Cry Freetown… A Blood Bath In Sierra Leone

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Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators stormed the city of Freetown and provincial towns again last Wednesday 10, August 2022 demanding the authorities reduce costs of living and brutality.

Angry demonstrators who stormed the streets started off on a peaceful demonstration with placards, some holding cards displaying, ‘Maada Must Go!’ Others were saying high food prices, high inflation, police brutality, mass killings by soldiers and policemen, and demanding the government make the country livable and equitable for everyone regardless o tribe or region. Among others, these were some of the reasons that parked the nationwide protest.  

Some protesters interviewed said the Sierra Leone Police have since 2018 not been treating protesters humanly in a professional manner. The police would open fire with live bullets ill with live and shoot teargas on peaceful gathering of the citizens of Sierra Leone.

They also complained of increasing injustice, tribalism, nepotism, high petrol prices, political harassment, cronyism, and police brutality causing hardship across Sierra Leone. “This is a concern to us,” said a protester in Cline Town.

Soldiers and armed OSD police on white vans at Kissy Road were witnessed shooting indiscriminately at protesters. Guns’ nozzles were pointed at closed shop stores and opened fire with live bullets that led to fear and mayhem, people running helter-skelter. “This is a horror show,” said.

Protesters responded to police highhandedness by burning down a police station in Kamakwei; vandalized a police station in Wellington, destroying files and burning down school buses in Waterloo. And vandalized an LUC‘s vehicle. Protesters torched Resident Minister, Abu Abu’s home and later joined the protest with a Ban-Bani Secret Society masquerade as a way to instill fear.

Lives and properties have been lost. Both sides have suffered fatal casualties. Protesters killed three policemen in kamakwei; one in Makeni and three in Freetown. Police randomly shot and killed two civilians in Kamakwei; four bystanders in Makeni and Magburaka and six in Freetown.

In a press release dated 10 August, Abdul Caulker of the Office of National Security had asked for the ‘military aid to civil power directive from 9-12.’ Following on from there, the Vice President, Mr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh announced the imposition of a curfew ordered to start at 3pm on Wednesday until further notice. “However, these unscrupulous individuals have embarked on violence and burnt down police stations,” said Jalloh.

Many would have thought that the so-called Adebayor, who lives in Holland was a nonentity, but it would appear that he wields the compelling power to singularly turn this country on its head. The Sierra Leone Intelligence Authorities have known of the impending subversion since last week, but reneged on their duty to act should have themselves to blame.

“Five police officers were killed,” said an irate foreign minister, Prof. Francis, who refused to mention the number of innocent people who were shot and killed by the police and soldiers, leaving a diplomat in tears. Many sierra Leoneans have never seen the social media influencer, Adebayor, but they went out to demonstrate anyway. Small-scale business people are the ones feeling the pinch as they have been unable to trade since Tuesday.

People are very angry with the SLPP. Listening to Adebayor was a manifestation of the anger that have imbibed in the country.

Adebayor is representing only himself. If he can succeed with a modest measure of success, imagine what a solid and vibrant opposition with charismatic leaders would have done if they had organized this protest? The SLPP plays down everything and conjures consolations from a utopia that is a figment of their imagination.

UN in Sierra Leone calls for calm and dialogue

United Nations Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi called for calm and dialogue over the spate of violent incidents.

Late Wednesday afternoon, United Nations Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi called for calm and dialogue over the spate of violent incidents that occurred in Freetown earlier in the day.

In a tweet issued on his Twitter account and later retweeted by the official UN in Sierra Leone Twitter account, Mr. Ahonsi said, “The United Nations in Sierra Leone expresses serious concerns over the violent incidents that occurred today in Freetown, including reports of causalities.”

The highest-ranking UN official in the country also indicated the United Nations’ willingness to facilitate such dialogue.

The Commission for Peace & National Cohesion condemn unfortunate violence in Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC) is gravely concerned about the unfortunate incidents of violence in Freetown and other parts of Sierra Leone today. From reports received by the Commission, Innocent lives have been lost, and many wounded as a result.

Sierra Leone has enjoyed 20 years of peace since the end of our civil war, and it is the responsibility of every Sierra Leonean to ensure that the peace is maintained and sustained.

Therefore, the ICPNC calls on all concerned to desist from using violence and to use lawful means to resolve whatever grievance they may have. Negotiations and dialogue are the way out, and the Commission is ready to facilitate such a process.

We urge all citizens of Sierra Leone to remain calm and peaceful.

The Commission will continue its efforts to promote peace and national dialogue throughout the country.

‘We pray that no harm on thy children may fall, that blessing and peace may descend on us all.’

CARL EXPRESSES CONCERNS ABOUT ACTS OF VIOLENCE IN SOME OF PARTS OF THE COUNTRY; CALLS FOR CALM AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Freetown – 10th August, 2022

The Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) is gravely concerned about the dastardly acts of violence perpetrated by rioters in some parts of the country, including Freetown, Kamakwe, Makeni and Waterloo. These acts of violence have led to spilling of innocent blood, destruction of properties, and have caused tragedies to the families of the victims. We support – and will always defend – the right of every citizen to a peaceful demonstration, but what we witnessed today is anything but peaceful.

The killing of law enforcement officers and destruction police posts is simply criminal and unacceptable, and we urge a full-scale investigation and accountability for these crimes.

We call for professionalism in the enforcement of the curfew declared today, and hope that normalcy is restored without delay.

Campaign for Good Governance 16 Clark Street Tengbeh Town Freetown, Sierra Leone West Africa

10th August 2022

Statement by Campaign for Good Governance on the Spate of Violent Protests Across the Country Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) is gravely concerned about today’s incidents of violent protests across the country especially in Makeni, Magburaka and in the East end of Freetown. We have seen disturbing videos on social media of brutal killings and violence meted out on both security personnel and civilians and destruction of properties in several parts of the country. CGG condemns in the strongest term, any acts of violent protest and subversion by citizens. While we recognize the right of citizens to engage with leadership, we do not believe that such engagement or demand for accountability should take any violent or subversive form. The killing of police officers and burning of public buildings and private residences is not a legitimate form of expression of dissent by citizens. CGG therefore calls on citizens to respect the laws of the country and to abide by the current imposed measures. Citizens should not take the law into their hands but rather utilize the legitimate avenues provided to express their grievances We also believe in equal measure, that the police should enhance citizens’ right to expression of opinions and grievances with leadership. We believe that creating such avenues is critical to defusing the tensions and disaffection of citizenry. CGG therefore calls on the government of Sierra Leone to engage constructively with all groups and to ensure that citizens’ voices are heard and respected at the very least. We believe that dialogue and engagement with all concerned groups is even more critical now. CGG welcomes the imposition of national curfew as an immediate and temporary measure to stem the violence across the country. CGG calls for constitutional adherence in the emergency measures and for executive actions to be compliant with the law.

LEGAL LINK CONDEMNS THE COLD BLOODED KILLINGS OF SECURITY OFFICERS AND PROTESTERS AS WELL AS THE BURNING OF VEHICLES AND PROPERTIES AND FURTHER APPEAL TO THE PRESIDENT OF SIERRA LEONE TO SPEAK OUT TO THE NATION AND CALL- OFF HIS VACATION TRIP WHERE PRACTICABLE

LEGAL LINK has been following keenly the events of August 8, 9 and 10 and unequivocally condemns all killings that have taken place both on the side of the protesters and that of the security forces and appeals for calm and restraints on both sides.

In such a difficult moment in our nation’s history, LEGAL LINK wants to remind citizens, security forces and all stakeholders in the country of the need to pursue peaceful solutions, de-escalate tensions, restore normalcy and embark on constructive engagements for the betterment of Sierra Leone.

While we applaud the interim measures that are currently being put in place under the supervision of the vice president, it is important to however emphasized that it is the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone that the 1991 Constitution confers with enormous powers to deal with situations that poses imminent threat to the peace and security of the whole of Sierra Leone or a part thereof.

Under Section 29 of the 1991 Constitution for example, the president is empowered to declare a state of public emergency, impose curfew and even restrict the movements of people in a bid to address any imminent threat to the peace, security and health of the nation.

It is against this backdrop that LEGAL LINK is appealing to the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone to address the nation and where practicable shorten his vacation trip and return home to deal with the pending crisis situation.

In such a challenging time as this, the need for outright display of humane leadership that looks beyond the horizon in search of smart solutions to dealing with the myriad of problems faced by Sierra Leoneans is key to enhancing peaceful, inclusive and sustainable outcomes.

LEGAL LINK is of the firm belief that the president must, in action and body language, show that he is in control of the country while on the other hand displaying empathy over the socio – economic hardship currently experienced by Sierra Leoneans in the country.

Furthermore, the President must also ensure to seek out for smart, sustainable and inclusive ways of addressing these growing concerns of the public going forward.

While we condemn all rhetoric to foment violence within, we make bold to equally assert that such rhetoric can however be dissipated if governments can promptly address socio – economic hardships when they occur, create the enabling environment for the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, such as free speech, freedom of Assembly and Associations and expression of dissent and criticisms without any clamping down or muzzling of such rights by the police.

In conclusion therefore, LEGAL LINK urges all Sierra Leoneans to stay away from violence and destruction of properties, and to further desist from taking the law into their own hands. Resorting to violence can never be a rightful and sustainable way of addressing socio- economic hardships and human rights concerns faced by citizens in any nation.

As a democratic society, the electioneering process affords the best opportunity to holding a democratically elected government to account; and not through violence means.

Regarding the security apparatus, we call on the joint security forces that have been invoked under MAC- P to display democratic policing and further de-escalate the tensions as they seek to restore law and order as well as execute their lawful duties throughout the country.

Without a declaration of a state of national emergency, the state through its agencies have a duty to protect, respect, fulfill and promote the fundamental human rights of all in Sierra Leone as required under international human rights law.

Any deviation to respect, protect, fulfill and promote fundamental human rights will constitute a violation of international law.

No doubt, the eyes of the international community are widely open to Sierra Leone at this time and it is but prudent that all sides try as much as possible to exercise restraint going forward.

May God save our country from instability and may all the souls lost in today’s crisis rest in perfect peace.

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