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: