Wednesday, 30 March 2011

POLICE BRUTALITY SURFACES -In Peaceful Assembly By Students

Wade Williams,

Monrovia -

Monrovia's main street, Broad Street was a scene of chaos when riot police armed with sticks resorted to violence to disburse a crowd of protesting students.po
Students of the Matilda Newport Junior High School on Newport Street garthered Monday morning as early as 8:00am before the Ministry of Education to demand why teachers were boycutting classes. 
The students told reporters on the scene that they were told by their teachers that they (teachers) have not received their salaries from the Liberian government for several months now.
"The main reason that we are on the street is because our teachers are saying they have not been paid therefore they are not coming to classes,"
The police Anti riot unit were seen beating students with large sticks used as baton. Students expressed shock that the police who are expected to protect lives would want to harm them. 
"After a meeting with the Minister of education we came downstairs to talk to our students to calm down in the process the police officer jumped on me and started to beat me with the baton and tore my bag," says Timothy Kpelleh of the 9th grade.
Speaking to journalists in his office at the MOE Deputy Communications Director J. Shannon Goe, dismissed students claim that teachers are not being paid. “Teachers are being paid. I’m not aware that any teacher has not been paid. We asked them who are the teachers that are saying they have not been paid but they can’t tell us.”
Mr. Goe asserted that some hidden hands are using the students to cause confusion as this is a political season in the country and called on such individuals to desist from putting students in the street to demonstrate. He appealed to the students to always follow the right procedure in expressing their grievances.pol
Yonton B. Kesselly Deputy Minister for Vocational and Technical Education and Acting Deputy Minister for Instruction MOE made it clear that the students were not demonstrating but according to him:”What the students did was that they had a peaceful march before the Ministry of Education to make inquiry as to why there are no teachers in the classroom,” says Min. Kesselly.
The deputy minister described the situation of police using force against students as unfortunate and that it was not the intention of the students to engage the police. He appealed to the students to go home and return to school today.
Min. Kesselly blamed the situation on rumors and demanded that the teachers needed to answer questions on the issue raised by the students. “It’s absolutely a fallacy, it’s hearsay, it’s a ‘they say’ at no time has the government or the Ministry of Education in particular is owing any of its personnel so far as I know,” says Kesselly.
Continued Kesselly: “It was something masterminded by somebody but we’re going to dig the details out and get to the press as soon as possible.”
The Principal of the Newport Junior High School Mr. Steven George said there were few teachers at the school but revealed that students did not come prepared to go to class. “We talked to them that the rumors they heard are not true that teachers are not being paid, as I’m speaking to you all civil servants have received their pay for february,” says George. 
Police Commanders on the scene refused to comment on why they used force on the students but referred the Press to the Public Information section of the LNP.