Liberia: Prof. Alaric Tokpah Describes Forceful Dispersal of Protestors as ‘Dangerous Dictatorship’ – Front Page Africa

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Prof. Tokpah named the inhumane treatment of peaceful protesters, corruption and instigation electoral violence by the Government as some of the negative vices are posing serious threats to Liberia’s high earned peace

Monrovia – In the wake of recent Police’s clampdown on peaceful protesters at the Capitol, a veteran Liberian Political scientist and prominent figure of Pan Africanism, Professor Alaric Tokpa, has branded the Government of George Weah as a “dangerous dictatorship that is killing democracy.”

Speaking at the dedication of the One People Revolutionary Movement’s national headquarters Friday in Paynesville, Prof. Tokpa said under the Weah’s Government, peace has become negative and elusive because vices that once led to Liberia’s brutal civil war have now resurfaced at an increasingly alarming rate.

He named the inhumane treatment of peaceful protesters, corruption and instigation electoral violence by the Government as some of the negative vices are posing serious threats to Liberia’s high earned peace.

The One People Revolutionary Movement (OPRM), according to its founders, is a Liberian based nonviolent revolutionary organization with philosophy deeply rooted in pan-Africanism and democratic-socialism. 

OPRM is founded by Moncio Robert Kpadeh and comprises of young men and women.

Addressing the members, Prof. Tokpa emphasized that they should be willing to make selfless sacrifices in order to succeed in their advocacy for good governance and social justice.  

“You have chosen to struggle under a dangerous dictatorship that is killing democracy. You have not signed a contract with the Liberian people to struggle. So, they are not obligated to you. You decided to struggle on your own volition. It is required, therefore, that you be willing to make a selfless sacrifice to succeed in your struggle,” he said.

Referencing the forceful removal of the January 6 peaceful protesters with water cannon and teargas from the protest grounds on Capitol Hill and series of violence that rocked the 2018 and 2019 by-elections in Montserrado, Prof. Tokpa questioned whether is possible to conduct a peaceful struggle under a brutal dictatorship?

“You have appeared at a time when peace is negative and elusive because the same conditions that existed which made war possible in Liberia have appeared and indeed, at an increasing alarming rate,” he averred.

“You have decided to struggle under a dictatorship that is brutalizing poor people with impunity. The question is this: Could nonviolent constitute a correct measure of struggle because it seems to me that bearing the brunt of war, coming out of the war, we have decided that we want peace, and not war, our children and grandchildren have decided.

Prof. Tokpa, a former lecturer and Chairman of the Department of Political Science at the State-run University of Liberia was a key figure of the progressive movement that began in the 1970s up to the ‘80s.

He served as a member of the Movement of Justice in Africa (MOJA), a Pan Africanist pressure group that advocated for social change in Liberia and other parts of Africa.

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As a staunch critic of the military regime headed by late President Samuel K. Doe, he and several of his colleagues were handed an indefinite prison sentence that was characterized by hard labor at the infamous Belle Yella Prison in the mid-’80s.

Narrating his lifelong experience as a revolutionary that began at a tender age, the former Secretary of the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU), inspired the OPRM members to keep up their struggles.

He said Liberia is a pan Africanist country and the duty of the young generation is to take their place in the frontline of the pan African struggle.

“You have chosen to struggle under a dangerous dictatorship that is killing democracy. You have not signed a contract with the Liberian people to struggle. So, they are not obligated to you. You decided to struggle on your own volition. It is required, therefore, that you be willing to make a selfless sacrifice to succeed in your struggle.”

– Prof. Alaric Tokpah

The technicality of our legal system, he said, is subordinating others to injustice. “So if you decide to join our ranks in the revolutionary struggle for the transformation of Liberia, you have work to do. You have decided to plant a revolutionary movement. Revolution is about fundamental change, and there is no society anywhere in the world that has experienced genuine change without revolutionary ideas or revolutionary movements.”

He further admonished them to be genuine in their advocacy and not to pretend to be who they are not.

He strikingly said: “Jesus Christ advised his disciples to turn the other cheek around, you are not a Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to die, he planned to die, he decided to die, and in the power of his resurrection because he was a son of God and God himself, he conquered death and the fear of death.” Never pretend that becoming like Jesus Christ is very possible. As radical Christians we strive to be like him, the more we try, the more we better ourselves but I must say by turning the other cheek around, is not my advice to you.” 

He continued mid laughter and applause: “So, even if Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior was alive today on Earth and advise me in Liberia, after all that we have gone through to turn the other cheek around, I will disagree respectfully and will say, Mr. Jesus Christ in this circumstances, it is dangerous.”

A call for War & Economic Crimes Court

Meanwhile, touching on the debate of the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia, Prof. Tokpa noted that dictators and criminals must be made to appreciate the consequences of their actions, hence the court is needed in Liberia now.

Recounting the heinous crimes and atrocities committed in Liberia before, during and after the war, he said only in Liberia these things happened and nothing has been done about them. 

In what country can you continuous attack on peaceful protesters and expect the society to be at peace? In what country can you kill more than 250,000 people and refused to allow war crimes tribunal and the economic crimes court? So, I stand here today to amplify the demand for a war crimes court in Liberia and to amplify the demand for an economic crime court in Liberia. This is the only way that our children and grandchildren will live better lives and live in peace,” he declared.

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