LDI Calls for the Release of Tiawan S. Gongloe and the Resignation of President Taylor

(A Position Statement)

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 1, 2002

The Liberian Democracy Initiative (LDI) demands the immediate release from further detention of Liberian human rights lawyer Tiawan S. Gongloe. Mr. Gongloe must immediately be released without conditions. Liberia is a country that ought to be guarded by the constitution - not authoritative, military and police tugs. LDI strongly condemns the Taylor administration act of lawlessness, total disregard for human dignity and freedom.

Mr. Gongloe was arrested on Wednesday, April 24, 2002, and brutalized by the Liberian Government through its para-military forces for a speech he delivered in March to the Mano River Union Civil Society Movement in Conakry, Guinea. In his speech, Mr. Gongloe drew the attention of his listeners to the fact that since December 24, 1989 when a group of Liberians launched an attack on Liberia from the Ivory Coast, the Mano River Basin has seen no peace and therefore no development.

Mr. Gongloe has committed no offense in law against the Liberian Government much less against Mr. Taylor himself. He has been hospitalized since April 25, 2002 with injuries he sustained while in police custody. He was brutally beaten to the extent where he lost hearing to one ear, and serious lacerations to his head and other parts of his body. He was left helplessly on the prison floor until help came. His lawyer escorted him to a local hospital where is now under heavy state security guard.

Just in time when Liberians were planning to attend the reconciliation conference in Liberia, he undertakes yet another strategy to prevent peace in the country. As the date for presidential draws near, Mr. Taylor takes steps to intimidate Liberians, banning political rallies, and peaceful assemblies.

Mr. Taylor has clearly taken the law into his hands, and the world is aware of his barbaric and inhumane acts of lawlessness perpetrated by his government. We also demand the reopening of the Analyst Newspaper, and the restoration of the rights and privileges of the independent press in Liberia. Publishing excerpts of Mr. Gongloe’s speech is no offense against the state and no violation of the law. LDI will not encourage, compromise or allow the Liberian Government to continue to violate any rights of the Liberian people.

LDI urges the Liberian Government to immediately release Mr. Gongloe and reopen the Analyst Newspaper. Human rights abuse is human rights abuse, constitutional violation is constitutional violation no matter who engages them. The rights of the Liberian people rein supreme. Mr. Taylor promises to protect these rights, how come he stands in violation of them?

It must be recalled that Liberians have continued to suffer many acts of gross violations and abuses of human rights from the Taylor administration, as well as an escalation of these violations since he declared the state of emergency on February 8, 2002. We must work together to stop the systematic killings of innocent Liberians for political reasons, witch-hunts, and the incarceration, harassment and intimidation of the countless Liberian citizens and independent press by the Taylor regime.

The unconstitutional acts demonstrated by the Charles Taylor administration will not be tolerated under any conditions in Liberia. The rights of the Liberian people are protected by the constitution that Mr. Taylor has sworn to uphold. The Liberian Constitution guarantees every Liberian citizen the right to freedom of speech, expression and freedom of the press. These basic fundamental rights work well together only in a constitutional democratic society where the rule of law prevails. Therefore, LDI urges under no circumstances these rights would be denied the Liberian people.

The whole world continues to witness these inhumane acts of evil and hate by the Taylor administration. In the face of renewed brutality and cruelty, LDI has no alternative but to call for the resignation of Mr. Taylor as president of the Republic of Liberia. He is incompetent and has misled the Liberian people by failing to uphold the Liberian Constitution as well as to protect the basic fundamental rights of the Liberian people. Mr. Taylor has failed our people and clearly demonstrated that he is increasingly intolerant of criticism and cannot preside over a constitutional democratic government, people and a country like Liberia.

LDI strongly urges all Liberians and the international community specifically the United States Government, the United Nations, and the European Union to work together aimed at exerting pressure on Mr. Taylor to resign. He can only be seen as an obstacle to bringing about genuine peace and democratic changes in the country. Mr. Taylor must go.

God bless Liberia.

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