LIBERIA: STAND takes Kinjor Battle

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The newly formed civil rights advocacy group, Solidarity and Trust for a New Day, also known as The Movement-STAND, which is under the leadership of Mulbah Morlu has taken full initiative on behalf of residents and workers of Bea Mountain Mining Company operating in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County.

Over the weekend, STAND dispatched two dozens of investigators to unearth what was the cause of a demonstration that led to the death of three workers of Bea Mountain Mining Company a few weeks back.

During the fact finding mission, workers who spoke with this paper indicated that, since the operation of Bea Mountain, the livelihood of workers have declined on a daily basis. The workers, who begged not to be named nor their pictures taken, for fear of loosing their jobs said, Bea Mountain residential area for workers lack electricity and water system. Speaking further, they complained that their homes lack bathrooms thereby forcing women and elderly people to bath outside.

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 7.00 per day which is US$210 per month while foreign workers mostly Turkish nationals earn US$3000 to 4000 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 Mr. Davis.

Another person who spoke with 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.
“They stop 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?’’ Madam Mary Yakollie narrated.

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.
“We cannot go fishing and drink from our creeks and rivers anymore because the gold mining operations have contaminated those rivers. They have failed to provide safe drinking water as promised in the agreement signed between us and the management.”
Also adding his voice to the argument, Christopher Kpayee said that the earlier 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 Morlu said moving forward, his group remains committed to working alongside the Kinjor community to ensure that relevant policymakers are actively engaged in addressing these issues and that justice is swiftly served for the victims.

Therefore, a STAND press conference will be called shortly to 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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