Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a joint press statement on Tuesday 28th November 2023, a group of civil society organisations described the security breach on Sunday as an attack on the country’s civil space.
“We view the violent incidents listed above, especially the latest attack of November 26th, as an attack on civic space and an attempt to roll back the gains we have made as a country since the end of the civil war in 2002.”
They are appalled by the violent attack on and access to the armoury at the Wilberforce Military Barack as well as the breach of the maximum security correctional centre by the assailants, resulting in the escape of thousands of prisoners.
“We deeply regret the death of men and women in uniform who stood firm to defend the State from a totally senseless attack.”
Among the CSOs are the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, the Institute for Governance Reform, 50/ 50 Group, and Amnesty International which went ahead and highlighted a series of violent incidents within the last four to five years among which are
the attempted prison break on 30th April 2020, resulting in the loss of many lives, such an unfortunate incident coincided with riots in Makeni, Lusar, Tombo and the Lungi Airport community on the same day.
The violent protest on August 10, 2022, which occurred at almost the same locations
as the 30th of April 2020 incident and on the same day;
“Finally, the event on Sunday 26, 2023 added to fears that individuals or groups have embraced violence and intolerance as a major strategy to achieve unknown agendas. Whatever motives and grudges those behind this chain of incidents may have, we unequivocally condemn acts of violence, especially the incident of 26th November 2023 and that these completely senseless and unfortunate attacks can only undermine our peace and efforts to address the country’s development aspirations.”
“As Sierra Leoneans, we cannot be neutral when civic space and the peace of our country are under threat. We, therefore, remain resolute in our resolve
to live in a democratic society, despite its imperfections.
They called on all Sierra Leoneans to remain resolute in their demonstrated preference for democracy and the rule of law and continue to pursue peaceful channels to address any
grievances or complaints against the Government or any interest group.
“We urge the government to use the resources at its disposal to expeditiously investigate the chain of incidences of violence in Sierra Leone and put a sustainable closure
to the continued threats to our peace.”
They went ahead to caution citizens to remain peaceful and support ongoing efforts to clamp down on those who attempted on 26th November to plunge our country into chaos. MJB/28/11/2023