1 October 2013

Liberia: Eru Officers Fire At Protesters in Bong Mines

Gbarnga, Bong County — Officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police (LNP) on Tuesday October 1, 2013 fired more than five rounds of ammunition to disperse angry citizens of Bong Mines in Fuamah district.

Members of the Progressive Platform and some Liberian contractors working with China Union have been protesting against the company since Saturday, September 28, 2013.

Our correspondent says Emergency Response Unit officers in the earlier morning hours of Tuesday managed to get protesters from the main compound of China Union and later settled to go in search after the leaders of the protest.

He reported that several young people including the Chairman of the Progressive Platform Foday Fambollah and about five other Liberian contractors with China Union were arrested by the ERU officers and taken in the fence of China Union for interrogation.

Our correspondent said the mood of the police sparked dissenting views among residents of Bong Mines, who requested for the release of those arrested and placed in the premises of China Union.

Our Correspondent said the ERU officers led by Inspector Abraham Koromah along with a China Union vehicle later decided to leave the compound to go to the railroad where the China Union train has been blocked from leaving Bong Mines for the past four days, adding that it was the time some angry citizens stoned the ERU vehicle and the company premises which suddenly prompted officers to fire live bullets.

Our correspondent said as a result of the firing by the ERU officers, an unidentified lady fell off and was later rushed to the Bong Mines hospital.

He noted that some of those arrested were noticed to have incurred bruises on their faces and bodies before they were taken into the China Union compound.

Our correspondent noted that the incident led to the intervention of the Fuamah District Chapter of the Women in Peace Building Network (WIPNET).

WIPNET Fuamah coordinator Bendu Mentoe appealed to the angry protesters and LNP Inspector Abraham Koromah to find a way forward in bringing the situation under control.

Discussions were later held among those arrested, members of WIPNET, the ERU and some other citizens, where it was agreed that the strike action be halted in order to meet Justice Minister Christiana Tar today, October 2, 2013 in Monrovia.

However those arrested by ERU officers were released and a committee set up to meet the Minister, (Christiana Tar).

Those to form part of today's meeting with the minister include some officials of the Progressive Platform, head of Contractors, WIPNET Fuamah district coordinator, Bendu Mentoe among other stakeholders.

Though it remains unclear what exactly the Monrovia meeting is about, some citizens of the district believe the platform will be the right place for the aggrieved workers and citizens to raise their concerns to put government in the better position to engage China Union in meeting their demands.

China Union Liberian contractors are demanding improved working conditions, Employment opportunities, and the rehabilitation of the housing unit in Bong Mines.

While, members of the Progressive platform say China Union has failed to rehabilitate roads in Fuamah District as well as not much is reportedly being done to improve services at the Bong Mines hospital, they claim that these are provided for in the Mineral Development Agreement

They also complained that Fuamah district was not benefiting from the China Union social development funds that are being paid to the government of Liberia.

The Progressive platform listed the Bong Mines - Heindi road and the rehabilitation of the old Bong town in Bong Mines as some of the responsibilities that China Union has failed to meet up with.

As some aggrieved workers of China Union and citizens of Fuamah district meet with Justice Minister Christiana Tar Today, October 2, 2013; the Analyst Newspaper will strive to bring you every bit of information as it unfolds between China Union and citizens of Fuamah District in Bong Mines.

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