Joint Statement Issued by UPP, LPP
April 16, 2001
Editor's Note: Following the mysterious disappearance of J. Milton Teahjay, and reports of threats on the lives of opposition leader Togba-Nah Tipoteh, and human rights activist James Verdier, and the recent clampdown on the students of the University of Liberia, the U.S. branch of the United People's Party and the Liberian People's Party issued the joint statement below over the weekend:
PHILADELPHIA, PA , April 15, 2001 - The members and officers of the United People's Party and the Liberian People's Party in the United States have jointly expressed indignation and protest over the mysterious disappearance of former Deputy Minister of Information, Mr. J. Milton Teahjay, in the Taylor-led government. In light of the recent developments in Liberia, members of UPP and LPP in America convened a joint consultative meeting in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 14, 2001, to review the deteriorating human rights situations in Liberia under the watch of the Taylor administration.
Accordingly, the Philadelphia meeting is alarmed by not only the disappearance of Mr. Teahjay, but also the continuing pattern of human rights abuses and the unexplained deaths of perceived enemies of the Liberian government. While the Taylor government was supposedly elected under the mandate of the rule of law, ironically, it has become all too familiar to see perceived enemies of Mr. Taylor being murdered as evident by the Dokies, Manna Zaykay, Noai Flomo, the late Vice President Doglolea and now Teahjay.
The parties find it hard to believe that President Taylor will steep in the lore of his office to announce the arrest and subsequent detention of Mr. Teahjay, by his security apparatus only to be disavowed by his Police Director, Paul E. Mulbah.
Members of the two parties further view this action of President Taylor as a poignant reminder of government's pattern of behavior that patently misrepresents the truth of what the public knows to be a modus operandi of the Taylor administration in cases of disappearances of prominent Liberians. The UPP and LPP are deeply dismayed that in the face of a major family tragedy in which the curtain of suspicion falls squarely on his government, President Taylor has a fondness of trivializing such tragedy through patronage and the lack of penitence.
The UPP and LPP vehemently oppose President Taylor's continued practice of terror and patronage against private citizens who are perceived as enemies. The parties hold President Taylor personally responsible for the security, protection and safeguard of the Teahjay family. Consequently, the Liberian People's Party and the United People's Party meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, call on President Taylor to produce with immediacy the living body of Mr. J. Milton Teahjay.
It is our fervent hope that President Taylor takes his responsibility to the Liberian people serious, and hence his public pronouncement should accordingly come to represent the Office of President. Consistent with such commitment, we have reasons to believe that Mr. Taylor was acting in good faith when he announced the arrest of Mr. Teahjay.
Meanwhile, both LPP and UPP are deeply troubled by the invasion of the University of Liberia by the government security forces and their subsequent manhandling, torturing and the rape of females and other students exercising their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly as enshrined and guaranteed under the constitution of the Republic of Liberia. The arrest and humiliation of students protesting the detention of members of the Liberian Press demonstrates an intolerable level of a government bent on stifling freedom of speech in Liberia and engaged in a fundamental denial of the basic tenets of democracy. It is the view of the parties that the continuous intimidation of the media and human rights groups bespeaks the government's growing insensitivity of the rapidly declining conditions of our people.
The joint consultative meeting of UPP and LPP members in the United States condemn the assault on the freedom of the press in Liberia, and further note with grave concern the recent arrest and detention of the four journalists of the Press Union of Liberia on bogus charges of espionage. Additionally, the parties renounce and repudiate the threats on the lives of Dr. Togbah Nah Tipoteh [of the Liberian People's Party] and Attorney James N. Verdier of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
Concluding, members of the United People's Party and the Liberian People's Party residing in the United States affirm a joint commitment to work together to encourage multiparty democracy, and promote the advancement of human rights and social justice in Liberia.
Bodioh Wisseh Siapoe
Acting National Chairman
Political Action Committee
United People's Party, USA
Steve T. Konah
Liberian People's Party, USA