Open Letter to Senator Ed Markey: Take Action Against Excessive African Legislators’ Salaries

United States Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts recently concluded a three-day visit to Liberia along with two U.S. representatives. The trip marked the conclusion of Operation Onward Liberty, a program to help build a professional Liberian military. The human rights activist, Torli Krua, pens this letter to the senator in light of his visit.

Dear Senator Markey,

As a longtime advocate for African refugees based in your district, I write to express profound thanks and appreciation to you for your compassion and commitment to human rights and fairness to all residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Thanks to you and your compatriots, Temporary Protected Status granted to Liberians in 1991 continues for more than two decades, affording Liberians the opportunity to work legally in America, feed their children, pay for college education, support their families living in the difficulties of post-conflict Liberia, as well as citizens of Guinea and Sierra Leone, recently stranded by the deadly Ebola disease.

As Africa continues to be battered by political violence, poverty in the midst of vast mineral resources, citizens of African nations continue flooding the shores of the United States from Somalia, Congo, and elsewhere while others drown in the Mediterranean Sea in desperate attempts to escape the plights.

Senator Markey, the high salaries and benefits of African legislators and government officials have become the fuel for insecurity and instability in Africa. It is unfair to American taxpayers and tragic for African citizens that many African leaders begging for foreign aid have salaries and benefits far higher than those of American legislators who live in a country with a higher cost of living.

I ask that you kindly consider introducing legislation to end foreign aid to African countries whose politicians earn salaries that could be considered unnecessarily large. These salaries fuel instability, impede economic growth and facilitate corruption in countries that desperately need honesty.

The truth is, the only people benefiting from the current status quo are corrupt African leaders. With 38 percent of American workers earning less than US$20,000 yearly, it’s unfair that leaders of some poor, aid-dependent African nations continue to pay themselves close to US$20,000 monthly.

I have often accompanied women and children to your office – first when you were a congressman and later when you were elected senator. As I express thanks and gratitude for your assistance to these immigrants, I am reminded by the Holy Scriptures; “to him that much is given, much shall be required.” Those who have received so much need to also give back.

By your compassion, you and your compatriots have taught the African beneficiaries an important lesson in leadership that begs to be put in practice in America as well as in Africa.

Instead of mere words of praise to you and your compatriots, I feel deeply indebted to live out the virtues that have impacted and enriched my life and the lives of those for whom I have advocated for decades from your district. This is why I am pleading with you to add your voice to this proposed common sense legislation that would, doubtless save lives and bring peace and sustainable development to Africa.

Thanks for your kind consideration of this legislative proposal.

Best regards,

Pastor Torli H. Krua

Featured photo by David Stanley        

A pastor and human rights activist, Torli was instrumental in lobbying with US congressmen and policymakers to increase the quota of refugees from Africa being allowed into the US. He has also worked tirelessly in the New England region and beyond to champion the rights of refugees and immigrants. His organization, Universal Human Rights International, worked with thousands of immigrants from 38 different countries over the span of 20 years. He has been honored by the National Peace Corps Association and the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

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