Liberians Deserve Peace, not Turmoil
(Statement Issued By ULAA)
Posted May 2, 2002
When the Liberian people went to the polls five years ago following a devastating civil war in which more than 200,000 of their compatriots perished, they were ultimately opting for sustainable peace as a climax to the unprecedented devastation.
Unfortunately however, events in Liberia since Charles Taylor was voted into power have been to the contrary. The country has witnessed the elimination of key opposition figures, disappearances of people, arrest and torture of people expressing dissenting opinions including journalists, human rights activists, lawyers, and the killing of perceived enemies and branding them armed robbers.
Mr. Taylor came to power on promises that he would reconcile and reunite the country and people, pledged to uphold respect for human rights, free speech and the rule of law, as well as economic development. None of these has happened. Instead, Taylor has in the five years in power resorted to recrimination and become a tyrant.
His inordinate desire to perpertuate himself in power against the will of the Liberian people has rendered him paranoid and grossly intolerant of dissenting views.
A vivid case in point was the arrest, detention and torture of human rights
lawyer Tiawan Gongloe by Taylor's security men on April 24, 2002. Although Article 15 of the Liberian constitution guarantees freedom of speech and of the press, it's unfortunate that a candid vie expressed by Mr. Gongloe at a meeting of civil society groups of the Mano River Union sub-region in Guinea is being used as an alibi by the regime to torture the human rights lawyer.
We in ULAA vehemently condemn the cruelty and pernicious treatment being meted against Mr. Gongloe. No Liberian deserves such inhuman treatment from a regime, which lay claims to being democratic.
If Counselor Gongloe, a man of international stature can be subjected to such indescribable cruelty, it's left with one's imagination to determine the abysmal degradation being inflicted on ordinary Liberians and foreign residents by the insensitive regime.
We call on President Taylor to immediately release Mr. Gongloe from detention; as his detention over the past one week is obviously illegal. We also urge the Liberian government to re-open the Analyst newspaper, which was shut down in the aftermath of Gongloe's arrest and the immediate lifting of the ban on political activities imposed last week. Failure to release Mr. Gongloe within a weeks time, the Union will mobilize all Liberians and their organizations to have sit-ins at all Liberian Government facilities until something concrete is achieved.
These are not what Liberians voted for in 1997. Liberians deserve peace, not turmoil. Our people want to see their taxes being put to work; they anticipate Liberia's re-entry in the comity of civilized world rather than a group of people persistently perpetrating evil, thus demonizing the eyes of the outside world. Taylor must exert effort to convince the global community that his regime is susceptible to political rehabilitation.
As the 2003 election draws near, ULAA sees no desire on the part of the Taylor regime to have elections next year. We all know that his declaration of a state of emergency in Liberia was a prelude toward this plan. ULAA calls on all Liberians both at home and in the Diaspora to stand up and stop Mr. Taylor from carrying on his plan. In order to stop Mr. Taylor, ULAA and LDI in collaboration with other pro democracy groups are hosting a National Conference on the future of Liberia at the University of the District of Columbia from June 21-23, 2002. The purpose of the conference is to bring together all Liberian political parties, Liberian church leaders and friends of Liberia to develop a process by which the elections In Liberia are carried out next year. We solicit the support of all to support this effort to develop a national agenda for our country.
Issued in the City of Baltimore, Maryland this 1st Day of May 2002.
Mydea Reeves-Karpeh (Mrs.)
Union Of Liberian Associations In The Americas (ULAA)