Toying with the Lives of Your Citizens
IT’S NEARLY TWO MONTHS since FrontPage Africa broke the news of Liberians being stranded in Sudan and Algeria and nothing concrete from the Liberian Government has been seen or heard of in the press as it regards repatriating those Liberians.
ONE OF OUR SENIOR REPORTERS, Mae Azango, had reported on March 4, 2018 that Liberians in Algeria were sending an SOS call to their government to help bring them back home. In her story, a Liberian contractor working in that country had told her that some of our countrymen had been imprisoned in that North African country illegally.
HE FURTHER STATED THAT one of them had been charged and sentenced to death by the Algerian authority on alleged espionage for the State of Israel.
“NORMALLY, WHEN WE ARE FACED with difficulties, we usually shout out ‘Let the God of Israel fight for me, as he did for the people of Israel in the Bible.’”
ACCORDING TO THIS LIBERIAN, who had asked us not to name him for fear of reprisal, it was on one of those moments that the arrested Liberians were heard shouting and were picked up and accused of being spies for Israel.
BEFORE THE MARCH 4 STORY was published, Ms. Azango had, in February 2018, also written about how at least six Liberians were also in prison in Sudan on ferocious charges.
“I AM AN OIL ENGINEER. I have been in prison in Khartoum, Sudan, for the past six years. It all started when I completed my studies in Oil Engineering in Kuwait. I came to Sudan in search of a job and started working for an oil company called EL-Basher Oil Company.”
“WHEN IT WAS TIME TO pay me, they plotted against me and said I owed the company US$150,000 and that I should pay it back. Where will I get that kind of money from? I know nobody here in Sudan.”
“THERE IS NO LIBERIAN EMBASSY here in Sudan,” said detainee Sylvester P. Scott, Jr, in a video, which had gone viral on the Internet in Liberia.
SCOTT, WHO THROUGH A friend, Victor Jones, released the video on Facebook, had told this newspapers that he knows of at least eight Liberians, who are presently locked up in prisons in Sudan and their sentencing ranges from at least three to six years, with nowhere to turn, as Liberia has no diplomatic ties with that African state.
“THE FIVE OF MY LIBERIAN brothers here in jail were plotted against. They worked for their farm managers and time for them to pay them, they were sent to prison by their farm managers, stating that they (Liberians) own them and that they have to pay back monies before they can be paid,” Scott narrated in the video. He also confirmed that to FrontPageAfrica when he was contacted.
ON THE INCIDENT IN ALGERIA, when this newspaper had published its story, that Liberian-born Lebanese was probably not yet sentenced to death. As usual, the Liberian government’s lackadaisical behavior was shown again.
AL ARABIYA ENGLISH, a Arabic news outlet had reported on Tuesday, April 24, that the Ghardaïa court, south of Algeria condemned seven individuals of different African nationalities on a case related to espionage for Israel.
THE OUTLET FURTHER said that this Liberian citizen, the main accused who goes by the name, Elm al-Deen Faisal, earned a death penalty, while six others were sentenced to 10-year imprisonment.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER FOR FOREIGN Affairs, Mr. B. Elias Shoniyin did mention about hearing about his stranded compatriots in both Sudan and Algeria.
He had said that they at the Foreign Ministry were doing two diplomatic communications to friendly countries or through the International Organization on Migration (IOM) so that they can appeal on behalf of the Liberian government for the release of her citizens in both Sudan and Algeria.
“WE DO NOT HAVE EMBASSIES in these countries so we work along with International Organization on Migration to get our citizens out as we did in the case of Libya and brought back 19 Liberians home,” said Minister Shoniyin.
WHEN THIS NEWSPAPER followed up on Monday, April 30th, regarding the Liberian government’s intervention, Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Milton Findley stated that he was on his way for a meeting but that we should get back to him by midday. Around that time, a number of calls were placed to him. He didn’t answer any neither did he respond to a text message that was also sent to him.
A CLOSE SOURCE TO THE Ministry had drafted a press release to this effect but later just abandoned sending it out to the public; thereby allowing her citizens to just languish in foreign prisons, doing nothing to bring them home.
ENDING UP IN A SUDANESE or Libyan or Algerian jail is not a pleasant feat. Most of those young Liberians had gone to those countries seeking greener pastures: trying to escape the worst economic conditions at home. Some intend on using those nations as conduits to get to Europe. Unfortunately, they became stranded and are now trapped. But the onus is on the government to go and get its citizens and back home safely. Stop toying with the lives of your citizens.
THE GOVERNMENT or its surrogates may argue that these young Liberians choose their own debacle by threading a horrendous route to Europe, but we too have a counter-argument: The incompetence of government to maximize the wealth of resources evenly in order to provide opportunities for the citizenry prompts such AUDACIOUSLY perilous economic migration.
WE DO NOT DEFEND illegal migration, but as pragmatic as it must be stated, we know that destitution leads to desperation, which has massive tendency of leading to ridiculously daring motives or actions. This is the case of those stranded Liberians and we would not ignore all the contributing factors that influenced their venture of seeking better opportunities.
NOW THAT THE OUTCOME of their sojourn does not appear pretty, government can’t just leave them to rot in some heartless prisons whether it be in Algeria or Sudan or Libyan. We know that it is the responsibly of any government to protect its citizens based on the social contract both sides – a citizens and a government – signed when a government is elected.
WE ARE THEREFORE CALLING ON the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the watchful eyes of Foreign Minister Ghehzohngar Milton Findley, to speed up any efforts it had intended on making to intervene. We cannot have our government paying deaf ear or a wait-and-see syndrome and toying with the lives of its citizens. The laissez faire attitude must stop; government must perform its responsibility.