President Operation We Care for Liberia
Facts Vs. Allegations; Thank God for US Library of Congress: Ellen Instructed Taylor to use “Child Soldier” See Her Statement to United States Congress in June 1990
TESTIMONY OF ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, LIBERIA ACTION PARTY
BEFORE THE AFRICA SUBCOMMITTEE
CURRENT CRISIS IN LIBERIA
JUNE 19, 1990
Chairman Wolpe, I thank you and members of the Africa Subcommittee, for the opportunity to give testimony concerning the current crisis in Liberia
My name is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a member of the Executive Committee of the Liberian Action Party. I was twice jailed between 1985 and 1986, charged respectively with sedition and treason as a result of my activity with the party. Thanks to you and to several human rights monitoring organizations, I am free.
Currently, I serve as Vice President and Washington Representative of Equator Banks.
My testimony will be very brief, touching upon the legacy of the Doe regime, the reality of the ongoing insurgency of the National Patriotic Front and what I believe to be the vision which the Liberian people have for the future of their country.
By overwhelming endorsement, the Liberia people gave legitimacy to the Samuel Doe regime when it came to power through a violent military coup in April, 1980. We did so because we believed that this indigenous son, as leader would represent and seek to achieve the aspirations of the majority of the Liberian people-a society characterized by equality and equity, responsibility and responsiveness, resourcefulness and honesty.
Today the Liberia State is exhausted and virtually near collapse. Economic resources have been plundered and misused by public officials whose greed and conspicious consumption are unparalleled in the nation’s history. Citizens and country alike have been reduced to begging for survival whil substantial wealth accumulates in the hands of a privileged few. A once lowly master sergeant who came to power to redress the improprieties and inequalities in the society now rides, draped in jewelry and three piece suits, in a Roll Royce with some fifteen other luxury cars in waiting. He speaks of love for a people, but a people who are feeling the brunt of a steady economic decline which has left them impoverished. Unemployment, spiraling cost of living, the lack of medical facilities, inadequately equipped schools, little means of transportation and a depleted national capital stock are common conditions which they face. Even their culture and traditional ways of life are being threatened by wanton environmental degradation.
Attempts to address these grave economic shortcomings have been consistently spurned over the years by a government lacking the political will to reform. As a result, financial institutions have withdrawn their support. The country is bankrupt; civil servants have not been paid for months and are unable to receive the social services such as power and water which enhance the quality of life.
This economic tragedy is mirrored by a political system which is maintained through state terrorism.
Arbitrary arrests, imprisonment, torture, secret and public executions, together with wilful destruction and dispossession of private properties have been a consistent pattern. Unfortunately, this has been helped by repeated external sympathy for the regime, as each new atrocity ignored has served as a license for even more gruesome activities.
We are sure that when the record of the Doe regime is finally assessed, we will find a human rights record so profound in its tally of death and destruction as to astound the world.
Liberia does not represent an example of social harmony, given the dichotomy which has characterized our society. But in the past ten years we have seen the development of ethnic strife, divisions and hostility unknown to us before. The oligarchy which now exists thus perpetuates itself on the divide and rule principle.
This is the legacy of the present regime and its chief architect, Samuel Doe-a legacy of economic mismanagement and decline, lawlessness, violence, political repression and social discord.
The post-December 24 events developed out of these conditions and out of a sense of hopelessness, helplessness, humiliation and rage. In Ideally. Liberians should be prepared to exercise patience until 1991 and then seek to oust the Doe regime by the ballot box. But given the experience of the fraudulent elections of 1985 to which I can give personal witness, and in the absence of any evidence since that time of a change in his policy and practices, not one single Liberian can honestly attest to confidence that Samuel Doe in power the 1991 elections or any other scheduled before that time would be more that a repeat of 1985.
Additionally, the current uprisings should not be seen as a repeat of the 1980 coup or the 1985 invasion involving the participation of a small number of armed dissidents who seek to overthrow a government and proclaim for themselves a new one.
This revolt symbolizes a civil war which encompasses regions of the country where more than two thirds of the Liberian people live and the resources are located. These people, many of them children, have joined this struggle for freedom with little more than courage and hope for the future. It is within this context that the uprising represents an opportunity for the creative transformation of the Liberian political landscape.
To use the words of noted Liberian academic and professional, Elwood Dunn, “In 1990 Charles Taylor is as much the principal instrument of history as Samuel Doe was in 1980.”
This is the reality and one to which the Liberian people must give adequate response to ensure that the future for which we hope – a democratic society which is based upon participation, concensus and compassion and one which seeks to promote the creative talents of all its citizens under conditions of equity and equal opportunity – can come to pass.
For, it is these ideals which form the foundation for sustainable growth and economic prosperity.
In pursuit of these goals, the Samuel Doe regime must go – the mandate must pass to Charles Taylor who must in turn commence the process toward democracy.
There is another reality. whether we like it or not, Liberia is perceived as the closest one can come to an American colony in Africa. A shared history, a long standing friendship, and to a certain extent a common culture, make Liberia in the eyes of the international community an example of the commitment or lack of commitment, the effectiveness or ineffectiveness, of United States policy in Africa. The time to act is now. Liberians, with support of friends of Liberia, particularly the United States, must get off the fence and assist the process of political transformation. In practical terms, this means concerted actions to pressure Samuel Doe into resigning; it means initiatives to restore political stability perhaps with the help of an acceptable international peacekeeping force; it means continued leaning on Taylor to announce a fixed timetable for free and fair elections monitored and observed by international agencies.
We will need more. Liberia is an economic disaster despite the more than half a billion dollars provided by the United States since 1980 and almost like amount provided by other bilateral and multilateral donors. However, I believe that with good government (and we will settle for no less) and with your assistance, the task of economic recovery and reconstruction can commence and can be made successful. I believe that a politically transformed Liberia can break the traditional shackles of dependency.
Members of the committee, on Saturday in Alexandria where I live I will bury my mother. She had hoped that she would have been able to return home to the warmth of additional family and friends before being called to the great beyond. For her time ran out. The more than 12 percent of the Liberian population, some 200,000 people which are in neighboring countries, and 70,000 in this country, and the countless number of citizens who are internally displaced, pray daily for what my mother dreamed a chance to return home and lead normal lives.
A hundred years of friendship with America deserves your support to the current struggle which seeks to help these people achieve this simple goal.
I thank you