Minister Lawrence Bropleh
Over the years, The Perspective
newsmagazine has been at the forefront in the fight for social justice and political freedom to ensure the advent of democracy in Liberia. One of the basic tenets of democracy is the freedom of speech. In its many forms, the media represents a clear manifestation of freedom in any nation.
Since her creation, the Republic of Liberia has rarely
enjoyed press freedom. This was a corollary of the systematic
oppressive regimes that controlled the nation decade after
decade. This lack of political freedom and justice led
to the devastating war that brought the nation to its
Ironically, it was not always that leaders sought absolute
power, but rather, that henchmen, sycophants and people
with little respect for the freedom and the dignity of
their compatriots made sure that every breath of free
expression was suppressed.
Today is a sad day for the media. It comes just a few days after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stood up and upheld her commitment to moral standards by asking one of her most trusted lieutenants to step down for lapse in judgment. Just as the nation celebrates this new fight against impunity, another of the president's men, the Minister of Information took the nation back to the years of dictatorship. By shutting down a media outlet without judgment, without hearing, in the absence of due process of the law, the minister has taken the public back to those days of intimidation and oppression where the media was to take direct orders from the government.
The election of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the
result of many decades of struggle by the people of Liberia
to attain freedom, democracy and the respect for the rule
of law. This act by Minister Bropleh is nothing but an
act of over-zealousness. It is meant to show to the president
and the government that the minister is there to protect
them against the public. That is not his job and we doubt
that is what Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expects of him.
We are well aware that there are laws against indecency
on the books in Liberia. We would applaud the Minister
were he to use his resources to look around Monrovia where
pornographic movies are shown in broad day light to under-aged
children in hundreds of video clubs. We also challenge
him to shine a light on the many streets of Monrovia taken
over at night by teenagers engaged in sexual trade. Finally,
we defy him to look in supermarkets displays where pornography
is sold to anyone who wants to buy it.
This is a war against the media, undertaken by a zealous
new minister who announced his colors months ago through
a series of incoherent statements. He must be stopped,
before he turns our new democracy into a dictatorship.
He has no right to close a media outlet. That is where
the courts come in, that is where the rule of law takes
over. This is not the old Liberia. If he truly wants to
fight indecency, he needs not look too far and needs no
padlock. He is not the law and we want to presume that
this action was not the type of actions that the President
Minister Bropleh must be told what his real job is and
how democracy functions. Over two hundred and fifty thousand
Liberians died to get us here, there is no going back.
We will move forward, with or without the likes of Minister
The Editorial Board of Theperspective.org
a newsmagazine that has been at the forefront of the fight
for freedom and democracy, wants to add its voice to that
of the Press Union of Liberia and in calling on the government
to reverse the decision of the minister to shut down the
Independent newspaper and ensure that such actions are
never again repeated.
Just before going to press, we learned that the government
has decided to re-open the media outlet. And this is even
worse than the earlier action; it indicates that government
can shut you down and re-open at will, with no legal process
in-between actions. This is how dictatorships work. This
is intimidation at best. We have therefore decided to
carry our condemnation of the illegal and unilateral action
of the Ministry of Information.
Intimidation and oppression of free speech must stop for
democracy to take roots.