Maintaining a Memorial…Human Rights Commission holds town hall meetingApr 21, 2017
The Independent Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) conducted a two day stakeholder town hall meeting with some residents of the Duport Road Community and officials from the Paynesville City Corporation for the maintenance of the Duport Road Memorial Site.
The Duport Road Memorial site is a UN Peace Building Fund project, managed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and implemented through the Independent Commission on Human Rights as part of the National Reconciliation Road Map which was recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation; under the Community-based Truth Telling, Atonement and Psychosocial Recovery Project known as the (Palava Hut Project).
Marking remarks at the opening of the meeting, the Acting Chairman of the INCHR Bartholomew Colley told the participants that INCHR has been instrumental in the implementation of two major components of the National Reconciliation Road Map, which are the National Palava Hut and the Memorialization thematic areas.
The INCHR Boss expressed the hope that participants will make use of lessons learned from Liberia’s ugly past and focus on how to manage the memorial in order to make it a source of peace and reconciliation, instead of a place of vengeance.
“When I think of some of these massacres and genocides that happened around the world, they remind me of the barbarism to humanity. This is unacceptable”. He said the Duport Road and other memorials that are being built in the country is a way of giving dignity to those that did not have the opportunity to be buried with respect.
Bartholomew Colley expressed disappointment in the way young people assemble at the memorial site especially during weekends and holidays to celebrate.
“I must say I’m not happy about the way people come here from the community and nearby communities to play loud music and drink alcoholic beverages while dancing”.
He stressed that “this is not a bar, this is place of remembrance and this is what this town hall meeting is all about”.
Colley urged the community to take ownership of the project and work with the Paynesville City Corporation to maintain the historic site in Duport Road.
UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway during a recent visit to Liberia, also visited the Duport Road Memorial site and pay respect to those who lost their lives.
Also speaking at the Town Hall Meeting on behalf of the United Nations, Randall Harbour, the Senior Political Affairs Officer at the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) thanked the INCHR for the initiative and urged families of victims to be strong in overcoming their grief.
“I know this will not help you in your sorrow, but let it be a step towards national reconciliation in building a better future”.
Randall Harbour pointed out that the memorials that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has proposed will help communities to remember and move on.
The UNMIL Senior Political Affairs Officer advised the community to take on the responsibility to manage and preserve the memorial as there will be visitors from around the world, coming to pay respect because of the horrified stories attributed to the memorial.
The Duport Road Memorial was dedicated on March 8, 2017 in honor of several Liberians who died during the 14-year old armed conflict, which befell the country, from December 24th 1989 - up to August 11th, 2003.
Bodies that were collected from different parts of Monrovia were buried in a mass grave at the Du-port Road Waterside Community in Paynesville.
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