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The presenter of First Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.
Chairman: at this stage of the hearings the commission is looking at the impact and the role of the institution in the crisis. We want to know the relationship of the people in the house and the people in the county. We also want to hear for the women, what happened to them, what they went through, and the recommendation they want for the women of the country. We can not also forget the youth for they are the future. They suffered a lot and we want to know their role what are their problems and their recommendations. The next one will be for the children, we want to hear from them what they went through and the recommendation. In this light we are happy to receive Nathaniel who is going to present for the youth of the county.
Presenter: "Reconciliation - the way forward to genuine peace in Liberia"
After more than 150 years of socio-economic and political decay, more than 10,000 Liberians took the street of Monrovia in 1979, in protest of the reduction of the price of rice. The demonstration led to the death of several Liberians and created serious economic problems which many believe is the turning point to the so-called peaceful Liberian which existed before 1979. Even though the Natie Sieh Brownell Commission constituted by the Liberian government to investigate the attribution of the demonstration found the government of Liberian in the wrong, violence remained prevalent in Liberia up to 1980 Military coup. Those who staged the coup claimed to have come to redeem us. Nevertheless, disgruntlement and discontent continue unabated. This precipitated the war that was acclaimed as "SENSELESS". Yet, the fighting of the senseless war continued up to 2003. The question of who is responsible for the problems in Liberia and why these problems continue to exist is lingering on the minds of many Liberians.
For the Maryland development association our approach is aimed at critically examining the causes of the problems with focus on district to districted approach as well as the county and country. It is note worthy to indicate that Maryland county witnessed massive destruction during the war.
The Pleebo Soloke District
The people of Pleebo Soloke District suffered major marginalization and economic deprivation. About 75% of the land in Pleebo is being occupied by plantations without just benefit for the people. Decoris occupied about 15,000 acres of land' CRC occupied more 15,000 acres; Libsuco occupied more that 10,000 acres. Concession agreements are normally between the central government and the company. There has been no room left for benefit for the people who owned the land for more 200 years. The people of Pleebo Soloke district have no land to farm on. They are reduced to tapping as long as they live as the means of survival. The rental and other taxes go directly to government farming is practical impossible in Pleebo.
The Barobo District has the largest forest in Maryland County and has produced several million dollars worth of logs to various companies but is yet to have farm to market road. The people of Barrobo are living in destitution.
The Karluway District continue to boast of been the second highest producer of logs but is yet to have a high school. People in Karluway district are living in destitution.
Despite the fact that Harper host the superintendent and all county officials, the issues of land dispute between the two chiefdoms continue to be the issue for central discussion. The Government for the past 30 years has failed to settle the Nyemonweh and the Konoweh land dispute. Currently there are consultations on the local level on the issue.
The war from 1980 - 2005
By 1980, the Liberian government was overthrow many Liberian believed at the time that the government was overthrown by 13 men but today an appreciable level of the population hold the view including the late Tolbert wife that the government was overthrown by the western power particularly America. Almost the entire cabinet was killed by the military junta which received about 500 million from the United States government.
On November 12, 1985 after the coup of Thomas Quionkpa, Mr. Everton Jah, Patrick Wreh, Bleede Saba and several Marylanders were arrested mad treated and taken to Grand Gedeh were they spent more than two months in prison for no justifiable reason.
In 1990, the superintended of Maryland County DY Hne was mercilessly beaten by Gio Devil of NPFL. The superintendent suffered internal bleeding and sight problem until his death. In 1994, S.K. Messeh was exterminated by the NPFL.
On September 12, 1994, Samuel Bloh martin and several Marylanders belonging to the Gedebo section were killed by the Liberian peace council Weteke Kalueway district. In 1995 Samuel Hodge, Marbel Jones, her four children, Janet Cooper, Clarence Cooper, Tolota were killed by the LPC with more than 100 innocent civilians were slaughter at the port of Harper, and in the city of Harper.
In 1995, the chief of middle town and several of his kinsmen were killed by the LPC. The structures of Marylanders County suffered major destruction as the result of the war. The city hall building, administrative building, museum and several private structures were burnt by the LPC. Why MODEL and NPFL are responsible for the looting. Former Gen. Moses Z. Blah of the N.P.F.L. looted the generator from the light house of Harper. The 1985 elections are considered in t he Maryland and Liberian history as one to the attributions to the death of many Liberian. in Maryland county it was clearly established that the local elections were rack. This of course created mistrust between the people and government. The 1997 elections were also not free.
In an effort to reconcile and further reintegrate our disintegrated body politics; it is pivotal that the government of Liberia allow the rental fees for all plantations to go to the land owners or country people. It is also important that the government issues deeds to the interior people for land they have squatted on for more than fifty years. It is also recommended that those who committed crimes against humanity should be brought to justice.
Questions from Commissioners
Chairman: would you please tell us a little bit about the Maryland development association?
PRESENTER: Well the Maryland Democracy Association is a pro-democracy group, in a sense that it speaks against those anti democratic issues, issues that have the propensity provoking chaos, that tend to hinder the progress of development, it speaks against corruptions and vices that leader to the retrogression of our society, that what the association is about.
When was it established?
PRESENTER: It was established about 8 months ago.
What is your position?
PRESENTER: I am the chairman of the Maryland Development Association.
What's the structure is like?
PRESENTER: We have the chairman, the vice chairman, and a clerk.
Remarks/questions from Audience
Comment: why other witness came here you did not allow the audience to ask them and now you are allowing the audience this presenter?
Chairman: this was because most of those people who were here were given their personal experiences and speaking about themselves what they know, what they saw and what happened to them but at this stage we are discussing issues and anything you say here is on behalf of a group or organization. This is why we call it thematic/institutional hearings and those before this were individual or victim/perpetrator hearings. And if people come and explain about themselves the audience does not be involve with them because everyone have their own individual experience. Is like if a rebel went to my house to take my take my things it does not means they also took your things different things happened to you and everyone differently.
You mentioned that there were a lot of massacre of in Maryland county do you have any cogent evidence of any those massacres that you mentioned?
PRESENTER: This issues the fact speaks for it self, the population of Maryland is a witness like the issue of Samuel Doe Martin on September 12 I was present I witness the issues of Samuel Hosh, the women are the facts they are here, the issue of Mabel Jones that were taken to port and slaughtered and her children the women are plenty the women are present the Marylanders are present. The testimonies of those witnesses are also evidences. I was not the only present when Samuel Martin was butcher from neck to foot. When the superintendent of Maryland County was being beaten here people were here they witnessed it. When the generator at the light house here was taken by the former vice president and president and then the rebel commander people here can testify it we cant lie we spoke on the bible they resolve the right to sue us we a cognizant of that. You see Harper city hall today it was burnt down by LPC, I need not to tell you that George Boley is the head of the LPC, our administrative building was burnt down by LPC, model looted Harper the people are here it is left with them to take us to court.
Chairman: Mr. Witness before you go forward we want to let you know that every statement or evidence given here can not be taken against you in any court of law accept that you concede an information needed by the commission or you law under oath. And witnesses coming to the TRC are protected by the TRC.
What would you estimate the number people killed here in Maryland County?
PRESENTER: No I can not give you estimate I cant remember the amount people killed I can name some of them you can take you sheet and pen; B. Y. Mehn superintendent of Maryland county beaten by Gio Devil of the NPFL he finally died while seeking medication in Ivory Coast, S.K. Mehnsay superintendent of Maryland county killed by the NPFL, Samuel doe martin, district education officer killed by LPC on September 12 1994, the chief for Rock town he had to traditional name that is hard to call, the chief for Middle town was also killed by the LPC, Janet Cooper a female educator, Mabel Jones a leading church leader, Claris Cooper district education officer, John Hilary Tubman they had more than 20 women on the cavalla high way your don't be scare your say it the woman was killed and everything were taken from her, so Mr. commissioner our recommendation is that those who committed crimes in keeping with international standards should not go with Impunity not masquerade the Liberian community with impunity too.
Commissioner Konneh: Would you tell us what organization you are presenting here?
PRESENTER: I am the chairman of the Maryland County Development Association we are youth oriented.
You mentioned something about plantation issues what about it. You are saying that there is no farm land reserve in Maryland County.
PRESENTER: Yes I like to use the issues of the people of Silikan as an example because that the last town before the plantation. Silikan in Pleebo district the people have no farm land a man is borne today met his grand father taping he will also pick up knife he has no farm land and he becomes an ordinary taper.
Which concession is that?
PRESENTER: The Cavalla Rubber Plantation in Silikan in that area there is no traditional reserve they don't have farm land. The government enters into concession with the company the rental fees are going to the government again instead of the local dwellers. If you deprive the entire Grebo people of their farm land then the rental fees should come to them. The second issues when Decoris was taken over 15000 acres they took a substantial portion of land from the people of Swaloken District Swalokan, New Swaloken, Bolokwen and all those areas the farm and thing the people had in the those areas were cut down and take forcibly most of them don't have farm land most of the tension in the southeastern region is the result of deprivation and marginalization. So if we will have to move towards lasting peace the remedy is that let the country have right to the rental fees since the government is already collecting taxes. I am clear Mr. Commissioner
I learnt that in 1982 July 12 this issue of sectorial struggle over land was resolve would like to comment on that?
PRESENTER: Mr. commissioner I am crystal clear on the issues, not only this county administration other previous count y administration have been mysterious in addressing this land issues, as I speak to you now the people wont be down there talking about it, there is a conference in the city major office. The superintendent earlier came up with a demarcation but the other groups are of the view that that decision was not fair. So government inability to adequate address the issues telling the man say this is your deed for this place so anytime you attempt to bring out problem government will only send people to you and say and any one going into violation will be trouble with government.
Commissioner Coleman: what's the membership strength of this organization, what you are saying is it in line with more 50%of the youths here?
PRESENTER: Well the Maryland County Development Association being on the list to present these testimonies is a clear indication that we are recognize , I don't want to be statistical. In the 4 districts here we have leadership.
Would you kindly reflect on the series of elections here like from the 1985 to 2005 how was it here?
PRESENTER: There were multiplicity of problems in the 2005 elections there was an appreciable level, you won't rule out minor discrepancy but like 1997 elections was conducted there was lots of apprehension. You the terrain we lived in 1997 you know it, the timing in elections is ok. Elections should settle serious political issues elections should emancipate the people from the dungeon of socio-economic enslavement. Elections should be free to the extend that if a man is going to vote he should not be free that somebody is going to hunt him tomorrow. It should in a way that a man should not be coerce to vote for someone. If all these factors were alluded to in your view them one could say that the 1997 elections was could marked fair.
Were the different fighting groups here recruiting children?
PRESENTER: That NPFL came here first, it had the small boy unit under 18, LPC, model also came with children all recruited from all around. It was at the will and pleasure of the parents.
Commissioner Syllah: how have these things imparted the lives of young people in Maryland County?
PRESENTER: You know before the war young people from 17 to 18 were out of high school. At 22 they in the employ of government but the war created a serious educational gap now you can see a young man going to 25 to 30 still going to high school especially for human resource development which has an adverse effect on the overall proximity. You know things happened here, when NPFL came after the superintendent was being flog that's the right word because that what they did to him they reduced our superintendent he said you are freedom fighters and if so you should not be doing what you are doing to our people and that's how the superintendent was flogged and later they left the county. There was a problem on who should take over the county I mean in terms of civilian leadership so Taylor left gen. Moses Blah in control of the county and the reward for that was to take the generator that was place here at the light house, since blah acted as acting superintendent and general at the we have not seen our generator. I am sure in the human flesh if Blah was called he will say that was a mistake on his part.
Commissioner Washington: you said Moses Blah should come to apologize to the people of Maryland County for what you say?
PRESENTER: Oh for taking the county light house generator. I like to be clear when Moses Blah was in the county I did not see him holding guns, but it came to looting it was the NPFL and model and our generator was taken by former general Blah. Let him come and say I am sorry for taking the generator it is simple we will accept it. We never invited rebels against their selves Maryland used to be one of the peaceful counties in Liberia.
What was the size of the generator that was taken?
PRESENTER: It is that very big generator it used to provide light for the light house since then I am not sure if the current ever came up one day.
What is the population of this county?
PRESENTER: The recent census conducted by DRC they put it at 150,000 and the youth constitute not less than 65%.
Commissioner Stewart: how many plantations you have in this county you are talking about?
PRESENTER: You have the palm plantation by Decoris, Lusico the sugar company, CRC we are talking about pretty close to 50,000 acres of land the place is not big you can tour the entire Pleebo district in 15hours. The people are not receiving anything all goes to the government. Those company have no social responsibility to the locals but the issues of Silikan remains a hope the people of Silikan don't have land to farm they are reduced to taper perpetually if your father is a taper you will have to become a taper and tomorrow the grand son becomes a taper and it goes on and on.
What the population of the Pleebo district?
PRESENTER: At about 50 thousand only one government high school.
Are there any NGOs around these areas?
PRESENTER: Yes the NGOs are doing extremely well
What has the legislature being doing about these issues?
PRESENTER: Yes the legislature has been very articulate of the citizens' view but there is a need for improvement on the local administration. You see the issues of land dispute now is the government incapability to institute proper rule and may be the result of the century of misrule if you declare a place as a township you must be able to give the deeds out. Give the man the deed for the land that he has, the country people had been squatting one ht eland for more than 150 years with out deeds.
Recommendation: we think the way forward is restorative justice is the remedy to lasting peace in Liberia and we also want to encourage the population to support saying the right thing.
Institutional/Thematic Hearings Harper City, Mary land County
The Maryland Women Association
Presentation made by: Sussana W. Hne
The presenter of Second Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.
Chairman: We want to say welcome and thank for coming to represent your association. We are to treat the issue of woman and children special and such we welcome you to the TRC of Liberia. You can now go ahead with your presentation.
Presenter: "Reconciliation - the way to peace and development in Liberia"
For more than one hundred years, the rights of women were violated. Worst of these years was the period from 1990 to 2004.
During the period under review, women suffered brutal violations. These violations include insults, harassment, death rape and adoption, looting. These violations were perpetrated by the Arm Forces of Liberia, the NPFL, the LPC and the MODEL.
In March 1990, a group of arm men belonging to the Arm forces of Liberia under the command of Combat Nayou harassed a truck load of local commodities belonging to some women of the Liberian Marketing Association in Karloke Maryland County and made away with all the goods. Since such incrustation, harassment against women became the order o the day.
During the period under review all factions carried out similar acts which increased the poverty rate among women. Whenever harassment was carried, like combat Nayou soldiers insulted women.
The killings of women were also prevalent during the war. In 1995 Bay Natt a leading business woman of the Liberian Marketing Association and more than twenty women by the LPC on Cavalla Highway and all their belongs taken. Similarly in the same year at the Free Port of Harper Mabel Jones her four children and several women were killed by the LPC.
On September 12, 1994 Samuel Martin the District Education Officer for Karluway District and several women were eliminated by LPC in Gedebo Weteke.
Again in 1995 Jenet Cooper a female educator her husband and her son with more then 50 women were killed in Harper by the LPC. In Pleebo Maryland County, during the NPFL recapture for LPC more then 75 women were killed.
Rape was very prevalent during the period under review. Women were forced into sexual intercourse with soldiers belonging to the various factions against their well. Some women were forced to marry men they were not interested in. In 1994 Anna Cooper an outstanding female was raped by Colonel Strutor of the NPFL.
The burning and looting of buildings both private and public have left many women homeless and very poor. Most of the houses that were burned in the city of Harper and other towns in Maryland County were burnt by the LPC while NPFL are responsible for the looting. Even though the rights of the women were violated, we can not remain in war. We are obliged to promoting peace and reconciliation which is the recipe for development. As we work together in achieving peace it is hereby recommended that:
?women empowerment ( gave women micro-credit)
?Shelter (build housing units for women)
?Education (provide education at all levels for women free)
?Medical Concerns (due to the rape that went on and other sexual related violations we want the government and other international organizations to build medical facilities that will cater to the various medical problems faced by the women) these should be the priority of the government of Liberia and the international community at all levels.
Questions from the Commissioners and the Audience:
Chairman: thanks you for the information you have just supplied even though you were given just short notice. At this point we will take any comment and questions from the audience and the Commissioners.
Eva L Dossen: For the first time I been sitting here, the first girl made mention about child soldiers, but in your presentation I never heard you talking about the children going around taking wood and other things. What the government
Garmonyou Wilson from Inquirer News: Right now the government of Liberia is empowering women, is any of that benefit coming to the women of Maryland?
Isaac Weah: I have a little comment which is during the war went lot of factions came and most of the children they use were born by children and the children right were violated, they were carrying arms and they were affected by the war.
Charles W. Dorbor Sr. in her statement I didn't hear something about what happened to the women because the soldier we are talking about had children by these women by force.
Victor N B Walker Sr.: exactly what the women wrote I will like to add that during the crisis, women took the places of men and they were the bread winners. They suffered a lot as the only are of survival the women use to get food from was the Ivory Coast and my wife was a seamstress and in the Ivory Coast she fed us by the strength of her sewing machine as she use to go from village to village to survive. I was depending on her for everything as there was no work to do. When she came and things were not done rightly she will talk to the children and I will feel it for I was part of the family and could contribute. In the Ivory Coast women use to go and get issue from WFP and they use to cross the border at night to bring the food.
For the things that went on against women, children were also involved. The thing that happened to you happen to your children. Some of the children were raped and some of them drowned in the war. Our female children were rapped and they suffered a lot.
What about the assistance from the government, have you gotten any?
Reginald Washington: as for the loan we did not get any here in Maryland, we are just going through the process. Most of the time the women in Monrovia there will gather themselves and say they are Maryland women. And our senator came and said what is happening and we said we are together and there is nothing happening and she went to Monrovia and said she will do something. And the paper we are presenting now was too jamming that is why we did not present all the things.
Commissioner Konneh: we have a national slogan "we want peace no more war" so it is not surprising that you women said you were contacted in short notice and you put this paper together. We want you people to stand by that slogan we want peace no more war. If there is any problem we should dialogue and solve the problem and not to resolve to fighting. Thank you for you submission.
Commissioner Coleman: thank you for the submitting in the short, but I want you to take up the time and better prepare the submission so that it can be submitted to us litter for review. I am interested in the issue of child Traficant, the issue of child labor, we want to know how prevalent is this issue, the issue of rape should also be mentioned for we want to get to know all this. We want to know about women care for the war has left a lot of women without husband.
Commissioner Washington: thank you very mush I thought it was a job well done in a very short notice. And the statement you read should be signed. Are you people part of SEWODA?
One of the SEWODA women is here; I am Valaria B. Samade a member of the South Eastern Woman Association.
Commissioner Stewart: thank you very much for the presentation and want to commend you for the courage. You have taken the roles of your husbands. What I want you to do for us is, in you institution you should get information on the women that were raped and what could be done to help them and what could be recommended to the government of Liberia so that they can be assisted. You the women have to gather the strength and courage and make a lot of noise so that the government can carry out the recommendations that will be put forward by the commission.
Chairman: I want to join my colleague to say thank you for what you have done and also that you should prepare better you presentation and all that you left should be included so that we can review it.
I want to say something about the killing business, the Gboyo (ritualistic killings), before the best way of bringing it out is by bringing the country doctor out to see the person who did the act, but the government say they should not do it again so this is way killing is rampant and nothing can be done about it. The last time they killed a watch man and said it was thieves. During the Allen Yancy time they brought a woman out from Grand Gedeh and they wanted to kill her and the man who was responsible for it was in Monrovia and we went to the Old woman and she show the man in the mirror and the people arrested him in Monrovia, the same thing about Anderson happened and it was the witch woman who show him up, she said it was a white man and they were able to get him. Now the government stopped all this and the killing is rampant, as such we want the government to give Marylanders chance so that they can continue this so that all the people can not finish in the county.
Institutional/Thematic Hearings Harper City, Maryland County
Presentation by Senator Gloria Musu Scott
The presenter of the Third Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.
At this stage we want to recognize the present of our Senator Gloria Musu Scott.
Chairman: Again Senator we want to welcome you and thank you for taking time out of your basic schedule to come to the Hearings of the TRC, this has shown the relationship between the TRC and the Legislature. All of this is part of the mandate of the Commission in that Institutional Reforms is part of what we are supposed to be investigating. The TRC has left Monrovia and is moving out into the counties and we are happy that you are the first government official to appear before the Commission is assisting us carry out our work. We thank you for coming.
Senator Scott: Thank you very Mush, My name is Gloria Maya Musu Scott, I am a citizen of Maryland County, my parents went to Monrovia and I was born in Monrovia. In your letter, you gave me a topic to talk about the relationship in my constituency but what I really would like to talk about is maybe what you might call what contributed to the situation we find ourselves in as a nation today. In my mind I believe is the reason for this whole nation to disintegrate. I believe in my mind the reason for that is because a section of the population felt excluded. They felt excluded from opportunities, from benefits from everything. They felt they were onlookers, they felt they didn't own the country. So that is why it was easy to destroy public buildings, to kill ourselves. I call ourselves because initially we were two groups separate but over the years we became one group of people, but we didn't recognize each other as one group of people, because the line of demarcation could be seen easily. This is why I believe for the work of the TRC to be really meaningful and long lasting we have to find a way to deal with issues that divided us, that erupted in to the 1979 rice riot, that erupted into the coup d'etat and why it was so easy for the youthful population to become what you may call killers. It was so easy for them to listen to the rhetoric and for them to get so moved and driven to destroy ourselves. I think the TRC should go beyond 1979.
The situation that came from our history is still with us today and is even worse. What held us together as a people, we stop respecting our tradition and culture and we stop practicing the positive aspect of our culture and tradition. In other West African Countries, the traditional leaders are respected and are held in high esteem. It is recognize by the government and is recognize by everybody. So that keeps the people together. They have something to look up to; they have something to define them. We don't have a culture, we are trying to be western, and we are not western. At the same time right now the Liberians as we are, we are not traditional we are not cultural. So we just a lost youthful population looking for something to hold on to but the center is not there anymore. The centre is no longer holding, the centre is no there anymore, so I thing as a people we should begin to put back those landmarks, those traditional landmarks to find a way to give respect to our culture and traditional people.
Even to the family, like I was saying to a young man as we were getting on the flight, even some of us who are leaders today, you look at our family lines there is nothing, so we not even role models for the youth, as to those family values, those things are so very important as a result it is the norm these days to be very corrupt. If you had a government position before and you don't have a mass wealth, you are considered as been stupid, but if you had a lot of wealth, they say you were smart. It is the norm now to do things outside the established way of doing things. From the business community to the government agencies to the church to the schools it is the norm not to do things properly. So if you ask me how we can remedy this, what is the way forward, I think the way forward is with each of us. We start in our homes with our children; we begin to bring them up in the fear of God. Whether we call him Allah, whether we call him Jesus Christ we need to have, for we know that we are not only accountable on earth, but in another life that exercises restraint on you to make sure that you live your life in keeping with established principles. And through that you will have people who will be taking over the mentor of this country with those principles because they are universal principles where as thy shall not steal is universal, thy shall not kill is universal, respect for constituted authority is universal they cover all cultures, so this basic fundamental principles that keep a society together we need to instill it in our homes, in our various organizations, religious organizations, the schools, we need to do that.
And like I said before, we need to start to give stature to our chiefs and our elders and they themselves need to develop that self esteem, because before when we were going out, when a chief enter somewhere, you knew that it was a chief. You knew a chief had entered and you knew that you had to give him the respect. But these days the chief will come to the superintendent office many days and he will not see him and he will be walking and going back and forth and he cant get his little check, not only the elders in Maryland, it is throughout the country. As I was thinking about it I said we need to repair the chief palace on Camp Johnson Road where the president used to consult the chiefs on national issues. And when they came to Monrovia, not necessarily they had to stop with relatives, they had a place to live and that place was been maintained by the government. We need to repair that building, it is still there on Camp Johnson Road so that they can be respected and they can feel a part of this whole national affairs.
I could go on talking, a lot has happened in our country. I don't want to get personal as to what happened to me that could be volumes. From growing up, the real situations that erupted and I got friends who can admit for both sides, to say indeed we did this. Some of my pears will say what I use to see my parents do wasn't correct, so I knew at some point in time these things would have broken down. And even we from the traditional side, like I told somebody when they went to collect the taxes, the Congor people ware not the Red Cap, it was us, we put the chefs in the sun and said bring me goat, as soon as you gave us a little bit of power, we went overboard. So all of us contributed to this thing and there were times that when some of us were given a little authority, we wanted to prove that we belonged with the status quo at that time and went overboard. These things happen, and these things cause us to be where we are today. There are small small things we can do to correct it. Like you go to apply for a job, one time I saw a form and it had your tribe, I don't know if that is necessary, to say what tribe you come from, infact I saw when I was at the Justice ministry and they were bringing the statistics for crimes that have been committed, when you are arrested they will ask for your tribe, and I wonder why is this necessary. If you add nationality I can understand but your tribe, these small small things maybe that is how people said the Bassa people are rogues (laughing) because maybe when they did the statistics most of the rogues were Bassa people, you know this will create a stigma, but those are the things we got to look out for. So basically I really don't have much to say except that we as a people should be conscientious. We should stop generalizing; if one person does something we should not ascribe it to the larger group. If the Grebo person does something you say this is what the man did and the Grebo people are Gboyo people. You say the Kpelleh are stupid because they are humble and love to live freely with people. I told somebody one time that it is because of the stupidity of the Kpelleh that make them plenty. I think they are the largest tribe, they have survival instinct that is way they are many. We the Greebo we have plenty and we always fighting war, we do not have a Kpelleh war in history of Liberia, but you hear the Grebo war the Kru war you heart the Gola war and so we not too many. You have to learn to live with people. We have to stop stigmatizing people and tribe. So basically that is all I have to say, and I must say congratulation to the TRC for coming way out here at least you have taken the TRC to the people, you coming to the people to listen to them but maybe you don't see too many person because most of the Liberians when you talk to them, they will say after that what happens? It is a question of poverty now. Maybe if the TRC had come when people were a little relax, they not worry about their food, their living and their children, you would have heard a lot, but right now, they are saying they are not even carrying the people to court, so while waist my time. What benefit, they will not reward me or compensate me, so why waist my time to go over there, the thing has happened and is behind us, that's the mood, that is why you don't see this place packed. There are a lot of things that happened here people were slaughtered in their homes, I think you see a lot of building burnt here, they were burnt in their homes, and people came and give these testimonies.
A lot of things happened here, even in the interior part. But right now it is the question of survival so that is how things are, so thank you for coming and thank the people for coming to give their testimonies. I think we the leader we have to set the example because the issue of impunity, there is the question of how to go forward, because the Liberians are resilient people. if what had transpired here in Liberia had transpired in Europe, you will have a lot of people killing themselves. It is not happening here because we are a people fill of humus and when we sit discussing what the people did to you and we laugh about it, it becomes fun but at that time if wasn't funny, but is how we get over our trauma and some of us indeed are traumatize but we find our own way of getting over with our trauma. So thank you for the opportunity. And I say thank you to the church for I see some religious people on the TRC and the church has played a role, it has helped some of us to come up in good manner. When somebody says forgiveness is divine, it is really divine for forgiveness is a very difficult thing, but that is the only way you can go forward. You have to let go, you can't carry it with you. So the Religious organizations will have a role to play and it is a huge role and I hope they realize that they have a role to play and they help us to overcome all of this, so thank you for the opportunity.
Questions from the Commissioners and the Audience:
Chairman: Thank you for your presentation, you have talked about the institutions and that is a part of our work for it is in our constitution. At this stage the audience and the Commissions will ask you few questions for some clarifications.
Garmonyou Wilson from the Inquirer news: what have you contributed to make sure that the Marylanders come out to participate in this process for you said there are a lot of atrocities to be told in this area?
Alfred Chea Daily Observer News Paper: Senator Scott, I believe that your appearance before the TRC is an indication of your respect for the institution, in this light I would want you to go into your personal situation whether in or outside of Maryland during the Liberia crisis.
Oretha Kyne: I want to say thank you to the Senator that we were jam to put our information together but plenty thing happen in our county which we did not mention and we will do it.
Daniel S Wilson: a member of an interest group. I am happy to se you here. It is a nice thing that there were people elected on the traditional council of this county, what is the forum for induction the people into office. I want the people to get in contact with you so that you can talk to the president about this and we want to know when the people will be inducted into office. Three or four days ago I told the people about meeting you and you are here and you mentioned the chief compound on Camp Johnson I road you talk of renovating it, I am happy you said that. Thank you that is all I have to say.
Senator Scott: my brother from Inquirer first wanted to know what I have done to support this process and what I have done to make sure this place is filled with people. You will notice that I came up stares very late, because we were down stairs discussing a matter. Like I told you there are two cultures here operating in Liberia, and right now there is a clash of culture. Our people have their town way of dealing with issues. They have their own way of keeping harmony, they have their own way of healing, and they have their own way of doing things. Like I told you, this is the impression with them because at the end of the day they will tell you that somebody died it is true we lost the person, but if I continue to hold it will the person come back? And they have their own traditional way of dealing with this. And maybe in Monrovia we talk about poverty and the poverty the people experience here my brother you can't deal with it, to take them from their daily lively hood finding a meal to eat. Maybe if there were vehicle to go down into Kaluea, Baribo and even into Pleebo they would have come. is so much and you can not get the people from their villages to come her for the hearings. It is expensive to bring the people here; as such it is a question of poverty. If the TRC want to hear all the stories, it has to go to all the people, and maybe the mandate of the TRC has to be longer, because to go to the people takes long time and I think you are here for only four days. For Maryland County as small as it is, four days are not enough. Because you should have gone from here to Pleebo and from Pleebo to Kaloke and from Kaloke goind to Barobo maybe you will hear stories and maybe you need to do that in all the counties. But you only come in the provisional capital and stay several days, people will not walk to come here.
Chairman: What happening now is a combination of activities in all the counties there were a lot of statements taken and out of the many there some that were selected for the Hearings process and all of those that were suppose to appeared for the hearings process, we went and collected them and they are here.
Senator Scott: but congratulation, that is how it is suppose to be. And then the second question is about my personal life during the war. I can say to you that in a way I am blessed because when they say someone Tabie never saw it. I don't know how a tabied person look like I only heard people describe it. I saw a lot of dead bodies but to see somebody shot or executed, I never saw it. But if I tell you about suffering, been reduce to like you never handle one grass hoper like people say before, I experience it. When you talk about my children been malnourished until their hair turned orange, I experience this. When you talk about walking three days to look for food, I experience it. When you talk about carrying things on my head, palm oil, pepper, to go sell and look for food for my family to eat I experience this. When you talk about a child dying, because after selling in the market and a child the youngest amongst us was sick and I bought dehydration salt and multi-vitamin tablets to come and gave it to the child, walking fast just to come and save that child's life, and by the time I got there the child was dying, and all the jaws had lock, I had the medicine but the child could not take the medicine and the child died. This is why I always advocate that when you have a problem, sit and discuss it war doesn't solve any problem. We suffered because of the war, we were not combatants, but we were among the civilian population that suffered. Going without food for days seen my children begin to swell, seen my relatives begin to swell like a balloon, I experienced that. My father died because of lack of medication, I had to walk three to where my father was and he died because there was no medication and I did not have the first sent. They were selling tablets five dollars for one and I couldn't find it. I did not have the money to buy it, this story is what I have like someone said every Liberia has a story.
My son, I always tell this story, my second child we were hungry and no food, we had no shoes and so my grand mother will collect all the broken bottles and put it my the palm tree and right there was a tree growing and it had just started to turn yellow and my son was hungry he had not eaten but he was short, he was eight years old, he took a stick to pick the purpur and he went jumping because when it is not ripe it is hard to drop so he missed the log and he came down on the broken battles and it just went in his foot, he just kept bleeding and I did not have one sent to by a tablet. And by the third day his hair turned orange because he was on the border line. The stories like I told somebody, even my childhood, I am a mate between the Congor and the country, even my father came from here finish eight grade and went to Monrovia and a lot of things happened in between, he married this lady from Grand Bassa County we called a Congor woman so the family was coming together with Congor. A lot of things happened so I say I don't want to go back there; you know it is good for us to go forward. I told somebody this and they said why I said it, my real first name is not Gloria, it is Maya, that's my name I am named after my grand mother. But when I started school my last name was Maya Musu and when my name is called every body will bust up and laugh and when there is recess, the children will chant behind me, her first name that man name and her second name that woman name (laugh) and I would just go into my shell. I use to hate going to school because I would be ridiculed because of my name. by the time I went to live with my father, and I met my step mother and she asked me what is your name and I told her it was Gloria still it was a problem, I went to CWA the same thing, what kind of name is that, every day you have to explain about your name. you know those were the little things that cause problems, and we are beyond it now because we were children, and I must say that at CWA we had one teacher, we were in the seventh grade, there were division in the class, people grouped together who had like names, so one teacher told us, she was a home room teacher, she is dead now, she said when I come in this class I want to see the desk arrange properly. I don't want to see your pulling the desk apart. These children who you all are laughing at their name tomorrow you never know what they might be. You never know where you will meet them, so when I come here to call role, I don't want anybody laughing at anybody name. So you see the role teachers played, because the teacher took that stands, so it is a lot of things and they are behind us, so if we will document it, for me those things they are important because I was a child and it had an impact on my life, but there are other issues that are very important in our history people keep talking about the Fernando Poe situation, so today there are people in cape Verd that were victims of that situation. Liberians are there till today, I am told that if you go there and here the tribes of Liberia, they are spoken in the pure form, they still speak the language there. There are so many other situations that happened. the D12 issue, the Grebo war, the Kru war, Sase Town war, all of those things that happened if we want to really want to solve this problem, we have to solve it holistically, somebody told me that if we to know why people don't to come out to the TRC is because if this is documented, it will create the impression one hundred years from now that it is only the indigenous Liberians that committed atrocities. Because the atrocities back then will not be documented, so history will only record the indigenous Liberia on what you call vengeance, that what I called it. So that is some of the criticism out there. What was done to the indigenous will not be recorded. It is from 1979 and most of the major actors were decedents of the indigenous but the atrocities committed against the indigenous will not be recorded. So those are the criticism against this whole process.
Chairman: I want to comment here, the act says we should review the history and bring out those things that need to be corrected and if anybody has anything from the past they can say it.
Commissioner Konneh: there is no war without a curse or effects. One of the root causes of the war is land issue, so what is been done about the issue of the land in this county? The young man who came here talked about the land issue.
Senator Scott: The whole land issue there is a different dimension to it. There is a multi situation of man where one seller making multi sale of a land and there is another issue of the traditional people own concept of land ownership as against the western concept of land ownership. Our traditional people believe that believe that the land is God given and it is for them they are the custodian they don't need to hold a piece of paper for it to say this I my land. So even if people coming to them with papers and that to put their tomb prints on anything, they understand stand it as these people are coming to live with us. I don't know if the other tribes are like that, but I have people from my quarter the Doboko quarter who has no blood relations but they are our family today because they came to that part of Maryland and they went to the head of the quarter ands said I want to be with your. Some of them are not even from Maryland County. But today they are Grebo people and they carry my grand father and my father name they part of the Musu family. That's how we live and they also have rights to the land, the only time you will be told where you come from when you start to insult the hierarchy of the quarter, when you want to take advantage of them, then you will be reminded where your grand father came from, that you are not part of them. But as long as you follow the rules, the norms, the whole family will defend you. And so they believe that this section of the bush is for this quarter and so many quarters makes up a clan and makes up chiefdom. But the western side when they draw those little things and even today to buy land and outing your tomb prints, they do not understand it as you owning it forever, and this is the clash. There are parts of Maryland County where the children can be nothing but tapers, for the people were farmers, but they have no land to farm anymore, and then non high schools, nothing, so the only thing they can ever be is tapers. So that is why you see a lot of them in Monrovia, in Pleebo trying like the same thing my father did, looking for greener pastures, trying to advance yourself, if you some ambition but lot of them just gave up. They just live and die in poverty, and this is a breeding ground for future problems. If we don't solve the land issue in this part of Liberia, I think in the interior part, land is the basis for wealth, land is the basis foe status, if you landless, then you nothing. So we as a people we have to deal with the land issue. Look at it from all sectors, even coming to minerals, government own all the land, government own all the minerals and you are onlookers and they are digging up the villages looking for gold, looking for diamonds, and when you ask the person say I pay taxes to the government, go and ask your government. Those kind of issues, we as legislators we need to deal with them so TRC can highlight it will help to reinforce those of us who want to raise the issue
Commissioner Coleman: what do you think is the way forward?
Senator Scott: Thank you, that is a very important question, like you say, let me just correct it, I am interested in tribe, I had a fried she always use to say why are you always interested in lapper suit she had a problem with that, so I told her I said we have a dress code as lawyers so a lest when I am not in it, let me be who I am, sorry to use the word, but I am a country women, so let me show it, I am proud of being Grebo or being an indigenous person, but what I am saying is that you stigmatize people because of their tribe. Like I said why should the police ask for your tribe, it is personal. I admire the people from the sub region, our neighbors. When they are getting ready to get marry, they go to their village, when they are ready to name their child they go the village. When their relatives or their parents died they carry them to the village to burry them, and if you go to their village, it is a city. Because of that any holiday, New Year and other occasions are taken ton the village. That is why sometimes when I see women throwing their lapper on the cars I say to myself I would have been a part of them, but for the grace of God. That ois what age does, when I was younger it was easy but as I have gotten older I learned not to throw the baby outside with the bath water. There are some good things in our haisory that we can build upon, and like I keep saying, we are a whole nation, we learn the experiences and we tell ourselves we can do them no more. These young children that are coming up, you need to ask the superintendent of Maryland County what he is going through. These kids that we are having now, you think you can manipulate them? These people who minds are open and they know how to agitate. You can try but you will not get it like you did it then in the 40s and 50s and 60s. This is a whole new different terrene it is different and it will never be the same, that is what I believe. Liberia will never be the same as it was before, anybody thanking that is dreaming. So those good things in our history we need to build upon them.
Commissioner Syllah: thank you for the presentation, how can we achieve the family values you talked about?
I graduated from college before coming here, we should let our children learn our languages and our culture for it had a lot of benefits. As a leader it is good to live by example, the youth today are looking for role model. The culture of unity and bringing us together has to be learnt and those values form the bible are considered universal values by me and we should learn them for us to go forward. The kind of policies and decisions we make will bind us together or will throw us apart. I sometimes tell my pears that at times we need to come together and discuss as a group and colleagues. Chinua Achebe said the centre no loner holds, there are lot of things that needs to be put together. We have a responsibility of showing the youth that we can come together. Let them see that prospect that we can make and we can settle our differences.
Commissioner Washington: thank you for coming and making the presentation. The women here presented despite the short time given them. They talked about the issue of rape which the say is still prevalent today and happens to girls under age. What mechanism are you potting together to relieve them women of the county?
The first thing is to get the witness is very difficult because the try to protect the children and this is making the situation worse. The procedure is also difficult in the court in that the issue has to be public and rape is a private crime and so you need a hospital that can handle this case, you need to prove that there was a penetration and if even it is done you need to know who did that. In the legislature we are discussing how to admen the rape law.
Commissioner Stewart: there need to be respect for the rule of law, we at the TRC are documenting, the history given to us was not complete, so if do not document what he what we have and what we know, a time will come that we will not know about these things again. I want to know how you intend to put this problem to a rest, what will you do to resolve this issue of the land? How do you thing the county legislative caucus can come together to solve this problem?
Senator Scott: Thank you, I really didn't want to go there because when you are doing conflict resolution, it is not the proper thing to make statement, because I even think in the Kenyan crisis, I think Kofi Anan made a statement somewhere prematurely and the other side, the government said he was loosing his impartiality. But like you said, I too can tell the story, one chief collaborated with the settlers here and killed up the other side and I think defected them, so that has manifested itself into today boundary dispute, and it is from generation to generation. How do we settle it, and you talking about the historical perspective on my own I met a journalist and I told him that there is a lot of history that is not been recorded with the Maryland County we started our own project but it didn't go far, if not for my own grand mother who started telling me stories that firestone brush to plant rubber, so she remember a lot of things, but we need to document these things, but maybe when we document them and get to the root cause then people will say where are they coming from, when you get to the history of the two people and how they are indeed the same people, you will begin to ask yourself but what are we fighting over, so history is important, not only history of the controversy, but history as a people. Because then we will find what bind us together. Then together we can set aside what divide us. Because we will discover that more things that bind us as a people then that which divides us.
The land issue in Maryland is a serious issue, very serious, our people, and our indigenous people take land as a very serious matter. And we are making approaches to the central government, so I wonder to myself if that is the way to solve it. Because like the Youmuweh and Kumuweh issue, I understand one of the former superintendent decided that this is the boundary, but one side is not satisfied, so it is the question of harmony, living together reasoning together. Because like in my area between us and River Gee, the people from River Gee say they have a document, so I ask somebody, I have been trying to get that document and I can't get it. So I said what does the document say, and he said the document say even though there is a river there it is the political boundary but the government also recognize the traditional boundary. And I said there has to be one boundary, if the traditional boundary is more important then it is the boundary, because the people who are living there are traditional people, this is what they recognize. But what has happened over the year, even dividing us up into counties is wrong, if john knows me and he is the president of Liberia and he say he wants me in the senate then he take my position and because there is no way for me to be in the senate in Maryland so he carry potion of Maryland to River Gee that is what happened to Webo, Webo was in Maryland County. But to accommodate somebody in the legislature because those days it wasn't election necessarily, it was caucus so that is how that proble came and in no time it surface because as soon as the people realize that they were Grand Gedeh they were not Maryland no more, then the issue of the land came. But before that time there was no issue of land, they were just living together. They were one people, sometimes when I thing about it and they say how to solve the problem, I say maybe we should stop this thing about county and we should go back to provinces. Where it will be easy to go backward and forward, like it was before. Like I say, for history there are some things, maybe the people abuse it, there are some things that have some logic, because we the same culture, we the same people, then I call myself Maryland County and the other person call themselves River Gee and the other Grand Gedeh and this keeps staring up the people and now you recognize yourself as a political being and not a traditional being, or a Liberian person. Really we need to have a national debate on the land, I don't want to let the cat out of the beg, but a senator and myself are working on something at lest where we can attack initial aspect of the land, not the traditional aspect, where we found out that most of the lands cases, the surveyors are not party to the action, but no land can be sold without the surveyors, if he doesn't survey the land nothing can be sold, if he doesn't prepare the deed no transaction can go on. So we need to criminalize his behavior. The multiple sale, he and the seller, we need to criminalize them, and if it can be proven that the purchaser is not an innocent purchaser, the act can be criminalize and the document we are working on now, the first offence is billable but the second offense no bill. Because in my practice of law I see this man use to work around with his bone in his beg (laugh) every time I arrest him he will flash his bone. And that is the law, he goes free. The next time he got another bone in his beg, you arrest him and carry him to the city court he flash his bone and he is gone. There is some weakness in the system, like you talk about the rule of law; we need to strengthen this bone system. But to answer your question about the land issue, I think we need the historical perspective. We need to understand who we are as a Greebo people, and I sit with the old people and they tell me the story but we really need to document it. I don't know where the money will come from, but it needs to happen with every tribe. When we know our origin then we will know that all the fuss that we are making is for nothing.
Chairman: Thank you for coming before the TRC, this is the show that we are al working for the unity of our country and restore peace in this country again, before you leave if there is anything last that you want to say to the Marylanders and the people of Liberia, you can say it.
Yes not you per say, cause you've said everything you said you will document it and you will synchronize it and I am sure the report will become a book and it will be open for public consumption so that we can be guided in the future by it to go down this road, this is what will happen to our nation. So thank you for your hard work, but I will just like to say to my people the Marylanders that we are one. We are one people, we have one origin, we have one culture this is what will bind us together. This is what will bind us as a people and as we fight each other our wealth here will be taken over by foreigner, as we focus on each other the blessings that God has given to us will be taken over by strangers and we will continue to be slaves and will continue to be in our poverty. Sp let us stop looking at each other as enemies. We are not enemies; we are families and let us hold together and try and lift ourselves up from our poverty and our situation. Thank you for the opportunity.
Chairman: thank you very much for coming to the TRC
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