EDITORIAL: It’s Time PUL Recuperated from Paralysis

THAT THE PRESS Union Liberia, of all organizations, is virtually dormant, kept prisoner, and victimized, not by its traditional adversaries, but by itself, is a big shame and huge travesty upon this generation of Liberian journalists. For nearly two years, the PUL has folded itself, disappearing from Liberian civil society landscape, while the societal issues of bad governance, corruption, despotism, transparency and accountability for which our forebears painstakingly pieced it together are worsening by the day. This once respected linchpin of the Liberian people’s struggle for freedom, liberty and justice continually to helplessly rot under the parochial ambits a few individuals. The best tribute for all Liberian journalists during this celebration of World Press Freedom Day is to revive our dear union from it current paralysis.

IN THE LAST nearly two years, two grimly determined groups of party litigants, who are extremely seeking the leadership conquest in the name of claiming right to right, have placed their kneels on the neck of this once celebrated paragon of social justice, asphyxiating this once powerful voice of the ordinary people, from breathing. For nearly two years, it seems normal that for the first time in nearly 60 years, the Liberian masses—students, rural people, marketers, struggling young people—no longer have that reliable shield in the PUL that had not only kept watch over them but was always available to jettison power politicians and capitalists at bay and in check. During these nationally sorrowful times, two groups of journalists fighting for legal and political supremacy continue to ground-stand, refusing to heed all reason so long their respective will, and their respective will lone, does not prevail.

IT WILL NOT be a mistake to conjecture that even traditional adversaries of journalists and the Union are finding delight in the paralysis of the Press Union of Liberia. And let journalists not be oblivious of this: so long the traditional adversaries of media freedom and civil liberties have carte blanche to treat journalists and ordinary Liberians anyhow with impunity, so long they hear no noise or feel no pressure in their miscarriage of governance—something the PUL was known for standing against since 1964—there is joy in the paralysis of the Union. That’s why it is colossally unfortunate that a few colleagues of this generation of journalists continue to arrogantly take captive the PUL which isn’t only a bastion in the protection of human freedoms and civil liberties in this country, but also an indispensable force of our culture of governance.

FURTHER SHAMEFUL IS the fact that while other nations, during this year’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day are paying tributes to media actors and journalism organizations for standing the test of time, contributing to the sustenance of democracy and good governance, one wonders what Liberian journalists and their umbrella organization are hearing about themselves in the public space. There is total disillusionment amongst Liberians, ill-feeling and disgust expressed all over the place about the PUL and journalists at large in the loss of esteem and integrity over a seemingly irreconcilable conflict bordering personal leadership quests.

THUS, AS WE celebrate this year’s World Press Freedom Day, we call for robust actions that will revive this every important civil society organization from its years of coma. Firstly, we implore the rival forces to recover their consciences and their “first love” for the Union, which was established by our forebears three scores years ago not just for the purpose of sweeping out the toxic socioeconomic and political environment in which they were operating—an environment which still persists in our days—but also as a lead voice against political corruption and despotism. Certainly, not much any of the parties in the conflict have to lose to first waive the white flag in the supreme interest of an entity we all cherish, all for what it has stood for over the years, compared to what the Union and all Liberian journalists are enduring.

SECONDLY, THE REST of the mass of Liberian journalists must overcome their aloofness and indifference to the protracted absence of the Press Union of Liberia from the Liberian civil society architecture. Let there be a mass movement of the rest of us to restlessly push both the protagonists end their long-unsettled feud as well as those who were charged with the responsibility to negotiate peaceful settlement. Both the factions and the negotiators have dragged so much that the impression is made that none cares about exigency for settlement particularly in the face of public shame looming over all of us.

ARE WE SOUNDING oblivious of, and ignorant to, some individual or a group’s right to legal redress? Not exactly. Perhaps we can say ‘yes, partly’. Partly because keeping the whole union of 500 members captive or virtually nonexistent, ignoring the vitality of the union in the mosaic of broader national interest, is not anything anyone should hanky-panky about. The bigger picture, the broader interest, is more important than a parochial interest or right of a few persons.

SHOULD ONE OR two persons’ quest to win a legal case or obtain a right so important than the relieving the PUL from national shame and disgrace all journalists are faced with? We say No. a big No. This Union has the history of surviving the worst of times, faced the worst of external foes. Can we not survive our own shadows? The complacency is long and the shame too taunting to settle down at the behest of our own claws. The time for action is now.

Happy World Press Freedom Day!!

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