Friday, June 29, 2012

Press Statement on the Harassment and Intimidation of Innocent Citizens of Grand Gedeh County

Written by: 
Honorable Cyrus S. Cooper, II
Former Grand Gedeh Senatorial Candidate

Over the past weeks, I have been carefully monitoring media reports and communicating with local residents across Grand Gedeh County regarding the alleged cross border raid. My knowledge is that local residents of the border towns in Grand Gedeh County are being subjected to constant harassment, intimidation, and night curfew imposed by the government security forces. 

 I am writing to condemn the government in the strongest term against this unlawful practices directed at innocent citizens of Grand Gedeh County who have nothing to do with the war in Ivory Coast. The innocent citizens of Grand Gedeh are being punished collectively for allegedly cooperating with the armed men accused of staging the June 8, 2012 raid that caused the casualty of seven UN peace keepers and several Ivorian civilians near the Liberian border with Ivory Coast.

While I deeply regret the loss of the brave UN peace keepers and innocent civilians, I am urging the Grand Gedeh Legislative Caucus to promptly investigate these allegations and prevail on the government of Liberia to bring all those responsible for this unlawfully and uncivilized behavior to justice immediately because the current government of Liberia has a record of protecting human rights violators.

The suspicious surrounding the government actions raise the following questions: 
  • Based on the early June Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on Liberia, the Liberian government is aware of the volatile conflict between supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo and the current President Alassane Ouattara. With a porous border with Ivory Coast, what measure did the government of Liberia put in place to ensure the security of Liberians living in the border towns prior to the June 8, 2012 incident? It takes a trained and equipped police and immigration officers to provide 24 hours protection and cross border monitoring of civilian movement across the borders.
  • In February 2011, Ghanaian security forces stormed the Buduburam refugee camp, gun-down and arrested several Liberian refugees. What has the government done to address the plight of those vulnerable Liberians who were forced out of their mother land by the brutal civil war?
  • After the barbaric June 8, 2012, attack in Ivory Coast, the government rushed to judgment and accused several citizens of Grand Gedeh County of participation in the raid without clear and convincing evidence that would lead to conviction. What is the legal basis of the government claims?
  • The 2011 police raid at the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Headquarters resulting in the death of peaceful supporters of CDC and the unfortunate G. W. Gibson student raid with impunity. What has the government done to ensure justice for the victims?

Fellow citizens of Grand Gedeh, we have equal rights under the laws of Liberia as guaranteed by the constitution of Liberia. We as peaceful citizens of Grand Gedeh can no longer tolerate collective punishment by government agents. Our experience with repressive regime has taught us to stand up in the defense of our fellow citizen's rights as guaranteed under the constitution of Liberia.

I am urging every peace loving Liberians to join in solidarity with the people of Grand Gedeh in condemning the uncivilized collective punishment of innocent Grand Gedeh citizens by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government security forces.

Remember the late president Doe's famous quote "town trap is not for rat alone." Today the citizens of Grand Gedeh County are being collectively punished by government security forces with impunity; tomorrow may be citizens of Bong County; follow by Nimba; Grand Bassa; and so on. We must collectively stop the government now to avoid national catastrophe. A word to the wise is enough.


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