Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
hearings are in full swing now that many of the major actors in the country's
conflicts from 1979 to 2003 have been testifying before the commission.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's national security advisor H. Boima
Fahnbulleh, who served as the first minister of education in the military
government of Samuel Doe in the 1980s, testified this week and said he owes no apology for
his role in the military government.
Alhaji G.V. Kromah, who led one of the two
factions of the rebel United Liberation Movement (ULIMO) also appeared before
the commission this week and reportedly broke down in tears, saying he was
sorry for the atrocities committed during Liberia's 14-year civil war.
told VOA the TRC process is giving
Liberians the opportunity to analyze their country's history and identify those
factors that led to problems.
TRC public hearing is a very good exercise in history in accountability because
it is bringing out testimonies that reflect on the actual events that led to
other events up to this point. It also gives the opportunity for us to analyze
the beginning of our history to identify those factors that led to problems
after many decades," he said.
denied testifying before the TRC that Liberia's 14-year civil was waged
principally out of greed and power. Instead he said his movement was invited by
West African peacekeepers to help repel attacks by Charles Taylor's National
Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebels in the Liberian capital, Monrovia and
to force the NPFL to adhere to signed agreements.
of all I didn't say that the whole thing was over power and greed. Everybody
didn't fight because of power struggle. We were making reference to the NPFL
and the political people who were in Monrovia. They started the first interaction.
We are not rebels. We were a resistance movement. Rebels are those who revolt
or fight constituted authorities. We were refugees who had no choice but to
come in to flush out the attacks by the NPFL. The purpose of our own operation
was ensure that the various agreements signed between the AFL (Armed Forces of
Liberia) and the NPFL were adhered to," Kromah said.
said while some members of his movement might have committed criminal acts,
they did not commit atrocities.
am saying we were not saints. Some of our people harassed people; stole some
things from people; in our battles some people may have gotten wounded through
crossfire. These different types of things that we were aware of, we apologize
for that. But I can tell you when it comes to that word "atrocity", it means
it's intentional killing and torture of civilians. That was not our business,"
said the TRC process should be about reconciliation and not to bring criminal
charges against certain individuals because Liberia's civil war directly or
indirectly affected almost everyone in the country and in the West Africa
key thing here is that this is not a prosecution unit acting like a CID
(Criminal Investigation Division) or police to try to put together charges this
and that. That may be included. But the key here is reconciliation, and one has
to be careful to note also that if you invite people to come and tell nothing
but the truth, in other words they are confessing, our constitution Article 21
does not allow anyone to furnish criminal evidence against himself," he said. A
lot of people are afraid that if you want to try to make it a criminal
procedure, you will have to almost try everybody in this country and the
sub-region because one way or the other hundreds of people were involved
directly or indirectly, including some heads of state and former heads of state
around the sub-region," Kromah said.
Kromah recommended that a national
conference be held to review the work of the TRC to see where to go next.