By Bettie Johnson Mbayo
Must Liberian journalists say ‘Yes’ to the Press Union-of Liberia statement issued yesterday on behalf of the Liberian journalist to the family [Zenu Miller‘s] who recently passed away? But let’s take it a little further, what if the Union had pressured the Government of Liberia to investigate fully the death of the journalist, and demanded that those who beat him up before his untimely death were probed, which in essence means bringing the culprits forward for prosecution if found liable? Why now? I am sure we don’t want to read the medical history of Zenu, but our point now should be who is next, Let’s take the case of Christopher C. Walker of the FrontPageAfrica who was also brutalized, was there an investigation or one pending, should we wait for his death also before the Press Union can issue a statement to his family?
What about the story and issue of Moses Kollie Garzeawu who was also manhandled, in violation of his constitutional rights? Many other journos have been brutalized by state securities and nothing has been done by the Press Union of Liberia or PUL, the umbrella organization that is supposed to seek journalists’ interests in Liberia. How many more must be dehumanized and denied their rights, How can we tackle this madness? The most regretful part is when the Center for the Protection of Journalists or the CPU is crying for Liberian journalists in its advocacy, that Liberian journalists need their rights protected in their own country, while the mother organization of these journalists, the Press Union of Liberia, cares less and remains silent on these critical issues of concerns that involves death and life to the reporters whose only duty is reporting the news.
The news that Zenu Miller reportedly died of ‘hypertension’- (Pressure), as stated by the Press Union in its release is not enough grounds for celebration—the medical practitioners don’t have to tell us that the brutality against Zenu also contributed to the ‘hypertension’ of his untimely death. The simple fact is that journalists are being muzzled and brutalized in an effort to silence them.
How can we tell the Press Union-of Liberia to avoid being toothless organization, How can we tell them, to #Standup for the persecuted Liberian #journalist, How can we tell the Press Union-of Liberia that no #journalists should be brutalized no matter the institution he/she works for or the editorial policies of the newsroom where his/her stories are being written. How Can we tell the Press Union-of Liberia that the Government of Liberia should not do an investigation on their own time and terms involving a #journalist, whose rights were also violated by the same government, but that the union should take charge of its responsibilities and advocate for media practitioners in this country? Liberian journalists demand the PUL have some balls” when they are needed to defend the interests of Liberian journalists who have been hounded in this country for many decades and continue to be harmed because powerful people don’t like the stories of journalists. Remember #Journalismisnotacrime. Let’s all demand action with this hashtag #investigate #ZenuMiller death!
The author, Bettie Johnson Mbayo, is a Liberian Journalist.
Main Photo: Liberian Journalist Zenu Miller who was brutalized by state security before he died