Hamline University is serving as the site for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission this week as it holds Truth and Reconciliation hearings in the United States. The scheduled hearings are part of Liberia’s process of post-civil war reconciliation. The hearings will take place Tuesday, June 10 through Saturday, June 14 from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (CST) in Sundin Music Hall, located at 1536 Hewitt Avenue on Hamline University’s Saint Paul campus. The hearings are free, and the public is welcome to sit in and observe the proceedings. One and a half million of Liberia’s citizens fled their country during the 27-year conflict, many of whom settled in the United States. The hearings here in Minnesota mark the first time in history that any truth commission has ever systematically sought to include its diaspora citizens into this process of national healing.
Each day of the hearings, the commission will hear testimony from Liberians who fled to the United States, focusing on their experiences during the civil war, in flight, in refugee camps, and as they established new lives here. The Advocates for Human Rights, based in Minneapolis, is assisting with coordination and implementation of the hearings.
Cameras and audio recording equipment are not allowed in the hearing room. The hearings also will be streamed live at http://www.trcofliberia.org/.
Background on Liberia and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Project: Since 1979, out of a population of three million, an estimated 250,000 Liberians were killed, and nearly half of the Liberian population was forced from their homes and their country to escape from the violence and destruction of a protracted civil war. Of those forced to flee this violent conflict, many came to the U.S. because of strong historical ties between the two countries. More than 30,000 Liberians eventually made their way to Minnesota in their flight from war.
While more than 30 countries have implemented some form of truth and reconciliation after periods of conflict and gross human rights violations, the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission Project is a new model of transitional justice. This is the first concerted effort to solicit from diaspora communities both their personal accounts of what happened as well as their recommendations for reconciliation and systematic change. This groundbreaking project gives Liberians a voice in the promotion of international justice and human rights as part of the truth, justice, accountability, and reconciliation processes in Liberia.
Big Doings on Campus
Hamline's Sundin Music Hall (the site of my upcoming Gala Festival Senior Recital Extravaganza) is host this week to hearings by the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Information from the Hamline web site follows. I'm going to try to take in part of the hearings tomorrow during my day on campus.