Mike Butscher, a onetime staff of the Liberia Media Center (LMC), and currently in the United Kingdom has written a letter of complaint to the President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Mr. Charles Coffey against the Deputy Minister for Press & Public Affairs at Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism (MICAT), Jeddi M. Armah.
Below is the full text off the letter of complaint to the PUL:
Dear Mr. Coffey,
I write with a heavy heart to complain about the way I have been treated by the Deputy Minister of Information, Tourism and culture in his unsavory comments about me on Facebook in response to an article I wrote on the status of women in Liberia.
I quote his reaction to my article titled: “Women Violated In Liberia”, dated June 29, 2017, Jeddi Mowbray Armah ” When did Mike Butscher take on Liberian citizenship? I have known him all this while to be a Sierra Leonean journalist and I can bet he travelled to the UK and obtained whatever status he has on a Sierra Leonean passport”.
I am still baffled by the intent of Hon. Armah whom I know to have been a radio journalist and now a deputy minister of MICAT. With his journalism background, I thought it would have been incumbent on the minister to have done his first and sacred duty, to cross check my status with the Immigration Department of the passport Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to verify his facts before making such vindictive statement on social media.
This could have been done by a single telephone call but Hon. Armah, as always, prejudiced against his perceived disdain for African journalists who don’t speak as Liberians, disregarded all protocols to present me as a “Foreigner” who has no right to write about a serious issue that is of concern to UNMIL, UNICEF and many other international organisations, concerned about the welfare of women and the girl child in Liberia.
That Hon. Armah’s response did not refer or pinpoint to any professional inadequacies, inaccuracies or shortcomings in my well researched article explains that he was angry that the article exposed the grim realities many women and girls face in today’s Liberia.
What does my nationality has to do with reporting about the pain of a young teenager who was allegedly raped by her own uncle who is a key member of the ruling Unity Party? The legislator is yet to be questioned by the appropriate authorities.
What does my nationality has to do with fearlessly reporting the alarming and high incidence of rape to the extent that a 2016 UN report expressed concern about the widespread impunity enjoyed by perpetrators.
What does my nationality got to do with exposing the fact that President Johnson Sirleaf believes that as far as female circumcision goes, “To hastily abolish the practice could spark off a serious societal crisis.This is not a thing that you can legislate.” I have travelled those places where female circumcision is rife in Liberia and have seen the adverse effect the practice is having on women, girls and babies as young as five years old.
Should I just keep quiet and pretend that all is well in Liberia when even President Johnson Sirleaf admitted that the practice has its harmful effects on girls and women?.
FGM was banned this year in Nigeria and 18 other African countries have outlawed the practice, including Gambia, Ghana, Central African Republic, Egypt and South Africa.
Mr. President, judging from Hon. Armah’s discriminatory response, it is clear that Hon. Armah and the government are still opposed to “critically written and investigative reports, along with their writers, are still being unnecessarily questioned by government authorities instead of them providing clarity and the facts to the public”.
Let me assure Hon. Armah that no amount of threats and intimidatory tactics can deter me from writing about the challenges Liberia face especially in areas of human rights violations and threats to free expression.
Finally, I want to assure Hon. Armah that I am a Liberian citizen just as he is and therefore have every right to perform my journalistic duties as usual in a professional manner by putting Liberia first.
I have landed property and a family in Liberia and that I have worked over many years for the good of the country, building the capacity of thousands of young people in the media working with projects at the Talking Drum Studio and Liberia Media Center, and as an instructor at the Stella Maris Polytechnic where I taught for nearly two years.
It might interest you to know that I first joined the PUL in 1998 and was editor of the PUL’s publication when Abraham Massalay was President and the now Rev. Suah Deddeh was Secretary General. Recently, I served as member of the Anniersay Awards Committee under Peter Quaqua and Abdulai Kamara respectively. I am a full member of the union.
I am also a registered voter of the republic..
Trusting that your respected office would take appropriate action because I believe I deserve better treatment from the minister.
Press Union of Liberia