Majority of Sierra Leoneans are experiencing a climate of fear of political reprisals – Op ed

Arthur E. Pearce: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 August 2022:

The majority of Sierra Leoneans are experiencing a climate of fear of political reprisals, following the recent nationwide protest, as the government attempts to seize the initiative, and prevent further protests.

People are concerned about the impact on their livelihoods, business, and other interests, if they speak out. But increasingly, as the government continues to narrow the space for political debate and freedom of speech, it is becoming clear to all that silence is not an option.

More voices are needed, to amplify the voices of those who have been courageous to speak out.

As part of the Truth and Reconciliation process, Sierra Leoneans identified the institutional and democratic arrangements that needed to be put in place and build upon over time, to ensure that our country’s hard-won peace, after ten years of war, would be safeguarded.

During President Kabba’s reign, he made huge efforts to consolidate those arrangements. These came under strain during the Koroma presidency, but they held, resulting in a transition from APC to SLPP at the 2018 elections.

We were hoping that under President Bio, who regarded himself as the father of democracy, those arrangements would be strengthened and his government will usher in the change he proclaimed during the elections campaign in 2018.

However, since his government came into office, we have witnessed a full-frontal attack on those arrangements which we as Sierra Leoneans identified and agreed, were necessary to prevent our fragile democracy descend into war and anarchy once again, which no Sierra Leonean wants to see.

Following the recent nationwide protests, which pro-government media have framed as an attempted coup, we have witnessed the use of extra-judicial measures, such as disappearances, intimidation and killings which were commonplace under the NPRC / AFRC era with a specific aim of silencing our collective voice by instilling fear across the country as we approach the end of the Bio administration.

As a nation, and in the face of genuine economic hardship across the country, the people of Sierra Leone will not be cowered by these actions.

Our freedom, peace and democracy were paid for, with the blood of over three hundred thousand victims who died during the war. They were paid by the thousands of disabled men and women who are among us today, who yesterday, were cruelly gifted with “short sleeves or long sleeves”, when their legs and arms were amputated by bloodthirsty rebels.

Our freedom, peace and democracy were paid for by all of us, as a nation, who chose to embrace and forgive the sins of rebels, sobels and kamajors, in our quest for peace.

Therefore all Sierra Leoneans, whether rich or poor, Christian or Muslim, Fullah, Kissi, Kim, Krio, Kru, Kono, Limba, Madingo, Mende, Susu, Temne or Via, young or old, male or female; we all have a stake in the future success of Sierra Leone as one nation, and we are not going to sit back and be cowered into fear by these reprisals being waged in the name of the government. Sierra Leone belongs to all of us.

Furthermore, we cannot outsource our collective responsibility to speak up to Adebayor, because as we have seen, the government will delegitimise and dismiss our concerns as the actions of its opponents and those in the diaspora.

If we fail to add our voices to amplify those of the genuine protesters who took to the streets, government will continue to dismiss our legitimate concerns, such as the creation of job opportunities for our youths, not just for the political class; governing in the interest of all, not in the interest of a section of society; empowering women to take their place in society and our youths to take their place in the world.

About the author

Arthur E. Pearce is the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party’s Regional Chairman of the Western Area of Sierra Leone.

6 Comments

  1. Adebayo can only be compared to Foday Sankoh or Osama Bin Laden. Both were in my humble opinion terrorists to the highest level. One thing that most of these terrorists share in common is that they profess to be fighting for Freedom. Freedom to incite others to perpetrate mayhem, unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

  2. Hashim, I am not that gullible. I have experienced riots in Europe where there is loss of life and livelihoods. No one calls that terrorism. I guess you know what happened in Tottenham few years back. Do you know how many protests i have witnessed in this part of the world? You are talking chalk in the same breath as cheese.

    The Dutch have their inciter-in-chief Geehrte Wilders – the far-right politician. What have they ever done to him?

    You do not use such a word lightly. Doing so is pouring scorn on the suffering of those victims of terrorism, including the Americans and some of your West African neighbours including Nigeria who the last time i checked came to our rescue in our dark hour of need.

  3. Bob are you mad or brain blinded. FREEDOM of speech, my foot. The European democracy, unlike ours, is a dynamic phenomenon that remains and continues to change depending on time, place, and circumstance. My dear, I hope you know the TERROR legislation in Europe and the AMERICAS. There has never been an absolute FREEDOM of speech anywhere on earth.
    Moreover, FREEDOM comes with RESPONSIBILITIES. Almost every time one expresses the rights of freedom, someone else’s space is constrained, if not smashed, and so were the recent riots sponsored by cowards whose children never participated. If you come to London, or anywhere in the western world these days and incite terror attacks or otherwise, you’ll face the full wrath of the terror laws. Or have you forgotten the American prison yard in the bay of Cuba. Some of you only write because you went to school but had an iota of critical but objective thought processes.
    Regardless of party affiliation, the recent mob action in Freetown got nothing to do with RIGHTS OR FREE SPEECH. But again, who else defrauds the people in Africa other than the elites who think and behave as the most laudable legal custodians of our thought process- they determine how we all should define our rights and responsibilities, yet they remain in the vanguard to steal and transfer our public purse for their benefit of their children, and that’s the only part they don’t tell the masses.
    It has always been either APC or SLPP, and the elites are the same star defrauders and inciters; why because it must ensure that its life lifeline ( the public purse ) remains open for their marauding and self-conceited development pains through which monies meant for our developments are siphoned to themselves and their relatives
    .

  4. Bio is doubling down on his conspiracy theories that there are certain elements within Sierra Leone and outside of Sierra leone that are hell bent on removing him from power by what ever means . Hence he is blaming everyone else apart from his reckless and provocative and vendetta politics acts that he has being pursuing since he was sworned in back in 2018. To keep the conversation going , he’d suddenly announced his reelection bid for June 2023. Bio and his cohorts have zoomed on certain individuals that they believed are working to make the Sierra Leone ungovernable .As always Mayor Akin Sawyer the usual suspect for Bio and his henchmen , the nameless shadowy financial figures that are putting their money where their mouth is against his government.And finally Adebayo the New Bin laden of Sierra Leone .Bio’s description of him not mine .In his interview with the Qatari based Al-Jazeera news network , Bio has the brass neck to compare the “Mammy Caus” audio messages of Adeybayo against his one direction Poapa government to that of the of late Al -Queada terror chief Osama Bin Laden that was spewing his diatribes against the West under the mountain caves of the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan .

    Now Bio is announcing to the world Sierra Leone have finally joined the war on Global terror not as we know it against Islamic fanatics terrorist, but the the unemployed youths of Sierra Leone that are only asking him to address the cost of living crisis in our country .Suffice to say none of them had sucide vest strapped on them , but the picture Bio managed to create to the minds of our western allies , seemed to suggest he is the only one standing between the Sierra Leoans public and the evil APC youth terrorist .Athough Osama was taken out of the military theatre on the orders of Obama , making such outlandish claims is not only an insult to the families of the 1998 Kenyan and Tanzania, US embassy bombings, but also the September 11th 2001 Al-queda inspired attacks .Which was repeated in Bali, Madraid, Paris , London , Mumbia and right across the middle east and some parts of Africa. Bio the delusional in Chief admitted the youths that came out were leadersless , and have been for influenced by outside actors . Asked what his government is doing to apprehend Adebayo , he said they are working on it with the Dutch government .Goodluck with that .The Dutch and western Europe value their freedom of speech . So when push come to shove the Europen courts of human rights will side with free speech not the suppression of free speech by a tin pot African dictator and that is the reason Europe and America has become a Mecca for anyone who believe in Free speech .

    At the same time it is bit rich coming from Bio that those same leaderless youths will have the audacity and the military know how of overthrowing his government. Bio of all people should know you will need the backing of the public and majority members of the Repulbic of Sierra Leone armed forces to pull off such an audacious action. 1992 was case in point .The public came out to support the NPRC take over because it was long over due ..And there was no way of voting the old APC out of power .To say Bio is murdering the truth on the alter ego of Bio the high priest is an understatement

    • “Asked what his government is doing to apprehend Adebayo , he said they are working on it with the Dutch government .Goodluck with that .The Dutch and western Europe value their freedom of speech . So when push come to shove the Europen courts of human rights will side with free speech not the suppression of free speech by a tin pot African dictator and that is the reason Europe and America has become a Mecca for anyone who believe in Free speech”

      Adebayo has either refugee status or a Dutch pass in the Netherlands. In any of those cases, the liberal Dutch will not play ball with the Sierra Leone Government. The former chief minister who once lived in Holland, i believe, should know more. Even if the Dutch Government wants to co-operate, the supreme courts of some continental European countries such as liberal Holland might prove too high a hoop to jump. Then, you have the European Court of Human Rights waiting in the wings. That court is the ultimate bane, nightmare and nuisance to non-freedom loving and right-wing Europeans and the delight of European Human Right Lawyers.

      As they say, let sleeping dogs lie. The Dutch Government is based in the Hague; the international criminal court is based in the Hague. Pursuing Adebayor relentlessly through official channels in the Netherlands poses the risk of shining a laser light on the human rights record of our President vis-a-vis his so-called collective responsibility in his NPRC days and his sole responsibility now – in the process shooting himself in the foot. Going nuclear and perpetrating extra-judicial killing in the streets of the Netherlands is a whole different ball-game altogether. I can not even start contemplating what the ramifications and ripple effects of such a dastardly move will be.

      Is there really no other option to de-escalate the unsustainable political tensions in Sierra Leon before it gets really nasty? Is there no one receiving and processing any peace signals from any of the individuals or groups that are parties or are perceived to be parties in this stand-off. Where is the international crisis group who were very instrumental in sending peace overtures and initiating talks with the elusive RUF in the those dark days of our troubles? Where is the old Maada Bio who also played his part in encouraging the RUF to the table, albeit with the backdrop of a close family member being a guest or captive of the brutal RUF? Where is the UN who at times look more comfortable in their peace-keeping or fire-fighting roles than in fire-prevention roles? Where is the ECOWAS Early Warning System? Do we really want the the present situation to fester, simmer to boiling point and spill all its nasty contents on the whole landscape of Sierra Leone as it once did in the 80s and 90s? Who will be picking up the pieces and tabs if such a scenario comes to pass once again?

      • In the Al Jazeera interview, the honourable president stressed that he had formally declared a state of emergency due to a rape crisis.
        Giving impressions of Sierra Leone as a haven for degenerates is not a good way to portray the country. The listeners must have thought, I am not going there ever, if a woman – you are likely to be raped; or if a man, likely to die by al Qaeda style terrorists.

Tell us what you think

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.