ULAA Against War and Dictatorship
(A Statement issued by the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas, ULAA, on the current deteriorating military, political, social and economic conditions in the Republic of Liberia)
The fragile peace and tenuous security conditions in Liberia are threatened by renewed fighting in Lofa County and perhaps other parts of Liberia between the Liberian Government forces and fighters of the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). This latest military incursion which began on July 7, 2000, follows other arm clashes in Lofa County during April, 1999 and August 1999. LURD has given President Taylor 90 days to resign or be removed by full force. President Taylor has declared a state of emergency in Lofa and dispatched contingents of military and security personnel as well as conscripts to engage in warfare against the LURD forces. Recently, President Taylor informed the Liberian people of the number of people dead and wounded as a result of this action.
Therefore, let it be emphatically known and understood that ULAA is against war and dictatorship. We support genuine peace and constitutional rule. As Albert Porte declared on November 1, 1945 " Liberia will always be looked down upon and despised by other nations and people, unless as a people, we be courageous enough to cry loudly against existing evils, and our leaders be tolerant enough to face our problems calmly and dispassionately, and together we have them remedied. We cannot delay and wait for others to do things for us and still expect to maintain our dignity and self-respect as a nation."
Since the end of the bloody Civil War in Liberia and the election of President Charles Taylor, ULAA has consistently urged President Taylor and the Government of Liberia that the maintenance of peace and security was largely dependent on the protection of human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution, strengthening of democratic institutions in Post-War Liberia and provision of quality of life issues (i.e. provision of pipe-borne water, electricity, medical care, education etc.) Any failure on the part of the Government to rule by law and provide the citizenry of their basic essentials of life would unravel the tenets of national reconciliation, deter economic recovery and set the stage for war and human sufferings. The words of Liberians at home and abroad as well as the international community have not been heeded by the Taylor Government and together we must face another nightmare. ULAA and the peace-loving people of Liberia must brave the storm and find an amicable resolution to our current crisis especially with the unrelenting efforts of the international community.
Let us remain mindful of the old adage that "when an individual, group or nation set a stage for violence, it is violence they ultimately get." If we as a nation and people are courageous to say " No more war" to those who resort to arm struggle, we must also stand upright to condemn those who nurture the root causes of civil conflicts. Indeed, there has been a noticeable absence of ethnic harmony, religious tolerance, human rights protection, social freedom and economic progress during the 3-year Presidency of Charles Taylor. The Taylor Government has not created any enabling environment through good governance and management to pry loose the energies, resources and goodwill of Liberians at home and abroad in order to make Liberia a safe and secure place to visit, work, invest, live and raise families. Instead it has engaged itself in the wrongful path towards authoritarian rule and unsavory economic practices. The very lack of transparency and accountability, respect for the civil rights and liberties of Liberians as well as the benign neglect of basic social and human needs lead us to unconditionally conclude that President Taylor has not acted in the best interests of the Liberian people.
The Korto Administration and Board of Directors have made several
attempts to engage President Taylor on taking a positive path
for a better Liberia through the Union's Constructive Engagement
Policy. Since our ascendancy we have continued to write to the
Government of Liberia to convey the concerns, issues and interests
of Liberians in the Americas with respect to the problems of democracy
and development in our beloved country. We made several inquiries
and requested the Government to address the burning issues facing
the Liberian people including re-electrification, water supply/purification,
adequacy of health care, educational support, national security
and food production. We even held a National Conference on Liberia's
Past, Present and Future and offered to send a delegation to Liberia
to continue the spirit of constructive dialogue as well as presentation
of our National Program of Action for Liberia to assist the Government
with sustaining democracy and development in Liberia. President
Taylor did not respond to our stated
concerns, thereby deflating any hope for conducting the Union's Constructive Engagement to the benefit of the Liberian people.
On April 1, 2000, during the National Conference on Liberia's
Past, Present and Future in Baltimore, President Taylor sent a
message promising open lines of communication with ULAA on matters
of State and designated Director General of the Cabinet, Blamoh
Nelson to serve as the liaison between his Government and ULAA.
At the Conference participants raised aloud their dismay with
President Taylor's dismal record on human rights and democracy
particularly with the following violations of the Liberian Constitution:
1. Principles of non-discrimination in employment opportunities not adhered
2. Right to life, liberty, security and property ignored;
3. Entitlement to fundamental rights restricted;
4. Right to equal protection of the law selectively practiced;
5. Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion restricted;
6. Freedom of movement curtailed;
7. Right to freedom of expression curtailed;
8. Right of public to be informed ignored;
9. Right to peaceful assembly and association under surveillance;
10. Right to jury trial and due process selectively practiced;
11. Right not to subject one to military law held in disregard;
12. Prohibition against illegal search, arrest or seizure disregarded;
13. Right to be informed of charges and to remain silent not practiced;
14. Right to bail selectively exercised;
15. Prohibition against torture and inhumane treatment disregarded ;
16. Right to be presented to court ignored;
17. Right to writ of habeas corpus restricted;
18. Right to an indictment by a grand jury when charged with infamous or capital offense selectively practiced;
19. Right to counsel disregarded;
20. Right to enjoyment of civil rights abused;
21. Right to sue the Republic or other persons for fundamental rights
violations met with threats of sedition and treason.
As the uneventful pattern of human right abuses, as well as the mismanagement and personalization of scarce natural resources continue unabated, some participants suggested that President Taylor resign to save Liberians from any more blood-shed. The Conference then made several proposals for sustaining democracy and development in Liberia.
The media has been replete of allegations by the international
community in regards to the Taylor Government's involvement in
the on-going crisis in neighboring Sierra Leone and trading of
diamonds. Liberians had to face all the humiliation of our beloved
country being involved in unscrupulous acts. However, Liberians
everywhere must continue to exercise restraint and not resort
to violent recourse. The innocent people of Liberia who have suffered
enough during the Civil War will continue to suffer. We must exercise
lawful recourse provided by the Liberian Constitution (Article 1 Chapter 1) which states inter alia." All power is inherent in the people. All free Governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have a right to alter and reform same when their safety and happiness so require. In order to ensure that a democratic government which responds to the wishes of the governed, the people shall have all the right at such period and in such manner, as provided for under the Constitution, to cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments."
Therefore, by and through this public statement, ULAA appeals, urges and encourages the fighters of any armed groups including the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy to lay down their arms and use Constitutional means to have Mr. Taylor removed from office since another armed struggle will only prolong the suffering of our people. Agents of change within and outside Liberia must be galvanized to pursue constitutional and other non-violent means to bring about the desired change in the country. Liberian civil society must be empowered, the human rights advocacy groups must be supported, the press must be strengthened and personal freedoms such as the freedom to travel and get passports without clearance from the National Security Agency must be adhered to. The Government of Liberia's intimidation of journalists and student leaders, the closure of Star Radio and the limitation of the public right to be informed must be forcefully resisted by all change agents. The Legislature must be challenged and the Judiciary must be engaged. Every aspect of our Constitution must be tried and tested. We must do all we can to still engage the international community who support good government and economic freedom.
For two decades and six years, ULAA has never supported nor served the interest of any government in our country that does not first serve the interest of the Liberian people. ULAA is appealing to all to stop the war not for ourselves but for the greater good and well-being of our suffering people. Our democratic positioning is consistent with the chartered principles of this organization. History has not been kind to Liberians when a change in "bad government " is pursued through the barrel of the gun. Have we so soon forgotten the litany of human carnage and physical destruction wrought by the civil war? Over 250,000 persons lost their lives, over 1,000,000 persons were displaced, tortured, raped, orphaned and thousands of young children were conscripted into the army. Have we forgotten the massacre of innocent people at the Lutheran Church, Carter Camp and the UN Compound? Our past and present war transgressions have created instability in the sub-region and increased tensions with our neighbors. Can we afford a repeat of these events?
On August 26, 2000 ULAA's Board of Directors will meet in Silver Spring, Maryland. Among other issues to be addressed would be a resolution for a clearly defined Constructive Engagement Policy with the Government of Liberia. All member organizations and Liberian organizations are encouraged to send us your comments, opinions and concerns so that we can submit them to the Board for appropriate action. Meanwhile, the Union's leadership will seek audience with the international community to express our concerns and work out ways and means for building and sustaining democracy as well as development in Liberia.
May the Almighty God bless our people and save the nation. Issued this 7th day of August 2000, in the City of Baltimore and State of Maryland, USA
Mydea Reeves-Karpeh (Mrs.)
Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA)
Chairman of the Board
Member organizations of ULAA
County / Regional Organizations
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