Human Rights Lawyer Tiawan Gongloe Tortured in Police Custody

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted April 25, 2002

Reports reaching The Perspective indicate that human rights lawyer Tiawan Gongloe who was arrested and detained on April 24, 2002, by the security forces in Monrovia has been tortured.

According to reliable sources, “Tiawan Gongloe was severely beaten, with bruises [and lacerations] all over his face with the right eye appearing bloody. Gongloe could hardly stand by himself this morning when he was brought out of police cell. Gongloe complains of pains in his back and on his sides. He is currently undergoing treatment at the SDA Cooper Hospital in Sinkor, Monrovia. Two of a group of lawyers who have gone to the police station to see Mr. Gongloe this morning later accompanied him to the hospital. The two lawyers said that Gongloe cannot hear with his left ear. He continues to complain of severe internal pains in a situation which looks like internal bleeding."

Another source stated that Mr. Gongloe was seriously battered to the extent that he had to be carried on a volunteer's back.

Reports abound that Liberian security forces often disguised as common criminals in police custody torture and terrorize individuals falsely accused of being anti-government or dissident sympathizer. In Tiawan Gongloe's case, his only crime is a speech he delivered recently in Guinea about instability in the West African sub-region.

Obviously, the Taylor regime was not pleased with Mr. Gongloe. Appearing on Taylor-owned station, Kiss TV, one regime loyalist, Ms Marie Washington, said the speech was against the government, which means Gongloe was collaborating with the rebels.

In addition to arresting and torturing the human rights lawyer, the Analyst newspaper that carried his speech has been closed down by the regime. One Analyst reporter is in police custody, while most of its senior staff, including the editor, is in hiding.

Meanwhile, security forces have cordoned off the offices of the Movement for the Defense of Human Rights (MODHAR) because of a press release issued yesterday by Mr. Aloysius Toe, leader of the human rights organization. In that press release, Mr. Toe condemned the arrest of Counselor Gongloe and called for his immediate and unconditional release. Mr. Toe is said to be in hiding as security forces beefed up their effort to round up perceived anti-regime elements.

The Perspective and its partners strongly abhor and condemn arbitrary arrest, harassment, intimidation and mysterious disappearances of individuals critical of the tyrannical regime. We, therefore, call upon Mr. Taylor to effect the immediate release of counselor Gongloe and all other prisoners of conscience, and cease and desist from violating the constitutional and human rights of Liberians without due process of law.

We are appalled by the constant abuse of fundamental rights of the Liberian people and the abhorrence to democratic principles by this "democratically" elected government. Liberia cannot expect to be a serious member of the world community when it continues to terrorize its own citizens while the rest of world is fighting terrorism.

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