Liberia is Life

By: Alvin J. Teage

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 6, 2003

I have never met nor communicated with Brother Aloysius Toe. But his expressed action tells me that he is a man of selfless character. Aware of the danger of speaking out in today's Liberia, he joined other leaders and disregarded the culturally acceptable notion of pleasing the self, and announced plans for a weeklong, peaceful demonstration to call upon the Monrovia regime to timely release all illegally detained Liberians. Mr. Toe was not begged, nor did he receive a "specialized invitation" to call for an end to the gross human rights violations being committed against the Liberian People. He acted because it was the right thing to do. This, I submit, was an exercise of national leadership.

The Monrovia regime, however, saw otherwise. And has since deprived Mr. Toe and other Liberians, such as: Ansumana Kamara, Mohammed Dukuly, Bangalee Sheriff, Mohammed Komara, Sheikh Sackor, Mabutu Kromah, and others of their constitutionally protected rights. With this in mind, a Liberian Justice recently expressed disappointment with the public for its lack of confidence in the Liberian judiciary. This act of willful blindness is very insulting, and the Justice, as a student of Liberian history, should know better. The public notes that, as a forward step to addressing the lack of public confidence, the judiciary presently has an opportunity to set an important precedent: it can exercise judicial independence and timely release all illegally detained Liberians.

Her Honor should tell the Executive Mansion that: (1) the judiciary has a constitutional mandate to make sure that a person is given due process before the government can deprive that person of life, liberty, or property; (2) that cooked up charges of treason will not pass muster; (3) and that the judiciary was not meant to help it abuse people's rights.

Mr. Toe and other illegally detained Liberians are being denied their respective liberty interests. If one cannot turn to the executive, the legislative, or the judicial branch for protection, where can one turn?

The question here is not whether violations of human rights is unique to the current Monrovia regime, the LURD, or other rebel forces, for it is not; nor whether the current regime will retire, for it will; nor whether the Republic of Liberia will overcome her woes, for she shall. Instead, the question is: when will the Liberian people have democratic freedoms?

In the struggle for democratic freedoms, success is likely to come when activities are conducted through the give-and-take of the majoritarian process. In this, Liberian groups that are too small to command a majority may prevail on a particular issue by uniting with other groups, whom they may in turn agree to support on other issues.

Most, if not all, Liberian organizations, within the United States, and prominent Liberians have been contacted (or will be) and asked to attend the May 8th demonstration. A similar but general invitation is also out to all Liberians and friends.

The pains of tyranny will end, and history will remind the Liberian people. As it is time for a drastic change in the Liberian way of dealing with human rights abuses, information will be published so that our abused women, children, elders, and the sick can remember the replies from the personalized invitees to the May 8th demonstration. We have to move beyond the mere talks, and work seriously for democratic freedoms.

If it is okay to violate B's rights today, a similar justification will be used to violate M's tomorrow. We should be deeply troubled that Mr. Toe and other Liberians are being denied their constitutionally protected rights, and should abandon the usual sit and cry for rescue and the thinking that only a few Liberians should work for an end to human rights violations and for democratic freedoms.

Some will say that the Monrovia regime needs to stop its violations of human rights, and will say so for as long as the regime keeps up such violations. Others will say that the LURD and other rebel forces need to stop their respective military actions, and will say so for as long as the rebels conduct such actions. And some have agreed that the Monrovia regime, the LURD, and other rebel forces must stop the human rights violations, and are also committed to using People's Power to bring about democratic freedoms.

In the Liberian circuit of self-congratulatory remarks and election talks, it is easy to bother oneself with needless interpretations and to lose sight of the gross human rights violations being committed against the Liberian people. I hope that we don't become so focused with the self and lose sight of the inherent dignity and the inalienable rights of every Liberian.

His truth is marching on because rights are being violated. See you in Washington, D.C., on the United States Capitol Ground, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, May 8th, 2003.