Young Liberian Int’l Prize Winner, Abraham Keita Writes Amnesty International On The Arrest Of Vandalark Patricks

Abraham-KeitaAbraham M. Keita, 17, who last year was awarded the prestigious International Children’s Peace Prize has written the Amnesty International (AI), expressing his feelings on the arrest and detention of a Liberian rights advocate, Vandalark Patricks; see full text below of his letter:

Letter To Amnesty International

Greetings:

I am a citizen of Liberia, residing in one of the largest slum communities – West Point.

It is believed that people who reside in west Point, the community where I live, are a myriad of hoodlums and uncivilized people. But in reality, the conditions that we face in our community and country aroused as a result of Sisyphean social policies, poor economic strategies and inadequate knowledge on good governance. I am writing as a young Liberian, who believes in human rights, social justice and academic freedom.

However, I am not writing you this letter to expound much about my community. I write to flag an issue in my country, which has not been given international attention or has not been reported on international media even though we have a BBC correspondent in Liberia.

I live in a country that fought 14 years of civil vindictiveness and blood-letting mayhem. Liberia was ripped apart and over 200,000 lives were terminated. Our infrastructures were dilapidated and free speech and adherence to the rule of law were given blind. Rebel factions and government forces humiliated people who blew the whistle on acts of human rights violation prior to the civil war.

The conflict ended in 2003 and a democratic government was elected and inaugurated by the people. Liberians believed that human rights, freedom of expression, rule of law and basic social services would be restored. We envisioned a new Liberia where activists and advocates would not be jailed for expressing issues of national concerns. Today, in Liberia, many are pondering as to whether these things have, to some extent, been achieved over a decade now since the end of the civil crisis.

Today, I am writing you this communication, with tears in my eyes and my heart filled with sorrows, to inform you about the arrest and detention of one of many Liberians, yearning for change. The name of this person is Vandalark R. Patricks, who holds BSc and Master Degrees in Public Administration and Public Policy from Cuttington University in Liberia. Patricks is a mentor to many young emerging leaders in Liberia including me.

Vandalark R. Patricks was arrested by the Government of Liberia on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 for speaking on ills in Liberia and the recent suspicious death of Harry Greaves, a Liberian politician whose body was found behind the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, office of the President of Liberia – H.E. Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Patricks has since by charged with sedition and criminal libelby our government and he has been detained at the Monrovia Central Prison for seven days now. His lawyers tried to file a bond for his relief but to no avail. Some Liberians believe that the court is not independent but rather acting on the orders of people in higher political authorities.

This is the second time for Patricks to be arrested by the Liberian government. His first arrest occurred on Monday, January 30, 2013 ahead of the High Level Panel meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in Monrovia, which was attended by British Prime Minister – David Cameroun, former Indonesian President – SusiloBambangYudhoyono and Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – President of Liberia.

I hope you can intervene in this current and contentious issue rapidly as many Liberians see this as an attack on Freedom of Expression under Article 15 of the Constitution of Liberia and the Table Martin Declaration, which Liberia signed. Amnesty International is the world’s leading non-governmental organization for the protection of human rights particularly prisoners, founded in July 1961 by Peter Benenson.

Therefore, the people of Liberia expect your swift and robust intervention in appealing to and demanding the Liberian government to unconditionally release Vandalark Patricks.

My sincere regards,

Source: Abraham M. Keita VI – 17

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About Cholo Brooks 13172 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.