BLOODY TUESDAY, MARCH 22: ELLEN’S MISTAKE
By: John B. Kollie
Following the April 14th, 1979 rice rebellion during which the security forces shot and killed over 140 Liberians and jailed hundreds more, Liberians in Monrovia adapted a popular song which they sang everywhere in protest against the atrocities committed by the goons of the Tolbert administration. It went something like this: “April 14, aye yah, Tolbert mistake, yeah…..”. It was not long after this tragedy, 11 months to be exact, that the Tolbert Government fell in a coup d’etat led by Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe.
The Ellen Sirleaf administration seems to have made its own mistake on 22 March when its police and other security personnel brutalized students of the Tubman High School and GW Gibson High School in Monrovia. The students, in a peaceful demonstration, had taken to the streets to protest the absence from classes of their teachers who were boycotting their teaching assignments over demand for an increase in their salaries.
As in 1979 when Tolbert’s security forces murdered innocent citizens, the students were non-violent and well-meaning. But this was not enough to stop the blood-thirsty security forces from inflicting serious injuries on the students. The blood spilled on the floors of the teachers’ lounge, bathroom and class rooms, and the tears flowing down the faces of many of those who witnessed the police brutality--all speak of the atrocities visited upon the students by the very police who are paid to protect them. Indeed, the police forciby entered the classrooms and unleashed their batons and knives on the unarmed students. Among the injured was a handicapped student, Cecelia Parker, whoby was severely assaulted.
Not satisfied with brutalizing the students, the police went on to engage in petty theft. According to the principal of G. W. Gibson High School, Mr. Terence Moore, the police forced their way onto the school’s campus, brutalized the students and made away with some money, a lap top, and several cell phones. Mr. Moore is now consulting with his lawyers to charge the police to court inorder to recover the properties stolen by them.
Ofcourse, this is not the first time that the police have unleashed their cruelty on unarmed students. In January, 2010, the leadership of the Liberian National Students Union was arrested, beaten and jailed for as yet unexplained reasons. The students were only released days later as a result of the hue and cry raised by the Liberian people.
To add insult to injury, the police, led by that agriculturist masquerading as law enforcement chief, have refused to apologize for their illegal and unethical behavior and are insisting on making all kinds of assinine justification. For her part, the Minister of Justice, a scion of the defunct Tolbert regime, has called on the police to investigate itself, forgetting, if she ever cared to know it, that age-old legal dictum: You cannot be a judge in your own case.
And what reaction do we get from President Sirleaf? Instead of calling the police to book, all we get from the President is an undignified silence. But this is Ellen’s mistake. For as the saying goes, silence gives consent.
The President’s mistake also extends to her refusal to re-appoint as Auditor General Mr. John Morlu who has been in the forefront of the battle against corruption in Liberia. Ellen’s mistake, again! For if she had charged to court all those Morlu had nailed for corruption; and if she had implemented Morlu’s many recommendations to curb corruption, Liberia would not today be occupying that disgraceful position of being “one of the most corrupt countries in the world”. That is why much applause must be given to Ambassador (Prof) Dew Tuan-Wleh Mayson who has assured the Liberian people that when elected President, he will re-appoint Mr. Morlu as Auditor General inorder to have a most trusted general in the war against corruption.
This is not all. Ellen’s mistakes also include:
· The current destruction of the houses and businesses of people at the ELWA road junction at a time like this when times are hard and no alternative is being offered to these people.
· the refusal to grant protection to Liberian refugees in Ghana when they were under attack by the police in that country;
· the refusal to repatriate the many Liberians who have been caught in the on-going civil strife in La Cote d’Ivoire and in Libya.
In the forthcoming presidential elections, after counting so many mistakes made by Ellen, Liberians will have the opportunity to give her her due marks. And those marks will inevitably give Ellen not a passing grade but a passing out grade.