Today marks a week after the massacre, torture, and brutality of Liberian refugees and the vandalizing of the place they have come to call their home, the Bududburam Refugee Camp which have played host to them since leaving their country some 21 years ago fleeing a devastating civil war.
When the story broke late last Sunday, it shocked the world that a state security force would maime such horrific attacks on unarmed refugees and massacred five persons in brutality and vandalism, fueling grave anger among Liberians at home and around the world.
As Liberians were trying to make sense of the massacre Monday morning and expecting a clear official picture and reaction from their government, exactly so as Liberians waited in anger anticipating a clear picture of the killings, torturing, rounding up, and imprisonment of their fellow countrymen by the Ghanaian government, the country Ambassador to Ghana, Rudolf P. Von Ballmoos, appeared on Radio Varitas in Monrovia giving an official accounts of the crisis. Ambassador Von Ballmoos informed his country that contrary to the reports in the media late Sunday, no Liberian refugee was killed during the raid by Ghanaian state security forces raided the Buduburam Refugee Camp. The Ambassador went further to accuse the refugees of not being law abiding citizens in Ghana and the woman reported killed during the raid was a Ghanaian lady and not a Liberian refugee.
On the same Monday morning, the Liberian government official spokesman, Information Minister Cletus Sieh also appeared on local radio and told the Liberian people that, from information gathered from Liberian Embassy in Ghana, no Liberian refugee was killed but acknowledged excessive force was used by the Ghanaian authorities during the raid. Minister Sieh said the Liberian government was gathering the facts and circumstances about what happened.
But just as the Liberian and Ghanaian governments were busy Monday spinning the enormity of the carnage and deaths during the raid, about mid Monday morning the first picture of the Liberian refugee girl shot by Ghanaian police during the raid as earlier reported by the media, surfaced. In just few hours after the publication of the first photo, several other photos detailing the massacre and brute of Liberian refugees by the Ghanaian security forces, were also published.
After the publication of the gruesome pictures, evidence of the truth of the massacre and the brute on Liberian refugees and the Buduburam Refugee Camp, the Liberian government came under coercion to retract its earlier account of the first accounts of the raid which flatly contradicted the evidence and reversed their accounts acknowledging the death of a Liberian refugee woman but cautioned the government was in the process of establishing the bottom neck of the actual facts behind the raid and subsequent deaths.
On Friday, infuriated with the pace and lack of cleared and the drizzling position by the Liberian government on the crisis in Ghana, students from the University of Liberia Student Union and the Association of Private Universities met with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf searching for explanation and answers from the government regarding the plight of their countrymen and deaths following the raid in Ghana. President Sirleaf told the students her government is establishing the facts surrounding the Buduburam crisis.
Information Minister, Cletus Sieh resurfaced appearing on the Voice of America and in an interview with James Butty, said Liberians in Ghana are no longer considered refugees. Earlier, spokesman for the Ghanaian police, Kwesi Ofori told VOA the Ghanaian police were called in to quell huge clashes between two factions who were claiming the leadership of the Refugee Welfare Council. He confirmed 50 refugees were arrested for their role in the violence. According to Ghanaian media 47 of the refugees have appeared in court and charged with riot and conspiracy to commit crime but they all pleaded not guilty. The refugees are remanded and to appeared in court on March 1, 2011.
In wake of all this grave danger faced by the refugees and the enormity of the calamity and safety of Liberian refugees in Ghana in light of the Buduburam massacre and raid, it is troubling, frustrating, and indispeakable for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her government after a week of this unfortunate national tragedy and continual imprisonment of about 54 Liberian refugees by Ghanaian government and their subsequent arraignment and appearance in a Ghana court that the President and her government can not conceive the gravity, severity, and urgency of the situation their citizens are faced with but would choose complacency over nationalism, safety, and wellbeing of Liberian citizens.
The first constitutional and legal responsibility of a President and government is to guarantee the security, safety, and wellbeing of its citizens within its borders and any where in the world. The reaction and response of the President and her government on the massacre, brutality, and mass arrest of Liberian refugees in Ghana by the Ghanaian government, beg the question, WHERE IS PRESIDENT SIRLEAF AND HER GOVERNMENT?
It is a failure of leadership by President Sirleaf and her government by not taking a cohesive and strong stance against Ghanaian government and demand accountability, explanation , and public apology from President John Atta Mills and the people of Ghana for the killing in cold blood of unarmed Liberian refugees and arrest of several others by state security forces of Ghana; demanding the perpetrators of such wicked, gruesome, and barbaric act be brought to justice and the unconditional release of all the refugees in their custody immediately and without any pre-condition.
President Sirleaf has demonstrated extreme weakness and this weakness exposes the President and her government how Liberians and the country can not depend on her for leadership in times of national tragedy and need. It is no excuse for caution to soberly respond to the massacre and raid to neglect and underserve the lives and safety of Liberian citizens with the motive not to aggravate the Ghanaian government that the President will trade her constitutional responsibility of guaranteeing the security and safety of her own citizens maimed by a foreign government and up to now can not mint a meaningful and cohesive approach to the crisis. President Sirleaf and her government are lawfully obligated to protect Liberian citizens everywhere and ensure are their safety.
Liberians and their refugees countrymen are bitter and demand President Sirleaf immediately take a nationalistic approach, after one week, no excuse is accepted the President but for her to do the job was elected to do, to defend and protect the Republic of Liberia. If she can not do her job, she must quit. Where is the Liberianism from the President?