Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, who heads the former ruling National Patriotic Party of imprisoned ex-president Charles Taylor, has warned authorities here that removing bodies from the Palm Grove Cemetery in Monrovia will be a “real crisis for our country.”
Appearing on the “Truth Breakfast” show hosted on Truth 96.1 FM in Paynesville Monday, the former Liberian First Lady recollected that a lot of emotions are tied to the Cemetery that she says contains a mass -grave of more than 13 people killed in 1980 along with slain President William R. Tolbert, Jr. and his Foreign Minister, C. Ceil Dennis.
“And I don’t mean crisis in terms of war, but there are lots of emotional attachments to that cemetery,” she said, stressing however that it has “security implications.”
In addition to years of burials by many families and Mr. Tolbert and his officials’ alleged mass-grave at the cemetery, Senator Taylor also said a first black American university president whom her research has shown to have died in Liberia while here to help in “setting up of Liberia, got buried at the cemetery in question.
She was commenting on information here that the Ministry of Internal Affairs plans to relocate the Palm Grove Cemetery elsewhere on grounds that alleged criminals are using the facility as hideout and gambling center.
Senator Taylor argued that no ministry has the authority to remove the cemetery because since it was created by an Act of Legislature in 1954, the Act has not been withdrawn.
She said this seems to be the third time that government has tried to remove bodies from the Palm Groove Cemetery, but left it as it is due to all the emotional things, saying “there are security implications.”
“Laws are binding until they are withdrawn; so this [an] Act of Legislature someone cannot just arbitrarily decide that they will move the cemetery until the Legislature can engage with it, and this is the process I’m going to start at my level,” she told the public.
She said much more than the law, when people bury somebody in the final resting place, that’s where they should be, suggesting that government should enforce a policy on “no new burial” there and keep the place clean rather than relocating the cemetery.
In a follow-up with the Ministry of Internal Affairs on Tuesday, June 2, the ministry’s Media Engagement Officer Mr. Moses Wheinyue told this paper that the ministry welcomes Senator Taylor’s comment and that it will engage the Legislature on the planned removal of the cemetery.
He said the ministry was working along with the Monrovia City Corporation or MCC in the relocation plan, and the Legislature is recognized as a key functionary of government. By Winston W. Parley – Edited by Jonathan Browne