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Liberia TRC Diaspora Project Update
6/12/2007 9:15 AM

National Update

Vice President Boakai expresses support for TRC
At a community forum in Minneapolis on May 27, His Excellency Joseph N. Boakai, Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, stated that the "TRC is the best way forward" and said that the Liberian government is "supportive of it." Boakai also noted that Liberians in the Diaspora should support the TRC. "With the support of all of you here in the Diaspora, we should be able to have a peaceful country at the end of the exercise," Boakai said.

Background Research Begins for Report to TRC
As part of the TRC Diaspora project, Minnesota Advocates will produce a final report with recommendations and hold public hearings. With direction from the TRC in Liberia, Minnesota Advocates has outlined 12 research projects which will provide the foundation to plan the public hearings and draft the final report. These projects have been distributed to participating law firms and will be completed by mid-August.

New Resources
7 minute Statement Giver Informational Video! - Students from the University of Minnesota, led by video journalism instructor Julie Jones, worked with Minnesota Advocates to create a short video designed to demystify the statement giving process. The video features interviews with National Advisory Committee members Yende Anderson, Williametta Saydee, Miamen Wopea, and Yeamah Brewer. These individuals discuss why it is important to give a TRC statement and how it felt to go through the process. Also featured on the video are Liberian Cultural Ambassador at Large Juli Endee, Minnesota Advocates staff member Ahmed K. Sirleaf, and Pro Bono Management team member Dulce Foster from the Minneapolis law firm of Fredrikson & Byron P.A.

Thank you to Dr. Augustine Konneh of Morehouse College for identifying the following helpful resources on Liberian history:
Mark Huband, The Liberian Civil War
Stephen Ellis, Mask of Anarchy
Augustine Konneh, Understanding the Liberian Civil War, in Zones of Conflict in Africa edited by George Kieh & Ida Mukenge
Amos Beyan, The American Colonization Society and the Creation of the Liberian State
Abayomi Karnga, History of Liberia
Tom Shick, Behold the Promised Land
Abayomi Cassell, The First African Republic

Minnesota Update

Community Outreach
TRC Diaspora Project representatives participated in a number of outreach events, including the Bong County Association of the Americas National Conference, the Oldtimer's Soccer Tournament, an Evening with the Liberian Vice President His Excellency Joseph N. Boakai, and the Grand Gedeh County Association of the Americas National Conference in Iowa.

Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights annual Human Rights Awards Dinner will feature TRC Chairman Jerome J. Verdier as keynote speaker on June 19. The event will also honor Priscilla Hayner of the International Centre for Transitional Justice and Sofia Macher of the Peruvian Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Also featured will be the Total Praise Chorus, led by National Advisory Committee Member Wayne D. Doe.

Community Forum on Reconciliation, Reparations & Recommendations, featuring TRC Chairman Jerome J. Verdier
Date: June 20
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Brooklyn Center Community Center, 6301 Shingle Creek Pkwy, Brooklyn Center, MN
Cosponsored by: Immigrant Speaker's Toastmaster Club, the Liberian Ministers Association, United Nimba Citizens Council (UNICCO), A- mon-nue Sport & Social Association (ASSA) Inc.

Priscilla Hayner and Sofia Macher Discuss Transitional Justice
Date: June 19
Time: 8:00 AM
Location: Faegre & Benson, Wells Fargo Center, 22nd Floor, Minneapolis, MN

In the Media
Minnesota Public Radio features an interview with National Advisory Committee members Williametta Saydee and Yende Anderson about how they felt after giving their statement to the TRC.
Click here.

Minnesota Advocates' staff member Ahmed K. Sirleaf was a featured guest on KMOJ radio's African Roots Connection with Charles Dennis on June 2. Sirleaf discussed his recent trip to Ghana and Liberia where he represented the TRC Diaspora Project.

Atlanta Update

The Atlanta Friends of the Liberia TRC includes representatives from The Carter Center, Crusaders for Peace, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, International Christian Fellowship Ministries, International Interfaith Accompaniment Program, Kilpatrick Stockton, King and Spalding, Liberian Association of Metro Atlanta (LAMA), MLK National Historic Site, Morehouse College, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta, Southern Truth and Reconciliation (S.T.A.R.).

Statement Taking
The first group of Atlanta statement takers including volunteers from the law firms of King & Spaulding and Kilpatrick Stockton, were trained in May and are now scheduling statement-taking appointments.

Reconciliation and the Law in Post-Conflict Liberia: Between Law, Society and Healing Event was held June 9, 2007.

The TRC Diaspora Project will formally launch in Atlanta with a community forum with TRC Chairman Jerome J. Verdier
Date: June 23, 2007

Chicago Update

After coordinating a sucessful pilot project, TRC Diaspora partner Sandra Babcock of the Northwestern University School of Law is turning over leadership of the statement taking effort to Thomas P. White of Schiff Hardin L.L.P. while she goes on sabbatical. The Chicago project leadership team includes Artemus Gaye, Gaye Sleh, and the Organization of Liberians in Illinois.

Community Outreach
The Chicago partners held an immigration informational forum on June 3, 2007 to discuss TPS legislation and the TRC project.

Philadelphia Update

The Philadelphia partnership includes The University of Pennsylvania Law School's Transnational Legal Clinic, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis L.L.P., Blank Rome L.L.P., Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young L.L.P., Reed Smith L.L.P., Pepper Hamilton L.L.P., Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll L.L.P., Nationalities Service Center, HIAS, Liberty Center for Survivors of Torture, TRC National Advisory Committee member M.B. Sherif, Mr. Sam Slewion, and the Liberian Consul General in Philadelphia the Honorable Dr. Teta Banks.

Statement Taking
Statement taker training will be held in Philadelphia on July 13 and 14 at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis L.L.P.

The TRC Diaspora Project will officially launch in Philadelphia with a visit from TRC Chairman Jerome J. Verdier
Date: June 16, 2007
Time: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Location: Christ International Baptist Church
2210 S. 65th Street

West African SubRegion Update

A Minnesota Advocates team led by Deputy Director Jennifer Prestholdt traveled to Ghana to participate in a pilot project at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement outside of Accra, Ghana. The Ghana team included staff members Ahmed K. Sirleaf and Laura Young, as well as volunteer George Norris. Commissioner Massa Washington, who leads the TRC's Diaspora initiative, has been working to engage and educate stakeholders at the Buduburam Settlement since March. Washington traveled to Buduburam the week before statement taking began with TRC staff Gabriel Coleman and Mohammed Kanneh to conduct community outreach. (Please note the correction in the spelling of Mr. Kanneh's name. We apologize for the error in previous publications.) She was joined there by Minnesota Advocates staff member Ahmed K. Sirleaf, who assisted with the outreach effort prior to his colleagues' arrival from Minnesota. The four person team from Minnesota Advocates, along with the TRC representatives, took more than 160 statements during the week long pilot project in Buduburam. The TRC effort could not have moved forward without the assistance of Mr. Varney Sambola, Liberian Refugee Welfare Council Chairman, and Mr. Foley Jaleiba, TRC Working Group Chair.

In the Media
The Perspective features the TRC's work in Ghana.
Click here.

TLC features Minnesota Advocates statement-taking activities in the Buduburam Refugee Settlement in Ghana.
Click here.