A Position Statement by the Liberian Association of Metro Atlanta
(A Statement Issued on August 1, 2003)
Posted August 22, 2003
POSITION STATEMENT OF THE LIBERIAN ASSOCIATION OF METRO ATLANTA
Friday, August 1, 2003
By President Armaso Bawn
We, the Liberian Association of Metro Atlanta, Friends of Liberia, and people who care deeply about human dignity throughout the world, are gathered here today on these steps of the capitol of this great State of Georgia to demonstrate our thanks and appreciation to President Bush and the people of the United States. We thank you for sending your troops to be stationed off the Liberian coast for a possible peacekeeping intervention. We also thank Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the United Nations and ECOWAS for their leadership and support.
Liberia is not Somalia! Liberia shares a unique relationship with the United States. In the early eighteen hundreds, the first ship of Freed Slaves arrived in Liberia from the United States of America. On July 26, 1847, Liberia declared her independence to the world, with Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a U. S.- born citizen from the Commonwealth of Virginia as its first president, thus becoming the first independent African state. Ten subsequent presidents of Liberia were originally citizens of the United States. Liberia’s flag and many other important national symbols are modeled after the United States. Monrovia, our capitol city is named after the United States’ 5th president, James Monroe. The city of Buchanan, the second largest city, is named in honor of James Buchanan, America’s 15th president. The country abounds with familiar names like Virginia, Maryland, Greenville, Firestone Rubber Plantation, J. F. Kennedy Hospital, etc. With such compelling linkages, America being the only superpower and the “defender of democracy”, has a moral responsibility to Liberia. Liberia is not Somalia!
In spite of the undeniable historical ties, sadly, the United States was supine for decades and watched hundreds of thousands of Liberian citizens killed by brutal dictators just like Saddam Hussein of Iraq, simply because Liberia has now been deemed “not a national security interest” of the United States. However, we are grateful that fourteen years later, America heard the cries of the Liberian people. The intervention of American troops, for peacekeeping purposes, would save the lives of thousands of innocent children, women and unarmed men. Additionally, it would provide an opportunity for democracy and regional stability, and reduce the likelihood for terrorist activities and small arm conflicts.
We, the Liberian Association of Metro Atlanta, Friends of Liberia, and people who care about human dignity throughout the world, plead for an immediate military intervention in the current crises and endorse calls for action from the people of Liberia, including the combatant groups, as well as the United Nations, the International Contact Group on Liberia, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Friends of Liberia and many other organizations to support the peace process. In this public manner, before the people of this great state of Georgia, the birthplace of Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 39th President of the United State, James Earl Carter, we denounce the repugnant transgressions of Mr. Charles Taylor, the government of the Republic of Liberia, and the rebel groups, MODEL and LURD against the people of Liberia. Liberians will not accept the rule of ruthless murderers and thugs who fight their way into power. Moreover, we demand that the current top Liberian government officials, along with officials of LURD and MODEL must be excluded from participating in the interim government that will emerge out of the peace-talks that are currently being held in the Ghanian capital, Accra. If not, we will simply be validating and rewarding self-appointed and self-serving murderers instead of supporting the democratic process. We further demand that all individuals and groups directly responsible for the atrocities committed against the people of Liberia be held accountable and brought to justice.
The Liberian crisis is an opportunity for President Bush and the United States to prove their commitment to human dignity and democracy, as enunciated during the President’s recent trip to Africa. We strongly challenge the African Union and the leaders of Africa to stand up for what is right and put an end to the suffering of the Liberian people. We appeal to the United Nations to insure that the International Court does not lift the indictment against Mr. Taylor and his associates for crimes committed against humanity, as such would only undermine its integrity and set a dangerous precedence for other warlords and dictators around the world.
Again, we thank the Liberian Honorary Counsel General, Dr. Walter Young, the Liberian Community of Georgia, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, the Concerned Black Clergy, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, My darling wife, Edith Bawn and all who contributed to the organizing and planning of this effort. We say a special “Thank you” to the media for sensitizing and enlightening the American public about the inhumane and deplorable conditions of our sisters and brothers in Liberia. We now appeal to the people of Georgia and the United States for emergency humanitarian assistance, namely essential medical supplies, non-perishable food, water and funds to transport these items to Liberia. You may make your tax-deductible contributions to the “Children of War-torn Liberia Fund” at any Bank of America branch. You may also donate through the givengains web site, which is www.givengains.com. To make an in-kind donation or assistance, please contact LAMA, Inc. at 404.228.4084.
May God bless America and save Liberia.