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Historical Review Hearing Opens Monday...Expert Historians To Testify

Prominent Liberian and foreign historians will next week testify at Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) Thematic Hearing on Historical Review in Monrovia.

Under the theme: "Examining Liberia's Past: Reality, Myth, Falsehood and the Conflict", the hearings which will convene at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion from 1-6 September, will provide a critical review and expert perspectives into Liberia's past not only for the purpose of understanding the historical antecedents to the conflict, but to ensure the country's history or national narrative reflected the experiences, beliefs and aspirations of Liberians of all backgrounds.

The hearing featuring the testimonies and presentations of historians, anthropologists, journalists, lawyers, politicians, diplomats and clergymen is intended to help Liberians rewrite their history by seeking to identify the issues that underpinned our history, divided us as a people and nearly eviscerated the state.

Already, as part of the TRC's endeavor to provide a critical review of Liberia's past, several Liberian and foreign historians have been invited as expert witnesses to present testimonies during the hearing.

They include Dr. Joseph Saye Guannu, prominent Liberian historian; Monsignor Reverend Father Robert Tikpor, of the Catholic Church in Liberia; Professor Elwood Dunn, the Alfred Walter Negley Professor of Political Science at Sewanee: The University of the South (Tennessee, USA). Dr. Dunn is the author and co-author of numerous books and articles notably on Liberia.

Also to testify is Dr. Augustine Konneh, a professor and former Chairman of History at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Konneh also teaches at Clark Atlanta University and Agnes Scott College and his area of instructional concentration includes African, African-American, United States, Caribbean and World histories. His academic self interest is in economic history, particularly West Africa, and in conflict and conflict resolution in Africa.

Professor Svend Einar Holsoe, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Delaware will also give his historical perspective during the hearing. Professor Holsoe has authored several publications including books, book reviews monographs, edited works, bibliographic documentation and articles on Liberia. He is the founding editor of the Liberian Studies Journal, Liberian Working Papers and Liberian Monograph Series, member of the African Studies Association and a founding member of the Liberian Studies Association.

Another witness, Joseph Edward Holloway is a professor of Pan African Studies at California State University and a prolific writer on Liberia.

The TRC Historical Review Committee is chaired by Commissioner Pearl Brown-Bull. As part of the commission's mandate to promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation following the country's long running conflict, the TRC is required to adopt appropriate mechanisms and procedures to document the experiences of Liberians and address varying issues including the country's historical myths that impacted the conflict.

The commission has been conducting investigations and research into cases of abuse and other violations during the conflict, as well as holding several individual, institutional and thematic hearings.

The hearings are focused on events between 1979 and 2003 and the national and external actors that helped to shape those events.

The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 Accra Peace Agreement and created by the TRC Act of 2005.

The TRC was established to "promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation," and at the same time make it possible to hold perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and October 2003.

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