STAND Takes Stand In Kinjor Crisis -Deploys 2-Dozen Investigators To Unpack Debacle

MONROVIA: It is widely said, and perhaps often justified, that in Liberia, a crisis even with catastrophic impact makes news for a week and, after that, it all becomes a dead or forgotten matter. Such is what was expected of the melee that took place recently in the mining enclave of Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount. But it seems the new civil society sensation on the bloc, simply called STAND, will not want to allow the situation be quickly swept into the abyss of forgottenness. As The Analyst reports, the fledgling NGO has announced taking a seize of the matter, including sending into Kinjor over 20 probers mandated to unearth the truth of the incident towards finding sustainable remedy.

The Solidarity and Trust for a New Day (STAND) dispatched two dozen investigators over the weekend to Kinjor, Grand Cape Mounty—an endeavor intended to unearth the root causes for the demonstration which took place in the mining town, resulting into the death of three workers of Bea Mountain Mining Company a few weeks ago.

During the fact-finding mission, a plethora of workers spoke to both STAND and this paper. The people consistently lamented that since the operation of Bea Mountain, the livelihood of workers continues to decline on a daily basis.

The workers, some begging not to be named in print nor have their pictures taken for fear of losing their jobs, commonly reported that Bea Mountain’s residential area lacks electricity and water system.

They complained that their homes lack bathrooms thereby forcing women and elderly people to bath in the open and use the bushes for defecation.

Among them, one braved individual who claimed he had resigned from the company, Garsenee Davis, said salaries disparity is very huge among foreign workers and locals.

The workers are demanding for the unconditional dismissal of Dabbeh Allen as head of Liberian workers.

“There is no way that Dabbeh Allen will remain here as head and you expect peace or smooth operations here. We will battle him with sweat and blood,” said a worker who spoke to STAND investigators.

Mr. Davis narrated that underground-workers — those who work under waters and grounds — earned $7 per day which is US$210 per month, while foreign workers mostly Turkish nationals, earn US$3,000 to 4,000 monthly.

“We are living in hell here and it looks like our government does not care for us. Our only hope is Mr. Morlu’s group because they have come here to hear our side of the story,” said Davis.

Another anonymous person who spoke to this paper added that the management of Bea Mountain has a strict mandate forbidding casual workers, contractors and employees from interacting with civil rights groups, the media and government investigators.

For Madam Mary Yakollie, she said: “They [the company] stopped us from talking to anybody including the media, civil society groups and even government workers. They have some of the friends who are positioned to spy on us and report to management. Do you know whenever we are gathered in our numbers, Bea Mountain can mount drones over us to take pictures that they use to dismiss us illegally.”

According to her, they are living in hell on earth and the worst of it is the government is dragging its feet to address their situation.

Another resident, Christopher Kpayee also added his voice: “We no more go fishing nor do we drink from our creeks and rivers anymore because the gold mining operations have contaminated our rivers. They have failed to provide safe drinking water as promised in the agreement signed between us and the management.”

Kpayee said that the protest that led to the death of at least three persons is just the beginning, as there will be more massive demonstrations to finally kick Bea Mountain Mining Company out of that place.

Kpayee expressed high hope and expectation that the intervention of STAND will change the dimension of difficulties faced by them.

Speaking at a mass gathering of Bea Mountain Mining Company, STAND Chairman Mr. Mulbah Morlu said, moving forward, his group remains committed to working alongside the Kinjor community to ensure that relevant policymakers are actively engaged in addressing the issues and that justice is swiftly served for the victims.

He promised that there will be a STAND press conference soon at which the organization will provide in-depth details of its trip, recommendations and the next course of action in the interest of the people of Kinjor.

It can be recalled that last weekend, STAND went on a fact-finding expedition to Kinjor, and the civil rights group said investigators uncovered evidence of a deteriorating situation amongst residents, where human rights abuses bad labor practice, and acts of impunity are being systematically committed by the management of Bea Mountain against Liberian citizens.

During the fact-finding trip, STAND actively engaged with the local community to understand their perspectives on Bea Mountain’s failure to fulfill its social contract obligations.

Additionally, according the group, STAND investigators had the opportunity to interview eyewitnesses regarding instances of police brutality during recent peaceful protests, resulting in multiple deaths.

In a release, the group went on to commend residents of Kinjor saying, “As STAND diligently prepares a comprehensive report for public consumption, we find it imperative to express our gratitude to the leadership, elders, and residents of Kinjor for their warm hospitality and patience. Through dialogues such as the town hall meeting, we deepened our understanding of the community’s concerns and grievances. These expressed concerns have positioned us to advocate and collaborate with others in supporting the residents of Kinjor and ensuring that justice is fully and swiftly served’.

The Movement-STAND, abbreviated for Solidarity and Trust for a New Day, is a civil society organization based in Liberia. Its primary objective is to address abuse and economic marginalization, champion equity and the rule of law, and take the lead in efforts to eradicate impunity across Liberia and the broader West African subregion.

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