Liberia's Road to Oblivion
(A Position Statement Issued by the Liberian Democratic Future, LDF)
Posted July 13, 2002
“Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, being fully responsible for the abuse thereof this right shall not be curtailed, restricted or enjoined by government save during an emergency declared in accordance with the Constitution.
“This right encompasses the right to hold opinions without interference and the right to acknowledge. It includes freedom of speech and of the press, academic freedom to receive and impact knowledge and information and the right of libraries to make such knowledge available. It includes non-interference with the use of the mail, telephone and telegraph. It likewise includes the right to remain silent.
“In pursuance of this right, there shall be no limitation on the public right to be informed about the government and its functionaries” (Article 15, Sections a, b and c of the Liberian Constitution).
Cognizant of these salient principles enshrined within our Constitution, it is quite apparent that the NPP-government has continued to act out of vindictiveness and irrational impulse in undermining the Constitution by seemingly inventing trumped-up charges to punish those it perceives as "anti-government."
Therefore, we are deeply concerned and troubled by the arrest on June 24, 2002 of journalist Hassan Bility along with Ansumana Kamara and Mohammed Kamara by plain-clothes security men, and taken to an unknown location on “suspicion of plotting to assassinate President Charles Taylor”. However, since their arrest, the Government has failed to adhere to the 24-hour ultimatum given by the criminal Court "B" to produce the living bodies of journalist Hassan Bility and the two men. Instead, Government lawyers told the court on July 4, 2002 that their failure to produce Bility and the others was due to the "nature of the case," which according to Deputy Minister of Justice for Legal Affairs, Cllr. Theophilus Gould, “the case of the three suspects is a military one and as such they cannot be released through a civilian court”.
And now the arrest July 4, 2002 of Suku Wesseh, the brother of exiled civil society leader Conmany Wesseh, by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), on suspicion that he had a “stockpile of arms and ammunition at his brother's residence”. This action on the part of the NPP-government, is leading Liberia nowhere but on the road to oblivion.
In view of the above, we, the officers and members of the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF), firmly believe that the violation of the rights of an individual or a people that is not called into question is likely to be repeated. We, therefore, call upon the Liberian authorities to free and exonerate Messers Hassan Bility, Ansumana Kamara and Mohammed Kamara. Like most freedom-loving people the world over, we strongly believe these individuals are innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, they must not be harmed and must be set freed immediately.
This behavior is all the more reason why the international community has continued to tighten the screws on the fascist regime in Monrovia.
On this note, we applaud those decent Liberians who continue to resist tyranny, and extend our solidarity and commendation to them for not yielding to threats and blackmail as is evident in their activities in “Dodge”. We will hold Mr. Taylor responsible for the safety of Messrs. Bility, the Kamaras, Wesseh and their families.
Furthermore, it has become quite evident that little, if anything, has changed in our devastated home since the NPP-government assumed power, except the transformation of Taylor and his band of former wig-wearing thugs and praise singers from guerrilla warlords to new masters of the Liberian state that have continued to perpetuate terror and plunder cloaked beneath a thin veneer of legality and officialdom. As a result, in Liberia today, its simply business as usual. Poverty and deprivation rule supreme as babies cry, go to bed hungry and die in their misery for lack of care. Worse still, there is no promise of things getting better any sooner as long as the status quo remains intact. The promise of reconciliation and healing has become empty slogan leaving behind nothing but a litany of useless commissions and panels that serve very little purpose besides creating offices and staff for more bureaucrats in a society that is becoming increasingly less concerned with matters of substance.
In this regard, we are troubled that Taylor has failed miserably to abide by his oath of office, which reads, "to support, uphold, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Liberia, bear true faith and allegiance to the Republic; and will faithfully, conscientiously and impartially discharge the duties and function of the office of the President."
And even with or without the existing “State of Emergency” imposed last February, Liberia is still not a safe place to return to since freedom of speech, press and movement are violated with impunity. Journalists are harassed, intimidated, incarcerated and abused while in government’s custody. Newspaper offices are summarily closed down and their properties destroyed or stolen on grounds of “National Security” or defaming the government image, and those accused of crimes are violated without any justification.
Based on these numerous concerns, it appears that the Taylor administration is not interested in peace and reconciliation. In this vein, we therefore wish to remind the Taylor administration of a Ghanaian proverb that says, "The ruin of a nation begins in the home of its people"; and also that the five fingers on the human hand must cooperate in order to smoothly perform their collective responsibilities.
Moreover, we are troubled by the mixed messages, double standards, deceit and hypocrisy of the Taylor Administration on issues of national concern. Even as the regime proclaimed a month of reconciliation, and now seeks to participate in a global anti-terrorism campaign, many Liberians continue to languish in prison because of their political belief, ethnic affiliation and bogus charges made against them, including but not limited to treason, sedition, and espionage.
As such, we do not expect Mr. Taylor and his praise singers to deliver on any agenda regarding genuine peace and reconciliation. They have never intended to do so, and will never do it now! Also, it is due to this and other acts of indiscipline and related vices that the Liberian society is falling apart, which have permeated the moral fabric of the Liberian society and have been institutionalized with impunity, which have led to the present state of lawlessness in the country.
With this in mind, we urge the Liberian authorities, and President Taylor in particular, to free and exonerate Mr. Bility and others from prison. And, as a people driven by conviction, and for the love of our country and people, it is our position that those that have killed our people, destroyed our country and continued to mortgage our natural resources and violate our human and constitutional rights will be made to bear the consequences if dignity and lasting peace must be restored to our beloved LIBERIA.
Issued in the supreme interest of the Liberian people, on this 13th day of July 2002, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor
Chairman, Liberian Democratic Future (LDF)