Liberia: Voinjama Calls For Justice

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VOINJAMA, LOFA COUNTY – “There is no sustainable peace in Liberia until the hearts of people are at ease” said Mrs. Korto Harris, the Mayor of Voinjama, as she warmly welcomed Flomo Theater to perform a play about justice for war crimes in town. 

Flomo Theater performed Musu’s Diary – a story about a young girl who is on a quest for justice, facing doubt and uncertainty during Jungle Jabbah’s trial in the United States. The ULIMO rebel commander was found guilty and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in Philadelphia for having hidden his role in the war from U.S. immigration authorities.  

“There were bad-bad things done in Lofa county, especially by Jungle Jabbah. It’s important that the people here know that he is in jail,” added Mrs. Harris.

Lofa county was the location of many battles between fighting groups and is where some of the most horrific massacres took place. It has been over 20 years since the wars ended but ethnic tensions still have profound impacts on inhabitants in Voinjama. “It took a long time to rehabilitate society and we want peace to continue” said a member of the Lofa county leadership while noting that the debates for war-time accountability could potentially spark conflict.   

The Musu’s Diary play developed by Flomo Theatre in cooperation with Civitas Maxima and the Global Justice and Research Project aims to raise awareness about court cases against alleged Liberian war criminals happening abroad and encourages informed debate about war-time justice. 

Hundreds of people gathered and engaged in discussion in the center of town where the performance took place. Questions were raised about the implementation of a system of accountability for Liberia. “My recommendation to the international community is to work tirelessly in bringing the war crimes court to Liberia” said someone from the audience. Another participant addressed the issue of security and mentioned the lack of trust in the armed forces in maintaining peace, he said: “If there is to be a war crimes court in Liberia, the international community needs to ensure security for our country. Maybe the time is not now.”

“We want justice, but we are not in power […] In Liberia, if you don’t have money – you can’t speak for justice. It’s not because we don’t know, it’s because we are afraid” said a young audience member while debating that the stories are yet to be shared collectively. “I have noticed that people have remained silent in the face of poverty. Today I have learned that, there are people in the world listening to us and they are willing to speak to victims.”

Another audience member added: “I have gone through many pains but remain silent, in order to save my life and family. But after all, I noticed that hiding the truth will not benefit me […] keeping these feelings inside will do us nothing else but continue our sufferings and bitterness.”  

In spite of the diverse points of view, the majority present at the performance called for justice.  

Musu’s Diary will be performed in other counties in the upcoming days. More stories and different points of views on how Liberia is perceiving the issue of war-time accountability will be shared with audiences around the world on the Liberian Quest for Justice Facebook page.

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