Friday, June 29, 2012

Press Statement on the Harassment and Intimidation of Innocent Citizens of Grand Gedeh County

Written by: 
Honorable Cyrus S. Cooper, II
Former Grand Gedeh Senatorial Candidate

Over the past weeks, I have been carefully monitoring media reports and communicating with local residents across Grand Gedeh County regarding the alleged cross border raid. My knowledge is that local residents of the border towns in Grand Gedeh County are being subjected to constant harassment, intimidation, and night curfew imposed by the government security forces. 

 I am writing to condemn the government in the strongest term against this unlawful practices directed at innocent citizens of Grand Gedeh County who have nothing to do with the war in Ivory Coast. The innocent citizens of Grand Gedeh are being punished collectively for allegedly cooperating with the armed men accused of staging the June 8, 2012 raid that caused the casualty of seven UN peace keepers and several Ivorian civilians near the Liberian border with Ivory Coast.

While I deeply regret the loss of the brave UN peace keepers and innocent civilians, I am urging the Grand Gedeh Legislative Caucus to promptly investigate these allegations and prevail on the government of Liberia to bring all those responsible for this unlawfully and uncivilized behavior to justice immediately because the current government of Liberia has a record of protecting human rights violators.

The suspicious surrounding the government actions raise the following questions: 
  • Based on the early June Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on Liberia, the Liberian government is aware of the volatile conflict between supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo and the current President Alassane Ouattara. With a porous border with Ivory Coast, what measure did the government of Liberia put in place to ensure the security of Liberians living in the border towns prior to the June 8, 2012 incident? It takes a trained and equipped police and immigration officers to provide 24 hours protection and cross border monitoring of civilian movement across the borders.
  • In February 2011, Ghanaian security forces stormed the Buduburam refugee camp, gun-down and arrested several Liberian refugees. What has the government done to address the plight of those vulnerable Liberians who were forced out of their mother land by the brutal civil war?
  • After the barbaric June 8, 2012, attack in Ivory Coast, the government rushed to judgment and accused several citizens of Grand Gedeh County of participation in the raid without clear and convincing evidence that would lead to conviction. What is the legal basis of the government claims?
  • The 2011 police raid at the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Headquarters resulting in the death of peaceful supporters of CDC and the unfortunate G. W. Gibson student raid with impunity. What has the government done to ensure justice for the victims?

Fellow citizens of Grand Gedeh, we have equal rights under the laws of Liberia as guaranteed by the constitution of Liberia. We as peaceful citizens of Grand Gedeh can no longer tolerate collective punishment by government agents. Our experience with repressive regime has taught us to stand up in the defense of our fellow citizen's rights as guaranteed under the constitution of Liberia.

I am urging every peace loving Liberians to join in solidarity with the people of Grand Gedeh in condemning the uncivilized collective punishment of innocent Grand Gedeh citizens by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government security forces.

Remember the late president Doe's famous quote "town trap is not for rat alone." Today the citizens of Grand Gedeh County are being collectively punished by government security forces with impunity; tomorrow may be citizens of Bong County; follow by Nimba; Grand Bassa; and so on. We must collectively stop the government now to avoid national catastrophe. A word to the wise is enough.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Statement on the situation in Grand Gedeh County

Statement on the situation in Grand Gedeh County
By Bernard Gbayee Goah
President, Operation We Care for Liberia
Submitted to the World Affairs Council
Oregon, USA
May 20, 2012

Fellow Friends,

Information reaching me suggests that Liberian government police has tortured, and continues to subject the people of Grand Gedeh County to inhumane treatment.

This information came in the wake of news following a cross boarder attack on UN Peace keepers on the Ivorian side. Those who carried out the attack are unknown, but some Citizens of Grand Gedeh County were earmarked by the Liberian government and declared wanted.

It is also my understanding that Government prematurely ordered the arrest of its own citizens without firstly gathering intelligence on what happened. Most of those implicated currently live in Ghana, Monrovia, and other places far from where the incident occurred. One such person is a man named Amos Charyee who in fact has lived on a refugee camp in Ghana since 2003 and has not left his immediate locale according records received from Ghanaian Authorities.

According to eyewitness, on the premise of “searching for perpetrators of the cross boarder violence”, government security seized properties belonging to organizations operating in the Grand Gedeh County when in fact these organizations had no fish to fry in the case. Importantly, because Charles Taylor’s NPFL rebels heavily destroyed Grand Gedeh County, Non-for -Profit organizations operating in Grand Gedeh primarily provide humanitarian assistance to the people in that area. Seizing vehicles belonging to these organizations impedes their abilities to function. I demand that vehicles belonging to organizations concerned be return at once so that the people would benefit from their services. Cameras belonging to citizens who witnessed police actions were confiscated and destroyed in an apparent effort by police to escape responsibility for their illegal actions. Citizens now live in total fear and the police has imposed curfew in the county.

I see government police violence intimidation of the people of Grand Gedeh County unacceptable.

I believe it is important for you all to know that there are numerous uncontrolled and unprotected boarder entrances between Liberia and Ivory Coast And that the Liberian government has no accurate data on where most of these boarders are, who comes in the country, and who gets out of the country. Even with the recent population census, government is still unable to identify its own citizens. There are no systems in place to work with in Liberia. The entire country operates in complete chaos, speculation, rumors, and guesswork. The indicators are there to show that the country is volatile and heading for trouble.

I believe there is still little green light. The security, integrity, and sustainable development of Liberia can be realized but only when there is a foundation upon which a legal government can function. The problem is, there is no foundation to start with.

Secondly, because it favors impunity, corruption, nepotism, and all of the contrapositive “ism”, the current Liberian government is not considered legal by majority of the Liberian people as such, it is not fully accepted by the people.

Thirdly, the government is not credible because to be credible in Liberia would mean going against the very interest of the President who has absolute authority over the people.

The fourth aspect is, only kangaroo systems infested with former warlords and clueless individuals professing, as legal gurus exist in Liberia. Thus makes it very difficult for peacekeepers and other international institutions to effectively work with the Liberia judiciary system.

What’s considered illegal internationally is actually legal in the eyes of the Liberian President. For example, there are killers walking around in Liberia. These very killers hold top positions within the Liberian government today, and there are no plans whatsoever to bring them to justice. The President and lawmakers have no problem with these people only because they are in fact the very perpetrators. And that is the way it is in that part of the world where war crimes suspects are the judges providing protection for the people they have victimized.

Fellow friends of justice, if Liberia must survive, there must be credible legal systems in place that promotes Justice, and the rule of law. Those bearing the greatest responsibility for the deaths of innocent people should not be allowed to be judges providing protection for the people they victimized. The participation of all Liberians irrespective of their gender, language, ethnicity, religion or political leaning in accordance with accepted international human rights conventions must be encouraged.

And that is why I wholeheartedly applaud the call made by Grand Gedeh County legislative caucus less Honorable Isaac Nyenabo who in fact is a the President’s best friend, for an in-depth independent investigation of why government continue to harass the people of Grand Gedeh County, and how such police actions can be avoided in the future.

For me, it is hard not to believe that police authorities seized this chance to flex their muscles with the intention of intimidating peaceful citizens in Grand Gedeh County. The heavily presence of personnel from the Liberian National Police comprising mostly of former NPFL rebels generals who fought against the people of Grand Gedeh only adds to that impression.

I am deeply troubled by the cloud of repression that now hangs over the people of Grand Gedeh County. Government police inhumane actions against these people are darkened further when a man named Mr. Lewis Browne who is a one-time confidant of former president Charles Taylor ordered the arrest of sons of Grand Gedeh County without intelligence investigation. Mr. Lewis biased statement in a government-sponsored media only reawakens his role-played during the heel days of Charles Taylor NPFL when Mr. Lewis saw people from that region as his enemies. It is my hope that the light of intelligence and legal investigation, as well as open public discussion will dissipate the current crisis in Grand Gedeh County as well as at the Liberian-Ivorian boarder.

To me, the current lawlessness exhibited by a Police force infested with former rebel generals who still see the people of Grand Gedeh as enemies makes such security apparatus illegitimate. Mr. Lewis Brown who championed the killings of the people of Grand Gedeh should not provide protection for them. It becomes too unhealthy for the people of Liberia especially the people of Grand Gedeh County to look up to those whose intentions are bent on annihilating them for protection.
It is fearful when instead of running to the police for protection, people run from the police in Grand Gedeh County in order to preserve their lives.

Also, there is credible information that most top security officers in the current Liberian government were either themselves involved in human rights violations or instructed their foot soldiers to commit atrocities during the country brutal civil wars. Situation such as what took place at the boarders of Liberia and Ivory may have triggered war behaviors’ of Mr. Lewis Browne and his likes of police officers. Especially when it has to do with the people of a county they perceive as enemy County, they put themselves in a combat ready position and behave as such.

I call on the international community to presure the government of President Ellen Johnson to desist form the use of Marshall law in Grand Gedeh County at this time. It is also my demand that police officers who were involved with killings during the Liberian war as well as Mr. Lewis Browne be de-traumatized in order for them to be able to work with the civilian populace in a civilized fashion in accordance with international human rights laws.

I thank you all.

Bernard Gbayee Goah
President, Operation We Care for Liberia
Portland Oregon USA
Contact Phone Number: (503) 292-2622

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ellen Wants Liberia, America Relations Institutionalized

Source: The Heritage

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has called on the Government of the United States of America (USA) for the existing ties between Liberia and the USA to be institutionalized, Deputy Minister for Technical Affairs of the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Robert Kpadeh, has disclosed.

Relationship between Liberia and the United States of America can be traced far back to the cold war era, when Liberia among others served as a close ally to the allied forces of which the USA was an important part. The Cold War (often dated 1947–1991) was a sustained state of political and military tension between the powers of the Western world, led by the United States.
Making the disclosure regarding the President's call to the US Government at the Thursday, June 14, 2012 edition of the MICAT regular weekly press briefing, Deputy Minister Kpadeh stated that President Johnson- Sirleaf, on her recent ten-day official visit to the USA, made a strong case with the US Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs for an institutionalized relationship between the two countries.

Said Deputy Minister Kpadeh: "We do have a historic relationship with America, but President Johnson- Sirleaf this time wants that relationship to be more institutionalized."

Deputy Minister Kpadeh, who accompanied the Liberian leader on her ten-day official visit to the USA, added that during discussion in the USA, President Johnson-Sirleaf made it known to members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs that said relations should even extend beyond her tenure as Head of State of Liberia.

He  disclosed  that US Senate Committee Chair on Foreign Affairs, Senator John Kerry and members of his Committee assured the Liberian leader that efforts to institutionalize the US-Liberia relations was a positive move, adding that Senator Kerry and his Committee promised to lead the effort aimed at ensuring that the institutionalization of US-Liberia relationship is officially signed and operational.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Message to Political Party Leaders in Liberia

From:  Bernard Gbayee Goah
President, Operation We Care for Liberia

To: Political Party Leaders in Liberia

Subject: The TRC Final Report

Fellow Country Men,

The TRC report is a good chance for you all to save Liberia from this unwanted night mare that continues to threaten our survival as a people as well as our very existence as a civilized nation.
The TRC report stands as a resurrecting pillar of our failed state (Liberia).  If followed through, this pillar will uphold justice and truth for all Liberians. You all will agree with me that the TRC final report contains more than just accounts against perpetrators; the TRC's final report has given a complete picture of the gross human rights violations that occurred as a result of the horrible conflict that ripped our country apart.
The TRC final report is a synthesized document, a shared history if you will, that can allow us to have a deep understanding of our past; it gives insight into the perspectives of those who supported the destruction of our country and took the lives of so many as well as those who were victims in one way or another who have been left to tell our story.
The TRC final recommendations about reconciliation, rehabilitation, justice, and reparation purposely minimized the magnitude of crimes committed during the war by some of our current leaders, in an effort to open the door of acceptance to the implementation of the TRC. Yet, some of our current leaders have refused to move forward with the TRC's recommendations, choosing greed and pride over national interests.  Of course, this attitude got Liberia in this mess in the first place.
Implementing the TRC's recommendation is the only step our President can take to prove to the Liberian people that she puts the country first above everything else.  Unfortunately, she is instead inciting the Liberian populace to come against the TRC report as well as refuse to honor it in its entirety.  This is in stark contrast to what she alluded to at the inception of the TRC, which was that she whole heartedly supported its establishment, its continuity, and even suggested that she would respect the recommendations and implementation. Since the TRC's recommendations would exclude her from Liberian politics, it is now considered by her and her administration unacceptable, and against the peace and stability of Liberia. 
The TRC report would not destabilize Liberia, the act of not implementing it will.  The TRC offers very specific guidance on how to stabilize our nation through truth, justice, and reconciliation instead of retaliation.  The TRC report outlines ways in which we can cultivate a culture of human rights and build structures to ensure that the atrocities of the past do not reoccur. It also stresses the importance of healing as a nation through continued dialogue in an attempt to create one history and deter people from expressing their pain through violence.
Great men of Liberia, now that the TRC has done its part, we must ensure it is implemented. It is up to all of us, but mostly you, the elders and politicians who are in the spot light of national politics.  Your role is critical to the future of Liberia. It would be on your shoulders, should Liberia slip into the abyss of total destruction because of your refusal to work together for the common good. One thing you are able to do as a group is to move people to action, but unless you first unite and move them with emotion, they won't move at all. Once you have captured their hearts, you will have captured their minds.  But you as leaders must have a stronger relationship and connection with one another. Which of you will be the first to step forward and take responsibility for the future of Liberia?  I challenge each and every one of you to start a dialogue with your fellow politicians as well your fellow countrymen. Liberia's capacity to achieve its greatness will be determined by your abilities to unite, connect, and empower your people to act for their own good.
Robert Goisueta writes, "One thing you must all know is that leadership is one of the things you cannot delegate. You either exercise it, or you abdicate it." All of you are great leaders; therefore, I challenge you all to exercise your leadership by working together. Just as in sports, a coach needs a team of good players to win, a country needs a team of good leaders to succeed.
There are some who are very upset by the TRC report. Some sought to discredit it even before it was released to the public. They should not be allowed to succeed. They are aware that their points are meaningless, but until we stand up and remain steadfast in making sure that the TRC report is honored and implemented, they will continue to fight for the contrary. They will continue to test our courage to fight in favor of the TRC final report.
Fellow Liberians, let us accept the final report of the TRC as the way, an indispensable way, to healing our land, our people, and to bring unity and reconciliation, thereby casting off the shackles of history.
However, there are obstacles that must be overcome in order for progress to be made. Politicians must not seek to aggrandize themselves by claiming that only they know the solution to Liberia's immense problems. The problem in Liberia is compound complex and needs more than one head to come up with durable solutions. You all continue to say the same thing over and over without any action thought or mention of collective action.
It holds no weight if you individually support the TRC report.  Your power comes from your collective support of the TRC report.  Why have you all not come together to draft a document in support of the TRC report?  Who do we look to if not you?  The war scattered us as a people and we look to you to reunite us as a nation and as a political force, for the people are the government, are they not?
The world will respect such a document because it represents the voice of the people. But if hundreds of you run to congress everyday saying the same thing over and over, it becomes very difficult for even the US to work with any of you because you have not streamlined into one entity.  The US Congress is not a branch of the Liberian government, and we must make it as easy as possible to understand the true plight of Liberia and to assist us.
Do not allow your individual political ideologies or affiliations overshadow the pressing issues at hand.  Power cupidity will not solve the problems in Liberia. You all cry corruption, hardship, embezzlement, and the lack of rule of law in Liberia. But all of you continue to refuse to work together to solve these problems that are affecting the Liberian people.  Will you not step up to rescue this drowning nation?   
I hope this letter will serve as a conduit through which you all will be moved and decide to work together for the sake of the restoration of peace, reconciliation, justice and stability in Liberia. If there was ever a time in history that begged for you all to work together, it is now for Liberia is in grave danger!  
I hope to hear from you all as soon as possible.
Bernard Gbayee Goah
(503) 292-2622


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