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Editorial: Immediate Interventions Now or Else…

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The Ne4w Dawn-Liberia on Monday, September 12, 2011, published a front page lead story headlined: AFL Brutality Again! The story captured the concern raised by the Bong County legislative Causes against the recent unwarranted behavior of personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL assigned at the Camp Tubman Military Barracks in Gbarnga, Bong County.

The story, which also featured the photo of a citizen of the county severely wounded with a bayonet allegedly by personnel of the AFL after he had tried to peacefully intervene in the flogging of another Bong County citizen, quoted the Caucus as vehemently condemning such behavior, demanding absolute justice through the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Other than this latest ‘military assault’, citizens of Bong County have experienced three separate severe attacks on their persons by AFL soldiers without any concern shown by their high authorities or Defense Ministry in Monrovia. It is not only in Bong County have such unprofessionalism, brutality and barbarism been perpetrated by “new” AFL soldiers, but also Monrovia and its environs.

On a number of occasions, they have reportedly either killed or brutalized citizens in Monrovia and its environs with the highest degree of impunity despite the presence of the Chief of Staff and AFL high command, as well as authorities of the Ministry of National Defense.

With the huge millions of tax payers’ ‘dollars’ spent to  reform the national army to include all of the international best practices, many Liberians would have thought that personnel of the AFL would differentiate themselves from ‘rebel soldiers’. In fact, as it is now, we may even be returning to the ‘status code’.

While one may be harboring the belief that these AFL soldiers are all ‘human beings too’, it must be made emphatically clear that the military is the most discipline organization the world-over, and as such, the behavior of those trained to wear military uniforms must be compatible with such disciplinary decency to attract public admiration, sympathy and   support.

With the current wave of carnage being perpetrated by  these soldiers, coupled with the conspicuous silence of their high command and Defense ministry, it is visibly clear that the credibility and morale of the AFL are almost at their lowest ebb. It is no secret that those who are victimized by the AFL’s barbarism or their relatives and friends who may psychologically be deeply injured, may not be prepared to accept further attacks.

And unless harsh measures in consonance with the Uniform Code of Military justice are taken against soldiers who misbehave or conduct themselves unprofessionally to mortgage the image of the Armed Forces of Liberia are executed by the military authorities here, we foresee a very bitter relationship between the army and civilians not only in Bong County and Monrovia, but wherever the presence of the army may be felt in Liberia. Therefore, immediate interventions on the part of the supervising authorities of the AFL must be made.

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