Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Statement on the senseless shooting at Clackamas

Written by Bernard Gbayee Goah  - President, Operation We Care for Liberia
Personal contact #: (503) 292 2622

The senseless shooting at Clackamas Town Center and the violence at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut sadden our hearts today. The families of victims are in our prayers.

We believe that schools should be a safe place for all students, teachers and administrators. Let us not politicize this debate but instead create a dialog that creates a united front in the face of atrocities such as this.

All of us must help to stop these senseless killings and do everything within our power to keep students safe. Never should we become complacent when it comes to school safety and the safety of public spaces.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Open Letter to Liberia's Peace Ambassador, George Manneh Weah

Operation We Care for Liberia (OWCL) challenges Peace ambassador George Weah to do the right thing. OWCL's President Bernard Gbayee Goah calls on ambassador Weah to advocate for the establishment of a Liberian War Crimes Court as a fulfillment of his promise to the Liberian people.

His Excellency George Manneh Weah
Peace Ambassador
Republic of Liberia, West Africa

Dear Ambassador Weah,

I write you with the request that you share these thoughts with our people, and your people (the Liberian people):

It is incumbent upon you Honorable Ambassador, to speak out against injustices in Liberia. 
In my belief, it will be best in your capacity as Peace Ambassador, to seek peace through justice, reconciliation and unity amongst our people. 

History will judge how you exercise your duty during your service as Peace Ambassador. I therefore call upon you to influence the establishment of a Liberian war crimes court so that Liberia's war victims will receive justice.

Honorable Weah, I realize that among your peers, some voices are claiming that you have done the wrong thing by accepting an appointed position from the President. 
I know that you rightly value your relationship with your friends. Sadly, it is not always popular, especially in our home country Liberia, to advocate for justice that involves bringing our own fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters, close friends, and love ones to book for what they did, or may have done during the war. But for the sake of fair play, let justice be done to all. 

As a newly appointed peace ambassador by the President of the Republic of Liberia, it may appear embarrassing for you to demand that the President herself answer questions on allegation of war crimes. But Mr. ambassador, the question that must be answered is: What is more embarrassing than to see those who killed over 200,000 people walk freely across the country?  
Manneh, hide not your feelings, just as you did when you said the war in Liberia was unacceptable.  Hide not your feelings, just as you did when you called the United States to intervene to stop the war in Liberia while you were still on the soccer field of play in Europe.

You are undoubtedly aware that our next-door neighbor (Serra Lone) has done the right thing by bringing those who caused the destruction of lives and properties in that country to justice. To prove to us they have backbones, they even brought one of our own to justice and he is now in Prison. The people of Serra Lone demanded justice and they got it. We can do the same!

Been complacent about the little peace Liberia now enjoys as a result of the generosity of the United Nations, only to neglect a path that will bring greater and long lasting peace is a dangerous game to play. 

Mr. Ambassador, Steven Rap -
 former prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Head of the Office of Global Criminal Justice in the U.S. Department of State said the establishment of a Liberian war crimes court "is not a decision for the United States; not a decision for Steven Rapp. It's a decision for the people of Liberia". 

He said, "what happened in Sierra Leone is that after the end of the war, their President wrote with strong public support for a special court to be established to be a partnership with Sierra Leone and the United Nations".  Public support is the main phrase in the above paragraph. And you Honorable Ambassador, can easily get the support of the Liberian public on this issue.

Steven Rapp also said the decision over whether or not a war crimes court should be established in Liberia is not a decision for the United States of America to make but one the Liberian government will have to initiate in order for such court to become a reality. 

Once you get the support of the Liberian public, they can pressure themselves/government to cave in to their demands. To me, the Liberian government in this context means the people of Liberia; it means public support of the establishment of a Liberian War Crimes Court. That is why I want you Mr. Ambassador, to use your office to relay the need for our people to demand the establishment of such court in Liberia. After all, the people are the government aren't they?

As you are even more aware, Individuals who masterminded the killings of innocent Liberians to include the killing of those who influenced the successfulness of your soccer career are the judges in charged of running the affairs of the country today. Your advocacy to bring to book those who caused the deaths of over 200,000 innocent People, some of whom were your soccer fans, is an act of being a witness to your call as a just leader, and that you believe in fair play, and the rule of law. 
This is your chance to show who you are, and what you stand for during these difficult times of Liberia's political lifecycle. 

I know that you want freedom, a just and peaceful Liberia, where the rule of law will be the language of the day. I want you to know that the same justice you wanted when innocent Liberians were killed during these gone elections is the same justice we want for those who were killed for nothing during the course of Liberia's civil war. 
Now there you are, in just the right position to make a change, a positive change that brings lasting peace and justice to your people. Take advantage of it, and do the right thing.  

I like to bring to your attention that the foundation upon which any legal government must function is "The Rule of law". And such foundation, though on the books is greatly compromised today in Liberia. National reconciliation, economic recovery, the combat of corruption, good governance, transparency, and accountability cannot happen in Liberia if Justice is out of the equation. Without justice, effectively managing Liberia's natural resources, and the issue of land reform will be meaningless. That is why I ask that you use your position to influence the popular demand for the establishment of a Liberian War Crimes Court. Doing so would deter those who believe in running the affairs of Liberia using cowboy criterion that only favors might over right. I am of the conviction that once the rule of law is put into place in Liberia, all other good things will follow by default. 

Manneh, again, this is it! Do not let it slip from your hands. Make history like you did when you made us proud in the world of soccer yesteryears. Remember, it is now in your reach to tell your people to demand justice for their loves ones who were killed for nothing. 

Please let me know that you will by no means mind the deliciousness of an okra soup only to  swallow a bone. Take your time and do the right thing this time.

I hope to hear from you soon.
Respectfully yours,
Bernard Gbayee Goah
President, Operation We Care for Liberia
Personal Phone: (503)292-2622 
Personal Email:


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