By Musa Sesay In Melbourne, Victoria
Publish July 21st ,2021
The vast majority of Sierra Leoneans are not really enjoying the true meaning of the word “Democracy” under the leadership of the retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio whose administration has continued to abuse and deprive the rights and freedoms of its citizens.
Where Democracy is well-practiced it enriches the lives of citizens because political freedom is also part of human freedom and exercising civil and political rights is also a crucial part of good living as social beings.
The unlawful arrest and subsequent imprisonment of Mohamed Magba Mansaray in Bo city, following a recorded video wherein he made objective analyses on the works between the former and present government was a clear violation of his rights and freedom of speech. That action was naturally, not only meant to silence him but also a strict warning signal to the other suffering Sierra Leoneans who would likely want to voice out their opinion on several burning issues that have to do with very survival.
The Bio- led government has deliberately ignored the fact that political and social participation is very much significant in one’s life and therefore denying or stopping someone from taking part in that political life is a major deprivation. Democracy goes with its challenges and complex demands, which are not just limited to voting and respect for election results, rather it also requires the protection of liberties and freedoms, respect for legal entitlements, and the guaranteeing of free discussion and uncensored distribution of news and fair comments.
Unfortunately, President Bio is effectively using the courts and the police including the power of the presidency to suppress, harass, intimidate and jail decent people for merely expressing their views in public and private gatherings. However, to many people that have known him over the years, it is no disappointment.
This brings us again to the oppression, intimidation, and arrest of opposition members. The editor of the opposition mouthpiece outlet, The We Yone Newspaper, Connilaues Deveaux is still in exile after he was declared wanted by the police. The arrest and subsequent detention of Slyvia Blyden for over 40 days and the random search of her house are all actions of a dictatorial government. The heartless SLPP government also arrested young politician, Sheriffu Carew who later died after his release from police cells, asking the pertinent questions as to whether Sierra Leone is fit for democracy or it has to become fit through democracy?
All over the world, democracy is a demanding system, and not just a condition. The response of any government to the acute sufferings of its people often depends on the pressure that is put on it by the people.
There is growing anger and frustration amongst Sierra Leoneans due to the fact that they are existing without the basic necessities of life, which are food, electricity, shelter, and education. People need a political voice. The idea that poor people are only interested and have reason to be interested in bread and butter, not in democracy is not something realistic.
The cost of a bag of rice and other consumable items is soaring to an alarming rate as a result most Sierra Leoneans are going to bed without food. Simply because they cannot afford the huge sums required to prepare a meal.
In addition to their frustration is when the police are also serving as a stumbling block each time they plan to stage peaceful protests. Disappointedly so, the police who should provide security for would-be protesters, have instead operated according to the mood of the government by issuing unnecessary press statements and warnings against any form of protest.
This government has failed to realize that suppression of political and civil rights is not really beneficial to the peace, unity, and economic development of the country.
Freedom of expression and discussion is not only pivotal in bringing about the needed social responses to economic needs, but are also key to the conceptualization of economic needs.