Moroccan Police ‘Flog’ Protesting Students at Liberian Embassy
MOROCCO – Liberian students on government scholarship in Morocco who staged a peaceful protest at the Liberian Embassy there have been forcefully removed from the premises of the Embassy, FrontPageAfrica has gathered.
The students were protesting to draw the attention of the Liberian government to plights as students in foreign land.
The Government of Liberia has failed to send the students their allowances for the past 10 months. This has made life difficult for the students, some of whom are underaged.
Some of the students who can no longer afford paying for their hostel have been thrown out. Feeding themselves, according to them is now a big challenge; and when they fall sick, they have no means of seeking medical attention.
So, on Wednesday, the students gathered before the Liberian Embassy there in protest for their allowances. Some went with their belongings including mattresses and suitcase – saying they’ve been thrown out and have nowhere else to go since they cannot afford to pay the rent.
They were forced to put an end to their protest today after Moroccan police stormed the Embassy and forcefully drove them from the premises.
“After hungry and dislodged students slept on the ground in the premises of the embassy seeking refuge after their removal from their apartments, the ambassador finally wrote two communications to the Moroccan National Police instructing them to forcefully remove students from embassy’s premises,” John Saylay Singbea, the leader of the protesting students told FrontPageAfrica.
“We are psychologically depressed currently. We cannot believe that our embassy where we should seek refuge in times of troubles could have instructed police to brutalize us for kindly asking the ambassador to help us with food and allow us to sleep at the embassy because we have been thrown out of our apartments.”– John Saylay Singbea, leader of Liberian Students in Morocco
FrontPageAfrica was not able to independently verify whether Ambassador Richelieu Williams wrote the police to disperse the students. However, video footage obtained from the event shows Moroccan police shoving the students away and barricading the Embassy. One of the students can be heard saying “Don’t push us.”
Ambassador Williams could not be reached immediately after several attempts of calling his mobile in Morocco and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to queries on the protest.
Fifty-two of the 84 aggrieved students on government scholarship participated in the protest. They held placards in protest at the Embassy premises and demanded to speak with President Weah to address their plight. They said they had made efforts in getting redress from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance Development and Planning regarding their allowances but to no avail prior to the protest.
“We are psychologically depressed currently. We cannot believe that our embassy where we should seek refuge in times of troubles could have instructed police to brutalize us for kindly asking the ambassador to help us with food and allow us to sleep at the embassy because we have been thrown out of our apartments,” Singbea said.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica via mobile phone, Singbea said when they engaged Ambassador Williams, he told them that he is not responsible for students’ allowances. Singbea added alleged that their phones were seized to prevent them from recording any conversation.
“Many students who feared the violent police unit ran into the offices of the Liberian Embassy, but unfortunately staff of the Embassy identified them and asked police to remove them by force,” Singbea said.
Singbea added: “Currently, many students went missing and few parents called crying on telephone due to the fact that the students were in the street at 3:00 in the morning because police pushed them into different locations.”
He said students have reported lost their suitcases, telephones, pots, blankets and other personal effects.
“We thought to seek refuge at the Liberian Embassy, but if they could call police to brutalize helpless and displaced students then we are doomed because our own Embassy cannot handle scholarship students’ matter,” added Singbea.