A Statement Of Declaration For A Week-Long Solidarity For Detained Human Rights Defenders Hassan Bility, Sheik Sackor
Issued By Authority Of The Liberia Coalition Of Human Rights Defenders
Posted October 25, 2002
OCTOBER 24, 2002
We have come to claim your attention at this threatening period of our country's history. We have come at a time when human rights abuses in our country have reached massive proportions. We come to draw your participation in a sympathy to the plights of Journalist Hassan Bility, Sheikh Sackor and others who have been languishing behind bars for four months.
When those whose line of duty is linked to protecting human dignity, justice and democracy are themselves deprived of their civil liberties, then society is degenerating to incivility and chaos. This is why journalists, lawyers, human rights and pro-democracy advocates must remain steadfast and unperturbed in their functions, otherwise society will wreck.
Precisely four months and few days ago, Journalist Hassan Bility and later, human rights advocate and director of the Humanist Watch, Sheik Sackor were detained by the government. Since then, the government has not charged these detainees, notwithstanding persistent pleas and pressure from local and international organizations and individuals for the government to do so. The worst experience, moreover, is the refusal by government to honor several writs of habeas corpus issued on behalf of the detainees, a legal instrument which makes it compulsory for anyone being detained to physically appear in court.
Since reneging on the Hassan Bility et all case, to us is tantamount to influencing and participating in the murder of democracy, a recent meeting of the Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defenders resolved to observe this solidarity week in furtherance of its desire to remain tireless until justice is accorded the detainees under Liberians law or have them released from further detention. And this commitment we pledge to upkeep, although not oblivious of a calculated scheme by our detractors to frustrate our efforts thus engendering the failure of the exercise.
Our interest to persistently pursue the Hassan the Bility et all case is solely based on their plight. In as much they are not being treated fairly in keeping with provisions of the August 12, 1949 Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocol relative to Non-International Armed Conflict such as ours, we feel a natural urge to keep the torch of their defense burning. So, as we set about observing this solidarity week, we do so in anticipation of support from all lovers of peace, justice and democracy. It is unfortunate and further defies logic that Hassan Bility and others who are being detained as being LURD rebels operatives in Monrovia are kept in state-run secret and unknown detention center, while their alleged principal, the LURD rebel is covered under government's general amnesty program.
In a speech on 14 September 2002 during which President Charles G. Taylor lifted the state of emergency and the ban on public gathering, the President is on record as calling on the LURD rebel to lay down their arms and that they would be protected under government's general amnesty program. One therefore wonders why the Justice Ministry has not carried out the government's mandate by releasing Hassan Bility, Sheikh Sackor and others in line with that Presidential declaration.
Beginning today, October 25, 2002 through the 1st of November instant, the human rights community in Liberia is relentlessly commencing the solidarity week.
Fellow Liberians and friends abroad, we are proud to inform you that the human rights community abroad and the civilized world have joined the Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in expressing unflinching support for and solidarity with the local initiative. In Kampala, Uganda, a peace walk is being organized by the Uganda Coalition of Defenders. In Canada, a rally is being planned by the human rights community there.
In the Netherlands, 5, 000 signatures are being collected to form part of the petition to President Taylor. In the United Kingdom, appropriate program to light candles for the plight of Hassan Bility, Sheikh Sackor and others is being finalized. All of these activities are set to take place simultaneously with the Solidarity Prayer Service on Monday, October 28, 2002 at the St. Theresa Convent Campus in Monrovia.
Fellow Liberians, NOW is the time, we must wake up in the defence of democracy, justice, the rule of law and human rights. If we do not realize this noble duty, we will continue to be vulnerable to arbitrary arrests/detention and torture.
Yesterday, it was Cllr. Francess Johnson Morrris, Marcus Jones, Ishmael Campbell, Tiawon Gongloe; today it is Hassan Bility, sheikh Sackor and others; tomorrow it could you, your relative, your pastor, your teacher or someone else.
Observe The Solidarity Week In Sympathy With The Plights Of Bility And Others. Attend The Prayer Service On Monday At The St. Theresa Convent Campus On Randall. Participate In The Peacefull Solidarity March From The Labor Ministry To The Executive Mansion To Present Petition To President Charles Taylor On Tuesday, 29 October 2002. Come One All.
For The Authority Of The Liberia Coalition Of Human Rights Defenders:
LIBERIA COALITION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
1. Movement for the Defence of Human Rights (MODHAR)
2. Center for the Protection of Human Rights (CPHR)
3. Fore-runners of Children Universal Rights, Growth & Dev. (FOCUS)
4. Association of the Female Lawyers of Liberia
5. Civil Rights Association of Liberian Lawyers (CALL)
6. Liberia Democracy Watch (LDW)
7. United Methodist Human Rights Monitor ( MONITOR)
8. Civil and Human Rights Alliance of Liberia (ALLIANCE)
9. Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC)
10. Center for Law and Human Rights Education (CLHRE)
11. Rural Human Rights Activists Programme (RHAP)
12. Liberia Human Rights Observers (LHRO)
13. Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy (COPDA)
14. Liberia Prison Watch (LIPWA)
15. Center for Sustainable Human Development (CESHOD)
16. Research and Document Center on Human Rights
17. Liberia Watch for Human Rights (LWHR)
18. Human Rights Watch/Women and Children
19. Center for Child Protection, Growth and Development
1. Prisoners Assistance Program
2. Forum for the Restoration of Democracy
3. Campaign for the Promotion of Democracy