Makeni Lives Matter – opposition MPs protest in Sierra Leone Parliament

Lawrence Williams: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 August 2020:

Over continued acts of hostility by the government security forces in Makeni, Rights Activists are demanding an end to brute force. “We are concerned about the continued indiscriminate and arbitrary arrests and inhumane treatment meted out on residents of Makeni by security personnel.”

Those are the exact words of the Bombali District Human Rights Committee, expressing grave frustration, fears, and anxieties over the conscious display of heavy weapons and acts of intimidation by the government security forces in Makeni.

The security forces are accused of exercising brute force in policing a city of peaceful inhabitants.

In its press release of 4th August 2020, the Committee frowned at the beating of a 13-year-old by security forces for simply enquiring about the arrest of his uncle, the arbitrary arrest of a youth for wearing a t-shirt with the inscription “Makeni Life Matters” and the capturing of another who was whisked off half-naked, wearing only underpants to cover his private parts.

The beating of the 13-year-old boy reminds us of the sad demise of a 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed by security forces during violent clashes that erupted in the Tonko Limba bye-election in September 2018.

“If innocent children can be beaten and, or killed and nobody is held accountable, adults can be treated far worse than that!” A rights activist exclaimed.

The Bombali District Human Rights Committee observed that these actions are very provocative, to say the least, and amounted to acts of terrorism against a civil populace already bereaved by the killings of their loved ones by the government security forces.

The Committee also observed that the bereaved families are now victims of psychological trauma, and a state of despair and despondency now permeates the northern city.

“Nearly seventeen days after the unfortunate incident, an uneasy calm, a state of fear and an atmosphere of uncertainty has persisted in the city of Makeni,” the press release stated.

The Committee concluded by making high demands for the release of all those in police custody, including the 51 suspects arrested in connection with the July 18 protest in Makeni that left five people dead and dozens injured. It also called for the cessation of the display of heavy weapons by the government security forces.

“The parading and displaying of heavy weapons by convoys of security forces in the streets of Makeni must stop,” they emphasized.

In solidarity with their Makeni brothers and sisters, the All People’s Congress Members of Parliament who hailed from the northern region yesterday staged a silent protest in the house of Parliament.

Cladded in black attire, the opposition MPs say their action is to draw the government’s attention to their plea for justice.

In an interview with the Hon. Catherine Zainab Tarawally of constituency 037 in Bombali district, she told our freelance journalist Osman Karim Konteh that they as opposition wore black to show solidarity with the families of those who lost their lives and to also urge the government to release those languishing in police cells.

She said: “Sierra Leone is not a banana republic. And the lives of Makeni people matter!”.

In his keynote address at the Consultative Dialogue Conference (Bintumani III) on 23 May 2019, President Julius Maada Bio noted that impunity is rife in the country. He also noted that “the inability of the poor and the vulnerable to access justice are sources of tension in the country”.

He said: “Let us hold ourselves accountable for how we treat our people and communities. Let us hold ourselves accountable for delivering justice fairly and speedily to those who deserve justice.”

Opposition Leader of Parliament, Honourable Chernor Bah and NGC Leader – Honourable Kandeh Yumkella yesterday joined MPs representing constituencies in Bombali in calling for justice for the six people who were shot and killed in Makeni by also wearing the ‘Makeni Lives Matter’ t-shirts in the House of Parliament.

6 Comments

  1. Every now and then, a diehard delusional SLPP supporter will proclaim that, all the killings and heinous atrocities being committed in our nation are a result of the APC party not admitting defeat from the previous election, hence are holding the current SLPP government to ransom. Another common talking point is that, APC party supporters are lawless, hence the security forces are doing a fabulous job in instilling law and order, albeit the use of live bullets on numerous occasions, now amounting to over 50 unarmed youths killed within a period of 2years. Another school of thought among diehard SLPP supporter is that, the country is unstable because, APC want to be the only party to govern Sierra Leone, or else there will be no peace.

    In attempting to vet the validity of the aforementioned sentiments, during the last 11 yrs SLPP rule with late president Kabbah at the helmed of affairs, didn’t we have the APC in the opposition? Now despite the existence of stiff opposition in parliament, numerous citizens not-so-peaceful demonstrations for various causes, and the barrage of political songs from artist like Emerson, Jungle leaders, Dry eye crew, all calling out the rampant corrupt practices within the Kabbah government, did we have widespread of citizens arrests and political prisoners? What about the numerous spontaneous riots from raucous and lawless youths mainly from eastern schools like Congress, Ahmadiyya, Methodist boys High School, and others, who on many occasions went on the rampage, fighting each other in rivalries, with looting, vandalizing taking place; did the security forces ever use live bullets to control these skirmishes?

    When it came to accepting defeat, besides late Solomon Berewah and a handful of patriotic SLPP stalwarts, didn’t the majority of the SLPP membership believe the elections of 2007 and 2012 were rigged in favor of APC? After the 2012 elections, didn’t Maada Bio file an election petition at the supreme court of Sierra Leone, with a prompt addresse of the case by the judiciary, albeit Maada Bio losing the challenge? Now, if both previous regimes, SLPP and APC, headed by Kabbah and EBK, managed to maintained peace in the midst of almost identia cal challenges and civil disturbances, why are we witnessing different outcome now?

  2. We the people of Sierra Leone, we the patriotic citizens will not and will never incite violence but we encourage the victims families, sympathizing with them, and asking each and everyone of you to take heart and move on. An ordinary individual can’t challenge gov’t, and no gov’t on earth should challenge the mighty God’s decision.

    Our Makeni people, I am personally asking you kindly, to pray for your loved ones and ask for mercy on their gentle souls. Most of these people that are inciting violence – encouraging youths to go out and protest, some of them living millions of miles away from the country, leave them with their hate and may God guide them all.

    This country is a peaceful country, and we will not allow massacre again like what happened in 1967. APC will never succeed in interrupting the SLPP gov’t. Bio’s mission must be completed and accomplished by the power of God. Let’s love our country. It doesn’t mean that if APC is not in power, Sierra Leone isn’t S/L. This dictatorship must end. This country is ours – no exception.

  3. Listen to the speech by Honourable Dr Kandeh Yumkella and you will know that the brutal approach by the security forces did not start today. In fact the current regime has not recruited any police since it came to power. The last batch was recruited in 2017.

    We have to pressure the government to ensure that trigger happy Officers are brought to book. Politicizing it will not solve the problem. Yesterday the SLPP supporters were at the receiving end when police murdered peaceful protesters at NUC campus in Bo, murdered youth in Kabala, Wellington etc.

  4. The parading of heavily armed members of the Sierra Leone armed forces and their auxiliary force in their latest incarnation as the Sierra Leone police force or SLPP force in the streets of Makeni, is not a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness. We have seen worst. The residents of Makeni are looking at you with a collective shrugs, like boys scouts with toy guns, compared to the fight they put up to repeal RUF rebels that tried and failed to run amok in those same streets you are parading today, during the civil war. No one is intimidated by your display of brute force. It will not work and will never work.

    THE PEOPLE OF MAKENI DON’T RUN AWAY FROM THE FIRE, THEY RUN TOWARDS THE FIRE! And they will never bow to dictatorship. Your continued harassment of the locals, is seen in the eyes of every right thinking and peace loving Sierra Leoneans, that you’ve lost the argument. The reality, far from being cowed by your actions, you are seen like an occupying force. The sooner you leave the streets of Makeni and stop defending the indefensible, the better for long term peace and stability for everyone. As for the local MPs or members of the APC party – shame on you.

    Makeni lives matter, so are the lives of prisoners in Pademba Road, Lunsar, Tombo and every grieving family around the country. You’ve shown a complete lack of leadership. You are protesting in the Wells of Parliament, because you have Parliamentary privilege, but the brave youths that stand up to this cowards and being mowned down by bullets has no such right. You should be protesting in the streets, not Parliament. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  5. The APC party is leaderless so their parliamentarians are doing everything they can to hide the fact that their party is quickly losing relevance in national politics. This latest antic is nothing short of a desperate political grandstanding. How easily they forget that we have the same security forces they commanded under their administration. The leadership may have changed but they still maintain the same approach when it comes to dealing with disturbances. So to Print and wear T-Shirts in the well of parliament, proclaiming that ” Makeni Lives Matter” is hypocritical and show lack of respect and sympathy for the lives of the many that were taken by the same security forces when they were in power.

    I really think that all these shenanigans are in furtherance to the promise their crooked leadership made to disrupt the fragile peace in our country if their APC Party is not reelected. This level of discordance in our national politics is unprecedented. It appears as if the APC party is not in power no other party is capable of steering our county to peace and prosperity. What an audacity and hubris on their part, when one reflects on the total mess they always leave behind when they exit office.

    One thing that is becoming quite clear as President Maada Bio and this SLPP government continue to govern, is that no one is going to hold this government hostage. If you fall foul of the law, you are bound to face the full force of the law. As this new government continues to rebrand our country, it is my hope that all progressive citizens will look down and condemn all those purporting to care for the lives of those innocent misguided youths while their rabble rousers hide behind official titles and are not willing to put their own children in harms way.

  6. The Massacre of the Innocents will not just go away easily like a mist that came and went in the wind; the barbarous violence perpetrated against the residents of Makeni by merciless trained SLPP assassins and the lives they callously took will forever be remembered by the citizens of our beloved nation. Be rest assured all those who were responsible will be bound and dragged by the arms of the law to answer for the heinous crimes they have committed – it will be so! It shouldn’t matter if you are red, blue, black or green in complexion or whether you speak with the tongues of angels or devils…In the eyes of the Omnipotent heaven – All Lives Matter!

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