BREAKING RANK ON STUDENTS’ ‘RIGHTS’
LIBERIAN PRESIDENT Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf broke ranks with her Inspector General of Police, Marc Amblard Monday when she told legislative reporters at the Capitol Building that students have the right to demonstrate without any interference from the police or any other law enforcement agency.
SAID SIRLEAF: Students have the right to demonstrate. The police are not to interfere with them as long as they conform to the law.''
THE DECLARATION by the President is a welcome departure from comments attributed to the Mr. Amblard, last week, when the police chief suggested that students who participated in the disturbance last week would be responsible for paying for damages resulting from the violent turn dubbed Bloody Tuesday.
WHILE WE APPLAUD the President making the clarification, we encourage the president to go a step further and reprimand Mr. Amblard for his poor choice of words over what is obviously a very sensitive subject matter in a crucial election year.
THE PRESIDENT must take into consideration, Liberia's historical past and its quest for the future in laying the gauntlet on officials who are determined to put her administration in a bad light.
IN MAKING his careless remark, Mr. Amblard failed to take into consideration the fact that his officers also ran down student protesters behind their school walls and in doing so, they crossed the line.
THE MESSAGE going forth must be clear that students deserve the right to assemble and protest under the constitution of the republic of Liberia. Article 17 states that ''All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceable manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions and other organizations.''
MR. AMBLARD and his rogue cops were in violation of students' rights and must save face by offering an apology. The President, must take the necessary step and ask Mr. Amblard to resign in solidarity with the victimized students who were simply fighting alongside their teachers for better incentives and salary upgrade. That was in no way a reason for any student in post-war Liberia to shed blood, sweat and tears.
BREAKING RANKS with the police chief was the right thing to do. Now Mr. Amblard must do the honourable thing and step aside in the interest of justice for the bleeding students.