Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 July 2022:
Dozens of women were arrested by police yesterday, after taking part in peaceful protest in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown against government’s economic policy which they say is painfully adding to the impact of global economic downturn and massive rising cost of living across the country.
Yesterday’s protest brought hundreds of women out in the streets, with shops and markets closed in support of millions of households that are struggling to survive. The commercial district of Freetown was described as a ‘ghost town’, as shoppers stayed at home in what was dubbed – “black Monday” by the protesting women.
Several videos posted on social media, showed women beaten up in police stations and molested by male police officers. Some officers could be heard shouting: “Now you will rot behind bars”.
As the international community in the country turns a blind eye at the rampant abuse of human rights in Sierra Leone and the rapidly deteriorating political climate, Western countries are being accused of double standards, hypocrisy, and duplicity.
Critics of the government say that the international community in Sierra Leone are acting as an accomplice to the crime that is being committed by the Bio-led government against its people, reminiscent of the former military leader – now turned President – whose dark days as head of a junta, was accused of extra-judicially killing dozens of civilians in 1992.
Last night, both the leader of the Unity Party – Dr Femi Claudius Cole and Charman of the National Grand Coalition party – Dr Dennis Bright, were refused bail and spent the night behind bars, accused of inciting an illegal protest.
The leader of the opposition in the country’s parliament – Chernor Bah, said that he visited Cole and Bright at the CID where they were being detained, and called for their immediate release. There are reports this morning that both have now been removed to an unknown location.
The police have conducted a search of the residence of Dr Cole for alleged arms and ammunitions, as well as her Unity Party’s office in Freetown and found no weapons in the properties.
Mayor of Freetown – Mrs Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr also visited Dr Cole and Dr Bright in detention, along with several lawyers – including Basita Michael.
Their calls for the police to grant bail to the pair have gone unheeded, as the Sierra Leone police is accused of abuse of power in support of the Bio-led government whose popularity is declining very fast across the country.
This is what Basita Michael said on twitter:
These were the scenes across Freetown yesterday, as the capital is brought to a halt:
Where is that other burly former soldier J S Momoh and his arrogant and violent attack dog Bambay Kamara today? They were overtaken by events beyond their grasp and control, i guess. Time and events never stand still. That is the ephemeral nature of human affairs for you.
As the Krios say, kakah long tae ee dae cut. Nar for jos bear the pain in the mean time. Whether having a former member of the notorious human rights abusers – the NPRC – to taste power again in Sierra Leone was a wise decision or not is debatable. What to me is not ambivalent and ambiguous is the fact that the seeds of another polical imbroglio are being sown steadfastly and once the conflagration starts don’t count on a former NPRC member to end the war.The last time i checked, they failed woefully to fulfil any of their promises, including the immediate end to the rebel war which they accused the former Government were incapable of as part of a litany of complaints to justify their unconstitutional takeover of power.
Reread the NPRC’s unfulfilled promises here and justification of overthrowing big-waist J S Momoh.
As i said, once things go hay-wire, Sierra Leoneans will be clamouring once again for the largesse and altruism of the international community – notorious for prioritising fire fighting over fire-prevention- to come our aid/rescue.
I don’t understand the life of me why a Government which draws most of its support from only one tribe in the country, which only polled 52% in the 2018 presidential election and was a minority in parliament, pre-the-political shenanigans to forcefully grab 10 seats from the opposition, are bent on this scatter-gun and self-annihilation approach to politics?
The situation that is happening in Sierra Leone reminds me of an incident on the coach network in the U.K.
The Driver of a coach radioed in that he was being harassed by an extremely violent passenger and he needed help.
The fear expressed by the driver was palpable,therefore, the police was called and the TAU, equivalent of S.W.A.T in the U.K.
There we were, police, security guards, station staff, when the coach arrived,waiting to pounce on this violent passenger.
The driver got out and to our surprise pointed to an old lady in her seventies, “there she is”, he said, “arrest her”. Everyone started laughing.
Mr Fallay, the comparison of poor harmless Femi Cole with the rough and ready gunmen of the R.U.F makes me laugh and think that either the SLP is composed of idiots or they are extremely corrupt.
Folks, as usual, Alusine Fallay is unable to redeem himself from his delusion, lies, and propagandist utterance that have define him in this platform. Years of tribal and political indoctrination have indeed taken a toll to this old man. How pathetic!
What folks like Alusine needs to be educated on is that, enshrined in our constitution is citizens right to organize protest to convey displeasure and other grievances to any sitting government. This has been the norm for all past government, ranging from the NPRC junta, all the way to the last administration. Protest and strikes are the hallmark of any democratic nation.
Only a tyrannic regime will stifle this basic right and classify those who dear to take to streets as terrorist, hence must be arrested and beaten like animals. It’s imaginable how in just 4yrs of this PAOPA regime, our nation has return to the old days of pa Sheki.
The government of sierra leone under the leadership of president Bio has nothing to offer to it’s people rather than: intimidation, unlawful arrest, killing it’s own people especially the northern part of the country, and no freedom of liberty. The government of president Bio believes in bribing for them to look good to the international body. We, “the people” of the republic of sierra leone is calling on the ECOWAS, the British and the Americans to come to our rescue because we have a tyrant president that is killing us slowly. President Bio is a man that says something and does quite the opposite. President Bio is the most dangerous president ever seen in west Africa and if our current situation left on solve – am afraid the country is getting back to war. A peaceful country was handed over to president Bio, but since then we experience a JUNTA regime that has no respect of democracy and the rule of law.
Under this one directionless Bio government , our experience with democracy is in full retreat. The drum beats gloom and doom are getting louder and clear .Is closer to home than we think . The democratic reversal of fortune for our country spanned over the last four years of this inept Bio government that is still struggling to accommodate the political swings and contentious debates intrinsic to democracy as is defined to be by it’s true meaning and practice by most countries around the world that enjoy robust political debates , both in Parliament and in the public space , and the streests without fearing for your safety and well-being for expressing ones opinion on matters of state. The right to assemble and demonstrate peacefully is embedded in our 1991 Constitution .It is the only safety valve made available to the ordinary citizen to express their feelings about any sitting government. Chocking it off or trying to chock it off ,will not only create mayhem and streets violence but goes against the biological instinct of the human being to express their feelings when they feel the State have over step it’s mark. That is trampling over their fundamental rights .The breakdown of law and order , tightening the screws on independent media , and suppression of freedom of expression, the detention of opposition leaders like Dr Cole and Dr Bright and a Sierra Leone police forces that are clearly confused about their role in the brave new world that our country found itself , are all patterns that are consistent and ominous that Sierra Leone is slowly but surely sleep walking to become a police state .And we cannot allow our democratic gains we have thus so far enjoyed since the end of the RUF civil war, to be highjacked by the new barbarians at State House that are now busy dismantling all the hard work we the ordinary citizens have put in for the shake of maintaining peace and stability in our country.
Clearly the cost of living crisis gripping the country shouldn’t come as any surprise to us. You can take out the zeros in the Leone , but you cannot take out the zeros in the zero Bionomic growth .You will need special spin doctors to tell us black is white and white is black .It will not cut the mustard .Our country is heavily dependent on food imports ,and other basic commodities for public consumption .With a run away inflation , and the effects of Covid 19 on the global markets supply chain ,and the on going war in Ukraine, and the pressures that have brought on the supply of grain ,and oil and gas prices on the world markets , this cost of living crises is not unique to Sierra Leone. Is how we deal with it .And I don’t think this Bio government is equipped or is the right one to sort out the mess they’ve created .The myriad of problems facing our country is to put it mildly huge. And over the last four years Boi have fallen far short of what was expected of him .
The problem we have in Sierra leone , our government under Bio never plan for future economic shocks that affects the global economy for which our country is part of.Bio seemed to be making it as we go along .You cannot react to events and allow them to shape government policy, rather you have to learn to think outside the box and come up with solutions to problems and helped mitigate the impact if they arise in any future economic and environmental upheavals that might arise .long term planning for future economic growth by investing in education , roads , health , agriculture , and tackling corruption and government wastage on public bodies that are not part of the national strategic planning goal is the only way forward for our country. The Sierra Leone police should stop playing the devils advocate for Bio and his henchmen .Jailing and beating up protesting women will not solve the problems facing our country, rather it will create more security challenges and economic hardship for us.
Even as a layman, I am aware that the 1999 Constitution of Sierra Leone clearly states that police clearance is needed for any street demonstration. Madam Femi Cole should be patriotic enough to respect the law.
The 1997 destruction of Freetown started with peaceful protest between the RUF and AFRC. Even the international community is aware of the past history of Freetown and the current political and economic crisis that is prevalent in our region. Probably they are giving our security apparatus “the wink and a nod”, in maintaining the peace and stability in our country which has been through difficult times. The MCC score for 3 years consecutively which includes governance is a testament of positive progress.
Finally, everyone has a right to express their opinion about President Bio, and I’m not interested in changing any mind about him.
The response to the protests has been heavy handed. Blaming opposition leaders and locking them up is not the solution as the police will have a bigger problem at hand when well organised protests will take place due to the adverse economic situation.
The rising cost of living despite being a global crisis is going to get worse especially for struggling economies like ours that are not well cushioned for situations like these.
Government should instead focus on addressing the crisis to minimise the effect on the ordinary people otherwise it will cost them the next election.
It takes someone with an absurdly extreme partisan mindset to draw a parallel between legitimate political acts by the likes of Dr Dennis Bright and Ms Femi Claudius Cole and the brazen acts of terror and violence that the RUF leader Corporal Foday Sankoh and AFRC leader Major Johnny Paul Koroma visited on our country and its people.
Put simply, one must be intellectually dishonest or party-politically biased or both of these not to recognise a clear line of demarcation between RUF and AFRC terror and violence and the behaviour of unarmed civilians who are out to take ownership of their lives by affirming loud and clear their basic rights as citizens of what should be a democratic state.
The comparison to be drawn is the self-evident similarity between RUF’s and AFRC’s acts of terror and violence and those of the Paopa regime, led by a so-called father of democracy. Indeed, once a coupist and a sobel, always a coupist and a sobel. So, calling Bio the father of democracy in Sierra Leone is, to put it kindly, a misnomer. In fact, was he not a two-time coupist – a violent usurper of power twice over? It is no exaggeration therefore, to claim that he remains a terrorist at heart, presiding over a violent and murderous police state.
Alusine, you’re far more unpatriotic than any of the two patriotic fellow citizens. Well things have changed, in the paopa arena, four legs bad two leg good. This tells a lot about your kind. What had freedom of expression got to do with global economic problems. It was a missed opportunity for the presidency to come out and explain the situation to the demonstrators by engaging them in a full civil discuss. But with your kind out there, paopa has gone derelict.
It’s rather unfortunate that during this difficult period around the world, based on the ongoing pandemic and fuel shortages due to the Russia Ukraine war, unpatriotic politicians are trying once again to terrorized Freetown.
Former military leader Johnny Paul Koroma and Foday Sankoh used terror in Freetown against the voters in 1997 after then Retired Brigadier Maada Bio introduced democracy after 25 years of the APC one party dictatorship.
Unfortunately, since the APC lost the 2018 presidential election, they have been trying to make our country ungovernable.
Thankfully, the “father of our democracy”President “Talk and Do” Bio who is the current Chairman of the African Union (APRM), has not only maintained peace and stability in our country, but has repealed the Criminal Libel Law after 60 years and also abolished the death penalty which started during colonial times.
Finally, through some terror messages of burning our citizens and properties, citizens of Freetown have once again been traumatized; so most decided to stay home to avoid another looting and disaster.
We hope and pray that the orchestrators of this terror, will be held accountable by our law enforcement officers and the judiciary.