Grand Gedeh Association Condemns the Unlawful Detention Hassan Bility and others
(Press Statement Issued on July 8, 2002 in Des Plaines, Illinois)
July 8, 2002
The Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas, Inc. condemns the continued unlawful detention of Mr. Hassan Bility, Editor of the independent Analyst Newspaper, and two others by the Liberian Government. On June 24, 2002, Liberian government security agents arrested Messrs. Bility, Ansumana Kamara and Mohammed Kamara for allegedly operating a “LURD terrorist cell” in Monrovia and plotting to assassinate President Charles Taylor.
Despite repeated court orders to produce “the living bodies” of the three men, the Liberian government continues to stonewall the court, and Mr. Bility and the other two detainees have not been seen since they were arrested. The Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas is deeply troubled by this, yet again, blatant disregard for the laws of Liberia by the Taylor government.
In a recent statement, Amnesty International expressed fears that Mr. Bility and the other two detainees may have died as a result of torture while in detention. That the men have not been seen since their arrest is adding to heightened fears that they may, indeed, have died while in government custody. Several Krahn men who were being held by the Liberian Government following the Camp Johnson Road incident in Monrovia, when government security massacred more than 300 Krahn women and children, were killed while in custody. We are calling on the Liberian Government to prove that Messrs. Bility, Ansumana Kamara and Mohammed Kamara are still alive by allowing their families and the human rights community to visit them.
In what now has all the appearances of a witch-hunt, the government also arrested Mr. Suku Wesseh, brother of long time activist, Cummany Wesseh, last week. The latter Wesseh narrowly escaped death at the hands of Mr. Taylor’s former NPFL fighters before fleeing the country.
The Taylor government said that Suku Wesseh was released after being questioned by the National Bureau of Investigation, one of the government’s many security agencies, but family members maintain that they have not seen him since he was arrested. The Grand Gedeh Association is calling on the Taylor Government to ensure the safety of Mr. Wesseh and provide information as to his whereabouts. All key state security agencies had initially denied that Messrs. Bility, Ansumana Kamara and Mohammed Kamara were in their custody. However, late last week, the government admitted that the three were being held by the military.
Both the Liberian constitution and international laws require that persons accused must be brought before a court of competent jurisdiction within 48 hours and charged. In the case of the three journalists, the Taylor government is trying to circumvent this provision of the Liberian constitution by referring to them as so-called “unlawful combatants,” a term being used to refer to a group of Taliban fighters being held as part of the war on terrorism, and therefore deny them a civilian trial.
The arrest of the journalists and Mr. Wesseh is the most recent in a series of actions against peaceful Liberians whose only crime seems to be that they dare speak out against the policies and actions of the Liberian government. The Taylor government has not produced any evidence upon which the recent arrests were made.
The Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas condemns this latest action and all other actions of the Liberian Government that tend to suppress the freedoms and rights of the Liberian people. We are calling on all our sister organizations, the Liberian Christian Church, the Muslim Community and all Liberian politicians to join us in calling on the Taylor Government to make public its evidence for the arrests, or release the detainees. Let us remember the famous Liberian proverb that, “Town trap is not for rat alone.” Silence is all that evil needs to thrive.
Jackson N. Wonde
William G. Nyanue
Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas, Inc.
9066 West Church Street
Des Plaines, Illinois 60016
TEL. (847) 298-5523