Though the George Weah – led government has continuously remained tightlipped as to the establishment of the World Crimes Tribunal in Liberia, scores of Liberians who have one way or the other been affected by the country’s 14 years of civil upheaval will on Monday, November 12, 2018 stage a peaceful protest memorializing their relatives who died as a result of the conflict.
The over two thousand Liberians who will be converging at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion before moving on to the embassies of the United States, the European Union and the United Nations (UN) to petition their respective governments and leadership for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court For Liberia, will all be dressed in a black or white regalia symbolizing the death of their love once.
Since the cessation of the Liberian civil conflict that began 1989 and left 14 years of unforgettable memories, there have been tireless attempts made by the concerned individuals and institutions to ensure that those responsible for the killings of innocent citizens be brought to justice but are yet to materialize.
A list of massacres in Liberia compiled by Nepalese lawyer, Dr Bipin Adhikari, released in 2004, recorded over 70 major massacres during the civil conflict from 1989-2003, resulting to the death of hundreds of innocent citizens including women and children.
They included the Grand Kru – Massacre of September 18, 1998, in which security forces in Grand Kru attacked the loyalists of Roosevelt Johnson, the leader of a faction on Friday, September 18, on four locations at about six o’clock local time in the evening.
It was a pre-emptive strike by a column of well-armed troops under the command of Chucky Taylor, the president’s son. In a nation-wide radio statement shortly after the attack, Charles Taylor congratulated his men for what he described as a “surgical operation with precision and swiftness.” This “surgical operation”, however, resulted into a national tragedy in which more than 1000 people were killed.
The Lutheran Church Massacre
The massacre in the Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in Sinkor, Monrovia, during the early days of the Liberian-Civil War is also one of the most brutal massacres. This was the largest Lutheran congregation in the country with three services held every Sunday.
During July and early August, over 900 people sought shelter here. On Sunday, July 29, 1990, at about 7 PM, over 200 soldiers from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), headed by an infamous Liberian named Charles Julu, invaded the church, murdered 600 innocent Liberian civilians — mostly Gios and Manos, including many women with children –, and wounded 150 others.
Cow Field, Duport Road Massacre
About 48 people (civilians) were massacred and burnt by Paul Vaye, Sam Lartee and other soldiers, whilst they were asleep at their homes on Cow field, Duport Road in the Paynesville area. The perpetrators of these massacres have yet to be identified, although residents of the areas have pointed fingers at Taylor’s NPFL. They were buried in a mass grave in the Palm Grove Cemetery on Center Street.
Harbel Massacre of June 6, 1993
On June 6, a group of armed fighters slaughtered over 500 displaced persons, mostly women and children, at a settlement on the Firestone plantation at Harbel.
Over 600 men, women and children were hacked to death by the NPLF in what became known as the Carter Camp Massacre in Harbel, Margibi County on June 6, 1993. The Armed Forces of Liberia under the command of then C-I-C Dr. Amos C. Sawyer was said to have committed the atrocities because goods looted from the dead were found dumped around AFL positions in Firestone rubber plantations.
Massacre in Yarsonnoh, Nimba County in Feb. 1990: A group of AFL soldiers led by Capt. James Celly, Hon. Donzo, Commissioner residing in Ganta, killed 71 persons in Yarsonnoh and burned 52 houses in that town.
Massacre in Ganta, Nimba County in Feb. 1990: A group of AFL soldiers headed by Edwin Voker, Commissioner of Sacleapea Mah, Vakaba Bility and Mr. Biabia entered Karnwee,Nimba County and arrested 18 young men under the guise of being NPFL facilitators. The victims were taken to Ganta and murdered.
Massacre in Nimba County in March 1990: Paul Vaye, George Mansuo, Tarkpor Gweh and men assigned with them arrested Moses Duopue, Stephen Daniels and some of their family members and killed them in Tiaplay,Nimba County. They allegedly acted on the orders of the then Maj. Charles Taylor.
Massacre in Monrovia in June 1990: Moses Thomas, Moses Wright, James Chelly, George Dweh and Tailey, in consultation with President Doe, massacred 27 Gio and Mano families that were members of the AFL and residing at the BTC barracks. They were buried on the beach behind the BTC.
Massacre in Bakedu, Lofa County in July 1990: G. Anthony Mehn, Joe Doe and their bodyguards murdered about 32 persons of the Mandingo ethnic group in Bakedu Lofa County. The murderers were fighters of NPFL.
Massacre in Monrovia in 1990: George Dweh eliminated the Johnny Nah family in Monrovia.
Massacre in Monrovia on August 2, 1990: George Dweh led a group of AFL soldiers to the JFK hospital and massacred 250 persons, most of who were Gios and Manos ethnic groups. Majority of them were seeking refuge at the hospital compound while others were arrested at the gate that was placed on the boulevard at the hospital entrance.
The incursion into Sierra Leone in March 1991: Dopoe Menkarzohn, Charles Tingban, Nixon Gaye, Timothy Mulbah and Christopher Varmo crossed into Sierra Leone with about 350 men, armed with assorted weapons as the beginning of the RUF incursion. These men were trained on fair grounds in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, by a group of Gambians headed by Dr. Manneh.
Massacre in Zorzor, Lofa County in May 1991: Mangouhb Menior of the NPFL murdered 16 persons of the Mandingo and Gbandi ethnic groups in Zorzor. The victims were accused of being enemies of the revolution launched by Charles Taylor. Menlor was temporarily detained by Isaac Musa and later released on parole.
“We will be marching to memorialize the over 250,000 people who were killed during the brutal Liberian Civil War which lasted 1989 to 2003. We believed all those responsible for the killings of our mothers, fathers and children must be brought to justice,” Emmanuel Savice, one of the leaders of the group (Campaigners and Victims of the Liberian Civil War) that has organized the protest intoned.
“We are also appealing to all Liberians whether you are affected or not to join the peaceful march beginning at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion during the early morning hours of November 12. We are encouraging all to dress in white or black T-Shirts with the names of your dead relatives printed in bold letters for the purpose of seeking justice,” he added.
It has been reported that high-level international prosecutors are currently in Monrovia to attend an international justice conference and hold talks with organizations and groups advocating for the establishment of War Crimes Court in Liberia.
Recently, 76 civil society groups jointly petitioned the CDC – led government to take immediate action in establishing War and Economic Crimes Court In Liberia.
“With a new government elected on a platform of ending corruption and upholding the rule of law in the nation, our organizations call on Liberia to meet its international obligations to prosecute serious crimes and provide justice to victims of the civil wars,” said Adama Dempster, Secretary General of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform.
Hassan Bility, head of the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), a group seeking justice for victims of the nearly 14 years of civil unrest in Liberia averred:
“When I think of all the innocent people in Liberia and those who suffered and died at the hands of warlords and many that committed atrocities enjoying their lives in safety and comfort in the US and Europe; I yearned for Justice.”
Though he supported the formation of War Crimes Court In Liberia when he was UNICEF Ambassador and then head of the biggest opposition party in the country, President George Weah has continuously remained taciturn on the matter since becoming head of state.