In recent days, the people of Sierra Leone have made their voices heard across the world. They are frustrated and struggling under the difficult economic circumstances of their country, where inflation, fuel prices, and the cost of basic commodities continue to rise and youth unemployment remains high.
As a Pan-African movement for justice, peace and dignity, Africans Rising stands in solidarity with the people of Sierra Leone and encourages them to make peaceful protest their tool for change during these difficult times. Non-violent action can be a powerful tool for change, and we encourage those willing to make their demands heard to refrain from violence and think of innovative and collective ways they can peacefully call for justice.
In light of reports of damage and death after the August 10 protests, we are concerned for the lives and well-being of Sierra Leoneans. Dozens of people have been reported dead and lethal force by police against protestors has been confirmed. This is a painful reality and we send our condolences to the families of those who were lost to violence. We also encourage the country’s security forces to honor life and the civic rights to assembly and freedom of expression at this time.
After a recent convening we held in Freetown last month, we know that our members and other activists in the country are committed to peace and are focused on building solidarity and strong civic networks to promote democracy and good governance. This is the spirit and the energy the country needs to bring a better and brighter future to its people.
While President Julius Maada Bio has vowed to investigate the protests, we urge his excellency and his administration to go further and address the root cause – How can the country’s leaders ease the hardship experienced by the people who call Sierra Leone their home? How can they improve the government’s support and accountability to citizens? We call on all authorities, politicians and decision makers in the country to lend their ears and their hearts to the cries of Sierra Leoneans. May their voices be heard and may their lives be protected.
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