President Ellen Jonson Sirleaf has dedicated a newly constructed Memorial Site in honor of several Liberians who died from multiple causes during the 14-year old armed conflict, which befell the country, from December 24th 1989 - up to August 11th, 2003.
Bodies were collected from different parts of Monrovia and buried in a mass grave at the Du-port Road Waterside Community in Paynesville. She called on all Liberians to see the memorialization of the site as a “Process of everyone re-dedicating themselves to peace, national reconciliation and development of the Liberian Nation.”
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made the call on Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 in the Du-port Road Waterside Community in Paynesville City, Montserrado County, when she dedicated a newly constructed “Memorial Monument” in honor of hundreds of Liberians and foreign nationals who died in different parts of Monrovia during 14 years armed conflict and buried in a mass graves at the Du-port Road Waterside Community. “Take ownership of this site and preserve it,” she said.
In the dedicatory statement, the Liberian leader said even though on becoming the President of Liberia, following the 2005 elections which brought her to power, following her inauguration on January 16th, 2006, one key decision she took was to accept the nominations of individuals selected to serve on the Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHCR), as recommended by the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord, which ended the Liberian crisis.
President Sirleaf recounted that also, during the National Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC-Hearing of 2008) in Liberia, it was also recommended that there was a need for the establishment of the Independent National Human Rights Commission, which according to her, was adhered to.
She continued, - as a result of this, since the establishment of the (INHCR), working in line with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, the Independent National Human Rights Commission has located a number of places, where many Liberians, as well as foreign nationals were killed and buried in mass graves. She said - these places should be memorialized like what has been done at the Du-port Waterside, in a bid to add values to the spirit and souls of those loss ones, because according to her Liberians are noted for caring for the dead, and properly burying their lost ones.
President Sirleaf acknowledged that while it is true that the Independent National Human Rights Commission members serve according to tenure, she was delighted to see the kind of progress that they have made, beginning with those who had been working at the commission from its inception - including those currently serving the entity for their achievements, because they started everything that is progressing there today.
“What you have started here today is a clear manifestation that what you started sometimes ago, must be achieved, as planned,” President Sirleaf told the gathering. She noted that: “We have a roadmap that we can follow by memorializing the remaining 155 mass graves across the length and breadth of this country to bring healing to the spirits and souls of all those who were buried in those places and their beloved ones who are still alive.”
The Liberian leader said even though the Independent National Human Rights Commission may not be able to memorialize all of the 155 identifies mass graves across Liberia before her administration leaves office. However, she said - we want to see what you can do for people to know and see what you are doing.
”Therefore, I charge you today to take charge of finding a forward in memorializing all of the identified 155 mass graves across Liberia, even if you cannot finish it during our tenure, if it is completed during the next administration that will come after us, we will be satisfied.”
President Sirleaf used the occasion to commend all those who provided moral, materials and financial supports to the Independent National Human Rights Commission, including the United Nations Peace Building Fund which provided (UsD$59,000.00), with said fund managed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for the construction of the “Memorial.”
For his part, the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Human Rights Commission, Mr. James Torh, in brief remarked, said construction of the Memorial Monument at the Du-port Road Water Side is a clear indicator that the administration of President Sirleaf is truly committed to genuine national peace, reconciliation and development of the Liberian society. Commissioner Torh used the occasion to commend residents of Du-port Road Water Side Community for being so cooperative with the Lackey Construction Company, a Liberian owned and operated construction firm, which executed the project, urging the residents to take ownership of the site by maintaining it to keep it clean at all times.
Also making remark at the dedicatory ceremony, the Head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, and Coordinator of all United Nations Operations in Liberia Farid Zariff said the dedicatory was a very sad day for Liberia, in form of the loss of thousands of lives during the war.
“I wondered whether there was any way to prevent this,” Mr. Zariff inquired, continuing: “we everyone will learn from this loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and pray for a peaceful Liberia that such could not occur anymore.”
The Du-port Road Memorial Site dedicatory ceremony was attended by Internal Affairs Minister, Henrique Flomo Tokpah, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Boimah S. Kamara, Transport Minister, Samuel Wlue, Head of Executive Mansion Anti-Corruption Presidential Task Force, Jonathan Fonatti Koffa and Monrovia City Mayor, Clara Doe Mvogo, amongst others.
Meanwhile, in a related development, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, led by Mr. James Torh, Acting Chairman of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, on Wednesday, March 8th, 2017, in consonant with an Act of the National Legislature, which declared the Second Working Wednesday of March of every year as a National Holiday to Memorialize the Dead, also laid wreathes at another memorial site in the Compound of the Lutheran Church on 14th Street in Sinkor, Monrovia, where scores of innocent Liberians who escaped from their homes to seek refuge in the Church’s compound were massacred in July of 1990.
President Sirleaf prayed for God’s bountiful blessing and healing upon the spirits and souls of all those massacred in the Church, including Mr. Nelson Philip Taylor, Father of Mr. Charles G. Taylor, the man who led outbreak of the 14-years old civil war, beginning from December 24th, 1989, who was also seeking refuge in the Lutheran Church, but felt prayed to death, when he was massacred along with scores of innocent people in the faith based compound in July of 1990.
Extension of the President’s memorializing visit also took her to the burial sites of late Liberian Presidents William R. Tolbert, William V.S. Tubman and Samuel Kanyon Doe. At those sites, President Sirleaf recalled the contributions of those past leaders, saying that their contributions was immense, although they were not perfect, but according to her, they played their roles in the development processes of the country.
President Sirlef used the occasion to laid wreathes at the grave sites of those leaders.
The Liberian leader similarly visited the burial site of Catholic Archbishop Michael Kparkala Francis at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Church Compound, during which she described him as a ‘Spiritual leader and a conscience of the nation who was noted constantly for praying for the Liberian Nation and its people.
She said Bishop Francis also represented the less fortunate in the Liberian Society at all levels.
Meanwhile, President has closed this year’s Two Day International Women’s Day Celebration with the singing of the first stanza of the song entitled: “I am a Woman” by Helen Raddy, using the occasion to congratulate all women of the world including Liberia on the International Day.
The Liberian women from all over Liberia honored President Sirleaf for being the example of women in Africa. They presented gifts and thanked her for promoting women’s rights.
Several individuals, including ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Madam Teresa of the Kingdom of Spain, Speaker of the Parliament of Rwanda, the Special Representative of the United Nations secretary General to Liberia, Representative of Korea, and several others paid tributes to the Liberian leader describing her as “Giant among many,” saying that they were proud to stand on her shoulders .
They congratulated her for her selfless leadership disposition exhibited over years that has given women voices in Africa and AROUND THE WORLD.
They commended her and the Liberian people for the warm reception and hospitality accorded them since their arrival in Liberia. The colloquium produced a communiqué that called for all leaders to own and be accountable for the achievement of gender equality.
“This is not a task which can be the sole responsibility of the national mechanism designed to promote the advancement of women and gender equality.
At the closed of the gathering, the women committed themselves to the following: (1): To establish a national and international platform of leadership building through mentorship for women and youths, building on the President’s Young Professional Program, (2): To establish a gender monitoring office to ensure full implementation of law, policy and instruments toward the advancement of women’s participation and the enlargement of their choice, (3): To strengthen partnership and action between women at the national level and women leading in their communities, to nurture future generations of women leaders, (4); To continue the process of legal reform that addresses the issues of inequalities in land ownership, access to finance, access to justice, etc, (5); To establish mechanism to transfer experience and knowledge between the generation, both from the experiences of the older generation to the younger and the contribution of the younger generation to the older in areas of digital literacy and technology.
The implementation of the commitment of this program will continue to be a bench mark of progress in Liberia and elsewhere.