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Editorial: Probing ‘Bloody Soweto’ Without Fear Or favor

During its regular press briefings on Thursday, April 14, 2001, the ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism hosted the Solicitor General at the ministry of justice, Cllr. Wilkins Wright. Cllr. Wright’s presence at the press briefing was for the general public to understand a number of issues regarding the justice system in the country.

Prominent among the issues discussed by the Solicitor General were the Simeon Freeman demonstration and the brutal approach by the Liberia National police, through its Emergency Response and Police Support units to the mid-March students’ demonstration in Monrovia.

During his briefing, Cllr. Wilkins Wright announced the constitution of a committee by the Government of Liberia to probe the violent demonstration in which many students were brutalized, arrested and detained by the ERU and PSU, while private and government vehicles were stoned and damaged by the students.

Former Solicitor General and Labor Minister Cllr. Tiawon S. Gongloe was announced as Chairman, while the association of Female Lawyers, Inter-Faith religious council, Liberia National Students Union and Press Union of Liberia are all members. While last Thursday’s pronouncement by the government may be welcomed, it is our belief that it was also belated, considering the duration of such action, since the incident occurred more than a month after.

However, be that as it may, it was welcoming that probably after listening the numerous news and viewing the bloody pictures of the violence, that the government was able to make such pronouncement, naming credible individual like Cllr. Gongloe, as well as institutions like AFELL and others. With Gongloe’s uprightness, achievements and consistency in national advocacies, we certainly hope that the Gongloe Committee will do all within its reach to determine the guilty party.

What we had earlier frowned at was the aggressive and notorious manner in which the police approached the students to result to ‘blood-letting’, even if  the students could not adhere to whatever warning they claimed to have uttered on that bloody Tuesday, 22 March 2011. While we think we are putting the ugly past behind us, regarding the behavior of the Liberia national police, we continue to be reminded.

As if the Government of Liberia, United nations and other international groupings did not spend huge cash in building the capacities of the men and women of the police at the National Police training academy, our brothers continue to exhibit un-welcoming attitudes in dealing with the public,

Whether it is on the basis of command/instructions from the high command of the police force, we hope the Gongloe Committee will be able to go into such without fear or favor, especially so when Director Marc Amblard continues to boast that the action of his men was appropriate and in line with international standards.

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We do know and understand Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe to be someone who fears nothing, but to do wrong, and never despairs, but persevere. That’s why his appointment did not create any suspicion as to whether the probe would be objective.Surely enough, the chip may fall where it may, with Gongloe and others on board.

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