By Ambassador (Prof) Dew Tuan-Wleh Mayson
In recent times, so many things have been happening in our Liberia that give cause for worry and concern to all patriots. First there are the many scandals regarding corruption at every level of Government leading Transparency International to label our country as "one of the most corrupt in the world".
The continued lack of jobs, adequate food, housing, education, health, transport and security--all the basic elements necessary for a half-decent standard of living--have meant that the mass of our people have been permanently banished to that awful state of poverty and backwardness. We have thus been given the disgraceful title of being "the second most miserable country in the world" with a misery index of 90.5.
But it must be said that we Liberians have tolerated this state of affairs with unnatural patience. Gladdened by the accolades which have been poured on our President by the international community--a welcome change from the shame which enveloped us during those long years of the civil war--many of us have remained tolerant of the Government and even of its excesses. We could also bask in what we considered our freedom to vent out our anger and disappointment without much fear of repression.
Suddenly, however, we have been awaken from our sleep of stupor. Did I say suddenly? No, in fact, the creeping assault on our freedom of speech and assembly has long been coming. Without stopping to list the names of the victims which include students, journalists, civil society defenders, etc., let us single out the case of Rodney Sieh, arguably one of our better journalist who was arrested, re-arrested and detained on outmoded, so-called libel charges. In protesting Rodney's arrest, I described him as the "wind that is blowing and exposing the rear end of the chicken which all types of feathers are attempting to cover up."
Now the alarm has sounded again: Henry Costa, a young talk-show host who dares to discuss on radio topics which are burning the hearts of our people--this young gadfly has been arrested, handcuffed and thrown into prison--a place which Government's own reports have described as not "fit for human habitation". The trial judge, ostensibly intimidated and severely compromised, refused to grant bail.
We may ask, seeking an honest answer: What is Costa's crime?
Is he guilty of the corruption which the President herself has described as "a cancer eating at the fabric of the nation"?
Is Costa guilty of nepotism and cronyism which the recently-revealed US supported report says is making it difficult for "economic gains to reach those languishing at the bottom of the ladder"?
Is he guilty of pursuing “policies of exclusion" which, as the US report cited above warns--if these policies are not addressed "the potential for renewed conflict remains high"?
Is he guilty of any of these? The answer is a resounding no, no, no!
Costa's "crime"--his real crime"--is that like Rodney Sieh before him, he has dared to expose the rear end of the chicken which all types of feathers are trying to cover up.
That is why we must applaud the work of that indefatigable lawyer and progressive, Kofi Woods, the Press Union of Liberia and all the brothers and sisters who have manifested their solidarity with Costa resulting in his being released from prison.
Shame must be cast on all those so-called "well meaning" Liberians who have refused to stand up in defense of Costa and others like him who are victims of all kinds of injustice in our country. Today it is Costa. Yesterday it was Rodney Sieh and others. Who will it be tomorrow? Don't ask, folks, for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee!