Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Help Liberian Refugees!

Today is Wednesday, 11 March 2009.

The sufferings of Nigerians since independence are largely the direct result of British colonialism. The sufferings of Congolese since independence are largely the direct result of Belgian colonialism. The sufferings of Liberians since independence are largely the direct result of USA/USE colonialism.

By the early 1800s, one of the major problems which confronted the white government of the USA/USE was that of free Blacks (both those born free and freed slaves). The latter were increasing in number, and were seen by most whites as a source of moral dissolution and possibly as an incipient internal subversion threat. One “solution” was deportation to Africa. For this purpose, the American Colonization Society was formed and, in 1822, began shipping free Blacks to the section of West Africa now known as Liberia. Under ACS rule, the Americo-Liberians, as they called themselves, began the subjugation of the local population, whom they labeled “Natives”, and whom they regarded as savages.

The Americo-Liberians have never numbered more than 5% of the population, and are currently 2.5%.

In 1847, the elite of the Americo-Liberians declared independence from the ACS, established the Republic of Liberia, and continued the subjugation and exploitation of the locals. The Americo-Liberian dictatorship continued until 1980, when it was overthrown by “Native” elements within the army, led by Sgt. Samuel Doe, which established their own dictatorship. Doe was assassinated in 1990, and succeeded by the regime of Charles Taylor, which was ousted after a civil war lasting from 1999 to 2003. To the extent that Liberia is ruled today, it is ruled by a more-or-less democratically elected oligarchy of “Native” origins.

More than 200,000 people were slaughtered in the civil wars of 1989 to 2003. The nation’s physical infrastructure is still largely shattered. Diseases caused by poor sanitation are rampant. Unemployment among those not engaged in subsistence agriculture is 85%. The economy is heavily dependent on remittances from Liberians living abroad. Current life expectancy at birth is 41 years.

During the 1990s, some 14,000 Liberians were given “Temporary Protected Status” in the USA/USE. They’ve had children, built careers and businesses, and contributed to the welfare of this country. Unless Obama acts to continue their Deferred Enforced Departure status by 31 March, they will be forcibly deported to lives of squalor in a Liberia which can’t offer a humane life even to its current population.

I feel a particular burden in this situation, having known a few of the 1,000 Liberian refugees who lived in my neighborhood when I lived on Staten Island.

I beg you to join me in writing Obama to extend the Deferred Enforced Departure date, and to ask others to write also. (Sample letter follows. The address is:

Thank you.

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:

I write to implore you to extend the Deferred Enforced Departure date of Liberians currently under Temporary Protected Status past the current deadline of 31 March.

Liberia’s economy and infrastructure remain shattered after years of civil war in which more than 200,000 died. To deport these refugees to lives of squalor, disease, and early death would be criminally inhumane as well as pointless.

For the sake of humanity, theirs and ours, you must extend the Deferred Enforced Departure date.



Anonymous long-time reader said...

Good column today. I have e-mailed the President as suggested.

Come on, other readers, and join me!

1:00 PM  
Anonymous earthboundmisfit said...

Done. I haven't seen anything about this except here and on human rights advocacy sites. This is a MUST DO for these people!

3:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home