Monday, March 24, 2008

Why Liberian Refugees refused integration into Ghanaian Society

By: Semantics King Jr., Minneapolis

Ghanaians have always made the world or at least Africans to believe that the proverbial Ghanaian “Akwaba” is genuine and obviously observable when people from other countries are living or temporarily resident on Ghanaian soil.
And there is no doubt about how they sing praises with how hospitable, friendly and accommodating Ghanaians are. They pride themselves as being true Africans.
There was no wonder then, when victims of Liberia’s civil war decided to seek refuge in this hospitable African country in the early ‘90s.
When the first batch of 25 Liberian refugees arrived in Ghana in 1990, Ghanaians under the able leadership of Ghana’s president, Jerry John Rawlings who also later became the chairman of the regional body of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), openly accepted the Liberians.
Though this writer was not a member of that first group of refugees, he spoke to some surviving members of that group of people and found that Ghanaians even offered the refugees their personal homes to live in, gave them food to eat and even helped some to attend school in Ghana at the expense of some Ghanaian hosts.
In fact, when some Liberians were stranded on sea in 1996 onboard the Bulk Challenge Ship during Liberia’s shortest but fiercest war in central Monrovia, other west African countries refused to allow the ship land with the huge number of suffering and hungry Liberian refugees on their soil but Ghana did.
And there may be several other stories never heard of on how some Ghanaians assisted their Liberian African neighbors (it’s only Ivory Coast that is between Ghana and Liberia in terms of geographic locations and English is spoken in Ghana as in Liberia unlike Ivory Coast).
Therefore someone reading this might say wow that was great help given Liberians in Ghana. So getting adjusted or (as the UN refugee agency calls it) integrated into Ghanaian society should not be a problem for any Liberian refugee in Ghana.
Oh sure enough if you consider the above accounts which have been made public by many Ghanaians and even some Liberians.
But there is the other side of the coin. That side is always hidden and perhaps a secret that nobody dares talk about. No.
This writer,then himself a refugee but a relatively dispassionate journalist who lived and worked in Ghana from 2000 to 2006, knows all too well events that happened in the Liberian refugee camp and even those in Ghanaian communities because he traveled across all regions of Ghana and worked with a few Ghanaian dailies in Accra.
In May 2000, there was a serious scuffle between the Liberian refugees in Buduburam and the Ghanaian police force. During that time, live bullets were fired at Liberian refugees and when arguably Ghana’s best radio station Joy F.M reported about how Ghanaian police over-reacted to the refugee situation in the camp, it broadcast vividly describing the situation on air and it’s reporter that saw the incident said that was inhumane.
Unfortunately, however, that particular news item was withdrawn during the subsequent newscast on Joy F.M. leaving many discerning listeners to wonder what was happening to Joy since it has a custom of repeating news items regularly but not this one.
The incident involving the police and the refugees that day arose when refugees had captured a Ghanaian who was using long-pointed iron(used in Africa to kill frogs at night) to harm and eventually kill the refuges at night.
Due to the heat in Ghana coupled with the fact that most of the houses that refugees lived in were built with mud, living or sleeping in them at night can be a real oven. Therefore, the refugees used to leave their windows opened at night to catch the mid-night cozy breeze that would put them to sleep.
It was during this time that a Ghanaian was arrested harming another Liberian refugee family at night and turned over to the Camp Police.
Unfortunately, however, the police refused to prosecute the Ghanaian as he was released without any explanation from the Ghanaian authority in the refugee camp, so the refugees were clamoring for justice to be meted against him. But the police refused and the refugees said they wouldn’t leave the camp police station. Reinforcement was called from the nearby Military based and began firing directly at the refugees. Many were wounded severely.
Between 2001 and 2002, several children were reported missing and up to now there are no reports indicating they have been found at all.
On February 23, 2003 Ghana police forcefully rounded all men age 15 up on the soccer patch after one of Ghana’s newspapers, The Chronicles reported that Buduburam was a training base for fighters in the war in Ivory Coast. No weapons were found among the refugees. They were however, threatened by Ghana’s military commander, Brigadier General Danquah.
During that early morning raid, police and sniffer dogs including war helicopter were used to round up the men. The men remained in the scorching sun from 4am till 6pm Ghana time. Nobody condemn Ghana for violating the rights of refugees.
Before releasing the refugee men, security forces subjected them to insults, and branded them as criminals, rebels, and armed robbers, prostitutes and drug-traffickers.
In order instances, refugees have been arrested unjustly and incarcerated in prisons without due process of law. Reports from families indicate that some of the refugees were taken away by Ghana police and have never been seen since.
In Oct 2005 James Miller, a young and brilliant Liberian man was murdered in Awutu, a village near the refugee camp and his body parts cut into pieces like market meat. His killers are still at large.
Prior to that gruesome murder, several Liberian kids were found dead in the refugee camp with some of their body parts taken away by their killers for ritualistic reasons
In March 2006, a beautiful Liberian refugee woman, Joyce Wilson was killed in a hotel in Accra and her killers are still at large even today.
Although the camp Manager Cal Afun who is a Ghanaian said in a mass camp residents meeting at the Refuge Baptist Church that “nobody had the right to kill her”, Ghana police investigations continue without establishing the killers.
As if Joyce’s murder was not enough, another Liberian refugee woman, 30-year-old Amelia Gymulnee-Whitersoon was allegedly stabbed and burned to death on June 8,2006 at 10pm Ghanaian time in the refugee camp.
In April 2006,a 48-year-old Ghanaian man, Kojo Antwi allegedly raped a nine-year-old Liberian refugee girl while she was returning home from school in the camp. The case is still pending in Ghana as we speak.
Then in July, just before this writer left the refugee camp for the United States on July 26,2006,another Liberian refugee woman, Linda Johnson was nearly killed in Accra by some Ghanaian men had it not been God’s grace. Today, the attempted killers are moving about freely in the land of Gold.
The chairman of the Liberian Refugee Welfare Council, Varney Sambola asked as rhetorical question during one of the camp residents’ meetings, and I wish to reecho the same question, “when will enough be enough?” Where are the authorities both UNHCR and Ghana? When will the investigations end and the culprits brought to justice? When will violence against Liberian refugee women be as unacceptable as all other forms of violence?
I ask each one of you reading this article to just take a moment and think about the hardships that Liberian refugees in general but Liberian refugee women in Ghana in particular face with the passing of each day?
Do you think any Liberian refugee in Ghana experiencing such abuses will be willing and able to integrate in Ghanaian society?
Liberian refugees who were accepted to further their education at the University of Ghana, Legon are asked to pay their tuitions in foreign fees (almost $27,000united States dollars) while their Ghanaian counter-parts pay in Ghanaian cedis (less than a million cedis per semester or so). Is that a sign of integration for Liberian refugees?
In June 2007, the Nigerian government asked Liberian refugees and Sierra Leonean refugees who refused to return home to integrate in Nigerian society and the refugees accepted. Why? Because refugees from those countries had been enormously helped by the Nigerian people, Nigerian churches and even Nigerian government.
Those refugees attending Nigerian Universities pay their tuition in Naira and not United States dollars as in Ghana just the same amounts that Nigerian nationals are paying for higher education. Many Liberian refugees and Sierra Leonean refugees are offered well-paying jobs in Nigeria.
We have not heard of reports about how Liberian refugees in Nigeria are being killed by unknown men or people despite the fact that Nigeria has a very high crimes rate.
When the women refugees were demonstrating for increment to $1,000 in their repatriation package or they be resettled to third countries of asylum, a request that was directed at the UNHCR and not the government and people of Ghana, these were reactions from some Ghanaians all over the world.
“I think it’s time for the government of Ghana to send these guys out without any regards to international laws,” writes Prince, a Ghanaian in the United States.
“Stupid fools, western countries indeed. I don’t think Ghanaians can do this in any country, look at Libya even Gambia doing to our people over there. God bless Ghana.”
Another Ghanaian, Steve Acquah wrote on MyJoyOnline “these guys are crazy. They (Ghana government) have to throw them back to Liberia. Who told them to fight and become refugees? Ahhhh, in the first place, they (refugees) have not contributed in anyway to help in the development of our great country. They must be kicked out. Look at the way other African countries treat us when we are there….”
Ablorh Adjei, another Ghanaian wrote: “I think it’s time we tell the Liberians at Buduburam to go home and help rebuild their country rather than encourage them to stay in Ghana doing nothing”, he said online.
“We have had enough of them and their actions. They must go before they turn around and tell us in December that they are being prevented from voting in the presidential and Parliamentary elections.”
Another Ghanaian, only identified as Baby, reacting to a comment made by another said “you are very funny to say the kind of trash you are rattling about. What freedom of speech gives these ingrates the rights to demand and complain so badly? I surely presume you are a Liberian yourself because no right thinking Ghanaian would bring out such thrash” Baby said.
“Let these people go back to Liberia and help Johnson Sirleaf and co rebuild the country Charles Taylor destroyed, after all what other benefits other than chasing our married men, prostitution, and armed robbery we are getting from them. If you want to settle to Europe, first visit your equally peace hating Iraq and proceed from there. God is watching all you Liberians who seem ungrateful after all we have done for you, your rewards await you Western world indeed you chaotic lots. Please send these people back to Monrovia before they petition the UN of our devoiding them of their rights to vote as Liberian born Ghanaians.”
Another Ghanaian claiming to be writing from the United Kingdom who only identified himself as Asempa wrote, “These Liberians are first class ingrates. The government should dispose of them from Sikaman Ghana as rubbish with immediate effect otherwise, I will also mobilize some people from Kasoa, Weija and Buduburam camp area for counter demonstration against these ungrateful idiots,” he said.
“Can any of these idiots justify their demands? What had been their contribution to the local economy apart from prostitution and armed robbery? Liberia is safe now so they should go away as soon as possible.”
These are the people among whom UNHCR or the government of Ghana expect Liberian refugees to live. Is that not clear sign that integration for Liberian refugees in Ghanaian society would be even more disastrous than what is unfolding now?
Many Liberian refugees have been killed by cars while walking to the roadside to search for water. Records I met in Ghana indicate that for the last 10 years, Liberian refugees were deprived of pipe-borne water.
As a result, many risked their lives in search of water from boreholes, streams and other unhygienic sources.
Regarding shelter, refugees have built their own structures using their own means and money sent to them by relatives and friends from abroad over the last 18 years.
Many refugees are forced to pay taxes on their own homes by greedy Landowners and chiefs.
Though UNHCR has its name and banners over the camp with inscriptions such as “all UNHCR services are free”, refugees continue to pay for healthcare at the clinic and for shelter.
Many refugees who cannot afford the almost $50 charged them resort to over-the-counter treatment which often leads to health complications and fatalities.
On sanitation, although there are many latrines in the camp, each refugee wanting to attend to nature needs to pay 100 cedis, which is costly for many who can’t afford because they also need to look and pay for water and food.
Consequently, many refugees are victims of threats and attacks in the bushes and what is also called the “Gulf”(open space where they go to attend nature which is free) but requires distant walking and it’s risky.
Latrines and bathrooms were meant to be managed by refugees they(refugees), however, they have been taken over by Ghanaians, thereby limiting the potential employment of many refugees in the camp.
Education is a basic right to all refugee children in primary schools under domestic law. Not only have primary students been paying school fees, they have also been exempted from school feeding programs provided to all primary students in Ghana.
Due to lack of income from refugee parents, hundreds of children are unable to acquire basic education in the refugee camp.
Most alarming however, is the blatant lack of capacity building measures by UNHCR and the Christian Council of Ghana (a government agency responsible for refugee education).
Their programs supposed to equip refugees with skills needed for self-reliance and economic development. However, the limited training programs in the refugee camp lack resources, materials and internship programs.
Readers, how can Ghanaians expect the refugees to integrate into their society when very little has been done to offer them employment and skill development? When Ghanaians only pretend to like people or Liberians through their lips and not from their hearts?
What has happened to the so-called free enterprise market system that Ghana so proudly boasts about?
When refugee women who are forced to become the bread-winners of their various families in the camp are kicked out of their own Buduburam market by Ghanaian women, who claim “this is my country, get the hell out”, how is s refugee woman to make a living and support her family?
Although Ghana appears to be a stable and peaceful country in West Africa, the same cannot be said for the life of Liberian refugees in the camp. Because of the last 10 years, as already mentioned, refugees have been direct victims of serious attacks by unknown persons since 2000 when UNHCR withdrew all support for Liberian refugees in Ghana.
When Liberian refugees are continuing to experience abuse, intimidation and murder from many Ghanaians, does this not clearly indicate the xenophobia of Ghanaians to accept the Liberian refugees into their society?
Is it not apparent to you readers and the government of Ghana that these events make it obvious that Ghanaians are unwilling to co-exist with the Liberian refugees in the so-called integration process?
All forms of violence breach the very fundamental human rights covenants enshrined in the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Liberian refugees in Buduburam, Ghana have the right to equal protection under the law. Why are they not being protected? Anyone abusing others’ rights is acting against the law. Therefore I called on the authorities of the Western World and International Organizations to ensure that the law is respected because women’s and refugees’ rights are human rights.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

More arrest and deportation at Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana

By Semantics King Jr.,Minnespolis

Ghana’s Police force at about 3am Ghanaian time today began arresting Liberian refugee men including those with the joint Government of Ghana and UNHCR issued identification cards.
Reports say those without will be send back to Liberia in a day or two since they are not refugees.

Ghana’s deputy foreign Minister, Frank Agyekum told Ghanaians that the 35 Liberian men arrested this morning are not refugees but are a part of agroup formenting trouble.He said they will be repatriated to Liberia.
But according to an eye witness,(his name is withheld for some security reasons) who spoke to from his hiding place through his cellphone, though it ’s still unclear what prompted the renewed arrests,he thinks Ghana is arresting and contemplating forcefully repatriating the refugees because of what some Ghanaians called Liberians ungratefulness.
Our Source said Ghana Police began going from house to house to effect the arrests as there is no authority in the camp as he spoke to us.He said Police even went to the St.Gregory Catholic Clinic in the refugee camp run by UNHCR and arrested some patients who were on critical medical list that needed urgent medical attention .
Our Source said the men arrested this morning were taken to Burma Camp near the capital, Accra.
Meanwhile a 54-year old Liberian refugee woman was also arrested this morning while on her way to Accra. Her son, Issac Fahnbulleh who spoke to from his cell phone said his mother; Sonne Kaba was arrested when she went to pick up the Liberian flag that Ghanaian Police had thrown on the ground.

He said while his mother was walking on the road, she saw Ghanaian Police pull down the Liberian flag and began to tear it into pieces. She rushed to save her country’s flag from being destroyed but Ghana Police advised her not to touch it. She refused and she was arrested.
There are three flags flown at the offices of the Liberian Refugee Welfare Council in the refugee camp. A Ghanaian, UNHCR and Liberian flags. Of the three, Isaac said, only the Liberian flag was pull down.
Almost a month ago, a group of Liberian refugee women began protesting a UNHCR repatiation package which they said was not enough to allow them rebuild their lives and begin Life anew in Liberia.

They asked the UNHCR to provide each of them with $1000USD or they should be resettled to third countries of asylum. They refused to be integrated into Ghanaian society because Ghanaians don’t like them.
Two pregnant women among a number of Liberian refugees seized by Ghanaian security agents are reported to have had miscarriages at the Kodeabe Youth Camp in the Eastern Region where they are being held. Two others have suffered scorpion bites, and according to Nana Oye Lithur of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, conditions are simply appalling for the refugees.
Another woman who had diarrhea was only saved by the intervention of a human rights activist who called the commander of the security unit for her to get medical attention.About 600 demonstrating refugees were on Monday arrested at their Gomoa Buduburam Camp and carted to Kodeabe by security forces after they spurned Interior Ministry warnings to cease the demonstrations because they contravened the Public Order Act.

Nana Oye Lithur of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, who spoke in Accra on Thursday March 21, 2008, said the government itself was violating the Constitution by holding the refugees beyond the legally permissible period of 24 hours for arrests and detentions.She said since their arrest, the refugees are yet to be charged before any court, arguing that even if their case was a special one, it still remained the prerogative of the courts to decide their fate, and not even the President, let alone the Interior Minister. The Human rights activist said “not even the President of the Republic of Ghana can go against the Constitution, nobody and more so a Minister of Interior. That is why we have the courts to ensure that the powers of Government are balanced with the individual rights and these Constitutional provisions are entrenched in our Constitution and it is for these very reasons that we have them entrenched and that is why the Minister of the Interior should take the matter to court for the courts to decide.
And he has to inform the courts why he is still holding them beyond the 48 hours rule. We are not talking about whether they are refugees or not, we are talking about the fact that he is violating the Constitution and detaining people in custody beyond 48 hours and their conditions are not good enough, they are deplorable if you ask me. They are deplorable from what I saw today and that is not right,” Nana Oye said”.She added that tents housing the refugees had no underlay and it exposed them to a lot of danger.Nana Oye Lithur said even if the government intended to deport the refugees, there were procedures that did not allow the abuse of the rights of the refugees. She therefore urged the Interior Ministry to respect the Constitution and go to court if it intended to press charges since their current state left their lives in danger.

Refugees claimed they have lived in Ghana for the past 18 years, yet Ghana was not able to feed them, send them to school or even provide basic human services to them. Therefore, they believe integration into Ghanaian society would be a hard fight for them.
Reports just reaching indicate that 30 Liberians have been repatriated to Monrovia and would arrive there between 5:30pm and 6pm Liberian time. Of the 30,21 are men while nine are women.
Liberia’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that 30 of its citizens would be arriving in the country today.

Please keep your explorer on as we will bring you all the latest news as it happens in the Liberian refugee camp in Ghana.

Sam K.Zinnah from Deleware also helped to compile this report

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More than 600 Liberian refugees kidnapped in Ghana

Report emanating from the Volta region (in Ghana) reveals that over six hundred Liberian refugees women “including children” are currently held on an abandoned training camp situated in the Volta region of Ghana. According to one of the refugees “currently with the group in the Volta region”, situation is getting worse especially with the children who are not used to sleeping outside in opens. The refugee (whose name is withheld for security reason) described their situation as “humiliating and dehumanized”. She explained that they were kidnapped/adopted by the Ghanaian army on the morning of March 17, 2008 and driven to an unknown destination. When asked what was the reason given for their adoption? She said the Ghanaian military’s reason given them was that they “the refugees” blocked an ECOWAS road that passes near the Buduburam refugee camp. “We were not even close to the road, we have been peacefully protesting for increase in our repatriation package from the UNHCR. Our peaceful protest has been a sit in action that has been taking place on a soccer field on the refugee. What brought in the Ghanaian Army remains the million dollars un-answer question”. Those were the exact words of the refugee who claimed she was in bed in the open field of the abandon training camp in the Volta region where they are currently held hostage. She said some high ranking officials of UNHCR, the Ghana Refugee Board, and other Human right activists visited the training camp March 18, 2008. During their visit “according to the narrator”, the UNHCR advised them not to accept any offer from their hostage takers or kidnappers while negotiations are underway to secure the release of the refugees but what happens to them next remains un answer. In a telephone interview at about 7:41 PM Delaware State local time or 11:41 PM Ghanaian time, the refugee “ who sounded very frustrated, went into retrospect and began narrating stories dating back from 1996 when Ghanaian Navy shot at Liberia refugees aboard the famous leaking Nigerian Vessel “M/V Bulk Challenge”.
According to the 1951 Geneva refugee convention, UNHCR core mandate is to insure the international protection of refugees. This convention promotes the basic human rights of refugees. UNHCR suppose to act as an international watchdog over refugee issues. The 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees is also the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, their rights and legal obligations, and the obligations of states.
In august of 1993, Ghana enacted a refugee law which states that the Government of Ghana is not to dehumanize or refuse entry of refugees. In the same document, the Government also agreed not to dehumanized individual (s) or group of people because of their status. In contradiction of the above, the Government of Ghana on so many occasions has continued to abuse, dehumanize, and harass the Liberian refugees for years now. On May 13, 1996, the Government refused entry of a leaking Nigerian vessel “M/V Bulk challenge” carrying hundreds of fleeing Liberian refugees. The Ghana navy opened sporadic gun fire on armless refugees and attempted several times to force the vessel to return to Liberia. The Vessel captain “a Nigerian national”, refused to return to Liberia on grounds that his life and that of hundreds of armless refugees would be in danger. The captain forced his way “under sporadic shooting” to international waters (some 200 nautical miles) from the port of Takoradi in the western region of Ghana and headed to Lome, Togo. After days of negotiations by the then OAU, UNHCR and other world body” Ghana’s then deputy foreign minister “Mohammed Ibn Chambas” continued to defend his government’s actions and refused to accept the vessel. Few hours later, The United Nations announced a huge sum of money (I did not quite remember the exact amount) to be given to any country that would accept the famous leaking Nigerian vessel “M/V Bulk challenge”. Upon this announcement, the Bulk challenge was chased by the Ghana Navy and forced to return to the Port of Takoradi.
Upon disembarking from the vessel, refugees were transported to an abandoned school campus in a small village called Essipon (approximately twelve miles from Sekondi). The school campus was guarded by heavily armed soldiers. Few weeks after arrival, the Ghanaian army made several arrest of refugees. One of the victims “Philip Sinnah” was jailed for several weeks in Takoradi without trial or charges. He was later released and sent back to the refugee camp. A week later, a group of soldiers entered the camp at about 7am and began breaking into tents (refugees’ homes). Refugees were unmercifully beaten by some of the military men simply because they were asleep and did not run outside of their tents. Many sustained bruises on their faces and had to finance their own medical treatment. Over the years, we have also witnessed several assaults on refugees by the Ghana police on Buduburam camp in the central region of Ghana. In one of the cases, one Jonathan K Weedor (who’s presently the youngest commissioner on the elections in Liberia) was a victim. On March 19, 2001, He (Weedor) and many others were adopted and mal handled by Ghanaian police for days before they were released so this is not strange to the Liberian refugees at Buduburam. In May of 2004, this author paid a family visit to Ghana and decided to conduct some covert investigations on refugee cases that were reported by some friends. During my covert investigations, I caught several cases that ran me into tears. In one of the cases, I was made to understand that one of the refuges (whose name was not mentioned to me) died in the winneba prison without trial. Reliable information from my covert investigations shows that following rapid deterioration in his mental state, “the regional high court of the central region had a hearing in Awutu tribunal on Friday 13th day of September 2002 before his worship Mr. J.E. Wilson as chairman, Mr. H.K Zatey, and Mr. S.K.R Tetteh as members” an application filed on behalf of the inmate by one family lawyer by the name of Lisa Quarshie, order that he “the inmate” be sent to the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital to be medical examined was denied. Up to his death, nothing was done by the UNHCR to secure his release. Another refugee prisoner I met in the Winneba prisons had suffered what I described as “chronic psychological problem” because of his continual stay in prison without trial. When I spoke to him, all he told me was “I don’t know while am here. I’ve been here for more than two years now and no one seems to be doing anything about my condition”. He ran into tears while he concluded his statement. I managed to act like a man but his voice sounded like a million pounds on my head. I stood for a minute and ran into tears too. The last two prisoners I met in The Winneba prisons were Jasper Thomas and Sumo Gbelawoe. They both were arrested on August 9, 2002 for allegedly robbing Kenneth Roberts, Emma Kelle, Morris Rovers, Samilia Norman and Stewart Briggs of their assorted personal effects without any cause. Sumo told me he was arrested from the Buduburam camp at about 6am. He said he had come outside to urinate by the house. In the process of urinating, police ran to him and had him handcuff “simply because he was wearing a new T-shirt” and was transported to the Kasoa prison (some ten miles form Buduburam camp). Few days later, he was transferred to the Winneba prisons where he has since been. A family friend of Sumo “William Tokpa” contacted a lawyer to pursue the case but all efforts to get Sumo out went into vain. Sumo was still sitting in limbo waiting for God’s appointed date to be release. Before I left him, his last statement to me was “brother, you and God are my only hopes now” he balanced his hands under his chain in tears and looked at me walk out of the building. All that I took with me from my family visit was memories of painful occurrences. Upon my return to the States, I personally wrote the UNHCR head offices in Geneva, Switzerland and fax a copy to Amnesty International. My letters were accompanied by copies of communications between Sumo’s lawyer and the Government of Ghana. I appealed to the Government of Liberia, UNHCR, and Amnesty International to help secure the release of the refugees and arranged their repatriation. Few weeks after my contacts, I received several calls from UNHCR and Amnesty International asking for more information about the cases. Pressure mounted on the Government and UNHCR in Ghana which led to the release of some of the whilst it’s true that some Liberians are involved in dubious activities that have caused their imprisonment, others continued to become victims because of their colleague’s ugly behaviors. I am presently in possession of copies of some documents that I obtained during my covert investigations and will be glad to release them to the appropriate authorities for further investigations.Being a refugee in Ghana is becoming a crime since in fact harassment and kidnapping by both the Ghanaian military and the police is becoming a common practice

Monday, March 17, 2008

Press release


Phone: (562) 394-0285 Email:

Despite his impressive win at the polls, Charles Taylor could not and did not revive Liberia as president because this vicious warlord is responsible for the cold-blooded murders of tens of thousands of defenseless civilians. Considering this fact, is it likely that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – his co-conspirator - could succeed where Charles Taylor has failed? We are doubtful.

Seared in our memory are these haunting words: “He killed my ma, he killed my pa, I’ll vote for him.” Gripped with fear and grasping for straws, the Liberian people allowed Charles Taylor to become president. As everyone well knows, this only prolonged the misery. And regardless the level of Ellen’s contribution to the mayhem, her association with Charles Taylor has never been in doubt. That said; did we not again grasp for straws by electing her as the president? Why would anyone believe that a person so closely associated with Charles Taylor would be right to heal this nation?

The people of Liberia know full well Charles Taylor and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf are directly responsible for the rapes, torture, maiming and murders of more than 400,000 of our friends and loved ones. Yet Ellen has shown no contrition, compunction or remorse for her contribution, often downplaying the severity of this awful tragedy. Therefore, both these individuals are unacceptable as leaders or role models and will not be rewarded for their crimes.

The people of Liberia rejected Charles Taylor primarily because he murdered our fellow compatriots and wrecked the country’s entire infrastructure. This explains why in the fourth year of his presidency, he finally faced the people’s wrath, barely escaping alive.

The people have also rejected Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because she financed the brutal war that destroyed a generation, impoverished the entire population, decimated families, and turned Liberians into refugees and beggars. Ordering the NPFL rebels to bomb the residents of Monrovia is unpardonable. The question now is not if, but when will Ellen face the wrath of the Liberian people? Though the date may be unknown, the emotions are certain.

Feeling neglected and abandoned, the people of Liberia gathered their anger and dealt decisively with a grave injustice which many had conveniently ignored. This lesson must not be overlooked. The anger which led to the tumultuous events of 2003 still burns deep in the millions whose lives were disrupted by the actions of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Charles Taylor. But again we wait patiently, hoping and trusting that people of conscience will address this grievous injustice in the interest of peace. We’re hoping our international partners realize if Charles Taylor could not restore peace to this nation, neither can Ellen.

It is difficult to say with any degree of certainty when their penned-up anger will eventually erupt into a violent rage. However, one thing is certain: a large segment of the population believes Ellen in large part is responsible for their hurt, pain, grief and loss. Without justice being served, it will be difficult if not impossible for these individuals to forgive and forget; especially when Ellen continues to rekindle negative emotions by mishandling post-war reconstruction.

Ellen’s decision not to appear before the internationally-sponsored Truth Commission, but rather give priority to the release of a book intended to fund her retirement only adds insult to injury. This brazen attempt to exploit our dead further demonstrates her contempt for the Liberian people. Such behavior has the potential of reigniting the violence considering the current highly charged atmosphere. And her insensitivity places the entire population at risk. She fails to realize the violence unleashed as a result of her ambitious quest for power is the greatest man-made disaster this nation has ever known; its consequences no doubt will linger for decades.

It is understandable Ellen now finds herself in an extremely difficult position being a major contributor to the breakdown of this nation. However, it would be a crime on our part to allow millions to suffer in order to protect a single individual. Ellen knew full well her level of involvement in organizing and prosecuting the brutal war that produced deep-seated anger, hatred and suspicion. Therefore she should have seriously considered possible repercussions before seeking the office of president. Now as the President, she must lead, follow, or step aside.

No longer must we delude ourselves into believing Liberia can emerge from its quagmire without holding accountable individuals bearing the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

This is why we can no longer stand idly by and wait for another deadly insurrection, which is certain to happen should Ellen continue to place her personal interests above that of the collective. And there is no denying it; this nation cannot and will not heal or be rebuilt successfully under the leadership of persons who organized, participated in, or financed the mass killings.

Therefore, peace-loving Liberians have mobilized under the banner Solidarity & Trust for A New Day (S.T.A.N.D) with the intent of bringing pressure to bear on the Sirleaf administration. It must implement the necessary changes in order to restore normalcy and reconstitute key institutions; preparing the country for a smooth transition to lasting peace and economic prosperity. The transition, however, must begin with rule of law.

We are honored that Honourable T. Q. Harris, Jr has agreed to serve as the leader of this grassroots Movement and be the voice of those seeking change without violence. We hope President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the interest of peace will listen to the voices of hope and reason. Her cooperation also will serve as a deterrent to those contemplating violence and discourage others from becoming foot soldiers.

May God bless these endeavors, endow us with wisdom, and grant us peace.

Welcome to STAND - the end of business as usual!