>Dear President Drew Faust and Members of Harvard University Faculty Senate Committee:
We, the undersigned, write to express to you and your university, in the strongest possible term, our collective concern and protest against making your alumna, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia as your convocation speaker this year.
This letter of protest comes to you and members of the faculty and staff of Harvard University from progressive and well learned Liberian citizens and friends of Liberia who strongly believe that your famed institution, Harvard University, being a well-respected, free thinking, and free standing institution of higher intellectual and academic pursuits, would not be used as a springboard to honor those whose well documented past and present activities promote terrorism, mayhem, and human carnage far afield from democratic tenets.
This is even more true when considering the fact that Harvard University has always prided itself on producing the best minds and leaders for a better democratic, peaceful, and technologically advanced society the world over, and not persons with immoral characters. Therefore, we sincerely believe you will agree with this assessment of the public image that your university would like to portray to the world.
Further, testimonies of key operatives and ranking officials of the defunct notorious National Patriotic Front of Liberia ( NPFL) have proven that your alumna President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the key mastermind of the barbaric civil war in Liberia that claimed the lives of more than a quarter million Liberians, foreign nationals, including five innocent Catholic nuns of the Precious Blood of Jesus who were gang-raped and murdered in cold blood during the infamous “Operation Octopus.”
In view of the above, Mr. President, members of the Harvard Faculty Senate Committee and student body, we would like to humbly inform you about our suffering and outcry for humanitarian assistance to implement the recommendations of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report that constitutes the fundamental backbone for the restoration of sustainable peace and stability in post conflict Liberia.
Against this backdrop, we would like to request you and the Harvard University community to reconsider the decision to invite President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as your convocation speaker in demonstration of Harvard University’s traditional support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the tenets of democracy. By doing so, you would send a strong message to President Sirleaf and the world that at Harvard University lawlessness and acts of banditry have no place in the 21st century.
President Faust and members of the Harvard family, highlights of the TRC Report include, among others, the following recommendations:
1. THAT the National Legislature of Liberia enact into law and forthwith proceed and establish in Liberia, a specialized criminal court to prosecute all human rights and international humanitarian laws violators from 1979 to 2003;
2. THAT all warring faction leaders of Liberia be forthwith indicted and prosecuted for allegedly and intentionally committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia;
3. THAT all most notorious perpetrators of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity be also indicted and prosecuted for violating international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, the laws of war and the domestic laws of the Republic of Liberia;
4. THAT all individuals and persons charged with committing economic and other crimes from 1979 to 2003 in Liberia, be also indicted and prosecuted; and
5. THAT all political leaders and financiers of warring factions in Liberia be banned from holding public office in Liberia for 30 years.
6. THAT Reparation or compensation be made to all those wrongfully and unlawful affected by the reckless and unprincipled armed conflict supported and sustained by President Sirleaf and other financially capable Liberians and business owners, amongst others.
Apart from the recommendations above, we believe it is high time that the world listened to our cry for justice and freedom based on the following issues:
Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf widely financed the Liberian rebellion led by Charles Taylor who broke jail from a maximum prison in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1985 to wage his onslaught on innocent and unarmed Liberian civilians, women and children. As a matter of fact, Mrs. Sirleaf openly and publicly admitted to supporting this vicious cause that subjected millions of her countrymen and women to wanton mayhem, torture, rape, and all forms of human degradation from December 24, 1989 to the present. See enclosed email testimony of Mr. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, former Spokesman and Defense Minister of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), dated Thursday, September 15, 2005;
Mrs. Sirleaf has continued her adamant disrespect of the will of the Liberian people by using her influence and connections in the West, such as Harvard University, to quash the recommendations of the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia. In this light, she is refusing to support the forthwith implementation of the TRC Report that contains a comprehensive framework for the restoration of sustainable peace, reconciliation, and reconstruction in post conflict Liberia;
In an attempt to escape justice, and perpetrate the culture of impunity in Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government has conspicuously nullified the provision of the TRC recommendations that calls for the banning of individuals found most responsible for the destruction of Liberia from serving in public office for 30 years. Thus, the Kangaroo Supreme Court of Liberia that has on its bench Kabineh Ja’neh, also one of the individuals indicted by the TRC report, has outlawed the TRC recommendations on so-called constitutional grounds? The scenario is one of a defendant sitting in the seat of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia and this in and off itself we consider as a travesty of democracy and justice;
Mrs. Sirleaf’s government has deliberately refused to promote a national agenda for national reconciliation that calls for including in her government of national unity Liberians from various ethnic groups who were most affected by ethnic cleansing. In this light, she has also failed to implement a comprehensive rehabilitation program for former child soldiers and former combatants to enable them acquire professional skills in order to be successfully reintegrated into mainstream society. As a consequence, armed robbery is on the rise in Liberia and thousands of Liberian citizens live under perpetual duress because the national security system in Liberia is infested with former rebel leaders and combatants who in cohort with Mrs. Sirleaf perpetrated heinous crimes against the Liberian people and humanity and are now freely roaming Liberia because their chief patrons can do any and all they want with impunity behind the guise of a state security badge;
Further, the Sirleaf government has come to be recognized as one of the most corrupt governments in the history of Liberia. The Transparency International (IT), 2010 Global Corruption Barometer report issued on December 9, 2010, graded Liberia as the world’s most corrupt country with 89%, followed by Uganda and Cambodia with 86% and 84%, respectively. Consequently, post war Liberians have been deprived for more than twenty-two years basic utilities and necessities such as safe pipe borne drinking water, electricity, safe and paved motor roads, lack of equipped hospitals, clinics, healthcare delivery systems, and medical professionals, coupled with a high unprecedented rate of infant mortality rate and high unemployment rate in Liberia. As a result, many Liberians die from curable diseases such as measles, malaria, diarrhea, and cholera; as well as numerous deaths caused by bad motor road accidents across Liberia. In fact, the infant and maternal mortality rates have worsened in Liberia today and this actual fact is totally contrary to the “whitewashed” public health and epidemiological data purportedly emanating from field health workers in Liberia;
More than 1.5 million Liberians are presently lingering in refugee camps around the globe. They have been utterly neglected by the Liberian Government and are therefore left to fend for themselves with limited support from host governments that have exhausted their resources in order to accommodate Liberian refugees prior to and after the presidential elections that brought Mrs. Sirleaf to power in 2005. In addition, all Liberian dispersed in the Diaspora have been deliberately denied their inalienable rights to cast their votes as citizens of Liberia during the forthcoming elections in November 2011, contrary to the United Nations International Convention On Civil and Political Rights to which Liberia is a signatory;
We vehemently oppose the holding of presidential and general elections in November 2011 in the absence of the full implementation of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and recommendations because both the TRC and the present Government of Mrs. Sirleaf are derivatives of the 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). We believe the November 2011 election is an illegal process designed to legitimize the culture of impunity in Liberia, with the intent to extend the reign of terror and pillage the natural resources of Liberia at the detriment of the downtrodden Liberian masses;
You will agree with us that Education is the fulcrum of human development in every society and that the neglect thereof may cast darkness on a nation and its people. Hence, we are very concerned that Education is at a low ebb in Liberia today and teachers are being denied their hard earned wages for many months, thus depriving Liberian teachers their right to self-preservation and the pursuit of happiness, liberty and freedom.
Additionally, many post-war Liberian schools lack basic instructional materials. As a result, the education of post-war Liberian children is being stifled by the Government of Liberia to encourage Liberian children to drop out of school and resort to being re-absorbed into emerging warring factions in the sub region (prime example, Cote d’Ivoire 2010). Recently Liberian students were brutalized by security forces loyal to Mrs. Sirleaf on March 22, 2011 in Monrovia because the students demanded back pay for their teachers. Up to now, no formal investigation has been launched by the government to resolve the brutal impasse between Mrs. Sirleaf’s security forces and the students and their teachers that have not been paid their wages for many months. Thus, perpetuating the culture of impunity; and
Unlawfully and intentionally, President Sirleaf has flatly refused and neglected to freeze the financial and other accounts and assets of former officials of Mr. Taylor Charles G. Taylor, former President of Liberia. Instead, she has nominated and hired many of these same officials whose illicit assets and money have been used to unlawfully murder Liberians and residents of Liberia. To date, Mrs. Sirleaf has knowingly and intentionally downplayed the Resolution of the UN that ordered Liberia to freeze all wealth and assets of the former Charles G. Taylor-led Government. Please see enclosed list of individuals subjected to the measure imposed by paragraph 4 of the Security Council Resolution 1521(2003) concerning Liberia and subsequently renewed by paragraph 1 (a) of resolution 1579 (2004). Please see attached.
We could go on and on enumerating the injustices that Liberians are daily faced with under the inhumane regime of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. However, we thought to provide you some light on our reasons why we protest President Sirleaf’s nomination as your keynote speaker at this year’s commencement exercises. We hope to achieve from the writing of this protest letter a commitment from President Sirleaf that she will support the forthwith implementation of the TRC’s recommendations to ensure sustainable peace and reconciliation in post conflict Liberia. Also, we expect from Harvard University, a portrayal of your commitment to justice and peace around the world, as well as your recognition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “That all men are born equal with the right to self-preservation and the pursuit of happiness.”
In view of the foregoing, we remain committed to ensuring that our views are heard by the world so that immediate remedy to the suffering of the Liberian people can be sought, respected and protected. Thank you for the kind and timely consideration.
Joseph Tomoonh-Garlodeyh Gbaba, Sr., Ed. D.
Exiled Liberian Playwright & Poet- Laureate
Co-Chair, Diplomatic & Political Action Committee
P. Nimley-Sie Tuon
Executive Director, Liberia Human Rights Campaign
Co-Chair Communication Committee
Cllr. Frederick A.B. Jayweh, B.A., LL.B., LL.M
Executive Director, Liberian Lawyers in the Americas
Co-Chair Legal and Diplomatic Committee
Lawrence Amos Zumo, MD
Neurologist, Co-Chair Political Action Committee
Jacob D. Massaquoi,II, MBA
President, Holistic Peace Movement
Co-Chair Recruitment and Mobilization Committee
Ballah Massaquoi, Sr. MA
Chairman, Movement for Democracy and Empowerment