14 February 2013

Liberia: Crackdown On Protesters

Reports from Pleebo, Sodoken District in Maryland County say the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police have dispersed a protesting crowd in the district.

The NEWS Newspaper's correspondent in the area said the ERU moved in to disperse the demonstrators who had taken to the streets for the second day on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, in protest to what they described as bad labor practice by SIFCA.

Youth from villages and towns in Pleebo Sodoken District began their street protest Tuesday, February 12, 2013, against the concession company.

The placards toting youth blocked the entrance leading to the offices of SIFCA insisting that the Liberian government intervene.

The protesters in huge numbers were reportedly prevented by the Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police and officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) from entering the company's compound.

The protesters are claiming that they are not feeling the impact of the plantation since SIFCA took over.

The Cavalla Rubber Corporation (CRC) and Maryland Oil Palm Plantation (MOPP) are subsidiary companies of SIFCA Group operating the Cavalla Rubber Plantation in Gedetarbo and former Decoris Oil Palm in Gbolobo.

They said aliens are in top managerial positions that Liberians should be occupying, something which they said violates the labor law of Liberia.

They stated that the protest will last for one week until relevant authorities step in.

However, our correspondent says the aggrieved youth gathered at the Pleebo City yesterday to decide a next course of action after a failed meeting with SIFCA on Tuesday.

As they began their discussions, Maryland County Police Commander Amos Darpoh and the Regional Commander McCarthy Chelerk requested the protesters to vacate the City Hall, a request the youth did not reject.

The correspondent said the angry youth later moved on the side of the street opposite the Pleebo City Hall to discuss but the ERU was called to disperse them.

In the process of dislodging the protesters, four persons were arrested and taken in police custody.

Those arrested include the Youth President of Pleebo City, Pinderus Latoe. Others were Rufus Geneyan, Oldpa Robertson and Jenkins Woofueh. They are being investigated in connection with the rioting.

The latest demonstration in Pleebo Sodoken District comes a week after Representative Bhofal Chambers called on the citizens to seize all properties belonging to SIFCA because, according to him, the concession company was not visible in the county.

When contacted for comment, Police Spokesman in the area Sam Collins promised to provide information on the incident after compiling his report to brief his bosses.

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