesus Christ know all things I am giving it to him to help us to see the light and the writing on the wall.all the people that paid for this war is also one of them I do not care who they are

  7. Yesterday you referred to them as “FREEDOM FIGHTERS”, and praised them for a job well done.
    Today you are calling for “WAR CRIMES COURT” to bring them to “JUSTICE”.
    What a mockery?
    There were other options to solve the problems in Liberia, but you embraced “WAR”, and said, “LET THE PEOPLE COME. THE PEOPLE KNOW WHO THEY COMING FOR/TO”. In your narrow minded thinking, you concluded that the WAR would affect only certain ethnic groups, members of ruling Party/NDPL, Government Officials, the Military, Police, other Security Personnels and their families. Many of you made it your duty to identified fellow Liberians just to get them executed by REBEL forces. Many volunteered at checkpoints, while others led rebels to people’s homes and hideout just to get them killed, because of ignorance, jealousy and envy. That now you want justice? Nonsense!!!
    Just how you were selective in determining, who to be killed during the war that you very much welcome, you are being selective about those to be prosecuted for WAR CRIMES, but it will not work.
    Some of us are fully aware of those who are fueling this madness, but they shall fall by the way side.
    The George Weah CDC led Government must stay focused on the Pro-poor Agenda, and work harder to uplift the living standards of the Liberian people.
    WAR CRIMES COURT is not a priority. As President Weah clearly stated at the 73rd session of the UNGA, Reconciliation through Dialogue is our best path towards Peace and Stability.

  8. The likes of Sylvester Moses and other mercenaries of the pen who gate crashed onto the kleptocratic bandwagon of the CDC very late in the orgy of theft and dishonesty only know what their paid master tells them. The Liberian people have spoken through a mass demonstration. They want justice. 250,000 of our people, men, women, the elderly, and children were slaughtered. These innocent civilians whose blood were spilled and lives cut short, are entitled to justice before a court of law. Those who bear the greatest responsibility for this carnage must answer to their crimes before an international. This is the sure way to peace in Liberia.

  9. Those who bear the greatest responsibility of theis carnage must answer to their crimes before an”international Court.”

  10. We will handle it ourselves. We have a Liberian Justice System already given by the founders of this land. The mistake we made is that we depended on a few local and foreign tyrants to run this Justice. Never again will this work. Regardless who sits in the Liberian Chair, the words of the Constitution is what we are now depending on to work with for our Justice. When this Law make sense to us, we will move those spoilers out through election activities and amend as we see fit. If the ones we as a people appoint or elect to administer these laws prove not capable, we will impeach these ones immediately as a nation. This is our sovereignty, and our justice. Fix the court houses we already have. We need money to build our lives and infrastructures. We cannot afford and do not need extra money for new court crisis between corrupt international and national ex-rebels telling lies on one another at the expense of the Liberian people. No more will this happen again. Do not care how much a few can protest as long as there is peace and tranquility in this nation we will be stable again. Watch and see. Justice is on its way from Liberians themselves. We elected in peace and we can do it in peace ourselves. Peace keepers came and piece finders left. They could not finish it. WE will fix this nation ourselves again. Answer the Liberian people. Not me. Do not disturb.
    Talking with the silent majority.

  11. Silly Zinnah Cotombo or whomsoever, I’m not a politician but a trained and experienced security intelligence analyst; and you guys are aping the Pied Piper of Hamelin to the hilt. Probably, you were one of those who frothed in the mouth for war in the late 1980’s – crazy bloody fool!

  12. Right To.Be. Anonymous
    It is very easy to characterize the quest for justice on behave of our brothers and sisters who became victims of an unspeakable and despicable civil war that claimed the lives of 250,000 of our population as foolishness. This is so because many of the anti-international court advocates did not really feel the brunt of the tragedy; and so the saying goes, “One does not feel the pains of the wearer, until he wears the wearer’s shoes.”

    However, does one have to experience the other man’s misfortunes before he can imagine the dimension and causes of the person’s pains and pathology? No. That is only possible if one lacks empathy (the ability for one to imagine what others are going through even if he has not had similar experiences).

    In my opinion the reason that Liberians are seeking for intervention no matter wherever it comes from is for the same reason that the war occurred in the first place. We turned on our own and maimed; killed; raped; amputated; starved; looted; drugged them; and, consequently the perpetrators of these heinous acts were awarded with lucrative jobs and influential positions.

    Moreover, they were and are still allowed to wield power, control economic resources and thus impact the lives of the survivors of the victims of the tragedy in very adverse ways.

    This scenario has created the very high level of deep cynicism and the irreversible distrust that Liberians have developed towards their government now.

    So the urgency of now is to seek justice on behave of these innocent victims so as to bring closure to this sad horror and avoid another tragic occurrence.

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