Statement on the situation in Grand Gedeh County
By Bernard Gbayee Goah
President, Operation We Care for Liberia
Submitted to the World Affairs Council
May 20, 2012
Information reaching me suggests that Liberian government police has tortured, and continues to subject the people of Grand Gedeh County to inhumane treatment.
This information came in the wake of news following a cross boarder attack on UN Peace keepers on the Ivorian side. Those who carried out the attack are unknown, but some Citizens of Grand Gedeh County were earmarked by the Liberian government and declared wanted.
It is also my understanding that Government prematurely ordered the arrest of its own citizens without firstly gathering intelligence on what happened. Most of those implicated currently live in Ghana, Monrovia, and other places far from where the incident occurred. One such person is a man named Amos Charyee who in fact has lived on a refugee camp in Ghana since 2003 and has not left his immediate locale according records received from Ghanaian Authorities.
According to eyewitness, on the premise of “searching for perpetrators of the cross boarder violence”, government security seized properties belonging to organizations operating in the Grand Gedeh County when in fact these organizations had no fish to fry in the case. Importantly, because Charles Taylor’s NPFL rebels heavily destroyed Grand Gedeh County, Non-for -Profit organizations operating in Grand Gedeh primarily provide humanitarian assistance to the people in that area. Seizing vehicles belonging to these organizations impedes their abilities to function. I demand that vehicles belonging to organizations concerned be return at once so that the people would benefit from their services. Cameras belonging to citizens who witnessed police actions were confiscated and destroyed in an apparent effort by police to escape responsibility for their illegal actions. Citizens now live in total fear and the police has imposed curfew in the county.
I see government police violence intimidation of the people of Grand Gedeh County unacceptable.
I believe it is important for you all to know that there are numerous uncontrolled and unprotected boarder entrances between Liberia and Ivory Coast And that the Liberian government has no accurate data on where most of these boarders are, who comes in the country, and who gets out of the country. Even with the recent population census, government is still unable to identify its own citizens. There are no systems in place to work with in Liberia. The entire country operates in complete chaos, speculation, rumors, and guesswork. The indicators are there to show that the country is volatile and heading for trouble.
I believe there is still little green light. The security, integrity, and sustainable development of Liberia can be realized but only when there is a foundation upon which a legal government can function. The problem is, there is no foundation to start with.
Secondly, because it favors impunity, corruption, nepotism, and all of the contrapositive “ism”, the current Liberian government is not considered legal by majority of the Liberian people as such, it is not fully accepted by the people.
Thirdly, the government is not credible because to be credible in Liberia would mean going against the very interest of the President who has absolute authority over the people.
The fourth aspect is, only kangaroo systems infested with former warlords and clueless individuals professing, as legal gurus exist in Liberia. Thus makes it very difficult for peacekeepers and other international institutions to effectively work with the Liberia judiciary system.
What’s considered illegal internationally is actually legal in the eyes of the Liberian President. For example, there are killers walking around in Liberia. These very killers hold top positions within the Liberian government today, and there are no plans whatsoever to bring them to justice. The President and lawmakers have no problem with these people only because they are in fact the very perpetrators. And that is the way it is in that part of the world where war crimes suspects are the judges providing protection for the people they have victimized.
Fellow friends of justice, if Liberia must survive, there must be credible legal systems in place that promotes Justice, and the rule of law. Those bearing the greatest responsibility for the deaths of innocent people should not be allowed to be judges providing protection for the people they victimized. The participation of all Liberians irrespective of their gender, language, ethnicity, religion or political leaning in accordance with accepted international human rights conventions must be encouraged.
And that is why I wholeheartedly applaud the call made by Grand Gedeh County legislative caucus less Honorable Isaac Nyenabo who in fact is a the President’s best friend, for an in-depth independent investigation of why government continue to harass the people of Grand Gedeh County, and how such police actions can be avoided in the future.
For me, it is hard not to believe that police authorities seized this chance to flex their muscles with the intention of intimidating peaceful citizens in Grand Gedeh County. The heavily presence of personnel from the Liberian National Police comprising mostly of former NPFL rebels generals who fought against the people of Grand Gedeh only adds to that impression.
I am deeply troubled by the cloud of repression that now hangs over the people of Grand Gedeh County. Government police inhumane actions against these people are darkened further when a man named Mr. Lewis Browne who is a one-time confidant of former president Charles Taylor ordered the arrest of sons of Grand Gedeh County without intelligence investigation. Mr. Lewis biased statement in a government-sponsored media only reawakens his role-played during the heel days of Charles Taylor NPFL when Mr. Lewis saw people from that region as his enemies. It is my hope that the light of intelligence and legal investigation, as well as open public discussion will dissipate the current crisis in Grand Gedeh County as well as at the Liberian-Ivorian boarder.
To me, the current lawlessness exhibited by a Police force infested with former rebel generals who still see the people of Grand Gedeh as enemies makes such security apparatus illegitimate. Mr. Lewis Brown who championed the killings of the people of Grand Gedeh should not provide protection for them. It becomes too unhealthy for the people of Liberia especially the people of Grand Gedeh County to look up to those whose intentions are bent on annihilating them for protection.
It is fearful when instead of running to the police for protection, people run from the police in Grand Gedeh County in order to preserve their lives.
Also, there is credible information that most top security officers in the current Liberian government were either themselves involved in human rights violations or instructed their foot soldiers to commit atrocities during the country brutal civil wars. Situation such as what took place at the boarders of Liberia and Ivory may have triggered war behaviors’ of Mr. Lewis Browne and his likes of police officers. Especially when it has to do with the people of a county they perceive as enemy County, they put themselves in a combat ready position and behave as such.
I call on the international community to presure the government of President Ellen Johnson to desist form the use of Marshall law in Grand Gedeh County at this time. It is also my demand that police officers who were involved with killings during the Liberian war as well as Mr. Lewis Browne be de-traumatized in order for them to be able to work with the civilian populace in a civilized fashion in accordance with international human rights laws.
I thank you all.
Bernard Gbayee Goah
President, Operation We Care for Liberia
Portland Oregon USA
Contact Phone Number: (503) 292-2622