[act-ma] Liberia, Women and Peace: Thursday 3/29 @ 6:30, Cambridge Public Library

Corr, Brian bcorr at cambridgema.gov
Mon Mar 26 08:56:30 PDT 2012

Liberia, Women and Peace:
A Screening of Pray the Devil Back to Hell<http://www.praythedevilbacktohell.com/>
A Talk and Discussion with Liberian Journalist and Activist Janet Johnson

Thursday, March 29, 6:30 pm
Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway

Please join us to watch the powerful documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell<http://www.praythedevilbacktohell.com/>, about women's nonviolent struggle to end the Liberian Civil War, followed with a talk by Liberian journalist and activist Janet Johnson. Pray the Devil Back to Hell is part of a groundbreaking special series WOMEN, WAR & PEACE, which aired in 2011 on PBS in the U.S., and this screening is part of a worldwide outreach effort happening throughout 2012.

The documentary gives a summary of women's use of nonviolent actions in 2003 to end Liberia's brutal fourteen-year civil war. The war began 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 generals, 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.

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. 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. Charles Taylor testified in court that United States aided his 1985 escape from a maximum security prison - the Plymouth County Correctional Facility in Massachusetts. After his escape, he left the U.S., recruited 168 men and women for the National Patriotic Front for Liberia, and trained them at a former U.S. military base in Libya.

Janet Johnson

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 The Hague for his involvement in the 11 year war in neighboring Sierra Leone.
The president of the Women's Movement of Liberia at the time, Leymah Gbowee, who is also extensively interviewed in the film, and the current President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for their part ending Liberia's civil war.

Janet Johnson, a Liberian journalist who is also featured in the film, will give a talk after the film. The president of the Female Journalists Association of Liberia at the time, Johnson was one of the strategic leaders in the Peace Movement. Much of the time she worked for the Catholic radio station, Radio Veritas in Monrovia. Her beat was the Executive Mansion, occupied by Charles Taylor, who had a virtual stranglehold over the media. Journalists were often openly bribed during press conferences. She also hosted a radio show about women's issues. Bryant's efforts to expose corruption during Taylor's regime earned her the nickname "Iron Lady of Media." Janet met the women of WIPNET when she reported on them for a story. She soon became part of their outreach and advocacy program. She used her position to garner important, strategic information that benefited WIPNET. In particular, Janet helped launch the Liberian Mass Action for Peace. Together with Leymah and other women, she helped draft the first press release calling for an immediate ceasefire and for all warring factions to sit down at the peace table.  Janet then broadcast the message announcing the first meeting of the women in the field opposite Taylor's house - hundreds of women showed up and stayed. She is now a Master's student at the University of Lowell and an intern with Massachusetts Peace Action, working towards a new goal: earning a master's degree in international diplomacy and returning to Liberia.

Congo Action Now will give an update on the Congo Conflict Minerals bill which is currently pending in the Massachusetts Legislature. The Congo conflict has several similarities with that in Liberia: both are driven by the scramble for mineral resources, and both conflicts have disproportionately affected women.

The event is cosponsored by the Cambridge Peace Commission, Massachusetts Peace Action, Congo Action Now, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom - Boston Branch.
Brian Corr
Executive Director, Cambridge Peace Commission
City of Cambridge, Massachusetts
51 Inman St., Cambridge, MA 02139
617.349.4694 voice * 617.349.4766 fax
bcorr at cambridgema.gov<mailto:bcorr at cambridgema.gov>
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