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Friday, July 19, 2024

TRAGIC WORKPLACE ACCIDENT AT BEA MOUNTAIN’S GOLD PROCESSING PLANT IN GRAND CAPE MOUNT

Date:

GRAND CAPE MOUNT CO., LIBERIA – A tragic incident unfolded today at Bea Mountain’s Gold Processing Plant in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County, resulting in the severe injury of a Liberian worker. Varney Watson, who was employed as a daily hire worker, lost his entire arm on Saturday, June 8, 2024, during his shift at the plant.

The incident has drawn significant attention and concern from the community and beyond. Bea Mountain is currently in negotiations with Watson’s family, reportedly offering a compensation of US$20,000 for the life-altering injury he sustained. However, this proposed settlement has sparked outrage and calls for greater accountability.

Martin K. N. Kollie, a prominent advocate for workers’ rights and social justice, has been vocal in demanding that the government take decisive action against Bea Mountain. Kollie emphasized the broader issue of exploitation and mistreatment of local workers by foreign concessionaires operating in Liberia.

“Our gold, diamonds, iron ores, rubber, and other natural resources are not only being exploited by foreign concessionaires, but our people are being abused and violated on mines and plantations across Liberia. We encourage President Boakai to put an end to this,” Kollie stated passionately. “Which country in the world can a citizen of that country operate at a gold processing plant as a ‘daily hire worker’? Can this happen in Turkey? Varney is lying in severe pain at the John F. Kennedy hospital in Monrovia right now, and the company wants to hush this. Unacceptable!!!”

It is worth noting that Bea Mountain is already in a confrontational situation with the families of Essah Massaley and Abraham Kerkula, who tragically lost their lives during the protest on February 28 and 29, 2024. In a press statement released on Friday, April 26, Hon. Millias Z. Sheriff, Consultant/Liaison for the victims’ families, underscored their unwavering commitment to seeking closure and accountability. “It must be unequivocally clear that we will relentlessly pursue this case to its logical conclusion,” Sheriff stated. “As we seek justice, the families of the late Essah Massaley and Abraham Kerkula have engaged the services of a law firm and an International Consultant to provide expert guidance and direction during this critical period.”

On February 28 and 29, 2024, what began as a peaceful assembly of citizens and workers of the Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC) took a tragic turn. As guaranteed by Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution, individuals gathered to demand better working conditions, fair benefits, and a genuine commitment from the company to uphold its social corporate responsibility.

However, as recounted in the press statement, the demonstration turned deadly when the Liberian National Police (LNP), allegedly acting in the interests of the BMMC, brutally took the lives of three unarmed citizens: Essah Massaley, Abraham Kerkula, and another individual. These unarmed protestors were ruthlessly shot in their backs while attempting to escape the excessive use of force by the police.

According to the statement, the actions of the Liberia National Police (LNP) directly contravene Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which unequivocally asserts the right to life and safety for all individuals. “The use of lethal force against peaceful and unarmed demonstrators is condemned and represents a gross violation of basic human rights.”

Shockingly, the victims’ statement revealed that the investigation conducted by the Professional Standard Department of the Liberian National Police sought to justify the killings, claiming that the use of lethal force was necessary. However, this report is deeply flawed and biased, as it absolves the accused perpetrators—police officers who admitted to discharging their weapons—of any wrongdoing.

The community demands accountability and justice for the lives lost at the hands of those sworn to protect them. It is inconceivable that taxpayer-funded law enforcement officers would resort to such excessive and unjustified violence against unarmed civilians exercising their constitutional rights.

“In light of these egregious violations, there is a pressing need for an independent forensic investigation to uncover the truth behind the events of February 29, 2024. The families of the victims have enlisted legal counsel and international consultants to navigate this critical period and ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” the press statement emphasized.

Furthermore, the international community must heed this call for justice and intervene to provide independent investigators. The integrity of the Liberian National Police is called into question, and only through impartial scrutiny can the truth be revealed and justice served.

“As the families mourn their loved ones and seek closure, it is imperative that the Bea Mountain Facility be preserved as a crime scene until a panel of independent forensic criminal investigators can conduct a thorough examination.”

“The events in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County, serve as a stark reminder of the importance of upholding human rights and ensuring accountability for those in positions of power. As the pursuit of justice continues, the world watches, ready to stand in solidarity with the people of Liberia in their quest for truth and reconciliation,” the statement concluded.

This incident has put a spotlight on Bea Mountain’s operations and the broader issues surrounding foreign exploitation of Liberia’s natural resources and labor force, prompting a critical examination of corporate practices and governmental oversight in the country.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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