What is Going on Under Your Leadership is not Our Destiny (An Open Letter to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf)
H.E. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
President of Liberia Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs Executive Mansion, P.O. Box 9001, Capitol Hill, Monrovia Republic of Liberia
Dear Madam President:
I write as an advocate for human rights, a friend and to a lady with whom I shared a cold political prison and unacceptable place while incarcerated (1985). I campaigned for you in 1997 and 2005. We had hope in your ability to deliver by uniting the country and to mitigate the most poverty striking condition of our people. Every time I think of you and your government, I think of the notes we exchanged on September 9, 1985 at the Post Stockade. In reply to my second note to you, you said “one day we will have the destiny of our country in our hands.” Madam President, the destiny of our country that is now in your hands looks like the same under Tolbert and Doe when it comes to police violence against journalists, innocent civilians, corruption and surrounding yourself with sycophants, who will be in the vanguard to condemn you tomorrow, when things get out of hands. You fought against these things in the past. This is why we slept on cold floors from one prison to another. Madam President, have you forgotten our difficult days during the struggle to dawn a new day in our country? Have you forgotten what we stood against yesterday? What is going on under your leadership ( killings and police brutality) are not the destiny we talked about in prison.
My eyes are filled with tears for the victims on November 7, 2011, like that of April 14, 1979, the invasion of the University of Liberia 1984 and the civil war (1989-2003).
Liberians in the Diaspora, both your supporters and members of opposition parties, are saddened. Today, November 7, 2011 the police of Liberia shot and killed innocent civilians and wounded many, who had gathered at the Party Headquarters of the Congress for Democratic Change, CDC. This is the second time of blood bath in this year, including the invasion of GW Gibson. The right to assemble, Madam President, is a fundamental right that cannot be derogated save an emergency order is given by the government.
Today, President Obama issued out a statement and said “We encourage all security forces in Liberia to exercise maximum restraint and to allow peaceful protest.” I have heard America making similar statement like this and later, their action went another way. This statement concerns me a lot.
Reports concerning the wanton shooting of civilians is claimed by the police as self-defense. Madam President, under international laws and laws of our country, there must be or had to exist “a necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation.” It is argued that any action taken in the case of the police brutality, shooting and killing “must be proportional, since the act justified by the necessity of self-defense, must be limited by that necessity, and kept clearly within it.”
Madam President, from videos being watched and consultations with human rights agencies, both local and international, the preponderance evidence for the use of “self-defense by the police is very hard to fathom. The “necessity of self-defense” established under international law and ours is being abused all the time by the police of our country.
Madam President, you just got a Nobel Peace Prize. Congratulations! Having said that, the killing and police brutality places a dark cloud over the worthiness of your receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. This is not good for you and our country.
I am pleading with you to stop the continuous police violence owing, but not limited to, the following reasons:
1. A repeat of Libya, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, etc in Liberia. A specter of chaotic events in the countries supra is haunting our country;
2. The peace, for which your government and the international community contributed, could be destroyed and Liberia could slip back to its past of fourteen years of civil war;
3. Reconciling the Liberian people through the TRC mandate and other traditional methods of reconciliation could be jeopardized;
4. The reconstruction of our country and betterment of the lives of our people for which your government assisted in eradicating Liberia’s debts will be placed in ruin;
5. I am pleading with your government to observe our laws and international law for peace and the protection of all Liberians regardless of political affiliation and aliens within our borders.
6. Please investigate and remove the Police Director and have a well knowledgeable and trained police officer to head our national police force, save he is getting order directly from you to use life bullets to take the lives of innocent people and to brutalize our compatriots who are exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, the right to peacefully assemble, etc.
7. Your legacy of contributing to upholding the laws of our land, your fight to uplift our down trodden people from poverty, diseases, mitigation of unemployment and to improve educational facilities and reconstruction of roads, is being destroyed almost every year since January 2006, from the work of the police and those who are stealing from our national covers. Please do something about this.
8. Like me, Madam President, you have children. Please do not pay lips service in punishing those who killed other people children in the name of unproven necessity of self-defense. The case of the police.
As a human rights group, we will continue to advice your leadership on what we considered violation of international laws and the laws of our dear country. This, we will do without let or hindrance.
May the Lord save our country as we mourn for those killed on November 7, 2011.
Signed: Kirkpatrick Weah
Executive Director, LIHRRWO
Your former political prison mate ( 1985)
C/o Embassy of the Republic of Liberia, Washington DC.
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