I bring you greetings from the Board of Directors, executive members and members of the Youth Network for Reform, Inc. (YONER-LIBERIA). A legal non- governmental, and not-for-profit youth rights advocacy organizations committed to the vision of assisting youth develop a sense of self-esteem and moral integrity for future leadership roles in our society.
I have called you all here today to present the official statement of our organization on the recent “U turn” of this government through the National Police and the National Security Agency (NSA) that everyone so loved and respect for considering human rights and freedom of expression as one of its key pillars of successes.
Fellow Liberians, fellow youth rights activist, members of the press, it is unfortunate and inhumane to note the recent continuous unlawful arrest of peaceful citizens on the account of expressing themselves on the issues that they identified as ills affecting the fabric of our emerging democracy. As a human and youth rights activist working with a human rights advocacy organization as well as the focal person of the World Youth Alliance ((WYA-The World Youth Alliance is composed of young men and women from every part of the world. In cooperation with other organs of the international community, primarily the United Nations and the European Union) committed to building free and just societies through a culture of life. We believe that culture affirms the inalienable dignity of the person, defends the intrinsic right to life, assemble free expression, nurtures the family, and fosters a social climate favorable to integral development, solidarity, and mutual respect), we cannot see this gruesome action in recent times being perpetuated by this government through the national police and the NSA. . The recent arrests and criminal charges against peaceful citizen constitute serious violations of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.
Therefore, we categorically want to condemn the recent action by the Liberia National Police and the National Security Agency (NSA) for their continuous arrest of peaceful citizens for expressing themselves under the law of our beloved country, the only parcel of land bequeathed for us.
Freedom of expression is one of the most talks about international human rights laws which the UN requires every country to respect including Liberia who us a signatory.
But, the recent action of LNP and NSA to arrest Mr. Vandallark Patrick must be condemned by all well meaning Liberians, human and youth rights activists to join us in the struggle of ensuring that the good reputation of this government is not stained.
We do not want to reflect or go back to our bitter past where citizens were not allowed to speak out freely and went with pain because, they were afraid of arrest and intimidation.
Madam President, the Liberian people respect you and your government especially, the youth. It was this reason that you were chosen as the only alternative in our emerging democratic of which you assured the Liberian people to respect freedom of speech and will not arrest anyone because of expressing himself/herself freely as well as assemble. You also said and assured the Liberian people and the world that there will be no political prisoners, but we have observed in recent times you are deviating from your promise of protecting human rights including freedom of expression and now involved in the arrest of citizens for announcing peaceful assembly.
We want to strongly condemn this undemocratic act and request your honorable office to promptly consider the following recommendations:
That the Police spokesman, Mr. Sam Collins be dismissed from his post and send to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution for boastfully and confidently lying under oath to the Liberian people after being aware that Mr. Vandallark Patrick was arrested and in the custody of the Police and the NSA. This is barbaric and unacceptable to the youth and all Liberians.
That the NSA Director also be dismissed from his post for the arrest and detention of a peaceful citizen because he announced staging a peaceful protest to send a signal to the outside world that Liberia is not what they think it is but people are still living in abject poverty.
In recognition of your continuous pronouncement of your commitment to promoting human rights including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, we have observed in recent times from both the NP and the NSA that they are going contrary to your promise and commitment and don’t worth being part and parcel of this government as we don’t anticipate reverting to our ugly past which held us into over 14 years of brutal civil war. Therefore, we are calling on you to kindly take these recommendations seriously and act accordingly.
Inclusively, we are again requesting the President to listen to and address the legitimate concerns of ordinary citizens in a manner that is respectful of internationally recognized and constitutionally guaranteed liberties.
Reacting to criticisms and dissents with intimidation, arrests, detention and illegal persecution is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime, not a country that calls itself a democracy; repression of civil and political rights is not a solution — it is a recipe for social instability and tension.
We want to urge the President and the government to look into our demands instead of clamping down on freedom of expression and assembly. If the President will be sincere in listening to the people and practicing the slogan “People First, then she should not curb people’s rights and freedoms.
Liberia has already a relatively poor record on democracy and human rights and it should not again join the ranks of authoritarian countries notorious and infamous for their reckless disregard for the most basic human rights – human rights, peaceful assembly, human dignity and human life.
We are therefore, calling on all youths and human rights activist and advocacy organizations to join us in the struggle to ensure that this government that we so respect desist from this ugly act that is emerging and if nothing is done would, lead to another pave that we don’t yield for.
Thanks and may God save and bless Liberia
J. Andrew Greaves
Founder/Executive Director-YOUTH NETWORK FOR REFORM, INC. (YONER-LIBERI)
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