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Liberia, Women and Peace

When: Thursday, March 29, 2012, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Where: Cambridge Public Library • 449 Broadway • Harvard Sq T • Cambridge

Pray the Devil Back to HelloA screening of the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell about women’s nonviolent struggle to end the Liberian civil war.

Followed by a talk with Janet Johnson, a Liberian journalist who is featured in the film.

Sponsored by the Cambridge Peace Commission, Massachusetts Peace Action, Congo Action Now, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom - Boston Branch.

The documentary gives a summary of the women use of nonviolent actions in 2003 to end Liberia’s 14 year civil war. The war started when Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Front of Liberia, NPFL, invaded Liberia on Christmas Eve 1989. By March 1990, one of Taylor’s rebel general, Prince Johnson, broke away to form the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia, INPFL, the faction that eventually caught and killed President Samuel Doe on September 9, 1990.

For 14 years women, men, children and the elderly were harassed, raped, killed even massacred or burnt alive in churches and in their own homes. Thousands more were fed to alligators and crocodiles. Babies were snatched from their mothers and cut into pieces or fed to reptiles. The lucky ones had their limbs cut off in stages – long sleeves, short sleeves or sleeveless arms. Hundreds of pregnant women died as rebels cut open their stomach after placing bets over the sex of the unborn child. Others complained of having been gang raped until they gave birth to their child. Hundreds of thousands of survivors may have survived the war with their limbs intact but remain psychologically traumatized for life.

The role of the United States still remains unclear to many. There are rumors that the U.S. freed Taylor from jail with the aim of sending him to Liberia to depose Dictator and President Samuel Doe who had fallen out with United States. The United States has denied the allegation but gives no reason why Taylor was not rearrested after his whereabouts was disclosed.

It has been widely speculated that the United States was responsible for Taylor’s war machinery and his unleashing of terror against Liberia and its people. While the Pentagon remains tight lipped about its relationship with Charles Taylor, Taylor has confessed that United States did aid his escape from its maximum security prison in Boston (Plymouth County Correctional Facility) in 1985. After his breakout in Plymouth, Taylor told the court, he recruited 168 men and women for the National Patriotic Front for Liberia and trained them at a former US military base in Libya.

The Boston Globe reported in January 2012 that Taylor had worked for the CIA for decades -- but details of the scope and duration of his work, and his relationship with the CIA remains a secret.

 “The Pentagon’s only response to the Globe noted that the details of Taylor’s role on behalf of the spy agencies are contained in dozens of secret documents (at least 48 separate documents)”.

The horrors of the war may seem a thing of the past but Liberia as a nation is still grappling with its effects. Liberians also remain grateful to the U.S. for finally being responsible for Taylor’s trial in Hague for his involvement in the 11 year war in neighboring Sierra Leone.



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