Monday, April 9, 2012

Justice for Mae Azango

Fierce of the Fearless in the face of danger
Bernard Gbayee Goah
Written by: Bernard Gbayee Goah
President Operation We Care for Liberia

A Liberian female Journalist, Mae Azango, unveiled to the public the hidden sagas of the deepest and most forbidden secrets of the Liberian Grebo bush. She wrote a story about the health implications of female genital cutting within a secret society of women in Liberia. Since the time of publication by the Liberian Newspaper, FrontPage Africa, Mae Azango has lived in fear as a result of threatening messages she received from anonymous callers. Mae fled for her life and is now in hiding.

Most interestingly Mae experienced these threats and went into hiding under the watchful eyes of the person she emulates the most, her role model, the one she had looked up to for redemption for years. The one who claims to have advocated for the rights of Liberian women for decades, the iron lady of Liberia, Africa's first female President, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Mae Azango hasn't slept in her own bed, or seen her 9-year-old daughter, in weeks. She has been living in fear since March 8, 2012. While in hiding, Mae questions why her role model has not come to her aid? Friends visit her under darkness and take with them Liberian newspapers for her to read. She read about her role model's children and how most of them were appointed to top positions in their mother's government. Mae read about nepotism in government, but most embarrassingly the Liberian President justifying why the President's children and relatives should hold top position in government. She read about one of the President's son's grand-style birthday celebration. But there she is, in hiding without her only daughter who has just turned 9 and who's birthday she may not celebrate this year or not for a while.

Mae's cry for justice has reached us and that is why we at "Operation We Care for Liberia" feel morally obligated to act without delay. We see the threatening of any journalist's life in Liberia as a jarring reminder of the senseless harassment faced by the press community in that part of the world. While investigations are still going on, the human right community owes Mae Azango, and all journalist victims who suffer harassment from both government authorities and organized criminal organizations in Liberia protection.

We demand that justice for Mae is served in a timely manner. We call on all human rights organizations to support our effort in pressuring the Liberian government to provide bodily protection for Mae Azango. Mae should not be separated from her daughter as a result of Government's failure to protect her.
Also we condemn the Liberian government for abusing the rights of a 9-year-old child in time of crisis. The Liberian government has failed to respect the United Nations Child Protection act. If the mother of a 9 year old is in hiding for life threatening reasons, it does not require a rocket scientist to deduce that the child's wellbeing is also threatened.

Let us put aside the fact that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has won accolades and admiration from the international community for her "work and advocacy" on women's rights.  Let us put aside the fact that as an advocate, we should expect Sirleaf to call upon Mae to assist her in educating and addressing the very issues Mae brought to light.  The issues of Sirleaf's inaction around women's rights are secondary to the issue of preserving human rights, independent of gender. 

We call upon Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to protect a person who put their life on the line for the greater good of humanity.  We call upon Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to take Mae Azango's report as a top priority than to allow Mae to be bullied into silence.  The silence has been allowed for far too long.

Bernard Gbayee Goah
President, Operation We Care for Liberia

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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