Gbowee Foundation supports assault victim

The assault on Miss Glain has been widely condemned

The assault on Miss Glain has been widely condemned

An alleged assault on a young Liberian lady by a presidential bodyguard has claimed the attention of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (GPFA) with the foundation saying that its major concern is the well-being of the victim and the provision of legal representation for her as she undergoes medical treatment.

GPFA’s Executive Director Mrs. Williametta Saydee-Tarr said the paramount concern right now is Esther Glain’s health and security.

GPFA has secured medical care for her at an undisclosed local hospital to ensure that she gets proper treatment after she was allegedly flogged recently by the now sacked Deputy Director of the Executive Protection Service (EPS) Darlington George. 

According to Mrs. Tarr, at the time of this interview, since the episode, not a single government entity catering to women’s protection had reached out to the victim to ensure that she gets medical attention: not the gender ministry, not any SGBV Agencies or the Women & Children Protection Division at the Liberian National Police.

She said the victim was unable to get surgical procedure within 24 hours after the violent assault, thus causing damage to the cells within the wound, making it impossible for her to get stitches. As a result the wound spot will remain on her face for the rest of her life.

Mrs Tarr frowned on the Government of Liberia for not reaching out to Miss Glain who was victimized by one of its employees, and especially the Ministry of Justice for not doing anything to apprehend the former Deputy Director of the Executive Protection Service (EPS) Darlington George until late Wednesday night. 

It was reported that the alleged perpetrator George had been seen on one of the streets of the Liberian capital, Monrovia on that day and had to run for cover after angry youths pursued him that evening, chanting “We want justice! We want justice!”

On that same night, Nobel lauraete Leymah Gbowee, in an interview with a local radio station, stated that she felt that George’s dismissal was for his own protection. 

GPFA Executive Director Tarr

GPFA Executive Director Tarr

Said Madam Gbowee: “Most times when people are acting it’s […] most times people want to act behind the scenes. I just want to make it emphatically clear that the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, especially my office as the president and a life-long women’s rights advocate, is in the full front of the Esther Glain case. We will use whatever resources […] at our disposal to ensure that justice is served. You know over the last few years, a lot of abuses –  police brutality, human rights violations – and this government, sometimes people shy away from speaking because of the perceived international favor  that the government has; and I think in these last months leading to a new government coming into office, we shouldn’t let it slide.

“It’s time for all of us Liberians – those who have been silent and those of us who have been vocal, to become even more vocal about some of these things. The one thing that is really upsetting to me beyond the brutality that was meted, is the hypocrisy around […] it is the hypocrisy around the apparent dismissal of Mr. Darlington George. 

“I think and the government including the President of Liberia understands that you can’t just fire someone as a protective thing – you can’t do that –   that’s a protective action. So we fired him, your see we fired him – what about the human rights violation?” She asked, adding, “Fire him then everybody says yeah the President now do something! That’s a political protective move and for me it is not enough…Why is Mr. George still sleeping in his bed? Why is he still driving his car and passing around when someone’s child is in pain?… I think it’s time for President Sirleaf to stand up, step up and say whether she’s really a women’s’ rights activist or advocate like the world perceives her to be.  I think it’s time for her to stand up”

A statement to which Mrs Tarr concurred, as, according to her, the important aspect of this unwarranted attack, this action of gender-based violence, meted out by a government official on a poor young lady was not attended to in a timely manner.  For her, the next step should have been for the Justice Ministry to act with urgency, especially in the face of a government official deciding to abuse his power of authority and himself violently harm and attack, and give orders to a subordinate to further injure and wound a helpless female. 

“It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Justice refused to act until Wednesday night, only after this preptrator barely escaped mob-justice and after Madam Gbowee vowed to push for justice for the victim.  It was only then – 82 plus hours after the incident, that MoJ decided to make a face saving move and finally have the perpetrator, quote-unquote arrested, late that night,” Mrs Tarr pointed out.

On Thursday Glain was invited to the Liberia National Police to give her account of the incident. The Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, along with Ethe victim’s legal representatives and the women of WIPNET (West Africa Women in Peace Building) escorted her to the LNP office. 

A concerned citizen present at police headquarters that day revealed on the basis of anonymity, that they saw Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods with the victim and overheard that he is a part of a team of human rights lawyers who have committed themselves to follow through with this case.  

Some of the women who escorted the victim expressed disgust at the fact that Mr. George was seen moving around the police station uninhibited, given star treatment and not treated like a perpetrator who was being held to give a statement in a criminal case. He was moving around like a free man within the Liberia National Police headquarters, which was totally unacceptable.

According to a family member, the victim is undergoing serious mental distress as she has been receiving threatening messages.  She is not feeling safe because of the lack of care for her safety shown by the government and its slow action in bringing Mr. George to justice.

Peter N. Toby