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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Editorial: Protecting the Gold and Killing the Poor

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By OND Editorial Board

In Liberia’s Western Grand Cape Mount County, armed security forces of the Liberia National Police displayed a brutal use of force to crack down on protesting villagers who dared to bring to light poor labor practices and other rights violations, including the freedom of the people to free movement.

This oppressive response was executed by use of live bullets resulting into deaths, and injuries, sending shockwaves through the affected communities.

The protests were fueled by the grievances of villagers residing in areas surrounding the gold mines operated by Turkish firm Bea Mountain Mining Company. These communities, such as Kinjor and Bangoma, accused the company of degrading human living conditions and failing to uphold its mineral Development Agreement with Liberia. The frustrations have reached a boiling point, pushing the villagers to take to the streets in an attempt to make their voices heard.

While the Liberia National Police claims that the use of maximum force was justified because the protestors were armed, it is crucial for the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the root cause of this recurring issue in Kinjor.

It is disheartening to witness such violence under multiple administrations, spanning from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to George Weah and now President Boakai.

If the allegations against Bea Mountain Mining Company are accurate and the company is indeed disrespecting human rights and economic dignity, immediate action must be taken to hold them accountable. It is imperative to shed light on these practices and ensure that appropriate measures are implemented to prevent future crises. You cannot take gold from beneath the people’s land and give them death.

The implications of this protest extend far beyond the immediate ramifications. Such acts of brutality against peaceful protestors can have severe repercussions for peace and stability within an already fragile post conflict setting Like Liberia.

The grievances and frustrations of the villagers must not be ignored or silenced but rather addressed through peaceful dialogue and a commitment to fostering a society that upholds human rights and economic justice for all.

The international community and human rights organizations should closely monitor the situation in Western Grand Cape Mount County and exert pressure on both the Liberian government and Bea Mountain Mining Company to address the root causes of these protests. By doing so, Liberia can move towards a more inclusive and just society that values the well-being and dignity of its citizens.

Again, the brutal use of force against protesting villagers or any kind of protestors is simply undemocratic and unjustified.

It is crucial for the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and hold both the security forces and other perpetrators accountable for their actions. Only through dialogue, justice, and respect for human rights can Liberia ensure a peaceful and stable future for all its citizens.

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