22 February 2013

Liberia: Grand Gedians Exclaim - Debunk Marginalization - Call for Speedy Trial of 27 Detainees

With the second term of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf tickling away without realizing any good benefits despite their contribution to her success during the past two elections, the people of Grand Gedeh are now seizing the moment to speak out their guts against what they sensed as marginalization as well as the well-being of 27 of their sons detained in connection with the Ivorian conflict.

Since the country ushered in the Unity Party-led government, the citizens of the county said they are finding it hard to live in peace as they continue to encounter all forms of humiliation ranging from fear, intimidation and marginalization and witch hunt.

Their position was contained in a petition presented to lawmakers from the county Thursday at the Capitol Building.

Acting Chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Grand Gedeh, Augustine P. Jolo who read the petition on behalf of his people said they are yet to receive any significant recognition from the president and her government, besides the arrest and detention for alleged crimes of their sons, describing such action as a campaign of witch hunt.

"From 2006 up to present, our problems have been from one problem to another if not fear and threat, than it is intimidation, if not intimidation, than it is always marginalization," they claimed in the statement.

The Monrovia Central Prison is currently playing host to 27 prominent citizens of Grand Gedeh County for their alleged role in cross-border fracas between Ivory Coast and Liberia. Nigerian peace-keepers with the United Nations Mission in Ivory Coast along with Ivorian citizens lost their lives in one of the many attacks last year.

Perhaps suggesting that their sons currently behind bars were being wrongfull detained, Jolo recalled instances where two of their sons, namely General Charles Julu (deceased) and Col. Andrew Dorbor (also deceased) were falsely accused, arrested and detained and later trialed by the government.

According to them, they were acquitted as a result of pressure bore by civil society organizations, adding the accused men died one after the other due to what he referred to as ill-treatment allegedly received from the hands of the authority while in detention at the prison facility."

"Honorable lawmakers, yesterday we were talking about Charles Julu and Col. Andrew Dorbor. Today we are talking about 27 prominent citizens of Grand Gedeh County whose wives and children are now vulnerable to danger due to their absence from them."

While demanding the immediate release of the men on grounds that the government does not have substantial evidence to prosecute them, he, however, called on the lawmakers from the county to ensure their speedy trial as well.

He said, "Please tell the president as we are instructing you that we want the speedy trail of our detained brothers; they are not criminals nor are they slaves to be in prison without trail."

"We are aware of the constitutional provision that gives the president the power to grant executive clemency, but let it be clear that in the absence of guilty verdict, we will not, we will never and ever ask for pardon," the group acting chairman warned.

Grand Gedeh produced Liberia's only indeginous president in person of Samuel Kanyon Doe, one of the 17 enlisted men of the Armed Forces of Liberia who led the coup against President William R. Tolbert, Jr.

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