Buchanan City: Day 5: Institutional/Thematic Hearings

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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: Good morning sir and welcome to the TRC and we thank you for coming to represent the Religious institutions of Grand Bassa County

A Contribution made to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, Efforts for peace in Liberia. March 2008.

1.WHAT IS LIBERIA AND WHO OWNS LIBERIA?

According to history, is a ship by the name of ?The Republic of Liberia'? This ship, owned by the United States of America, was sent to the Grain Coast of West Africa in 1822, to the policy of the United States Government. Here is a clue quoted in the Webster's New Reference Library, 1984, page 1228:

Liberia was founded in 1822 by the American Colonization Society. It was design to promote the establishment of a country for the free American Blacks. The first settlement was made near the present city of Monrovia named by James Monroe, the fourth president of the United States of America. In 1847, the Republic Liberia was established and declared Independent.

This US policy was also quoted in all history books especially in Liberia's past and present, written by Dr. Nathaniel R. Richardson, 1959. The Americo-Liberians took the policy to a letter that indeed, Liberia is for the free American Blacks. The policy did not include the citizen of the Grain Coast of West Africa. Where is the Grain Coast as a country and who are the citizens? Indeed, a native-Liberian is not a citizen of Liberia for the fact that he or she is not a ?Free American Black', neither is he or she a descendant of the American Blacks.

The twofold successful Hallmark of the United Nations Mission in Liberia must be highlighted with thanks
1.The Successful disarmament of thousands of savage rebel soldiers in Liberia and
2.The peaceful democratic elections held in the midst of mixed feeling people of Liberia. We Liberians, both Americo and Native Liberians, are very grateful to God for you and to you for your courage, commitment and devotion of the case of mankind.

Now that you have embarked upon the third hallmark, we the victims of the reprisals and of war, must help must help you with every necessary and correct information that will lead to your final victory, having said this, let me begin with land deprivation of the natives:

THE JURISDICTION OF LIBERIA IS VERY OPAQUE:

The forty-miles by hundred and thirty-miles limit jurisdiction of Liberia' along the sea coasts, has engulfed t
Hinterlands of the Grain Coast of West Africa. The hinterlands by right, is outside the Liberian jurisdiction. For example, when the American Colonization Society was turning the lands seized from the native people at gun point, to the Republic of Liberia, they made the following notation that:

The American Colonization Society hereby cedes (grants) all its public lands within the limits of Liberia to the Republic. This statement was made under the articles of agreement. Article one, see Liberia Past and Present Page 69.

The declaration of Independence expressed the same view that under auspices the ACS, we established ourselves here on the land acquired by purchase from the LORDS of the soil. (Richardson Page 64). In fact, the hinterland was the home of the native people from whom the settlers supposedly had acquired the land by purchase. Of course, it is uncommon for any chief or the king of the Grain Coast to sell their land.

In Africa, especially West Africa, we take lands to be our heritage and a home stead. Our country was laid out by demarcations into territories, regions sections and clans. Each division has its leader whose duty is to the people, and is responsible to the next authority higher than his position. He is cloth with any authority to sell the ancestors' homeland. Moreover, the settlers did not assimilate the hinterland with the new republic.

Dr. Cecil Northcott, a famous Christian writer described the value of land to the Africans in these words that:

Land is life in Africa and the amount of it and the use of it helps to stamp the characters and customs of the people. Land is the universal link. It speaks for the tribes, the family and the Ancestors and the living hope for the present and future. (Northcott, 1963. Page 16. Christianity In Africa.) The natives are deprived of their land.

FOUR PERIODS OF HOSTILITIES:

As peace is indispensable for Liberia, it behooves us victims of hostilities, to sincerely plead with the UNMIL to help make true reconciliation possible for us. We ask God to guide your feet into the way of peace.

Before I make the four periods, let me make this observation that, I believe in each hostile period, attempts were made by some peace brokers as the UNMIL is, but failed to succeed. As the case may be, hostilities continued from period to period with claims and counter claims by victors. Here are the four periods referred to with comments:

1.THE PERIOD BEFORE 1822.

In this period some hostile and cruel chiefs or kings of the Grain Coast, ruled their subjects with Iron hands. They enslaved some of their own people. Many of their slaves and their children were sold to their slave traders, and were alienated from their native lands by force.
?Let bygones be bygone', for this period is appropriate. Bygones mean unpleasant happenings to two groups of people, a very long time ago. But let bygones be bygones, suggested that both of them should forget the unpleasant things that at have happen in the past. It is obvious that the descendants of those families who escaped the slavery from the slave process, suffered equally. No reason reprisal.

2.THE PERIOD FROM 1822-1847:

In this period, the American Colonization Society send its agents to the Grain Coast of West Africa and seized a piece of land from the Aborigines of the Grain Coast for the home of the free American Blacks.

There would have been no issues for land if the piece of land said to be acquired by purchase from the lords of the soil and turn over the free American Black was a purpose. That was not the purpose. That is the beginning of the conflict which left the aborigines who had no rights to their homeland, citizen ship acquired by their birth right.

3.THE PERIOD FROM 1847-1980

In this period the land seizes form the tribes became ?The Republic of Liberia.' The citizens of the New Republic were identified as ?The Americo-Liberian. Citizens of the then Grain Coast were denied the citizenship of the New Republic of Liberia. Yet, they were identified as the natives-Liberians, only subservient of the Americo-Liberians and not independent of them.

4.PERIOD FROM 1980-2003:

The beginning of this period in 1980, the Americo-Liberian had ruled the 40 mile limit' Republic of Liberia and the Hinterland limit Liberia, for 133 years in exclusion of the Native Liberian participation in their government. Thus, when a group of 17 Non-Commissioned Officer of the AFL, descendants of the native tribes realized that still there was no true recognition of Native Liberian as fellow citizens, they overthrew the 133 year old civilized government by coup d'etat, on April 12 1980. The victims became the victors.

As one of the Bassa ancient proverb appropriately puts, if you over squeezed the little bird in your hand, it will make a mess in your hand. So true is it when the Grand Old True Whig Political Party Government was messed in different words when he wisely said that, A stage that when the ass kicks against its master. Chief Obafemi Awolowo of Nigeria quoted Dr. Danquah in the book, The Problem of Africa, written by the Chief in 1978 Page 11.

As group of 17 Non-Commissioner Officers who overthrew the Liberian Government were all under high school graduates. Although they were named soldiers, only to be identified as common porters, drawers of water, hewers of wood, watchmen and drivers for the Americo-Liberians.

IV. Suggestions for the forward to the True Reconciliation for Genuine Peace:

1.That Liberia is the first divided on the question of who owns Liberia and its resources, needs to be discussed thoroughly before it can be answered. Here is my import:

It is true that the native of any country, place, owns the land and its resources. A bonafide citizen never citizenship. That is, his being a citizen of his country is first birthright. Not by seizure of land by unfortunate native people of their birth home. Secondly, by the legitimate nationalization. The denial of this birth right be restored and Liberia must unite.
2.Government is control for good governance. When a government has no control over the people and things, there is no good governance. Jurisdiction e therefore, is the extend of the power over territory. The consequence of the American Policy that Liberia designed to promote the establishment of a country for free American Blacks, had divided the grain Coast of West Africa into two countries with no control. Namely:
1. The Hinterland Limit Liberia and
2. The forty mile limit Liberia

The Hinterland Liberia is the land or region remote from urban to the rural area, while the 40 mile Liberia is the main land in the urban areas along the sea coasts. Assimilation of citizens of the two countries is necessary. Although it is over due to, but not too late to be.

3. Avoiding the claims and counter claims is necessary. Making claim to offset another pursuit of political power and economic greed, has been and continues to be the detriment to the Liberian Government since Liberia was founded, up to this time. The land issue between the native- Liberians and the Americo Liberian had been the root cause.
3. Avoiding the claims and the counter is necessary. Making claims to offset another claim is the pursuit f political power and economic greed, has been, and continues to be the detriment to the Liberian government since Liberia was founded up to this time. The land issue between the native - Liberians has been the root cause.

In order to settle this land conflict there is no need for, ?let bygones be bygones'. What we need is that Liberia must unite. This is our sincere plea to the United Nations Mission in Liberia through its Truth and reconciliation Commission (TRC), or else, the claim, the counter claim tradition might remain to do more harms to the poor citizens then good.

The following examples are worth learning from historical information:
1.Before 1822, the hostile and cruel chiefs, or kings of the Grain Coast sold their fellow tribesmen and their children into slavery.
2.Two hundred years plus ago in 1822, the slaves victims became victors and placed the native Liberians victims under their servitude.
3.One hundred years plus in 1980, the Americo-Liberians victors became victims again to be subservient to the native Liberians victors, but met with a strong resistance.
4.Ten years ago in 1990, the native Liberians became victims to the Americo-Liberians victors, but the Americo-Liberians victors were unable to put the resistance by savage rebel under control.
5.Thirteen years ago in 2003, the American president George W. Bush chased Mr. Taylor, the Americo Liberian rebel president, out of Liberia to Nigeria. That paved the way of the United Nations to take over the destructive war-torn Liberia for renovation.

Although the dangerous rebel soldiers were n disarray, you, the UNMIL collected them and disarm them. Now, the gun sounds are silent in Liberia. Further, you conducted peaceful democratic elections and now Liberia has a Democratic elected president. Thanks be to God.

4. Many attempts has been made in the past for Reconciliation but failed. Let me name a few:

Looking at those attempts made for reconciliation but failed, worth sharing as hint for our guide and challenge in our attempt for the same purpose. Excerpt quoted from the Inaugural Address of President Arthur Barclay in 1904-1911, indicated the unwillingness of the Americo-Liberians to reconcile with the native Liberians. The following four counts are the examples of his failure, recorded by Dr. Nathaniel R. Richardson 1959. Liberia's Past and Present. Page 118.

1.Failure to unite the Americo-Liberians and the native Liberians:

President Arthur Barclay said: The Liberian nation is to be made of the negro civilized to some extent in the United States and repatriated, and of the aboriginal tribes. At present it is compose of a small number of civilized and a large number of aboriginal communities in varying degree of dependence.

The problem is, how to blend these into national organism and an organic unity.

2.Failure to develop and control the native population: Again the President said:
how we best develop and utilized the resource in the hinterland? In what way can the government best satisfy, control and attach the native population to the interest of the state?

The president came with these answers to his own questions:

a) The efforts which we had in the past, made to coerce (to force or compel) these populations by arms, have deservedly failed.... We made a great initial misstate in the beginning of our national carrier. We sought to obtain, and we did succeed in grasping an enormous mass of the territory, but we neglected to conciliate (to reconcile) and attach the resident population to our interest.

b) Our present narrow and jealous trade policy, initiated in the sixties has had the worse possible upon our political relations with the out lying native populations.

3. The president again came out with the following suggested solutions to the problems:

a)The government must rest on the consent of the governed.

b)Our old attitude of in difference towards the native populations must be dropped. A fixed and un wavering policy with respect to the natives, proceeding on the line of interest in local affairs, protecting civilization and safeguarding their institutions when not brutal, or harmful, should at once be set on the foot.

4. Failure to except the native people as equal citizens:

These proposals noted by the president Arthur Barclay were not fully welcome by his fellow Americo-Liberians. They refused to be equal citizens with the aborigines. The President therefore revealed the truth, in these words that there is a peculiarity among us which seems to make it difficult to submit the rules of equal, and hence a satisfactory center around which to rally had not been found. Those peculiarities are still among them. The consequence of that indifference, is the result of the class system in Liberia; the Americo-Liberians as the superior class and the Native Liberian as the Inferior class.

5. No Equality of Persons in Liberia:

Consistent with the failure to unite the Americo-Liberians and the native Liberians by Arthur Barclay, is also the attempt made by President Williams V.S Tubman. His desire was to assimilate the native Liberians. But his fellow Americo-Liberians rejected the assimilation policy.

President Tubman not satisfy with leaving the greatest majority of the native children out side of he school doors, he told his fellow elites in Americo Liberian community at his 1951's Inaugural Address with these words:

No nation or people......can fully enjoy the benefits and privileges of sovereignty and independence while the dark clouds of illiteracy hangs over the greater portion of them.

Thus the 98% illiterate population of the native Liberians remained outside of the school doors in Liberia and even up to now, the status quo remains the same, while children of 2% literate population with in the 40 miles limit Liberia, continue education at home and abroad.

At another time, President Tubman expressed his disappointment in the cruelty of his own people toward the native people in the proverb that: When Unequals are yoked together, the weak is at the mercy of the strong. That is, educated person is stronger than the uneducated. This is the picture of the illiterate population. The example of President Tubman's proverb is the structure of our present government, which brought in the top ranking officials of government who had left this country and been away 30 and 50 years ago. They are recruited to come and make up their losses from their high lucrative positions, and they are fully enjoying the benefits and privileges of this sovereignty. Truly they are the bosses of the native Liberians who are living at their mercy.

The government continues to recruit and appoint them according to the photocopies education of their degrees, backed by their origin, and not by their experience no by their character. Many of them are very smart and not sincere people in the government.

6. A word of caution to the TRC:

The Republic of Liberia is still for the Free Americo Blacks, exclusive of the Natives: How do you expect to reconcile a group of people who does not usually think in term of human equality with another group of people already been devalued by them? As usual, they might reject any decision you intend to make for them to accept the Native Liberians equal citizens of their ?Republic of Liberia.' But perhaps, they might have convince you to let ?bygone between 1822 and 1847, and the bygones between 1847 and between 1979 and 2003, asking the savage rebel soldiers who are subject to kill by order, to reconcile, leaving out those who order they were carrying out.

V.Declaration of the Hinter land Limit as public land, the ?Native Liberians.'

To reform the land of the ?Natives', is the major bone of contention of the ?Native Liberians'.

There is no history to indicate that when he Americo Liberian government declare the homeland of the Aborigines as public land, than taken the land by fraud as they illegally took the Cape Mesurado by force or at gun point.

If they should claim the hinter land was acquired by purchase from the landlords of the soil, where was the homes of those land lords who had sold the land to them? Or could it be that they purchased the land along with the lad sellers? For example, ?Liberia for the Free American Blacks', is now bounded by the Atlantic Ocean in the South, by Guinea in the North , by Sierra Leone in the West, and by the Ivory Coast in the East. Now, where then is he Grain Coast, the country whose citizens had sold land to the settlers?

According to ?Liberia's past and Present by Nathaniel R. Richardson, the Americo Liberian Government had had no genuine land documents or deeds to justify its claims or land owner ship for the ?Republic of Liberia'. The following examples will prove the truth by historical events:

1)The Cape Mesurado Purchase:

The U.S Government seemed not to have been informed as to the Mesurado purchase....because by act of Congress was giving instruction regarding the acquisition of site at Cape Mesurado.

2)Seizing cape Mesurado at Gun point:

To the U.S Government's surprise, Dr. Ayres and Lt. Robert F. Stockton had already seized the Cape Mesurado from the Native at gunpoint in 1821 before Ayres was even appointed as Principal Agent on May 12 1822.

3)The Cape Mesurado was acquired by Force:

The U.S government did not know of the seizure of the Cape Mesurado until from ?The report of Lt. Robert F. Stockton, dated at the Charleston, S. C January 21st 1822, informing the secretary of the Navy, of the Mesurado purchase, but the report of the Ayres and Stockton, dated December 16, 1821, was carried to the United States by Schooner ?Alligator'.

4)Broken All Ties with the U. S Government:
5)Note well:

The instructions given to the ACS Agents by the US Congress regarding the acquisition of the land in Liberia were disregarded. Therefore any land said to be acquired by purchase by the Liberian government would mean, lands taken by force as they did in Cape Mesurado.
Of the Native Liberians citizens of the Defunct Grain Coast of West Africa, had had a gut, they would have sued the government of the Republic of Liberia to give cause why she should not be charged to pay reparation to the natives.


IV. Liberia must Unite:
This is our plea to the UNMIL-TRC may not know in detail, the problems of disunity in Liberia, and one cannot solve a problem when he does not know the problem. Thus, the following discussion includes our problem descriptions:

1)Indigenous traditions and Aliens traditions are incompatible. Yet, they are forced to merge with democracy, which is strange to each tradition. That is the major root cause of our problem affecting the Americo-Liberians Community and the Native Liberian Community.

Tradition, by dictionary definition, is the handing down of statements, believes, legends, customs, information, etc, especially by word of mouth or by practice. The indigenous traditions although is denigrated by the alien tradition, it is a continuing pattern of culture beliefs practices. Such cultures beliefs and practices are static. They could have been developed into a civilization of the tribes then to be imposed upon by an alien tradition in the name of democracy, which the Americo-Liberians them selves do not even know well to develop it for the god of the people.

2) Marks of Discrimination are very clear:

The Declaration of independence established two kinds of citizenships. The Free Black Americans and the recaptured African citizenship call the Congo people citizenship. But there was no Grain Coast citizenship. These three kinds of citizenship can emerge.

3) The symbols of distinction are distinctive:

The eleven strips of the national flag of Liberia represented the eleven signers of the declaration of independence. There was no native representation. Could that be revisited?

4) The ship sailing from overseas:

The sailing from overseas is being identified as ' The Republic of Liberia bringing its own citizens to take over the Grain Coast of West Africa. None of the Aborigines was on board. But now they can be united.

5) The Motto:

The motto: 'The Love of Liberty brought us Here', makes it more vivid that no native man is included in the Republic of Liberia. It would have been better to have said the Love of Liberty United Us Here. That would have meant, to build a civilized state for a united people. It is still not too later good

6) The purpose for good leadership was ignored:

Some philanthropist in the US, felt that giving freedom to slaves was not enough, as reparation, he should be restored to the land of his fathers and resume an existence in Africa as Christians and enlightened Propagator of civilization ( Richardson Page 17). This country the Grain Coast of West Africa is indeed the land of our fathers, the fathers of both native Liberians and Americo-Liberians.

This is the time that the Americo -Liberian should concede their mistake that they were originally the citizens of North America, but originally the citizens of the Grain Coast of Wes Africa and to say in the words of Joseph of the Bible (Genesis 45:3-5).

"I am Joseph your brother, whom you sols to Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for god did send me before you to preserve life". Then to believe that the Ancestors of the Native people might have sold your ancestors into slavery, and that you must therefore choose the act of reprisal against your brothers and sisters. That is ignorant and cruel.

7) The consequence of reprisals is divisive:

Reprisals are violent actions that are taken by one group of the people against another, as revenge for similar actions carried out on the first group by the second group. Hence, reprisal rises in favor of one group, the second group suffers the consequences. Its true between the Americo-Liberians community and the native Liberian community.

As the tide of reprisals, being initiated by the Americo-Liberians, and is still up high in their favor, its expedient therefore, to give the correct and adequate information to our international peace makers the grave consequences bear by the Native Liberians in the hands of the government of ? The Republic of Liberia'. Such historical information will help the peace makers to know that indeed, Reconciliation for genuine peace is absolutely necessary in Liberia. This is our prayer.

VI.Legitimate Landownership:

1. There are two types of land in Liberia: The National Liberia Land, said to be acquired by purchase is 130 miles by 40 mile limit along the sea coasts. It is owned by the ?Republic of Liberia'. The hinterland limit Liberia, said to be the balance of land after the 40 miles limit Liberia. It is owned by the native Liberians but being declared as public land by the government of the Republic of Liberia.

3.Citizens of the hinterland Liberia are declared as the squatters on the government land. The ?squatters' have no right to take part in making decisions for lands of their ancestors. They have no rights to claim any benefits from any concession agreements by foreign investors. For example:

a)In the 1920s, Firestone Rubber Plantations Company claimed one million acres of Bassa people's land. They as squatters had no right to claim from the investors.
b)In the 1950s, the Liberia Agriculture Company claimed 300, 000 acres of Bassa people's land. Being squatters, they can not claim any benefits. A squatter is a person occupying a land with out right
c)In the same 1950s, LAMCO, as a mining company, used Grand Bassa, Bong and Nimba Counties. Again, the squatters have no right to ask for any benefits.
d)In 1960s, the Palm Bay Company claimed 180, 000 acres of land of the Bassa people. Again, the squatters have no rights to claim any benefits because they are squatters.
e) In the 190s, the LIMINCO, the OTC, and in the 2000s the Mittal Steel, the Buchanan Renewal Energy, etc, came. Again the squatter have no right to any benefits. Why?

4.squatter's alternative to Liberian citizenship, is by public and sale deed:

Government of he ?Republic of Liberia' sells public lands to the squatters as a pre-requisite for becoming citizens of Liberia. One acre of land in the hinterland is priced LD$ 0.50 (330?132). But the government set up unnecessary bureaucracies that no native man could own a public land sale deed. Here are he steps to take in order to have a deed:
1)Buying a set of tribal certificate forms from land commissioner officer for LD$500. or USD$10.00.
2)Fill in the form with at least 250 acres of land for LD$150.00 or USD$3.00 and carry the form to the elders to sign. But you give them ?Token' of their chose because they are land custodians for government in the interior. The token could be two bags of rice, two crates of assorted drinks and at least two crates of fish. No receipt for token.
3)Take the form to the Clan Chief of the Clan to sign. His token is run between LD$1,500 and LD$2,000.
4)Take the form of the paramount chief t the chiefdom to sign. His token runs between LD$2,500 and LD$ 3,000.
5)Take the form to the commissioner to sign. His token runs between LD$3,500 and LD$4,500.
6)Take the form to the county superintendent to send you with a note to the land commissioner t price the land. His token runs between US$50 and US$100.
7)Take the form to the land commissioner to give you two certificates. One for the revenue collector to pay for the land and another to government surveyors. His token runs between US$50 and US$75.
8) Take the form to the revenue collector to purchase the land. His token run between US$25 and US$50.00
9)Take the revenue receipt and your full documents to the government surveyors. They will charge you LD$2,500 per acres as survey fees. Usually there are at least 5 persons to the surveying team. You are responsible to pay their to and fro transportation to the area. You are also responsible to accommodate them with food and logging. All intimate damages caused by them are tolerated.
10) Take your deed to the county superintendent again to write a covering letter to the nation's president to sign your deed. His token is US$150.00 but therefore then, take your deeds to the land and mines ministry to recheck it. Of course, on deed from outside is perfect before the ministry. To send someone to go on the spot and recheck is at your expense, or you pay a flexibility fee of no less than US$25.00 in addition to US$10.00 paid for an executive order.
11)Finally you will be given receipt to go home and listen to radios and read Newspapers. If your deed was signed by the president, It will be published. In most cases, it is the end. You cant go to the president to sign your deed.

4) To process public land deed sale is very tedious. It happened to me personally more then one time. I did not get through with President Tubman, President Tolbert, President Doe, and President Taylor, and I quit with disappointment.

VII.Submission of the Poor Native People to Poverty is a form of Tyranny
When a native squatter is given hope that he could be a citizen of Liberia if he or she would acquire a piece of public land by purchase, he is very happy. At least, 250 acres of land to be purchased for LD$50 per acre will make him a property owner in Liberia. It sounds good to hear that you can pay LD$150 or US$1.50 to own a property and to be citizen. In view of, the poor man will make every effort to follow the tedious process. But after he had spent all that he had in 20 or more years to be told finally, that the incumbent president has sign his deed, and that his predecessor could not sign for the out going president. It means that he has to get his deed back and start process all over, al that he quits to start over again, or remains squatter, frustrated, self-disgust, wishing to die. This is the continuous process of the ?elite government' just to keep on depriving the native man of his birth home, and control him in poverty.

Mahamat Gandhi, Prime Minister of India described such inhumane situation when he said: ?Poverty is the worst form of tyranny. To submit people to poverty and exploit their weaknesses is the most abject form of leadership. Such an abject form of leadership is what the government of the Republic of Liberia used to rule the native populations since 1847, up to this time 2008. an abject government can be define as an utterly hopeless or wretched leadership used by the 2% elite population of Liberia to suppress education against the 985 native population of Liberia.

The purpose to deny the native education is to keep the ?ignorant' at the mercy of the educated.

Poverty is double standard in action, in the rule of law in Liberia:

?Double Standard' in this context means, a set of principles that allows more freedom of behavior to one group of people than to the other. For example, there are inequalities between men and women and a double standard of morality. Likewise there are inequalities between Americo-Liberians and Native Liberians and double Standard of equality. The weight is grievous on the native people.

The Principles of the Double Standard in the Rule of Law are expressed in the following two constitutions of Liberia:

1.The National Constitution of Liberia and
2.The Interior Regulation of Liberia.

The difference between the two is that the national Constitution projects the rights, the interest and human dignity of the Americo-Liberians in court. While the Interior Regulations abuses the rights, the interest and the human dignity of the native-Liberians in the Bush Tribunal where decisions are made on the gravity of tortures and atrocities with no appeal.

VIII.Recommendations and Plea to the UNMIL for consideration:
In view of the foregoing discussions, I believe you, (TRC), might have had a bit of knowledge of our country. Look, this country is well situated as you can see it has rich human resources in abundance. Why must we suffer like this?

Failure of the League of Nations:

To Reconcile the Americo-Liberians and the Native Liberians, as one Nation and one people had failed. To UNMIL, this is a challenge. The story is the Fernando Po Shipment of slaves from Liberia.

The ?Liberia's Past and Present' by Dr. Nathaniel Richardson, recorded the story on the page 140-143. Excerpts from that text are hereby provided for your information.

On June 8, 1929, President Charles DB King and Vice President Allen N. Yancy, were accused by Mr. Thomas JR Faulkner for furthering the recruitment of Laborers for shipment to Fernando Po. The report reached to the American Government that the Liberian Government had used the Frontier Force to compel the Natives to accept the overseas service where they were placed in a condition of peonage- one bound in servitude or slavery to a creditor.

The allegation was brought to the attention of the League off Nations. Thereby a commission of Inquiry was appointed, consisting of the three members:
1.Dr. Cuthert Christy- a British Nation.
2.Dr Charles S. Johnson- An American National and
3.Mr. Arthur Barclay- Former President of Liberia.

A.The following report on the findings of the commission, proves the Allegation to be true:

1) The Republic employs Labor for Public and Private Purposes.

2) Shipment to Fernando Po and Cuba is associated with slavery. The method of recruiting carries compulsion with it.

3) Labor for private purposes is forcibly impressed by the government, and used in the firestone plantations.

B.The Commission of Inquiry therefore made the following recommendations:

1)That the policy of ?Closed door' in favor of ?Open door' to the western Nations be abandoned.
2)That education be extended to all, alike, irrespective of one being either a descendant of settlers, or aborigines of Liberia.
3) That there be a radical reconstruction of Native policy for human treatment.
4) That barrier between civilized and Native Liberians be broken down.
5) That suppression of aborigines should cease.
6) That humiliation and degradation of chiefs should stopped and their tribal authority should be re-established.
7) That there should be a complete reorganization of the administration of the hinterlands.
8) That pawning and domestic slavery is made illegal as preliminary measure to total abolition.
9) That shipment of Labor abroad should cease.
10) That the road program should be curtailed for amore efficient supervision.
11) That the frontier Force should be under strict control by their officers.
12) That Immigration of the best type of person of Africa descent should be encourage from the United States to open educative links with American Trade.

Yet, Freedom Cries, and Justice Denies. Not the League of Nations, or the American Government made any ruling on the findings and recommendations made by the commission of Inquiry. Thereby the Native were suppressed more than before, and even up to now, the Americo-Liberian and the Native Liberian syndrome continues.

All the efforts made to reconcile the Americo-Liberians and the Native Liberians failed, because it is impossible to reconcile ?The Master' with the servant. Unless you take the 40-mile Limits- Liberia as a country for the Americo-Liberian, and you take the Hinterland Limit Liberia as a country for the native-Liberians and see them as two countries at war with each other. Stop the war first, then you can reconcile the enemy countries as friends and until them as one country by reconciliation or else, the Boss can be wrong, but he is always the Boss.

Before you arrived in 2003, the suppression and suffering of the 98% native population of Liberia had reached them, to a hope of despair, standing the brink of destruction, but you saved us through the mercy of God. Thank you ever so much.

Now that the two Liberian populations are in your control, (The superior and inferior populations), our hope is bright. Notwithstanding, if citizens of the Americo Liberia would still refuse to be united and to equal citizens with the aborigines, one of the following four suggestions might help in the process:
1)That the UN makes sure to unite the two Liberia as the United Liberia so that both citizens will have one equal citizenship. Or
2)That the two Liberians be made to go back to their original name, the Grain Coast of the West Africa, and cherish the same equal citizenship or
3)That the demarcation between the two Liberias be define so that he hinter land Liberia stands independent to the 40 miles limit Liberia or,
4)That the United States of America will be made to revisit the Republic of Liberia that was created as a state in 1822, but failed and take it back t sustain it with the native Liberia as one of its states in Africa and provide a free democratic leadership to it.

It is a shame for those whom The Republic of Liberia was founded 186 years ago, and has failed to uphold the trust of their mother country, the Great United States of America. That trust was the free American Blacks were sent to the land of their fathers in Africa as Christians and enlightened propagators of civilization. But failed.

We need peace with unity and justice, peace is indispensable to living. Its value is life, worthy of defense by force. Please give us that genuine and indispensable peace.


Institutional/Thematic Hearings Buchanan, Grand Bassa County
Elders and Chiefs
Presentation made by: Edward Damba
(Second Institution)

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: good afternoon and welcome. We want to thank you for coming to make this presentation on behalf of the chiefs and Elders of the County.

Presenter: We the Traditional people of Grand Bassa County salute the Chairman and members of the TRC family.

Recommendations:
1.We ask that the Casting come back because it is our traditional method;
2.we also ask that there should be a representative on the TRC for the Traditional people.
3.Our tradition is not politics, therefore, we ask the human rights people to consult us people saying against the Tradition.
4.No nation can exist without culture background and therefore, we ask that the TRC should take into serious considerations our culture.

Signed:
1Joseph Johnson Chief Elder/
2Richard KpandyMember
3Edward GarmahSupreme Grand Zoe
4Obediahy ZangarActing Chairman


Questions from the Commissioners:

Commissioner Konneh: How serious was the cultural setting of your county hit?

Primary Witness: we had cows and other valuables and everything was taking away by the rebels.

Why now that Zoes has become a public asset unlike the years back when once you were not a member, you cannot see the Zoes?

Primary Witness: You educated people are responsible for this ugly attitudes.

Does this means that you the Supreme Zoe bow down pressures?

Primary Witness: No pressures.

How than you have become a public asset?

Primary Witness: During the time President Barclay, no one knew about Zoe but right now, some of you went to school had written bit book about the activities of our cultural background. Do not say that again, if you say it again, you have violated and will be charged.

I also want you to know that my grand parents contributed extensively to our own culture and so, no lightening can scare me. What is your interest that we should go back and restore our culture to the fullest since the war has ended?

Primary Witness: For now, we had serious confusion here for land business but since we intervened, the issue has been settled and no more problems; so restoring the dignity of our culture, will be very fine for all of us.

Commissioner Bull: there is a saying that "Zoes never dies, they only go to pick leaves". Our various societies are very much important to us, thank God for restoring our societal values again. I have no questions.

Chairman: I s there anything that can be done traditionally to have a rest for those that died as a result of the civil war?

Primary Witness: Yes, we can do it.

What is the relationship between the Traditional Council and the Government Line Ministries, are they respecting your?

Primary Witness: As for us, we respect everyone, we are not afraid, we only say the truth; we and the government have small problem. We will call them again in the presence of our Rev. Kangar, and the local authorities in Grand Bassa to see how best we can settle that.

Commissioner Stewart: What role can the Traditional Council play to remember all those that died in the war?

Primary Witness: That human being business, the massacre that happened in Carter Camp, many of our people died. So, we are thing to charge each district one cow so as to have a grand feast to remember all of our beloved friends and relatives who lost their lives in the war.

Primary Witness: Right now, we are pleased to give you this token of appreciation/food. But our operations, we when you want to give the stranger, you pass the food or whatever through the Stranger Father, so we please to give you his for our stranger.

Commissioner Konneh: Our culture actually used to be unique those days, it said that you gave paper, you will receive paper, so I am please to present you this paper.


Institutional/Thematic Hearings Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County
Youth of Grand Bassa
Presentation made by: Mark B. Thompson (County Coordinator FLY)
(Fourth Institution)

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: good afternoon and welcome. We want to thank you for coming to make this presentation on behalf of the chiefs and Elders of the County.

The Youth Caucus/Grand Bassa County

The Chairman and members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Superintendent, other officials of local government, members of the UN Family, members of the Business Community and Civil Society, member of the Fourth Estate, Students, fellow Youth, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is indeed a great moment in our history as we seek to engender a national renewal through the TRC process. Our country has been devastated by conflicts since 1979 and following the years of instability. The interplay of the proliferation of easily obtainable weapons, the alienated youth, the problem of bad governance, the lack of opportunities for youth, the problem of nepotism, corruption, tribalism, all continue to reinforce each other in a way that undermines prospects for sustainable peace and stability in the country. Following the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Liberia (CPA, 2003), the subsequent deployment of UNMIL and the successful holding of free and fair elections, post conflict peace building and development in Liberia has gather momentum and is moving forward despite the challenges.

As we embark on the venture of National renewal the TRC Hearings is vied as a litmus test of whether the TRC process will success in providing the most needed peace and stability or reignite conflict and occasion a relapse instability and a replay of history.

Liberia is in urgent need to genuine reconciliation for sustainable peace and development. Confronting our past to identify issues that affected us a a people and a nation, most especially the youth is very urgent and cardinal to the TRC process. The youth population aged between 15 and 24 comprises a significant percentage of the population of Liberia, with those under the age of 15 averaging over 40%. Those ages between 15 and 24 are now and will become dominant groups in society, most affected by change and also the most likely agents of change. It is youth, as a specific demographic group with unique needs and concerns, which will either sustain peace or general future instability.

Yet experience from the preceding decade and current circumstance for youth of Liberia portends great risks to the country's future stability. The social, education, and economic networks and institution of youth are broken down and require significant rehabilitation and empowerment. The treats embedded in the circumstances of the youth included: expansion of organized crime, unemployment due to the lack of opportunities, vocation training or education, narcotics and alcohol abuse, prevalence of the culture amongst youth, disaffection from current process of democratization and governance building and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Unless the energy of the youth is positively harnessed in the immediate future, there is a fear that an air of despondency and resignation may set in at best or at worse, and they may resort to organized criminal activities or fall early prey to war mongers.

Let me be quick to mention that high level of unemployment most especially amongst the youth has created and continue to create a sense of insecurity, bringing about feeling of anxiety, fear and aggressive tendencies, which could easily translate to open grievance, protest and violence.

Let us all be reminded that violence that engulfs the country in October 2004 demonstrated how people who do not enjoy access to livelihood opportunities could exploit a violent situation only for more violence. In other, words high unemployment considered with the lack of access to sources of livelihood creates conditions for deprivation, these condition by themselves do not lead to conflict, but can be exploited and used to mobilize people for action. Let's us not forget that youth unemployment and it's corollary under employment has become a central political-security issues, in addition to being a socio-economic one. it causes lie in both spheres, as do it's effects youth who are able bodied but unskilled , jobless and alienated were easily ready to take up arms in exchange of small amounts of money to obtain a desirable livelihood. Those youth were dawn in the fluencies of warring factions and criminal gangs to gain this empowerment. it is sad to Note that as our National leaders and policy makers past and present strived to formulate development policies that will conform to international standard little is done to demonstrate the political will that is needed to pass into law a National youth policy despite. The effort of the youth themselves to formulate one since august 2005, yet issues are claimed to be priority.

As I speak this 12th day of April 2008, Liberia does not have a national policy, despite the regional and global imperatives. the lack of a national youth policy has and will continue to impeded the design and implementation of youth development programs which is a major contributing factor for the way young people were drawn in the 14 years if arm conflict.

As we, in a true sprit of reconciliation confront our pass for the national renewal that is needed for sustainable peace and development it is but fair that youth issues are given serious attention in this entire process. Real efforts most be made by government and development partners to make all Liberian youth feel more empowered politically, socially and economically for meaningful contribution as we track the path of national renewal. let me be quick to mention that any country that neglects its youth can not expect patriotism, Nationalism in return and any country that continue to postpone issues affecting Liberian issues is postponing its future, therefore, it is but time that issues affecting Liberian Youth must be viewed as cross-cutting issues and need to be paces on the National Agenda and integrated into every sector of our peace building and development strategies.

Finally, Liberian youth will not feel the sense of belonging to a Nation, they must love and Cherish, whose values they most uphold, peace and security they must keep and protect as long as they continue to feel marginalized, neglected and alienated in their continued struggle.

For relevance in their own country therefore it incumbent upon all stake holders most especially the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as it leads the process of National Hearing and Renewal to see youth issues not only as problem affecting the youth population, but also the basic for conflict that need to be corrected for the prevention of future conflict.

Submitted: This 11th day of April 2008 by the youth of Grand Bassa County.
To: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)


Signed:Du-Ben CleonChairman/Bassa Youth Caucus
Mark B. ThompsonCounty Coordinator (FLY)


Questions from the Commissioner:

Commissioner Konneh: What is your impression since the inception of the elected government?

Primary Witness: I think the opportunity has now opened, if we take the issues of youth, it is a challenge for all well meaning Liberians.

What do you think is the delay in the passing of the National Youth Policy?

Primary Witness: I also think that people had not realized the over-all importance of youth, people who were policy makers of the youth were not indeed youth and therefore did not understand the actual problems youths all over Liberia was facing.

What will be your estimate cost that will cost the Government of Liberia to fully support the National Youth endeavors?

Primary Witness: Considering the youths in schools at all levels, I think it will cost around 50 percent.

What are some of the activities the youth of this county are involved as a means of contributing to Grand Bassa County?

Primary Witness: We have to some extent involved in volunteerism, since there was no youth policy; we did what ever positive in helping our county.

Is the youth actively involved in helping the Elders, Widows, and Widowers?

Primary Witness: Yes, it is in fact the youths that are main bread-winners for the elderly. Moreover, the youth managed to build a road with their hands in Zongo town.

What is your relationship with the County Authorities?

Primary Witness: Very cordial.

Commissioner Dolopei: What is FLY relationship with other counties, are you all working together?

Primary Witness: There is a number of problems that currently exists within FLY. Some of the officials were insisting that before others become member of FLY, they must process an Article of Incorporation; but those of us in Grand Bassa County seriously opposed this because it will build gap in the youth nationwide. For now since Fly over-all administration has down played the article of incorporation, working relationship with youths from all walks of Liberia is cordial.

Since the war ended, how are you people working with other ex-combatants?

Primary Witness: Yes, our relationship is absolutely cordial; in fact, we the youths in Bassa had done away with the name ex-combatants because it has some negative effect on the person; right now, we called all ex-combatants "Progressive Youth".

Commissioner Stewart: To what extent the youth of Grand Bassa involved in issues of development, reconciliation, governance and what you think your own strengths are and what are the prospects of the youths to play a more meaningful role?

Primary Witness: We are of the opinion that whatever decision we make have an adverse effect on us as future leaders of this country. Therefore, we have done all we can and have attached ourselves with all other organizations in Bassa and its environs. The re-establishing of democracy has given us the opportunity to progress.

Commissioner Syllah: Is there any progress as regards the Youth Policy?

Primary Witness: No, because the document is not actually taking the kind of momentum we anticipate and the individuals responsible for implementing the successful passage of the document are not performing; these is one person who has said that it is not important to pass the document as a law, we think that it is unfair and unjust; we do not want to operate at the will and pleasure of the sitting President.

What is FLY doing to transform the minds of the youths?

Primary Witness: We the youths at FLY believes that it is improper for youths to use violence as a means of addressing their problems; we also fully educate the youths in nine counties about the key roles of TRC has to play when it comes to the peace we all are yearning for.

Chairman: we want to thank you for you presentation and rest assure that every thing you said will be used as part of our findings.


Institutional/Thematic Hearings Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County
Office of the Superintendent
Presentation made by: Charles Cole (Administrative Assistant office of the Superintendent)
(Fourth Institution)

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: good afternoon and welcome. We want to thank you for coming to make this presentation on behalf of the chiefs and Elders of the County.

Office of the Superintendent

The constitution of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is no mistake, it is a process ordained by God. We ought to be encouraged to make good use of it.

Let me begin by telling you a biblical story. Some times in Israel, the Bible (started from Ezekiel Chapter 7 through 12) tells us that God became very angry with his people for the many sins they committed. He descended His wrath upon them indiscriminately killing and destroying. God later had compassion on few allowing them to go into exile for the sole purpose of returning home afterward to tell the story of the root of the sin committed, their involvement and the aftermath. This exercise was meant to bring reconciliation and heal wounds, not necessarily for prosecution.

The search for peace has not yet been ended. The TRC brings immeasurable benefits as an instrument of peace and aversion of war. Assembling here today to enter into deliberations, seeking solution for intricate disturbing problems that have and may continue to confront us as a nation and people, we must let our thoughts and prayers be with and for the success of TRC endeavors for our relief.

Realizing this, the Bassa people look forward to the coming of TRC but the scheduled TRC Hearings was postponed to a later date, and information not being sufficiently disseminated in the county; we requested a further postponement of the hearings, reason being that:

a).From our observation and consultation with the citizens, it was clear that they did not understand the procedures and could not readily get their family prepare or obtain support for the process;

b).Thus, the request was in no way intended to delay the process but to acquire maximum participation.

Distinguished Commissioners, Ladies and Gentlemen, you saw from the attendance
during the opening session and subsequent participation that our request was made in
good faith.

Nevertheless, we are obligated therefore to make contributions towards the progress, peace and happiness envisage not only for ourselves but communities worldwide.

One way to do this by identifying the setbacks, impediments, difficulties and acts of deliberate sabotage place in the way of and actively conducted against satisfactory settlement of controversial issues, taking decisions on important and far-reaching resolves on peace and reconciliation which are exactly a repetition of the facts of history. This, we can learn from and together find common grounds to move ahead.

For this measure of peace, tranquility and stability being enjoyed, we cannot permit indifference toward the cause of peace nor allow traducing ideologies be it political, partly affiliation, diversion of views or opinions, land claim, and petty jealousy, as seen happening in Grand Bassa County, to invade pour rank and cause us to lose sight. By giving credence will only allow other visible stumbling blocks in the county, to include; disrespect for authority, information gap, unemployment and feeble judicial system, poor infrastructural and service delivery system among others to remain imbedded in us.

We don't measure these as obstacles but view them as challenges that could be addressed through a reconciliatory process of town hall meetings and conferences, home-coming programs, participatory governance and capacity building. Other factors of challenge in the rapid infrastructural and institutional development, self-sufficiency in food production, logistical support and the resettlement and integration of IDPs, returnees and ex-combatants into society.

Even at this, once we are able to build a solid bridge over misunderstanding, suspicion and mistrust, the many opportunities that lay before us will fully be utilized. The creation of jobs with the coming of Mittal Steel, BRE, Biofuel, PalmBay, Flour Mill, The Special Economic Zones and Port Services, the socio-economic life in Bassa is sure to bloom. The opportunities are not limited but go far beyond to include better road networks, construction of low cost housing units, school, clinics, improved farming facilities, promising electricity supply, the list goes on.

In concluding, we must agree that the prospect for governance in Bassa, not to mention the country, is unique and encouraging. But, we must enter upon the duties and obligation of nation building with greater courage, determination and resolve to work, devote our every energy and nerve to accomplish greater things for the country. In order to realize this goal, the following must be taken into consideration: One must confess or admit to have committed crime or done something to someone directly or indirectly during the civil war.

a).Obtain citizens' support and self-initiation towards development programs
b).Legislative support and influence
c).Accountable administration
d).Focal development approach-keeping the people on mind
e).A defined information dissemination package.

And avoid creating room for petty jealousies, inordinate political passion, and carnage thinking among the citizens.

Finally, we urge the TRC to be more timely in its planning and awareness exercises in order to gain desire results to the expectation of all.

We thus, recommend;
1.That the TRC Hearings should be conducted annually in each county to bring people together where they can live in harmony regardless of different background;
2.That every person, young or old be involve in the exercise, because everyone must have played a part or was victimized during the war.

God bless the TRC and guide its works.

I thank you.

Charles Cole.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Chairman: We are happy that you have made these presentations and you have made recommendation which will be used by the commission in making its recommendation.
In all of the counties they have been talking about the problem of revenue generation and the office of the superintendent is not aware. How are you people in Grand Bassa handling this?

Presenter: Thank you very much, we wan to praise the administration of President Serlief in the past the money was called and we did not see it but today the situation is different. And today other measures are put in place to know how much is been raised from the county. One of the most recent development is the fact that the county even have an account, and if there is any company coming here they have to do something for the county and any money given for the county goes to the county account which follows correct accounting procedures and there is accountability.

Commissioners Stewart: is the county development funds transparent and meeting the needs of the local communities?

Yes, what the government put in place through the internal affairs ministry came down to us. There are a group of persons elected in each district to manage the funds and there is a project management committee also in each of the district and so if the development money is to be spent the project management committee is responsible for that as such the office does not have direct impact to the spending of their money as such the money is evenly distributed.

How is the issue of conflict been address in the county?

Well there are problems here and if you put it in the simple terms it is about petit jealousy where people wants things to go there was and if it is not so you will find people to bring problems in the form of grievances. Bye and large what we have been doing is trying to get the local people and we try to get the issue of rightsizing and downsizing and we see who are employed and who are not employed and see how we can help. We then try to go around the different groups to get the problem their problems and we find means of finding solutions to our problems.

Commissioner Konneh: Is your county experiencing problems because of mushroom cities and districts coming up of struggle for power?

To the best of my knowledge we are not experiencing them all of our cities and working in line of the areas and there are not such problems.

Chairman: we want to thank you for you presentation and rest assure that every thing you said will be used as part of our findings.


Institutional/Thematic Hearings Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County
Liberian Council of Churches
Presentation made by: Clarence O. Reeves (Chair LCC Bassa County)
(Fourth Institution)

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: good afternoon and welcome. We want to thank you for coming to make this presentation on behalf of the chiefs and Elders of the County.


LIBERIA COUNCIL OF CHURCHES GRAND BASSA COUNTY (PAPER DELIVERED BY Clarence O. Reeves to the TRC Public Hearings on the Church's experience and involvement in the civil war)

We are grateful to God and honor by the TRC to be a part of this healing process in our country. It is our hope that at the end of the process, we all will be healed to a greater extent and which will not to repeat what went on in the past 47 years in our country's history.

In Isaiah 1, God brings the children of Israel to court. The unusual thing about the case was, God was the defendant and judge. After God laid down all the charges against Israel, Israel was speechless. Israel realized that they were guilty to every charge levied against them. But who were they to argue with God? Who could they go to for an appeal? Nobody.

God the judge and defendant said in Isaiah 1:18, "Come Now, and let us reason together, said the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

I want to pick up the clauses: "Come, now and let us reason together.

First and foremost, the church has been mandated not to revenge. Our God has told us that vengeance is His. Therefore, the church has been calling on warlords, fighters, and others who has wronged the church during the civil crisis to come so that we can reason together.

In spite of the numerous calls that the church had made, people are not forthcoming; people are not fully admitting their wrongs; of the many warlords and fighters, only a small fraction had admitted their wrongs and had sought forgiveness.
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