Several Arrested for Violence at ArcelorMittal

first_imgCalm is said to have returned to the ArcelorMittal concession area in Nimba after the violent demonstration that led to the ransacking of the properties belonging to the iron ore company.On Thursday, 3rd July 2014, a youth group identified as “Tokadeh Progressive Youth for a Peace and Development began what they claimed as a peaceful demonstration in the concession town of Zolowee along the Sanniquellie-Yekepa at the junction of the road leading to Mount Tokadeh.The aggrieved youth spokesperson Sayetee Zowehyee told this paper via mobile phone on the day of the standoff that their action came due to what he called “the failure of ArcelorMittal” to adhere to their plights and demands.He said prior to their demonstration they informed the County Attorney, LNP and UNMIL to carry on a peaceful march on 3rd June 2014 so as to claim the ArcelorMittal’s attention over petitions addressed to the company long time ago concerning the development of the areas.He said, while they were carrying on the peaceful march at the junction leading to Mount Tokadeh, the Emergency Response Unit/ERU came in and told them under the pretext that they were there to provide protection based on their request to the LNP.Superintendent Zuagele confirmed the request but said that the County Attorney upon receiving the letter he immediately wrote instructing them to put halt to all form of demonstration and again went on air informing the group not to demonstrate but they refused to adhere to his order.The youth claimed they were carrying on peaceful demonstration, but the road leading up the mount was blocked with fallen tree, with cooking taking place on the main road.He narrated that after they got through cooking around the intersection leading up the mount, the ERU seized the food and set it in their pickup and began firing discriminately, using tear gas to disperse them.It was from the action of the ERU that led the youth to flee into the bushes which of course let things get out of hand, he said.An eyewitness account says there was shooting of single barrel guns by the youth after they fled into the bush and they even committed extensive damage on ArcelorMittal facilities at the mines as well as on the train.Bridges along the road leading to Yekapa were tampered with by the youth in an attempt to dismantle them at some locations of the road.However, an Executive Mansion release says several of those involved in the disturbances were picked up and taken to Monrovia for interrogation.Several government officials, including the Information Minister Lewis Brown; Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Patrick Sandolo and some of the Nimba Lawmakers paid a visit to the area, aimed at finding a breakthrough, but it is not yet known what level of discussion was held with the both sides.Nimba District # 1 Representative Jeremiah Koung expressed frustration over the level of destruction ArcelorMittal sustained from the hands of the youth.He urged the youth to be proactive in their campaign and stop the attitude of destruction of infrastructures.It was also reported that the group went up the mount and ransacked activity there, forcing some ArcelorMittal workers to be airlifted by helicopter.This year appears to be tough for the company since they started the operation in Liberia nearly 10 years ago.In February this year, the citizens of the affected communities within ArcelorMittal concession blocked the roads leading up Mount Takadeh where the mining of iron ore is taking place.  They claimed that the management of ArcelorMittal failed to pay damages to their properties and also refused to employ the citizens.  Some of their plights were addressed where most of them received the required payment of damages.On Tuesday 29th April 2014 a group of Nimba youth under the banner, “Concerned Nimbaians calling for Re-signing and Renegotiation of the Arcelor Mittal Mineral Development Agreement with the Government of Liberia”, seized the railroad in demand of changes in the MDA.This issue was brought to rest after the intervention of the Nimba 53rd Legislative Caucus and some staff of the company.One of the Concerned Nimbaian Advocates, Saye Musah, attributed the eruption of this new crisis to lack of communication from the Nimba County Authority headed by Supt. Fong Zuagele.He said after their railroad seized in April, a meeting was called for by ArcelorMittal in May at the Royal Hotel in Monrovia, where Supt. Zuagele was instructed by the Nimba Legislative Caucus to convene a meeting with the aggrieved youth (including this group) so as to discuss some of the counts which were not discussed at Royal Hotel Meeting.  “But accordingly,” Musah said, “the county superintendent hasn’t called for meeting up this the time of the crisis,” something Superintendent Zuagele outrightly denied.The present aggrieved “Tokadeh Youth Movement” in August 2013, presented an eight counts resolution to the management of Mittal at the joint citizens meeting with CEO of Mittal in Zolowee calling for improved water system, health care facility, and employment at all levels, among others.At present, the road between Sanniquellie and Yekapa is now calm and traffic has resumed, but there no sign of work going on at the Tokadeh Mines since the standoff.Representative Larry Younquoi of Nimba District #8 told reporters in Ganta that almost a truckload of things looted from the ArcelorMittal camp around Mount Tokadeh had been retrieved and returned, while search is going on to get the remaining items.In a similar development, another group calling themselves “Movement for the Defense of Downtrodden” launched their activity in Ganta on 3rd July 2014.The group who described themselves as rights organization said they will be engaging institutions in Nimba and elsewhere in the interest of the communities, looking at the controversial Nimba Scrap deal, a purported US$4 million GOL owed Nimba from ArcelorMittal Social Development Fund, and the relocation of George Ways Hospital in Sanniquellie, among others.Despite the company’s almost 10 years of existence and almost four years of shipment of iron ore, one-third of Yekapa still remains undeveloped with the hospital there yet to be renovated and the roads still remain unpaved despite years of promises something the citizens greatly concerned about.Superintendent Zuagele has also confirmed the arrest of five persons in connection to the violence over the weekend and sent to Monrovia while their leaders, Sayetee and others, remain at large.He also confirmed that some members of the group, “Concern Nimbaian for Resigning and Renegotiating of the MDA”, are undergoing interrogation at the police station in Sanniquellie into their involvement into the violence.Earlier, one of the detainees, Ta Kruah, told this paper via mobile that they were asked by the Superintendent for a meeting early Sunday, 6th July 2014 but were immediately summoned by Police Chief of Operations, Abraham Kromah, for questioning and they are still being held with no charge(s).Meanwhile, the Executive Mansion Release said the full extent of the damage, which is still being assessed, includes destruction to private properties, as well as injuries to six police officers and the destruction of public roads and bridges.Information Minister Lewis Brown said, “There is no tolerance in this society for those who act outside the law by expressing grievances through violence, destroying properties, assaulting law enforcement officers, and violating the rights of others.”He also added that “all such individuals will face the full weight of the law.”However, Government of Liberia has assured the management of Arcelor Mittal and all private and foreign investors that no action will be spared to protect lives and properties as well as the general wellbeing of their staffs and employees.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Dual Citizenship: Taxation and the Right to Vote

first_imgShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) The issue of dual citizenship has generated a lot of commentary and heat here in Liberia as well as in the Diaspora, especially in the United States. Those who support it are exercised about the righteousness of their cause. Their argument goes something like this. Commencing with the coup d’etat mounted by M/Sgt Samuel Doe and his 17 compadres in 1980, Liberians started leaving the country involuntarily in large numbers, fleeing persecution and political instability.The second wave came in 1985 in the wake of the abortive Quiwonkpa failed coup. The atrocities, especially those perpetrated against the Gio and Mano populations, have been amply documented in such books as “A Promise Betrayed” by Bill Berkeley of the Lawyers’ Committee on Human Rights.The civil war followed in 1989 and a third wave ensued, all the way through Octopus, April 6, 1996 and World War III in 2003. Those who were forced to leave Liberia to avoid slaughter, rape, maiming, displacement or such other horrors of war argue that they should not lose their right to Liberian citizenship because they opted to take citizenship of another country while they were in the Diaspora.  They feel that they should be entitled to recover their Liberian citizenship, along with all the rights and privileges that go with citizenship now that peace and harmony reign. They want to be dual citizens, i.e. citizens of Liberia and of the United States or whatever other country they have adopted as their new home. They want to have their cake and eat it too.Those opposed to the notion of dual citizenship are equally adamant that they don’t want people with one foot in Liberia and another foot elsewhere. Citing the case of Ellen Cockrum, they fear that dual citizens will commit crimes in Liberia, then hop on a Brussels Airlines flight to avoid prosecution. Emotions are raw.The issue of dual citizenship is a complex one. First, foreign citizenship is a matter of choice. A personal example will illustrate the point.I fled Liberia in 1986 because C-I-C Samuel Doe was after my hide. My dear friend Jim Holder, Ellen Sirleaf, my father Harry Sr., Tuan Wreh, Jackson Doe, Gabriel Kpolleh and a number of other political figures had been arrested and incarcerated in the aftermath of the Quiwonkpa debacle. Because they had not gotten up soooon in the morning, Doe and his henchmen did not get me. I was hiding right under their noses in Monrovia. But when my mother-in-law, Justine Nimley, asked her brother, G. Alvin Jones, what would happen to me if I turned myself in, the clip response was that “They would skin me alive”. Understandably, I was not brought out of my hiding place.Instead, I journeyed to the United States and applied for political asylum. If ever there was a person for whom the asylum laws of the United States were created, it was me. I had a “well founded fear of persecution”. So, when the time came and I became eligible for US citizenship I chose not to obtain US citizenship. I did so because I knew that eventually I would come back to Liberia and I didn’t want to lose my Liberian citizenship. My wife at the time and eldest daughter, both of whom were born in Liberia, chose to become US citizens. I settled instead for a Green Card.I lived in the United States for 16 years and missed out on a lot of the benefits of citizenship. But that was my choice. Life is like that. You make choices and you have to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices you make. That goes for citizenship as it does for many other things. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.Proponents of dual citizenship focus on the benefits of citizenship but often forget about its obligations. One of the privileges of citizenship, which many proponents of dual citizenship are eyeing, is the right to vote in elections in Liberia. But if you do not live here and consequently have to live with the consequences of the choices you make at election time, is it fair for you to be given the right to vote here?Another of the obligations of citizenship is supporting the cost of government through taxation. Under American law, a US citizen must pay taxes on their income wherever it is earned. Would dual citizens accept to pay taxes in Liberia as well as in, say, the United States even though they may not live in Liberia? If the answer is no, then how would they be contributing to upkeep of the government in Liberia in the way that those living in Liberia do?The writer is a businessman. He can be reached at hagreaves49@gmail.com.last_img read more