From Staten Island Haven, Liberians Reveal War's Scars

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Beginning next month, Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission will collect testimony on Staten Island, home to one of the largest populations of Liberians outside Africa, many of them survivors of 14 years of civil war.

The commission aims to construct a permanent historical record for Liberia, a country that has been wracked by power struggles and waves of savage violence.

Truth commissions have become a popular way to confront the crimes of crumbling regimes around the world, often when prosecutions are impractical or impossible. Twenty-nine have been launched, to mixed effect. Public hearings on apartheid in South Africa riveted the country and the world, while similar processes in Haiti and Burundi produced reports that were not widely read or acted upon.

This year, for the first time, a nation’s truth commission is reaching outside its borders to collect narratives, according to Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, which is coordinating the process.

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