For Killing 3 “Unarmed Protesters” -Gov’t. Offers Bereaved Families US$5,000 Each

MONROVIA: The families of the three unarmed civilians who were simply onlookers,  witnessing a peaceful protest staged by  angry villagers, community leaders and employees holding placards, and  demanding basic  social services from  Bea Mountain Mining Corporation(BMMC) but were mistaken for alleged  protesters and summarily shot in their backs and killed by armed police,  have  been offered US$5,000( Five Thousand United States Dollars) by the Government of Liberia as an apparent compensation for the loss of their children.

The Government of Liberia sent a squad of heavily armed police to the Kinjor community to protect Bea Mountain after it   falsely alarmed that it was facing a “clear  and present danger”  from a group of protesters holding placards in the streets near its operation areas.  Based on the alleged grim picture presented to the police by Bea Mountain, the  police turned Kinjor Community and its environs  into a war zone,   and opened fire, killing three unarmed civilians and  thereby  wounding several others on account that the protesters were armed with guns.

In an official position released by the Government of Liberia on the Kinjor protest of February 29, 2024, the government justified the killing of the three unarmed civilians by the use of disproportionate force, by firing live bullets directly into the crowds  to restore law and order.

Further, the Minister of Information, Jerolinmek Mathew Piah, at a  recent news conference held in the wake of the cold bloody murders of the three  unarmed citizens in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County,  disputed claims that more than   one person had been shot and killed by the police  during the incident.

But excerpts of a communication dated April 11, 2024 to the Minister of Justice, Cllr. N. Oswald Tweh, under the signature of President of Liberia, Joseph Nyumah Boakai,  contradicted Mr. Piah’s account.

The Communication said: “We are in receipt of your letter regarding the violent protest action that occurred at Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County on February, 28, 2024 resulting in the death of three citizens”. The President concurs with your recent recommendation that the Government contributes US$5,000(Five Thousand United States Dollars) each to the families of the three victims or a total of US$15,000(Fifteen Thousand United States Dollars).

Details of Minister Tweh’s purported recommendation to the President are not known, but a careful analysis of the content of the communication shows that the Government of Liberia has disproved the wild and sweeping allegations made by the Minister of information that only one alleged protester was killed,   and the protesters were fully armed.

Strangely, the communication made no mention of any armed protesters,    and as it has been widely reported by eyewitnesses that    three (3)  unarmed civilians shot and killed were  onlookers or bystanders  mistaken  for alleged  protesters, and for this reason the  President’s communication  referred to  them as  “ three victims”, an indication that the three unarmed civilians  had nothing to do with the protest.

Most Liberians and human rights campaigners interviewed have said that the communication by the President is a further testament that the Government of Liberia killed three unarmed civilians on account of the false and misleading alarmed raised by Bea Mountain simply for demanding better working conditions, basic social services for their communities and for the Bea Mountain Management to live up to its corporate social responsibility.

However, a strongly worded press statement issued by Mr. Millias Z. Sheriff, Senior International Consultant, and the official spokesperson for the families of two of the deceased, Eassah Massaley and Abraham Kerkula, over the weekend, described the   US$5,000 offer to each of the families of the   “three victims” by the government of Liberia  as totally ridiculous.

The statement said the government has not only openly confirmed and affirmed that it has murdered  “three  unarmed victims” who had nothing to do with the protest as evidenced by its own  communication signed by President the Republic of Liberia but has also demonstrated that each of the three victims’ lives worth the amount of  US$5,000.00.

Speaking to reporters recently, Mr. Sheriff accused the Bea Mountain Management of being an accomplice in the murder of the “three victims” and noted that the decision to offer US$5,000 to each family members of the deceased seems to have come out of the playbook of  Bea Mountain because it least regards  the rights of people in its operation area.

Mr. Sheriff  also  considered  the US$5,000 offer, as adding salt to injury and a complete insult to the villagers, residents and employees of Kinjor,  and noted  that the police having justified  what they termed as the  “ Use of Necessary Force” in killing three unarmed citizens, there was no need to offer US$5,000  each to the bereaved  families.

Mr. Sheriff described the police justification of “use of necessary force”  to shoot in their backs three unarmed civilians who have now been described by the President as “three victims” as “policefare”, a sort of  dubious approach of “weaponizing”  the police against unarmed civilians  to   murder villagers, residents and employees in Kinjor  in cold blood on behalf of Bea Mountain as a means of enforcing nonresistance to Bea Mountain’s  illegal land grab,  failure to provide basic social services  and improve the working conditions of its employees as in keeping with its Mineral Development Agreement(MDA).

“This is totally ridiculous. Three peaceful and unarmed citizens were killed by the Liberian National Police (LNP) in Kinjor on February 29, 2024 while representing the Interest of the Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC), the statement said.

Mr. Sheriff further added that the Government of Liberia (GOL) through the LNP had initially justified the “USE OF NECESSARY FORCE” on unarmed citizens but are now   condescendingly planning to give USD 5,000 to each of the victims’ family members.

He described as wicked, heartless and insensitive, the behavior of the government having justified the use of disproportionate force and exonerated itself in a dubious report  to  have again somersaulted on its initial stance  by offering money to the deceased families.

“The government is hereby showcasing its lack of interest in the welfare of its citizens and its compromised nature of doing business to the detriment of Liberians”, he added.

He assured the families of the “three victims” who were murdered by the police on behalf of Bea Mountain of “our unwavering commitment to ensure that justice is served for the victims and their families.”

We will explore every path available to engage both the government and BMMC in the pursuit of justice”, the statement concluded.

Latest information gathered revealed  that plans underway  to drag Bea Mountain and its parent company, Avesoro Holdings, Ltd, and all of its subsidiaries including but not limited to MNG Gold to court on account of illegal land grab, wrongful deaths of the three victims and to expose the company’s actual identity and alleged  dubious operations in Grand Cape Mount County.

Further information gathered by this paper quoted insiders close to the Bea Mountain Management that although the company is owned by a Turkish national, it is however based in Channel Island, an enclave, lying between France and Great Britain in Normandy, and is trading on the stock exchange in London which makes its easily susceptible to any lawsuit in a British Court.

Meanwhile, information reaching this paper says in addition to armed police officers being assigned to Bea Mountain, there are also heavily armed soldiers from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) who are assigned as personal bodyguards. These security personnel are allegedly   used to harass and intimidate villagers and residents and employees and are heavily involved in Bea Mountain illegal land grab, forceful eviction of villagers and communities from their ancestral lands, invasion of their traditional shrines, and   the destruction of their livelihoods without any redress.

Investigation continues.

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