DIOCESE OF CAPE PALMAS
P.O. Box 212, 6500 HARPER,10 LIBERIA
Cell: +231-777-519-766 / 231-886-519-766
Email: [email protected]
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
STATEMENT ON THE INCIDENT OF JULY 30, 2020 OF INTIMIDATION AND THREATS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITION (ANC/CPP) IN ZWEDRU, GRAND GEDEH COUNTY
The Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas, whose pastoral and administrative jurisdiction cover the five counties of the southeast of Liberia, is gravely concerned about the incident of intimidation and threats of violence by some residents of Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County against a political grouping of Liberians exercising its constitutional rights to free movement and peaceful assembly, which occurred on July 30, 2020.
Our attention is drawn to this incident because we know from our tragic history that it is democratically unhealthy and portends danger to the peace and stability of the country. It also violates the fundamental rights of the members of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and other collaborating opposition parties to free movement and peaceful assembly as enshrined in Chapter 3, Article 17 of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic Liberia which states, “All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceful manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions and other organizqtions. “
Secondly, Chapter 3; Article 13 (a) also states that, “Every person lawfully within the Republic shall have the right to move freely throughout Liberia, to reside in any part thereof and to leave there from subject however to the safeguarding of public security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others. “
In the face of these presenting threats to our collective peace and security, silence, including from the Church or State, offers the wrong signal to the perpetrators that their actions are acceptable, and makes us collectively complicit. Hence, we feel compelled to speak out against this danger, and urge the political leaders of the country, and those blessed with the authority to uphold, protect, and preserve the law, to do so without fear or favor. We cannot fail within this regard because failure to preserve the law, and protect all citizens irrespective of differences in tribe, gender or political association, is actually an invitation to the breakdown of the society and the return to lawlessness.
This violation of the fundamental rights to free movement and peaceful assembly goes against the principle of political tolerance and peaceful co-existence despite differences of political association and ideology. We have seen that when we become politically intolerant, we invite ourselves to breakdown and destroy, and undermine the foundations of Liberia’s peace, stability and development.
While the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia guarantees the freedom of expression (Chapter 3, Article 15 a) as a fundamental right of all Liberians, it is also a matter of concern that utterances emanating from some members of the opposition, functionaries of government and members of the ruling party fall short of respect for others, do not in any way contribute to constructive exchange of ideas for the good health of the nation and the wellbeing of the people, nor does it represent the quality of examples to be emulated. These uncivil utterances and inflammatory remarks have the propensity of creating tension and chaos that will undermine the peace and stability prevailing in Liberia today. We must commit to doing better.
We therefore appeal to all members of the opposition, supporters of the ruling party, government functionaries as well as ordinary Liberians to be more civil and polite in their utterances and respect our fundamental freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.
We commend the joint security in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County for its timely intervention to provide security protection for members of the opposition who were being physically threatened, wrongfully intimidated, and rights violated.
We call on the Government of the Republic of Liberia to investigate and report its findings on the dangerous incident of July 30, 2020 in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County against members of the opposition (ANC/CPP), and take the necessary remedial actions, within the law, to ensure a recurrence never happens anywhere in our country. Such actions will provide the necessary reassurance to all Liberians, foreign residents and international investors that Liberia is peaceful, and intends to remain so.
Also, the just and proper response of the government will remind all that abuses of the law will not go unpunished as the government will act, as it should, in keeping with its constitutional responsibility, to safeguard and protect the
fundamental rights of all Liberians, as well as all those residing within our borders.
Finally, we call on all Catholics, and all men and women of goodwill residing in the southeast of Liberia to commend this region to the Lord in prayer for its peace, stability and development.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen of Peace, intercede for us. Amen.