LIBERIA: Press Union condemns the attack on freedom of expression

Mr. Frank B. Sainworla Jr., Former Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).

A former Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Mr. Frank B. Sainworla, Jr. has categorically condemned the storming and shutting down of two local radio/TV stations by armed Liberian government police on Monday night.

 

Mr. Sainworla described the action against LOVE FM/TV and POWER FM/TV as arbitrary, militarized and unjustifiable attack on media pluralism in Liberia and a glaring sign of intolerance.
He said using armed security forces to shut down media houses by itself in a period that is supposed to be post war democratic era is by itself frightening and unacceptable, let alone doing so in the middle of the night.
The explanation by the armed police that they were acting on court orders is cynical at best, as even if it were a genuine court order, it would have been effected by the court sheriff/officers not battle ready armed police trained to crack down on terrorists.
Monday’s episode is now recorded in the annals of Liberian history as one of the saddest days for free speech, media pluralism, democracy and the rule of law.
As a professional journalist, well known as a respecter of good Journalism practice even during the years of civil war in Liberia, it pains me to see the current leaders forgetting so quick about the horrors and repression of the past by committing such crack down on media outlet.
Our leaders often get intoxicated with power and don’t take time to long lessons from history.
Why Monday’s draconian police action against the media outlets deserves to be condemned in the strongest possible terms is that, the regime on whose watch this is being done comprises the same people who condemned the March 15, 2000 police closure of Star Radio and Radio VERITAS (where I then worked and was at the time PUL Secretary General).
Meanwhile, I therefore urge the government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to do the respectable thing by reopening the affected media houses with immediate effect; and if there are any qualms with their reportage, a civil course of action should be pursue through the rule of law.
Using armed police in the middle of the night to silence a media house is certainly not the wisest path to take in post war Liberia.

 

Frank B. Sainworla, Jr.: Former PUL Scribe Frank Sainworla Condemns Shutting Down of Media Houses

 

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