Buduburam Protests in the Media

Earlier today, I wrote about the BBC article entitled “Ghana to deport naked protesters”, which had this defamatory title and equally demeaning content – the facts simply did not correspond to the truth.

I wrote to the BBC, explaining that they were exhibiting a very poor quality of journalistic integrity, and sharing the information I had – to my surprise, they actually modified their report, and included a link to The Niapele Project in the new version. Here it is, for your enjoyment (too bad the link to the previous story is dead, it would have been interesting to compare)

Oh look what my trusty MS has found – you can compare the two stories here

Nonetheless, the news coverage of the situation continues to be highly disturbing – for some reason, the notion that the women were naked is taking root, and I’m seeing these kinds of titles creep up all over the internet:

Ghana to deport naked Liberian protesters”

Nude Liberians to be deported”

Liberians go naked – over $1000″

I plan on writing the editorial board of every media source spreading these terrible, disparaging comments. It’s unbearable to see how the media spin is completely turning the story around, and how little attention is given to the real claims made by the Liberian women.

We haven’t heard from our field coordinator today, probably because not much is really happening in the refugee camp at this point, with most of the attention focused on the fate of the hundreds of detained women and children facing imminent deportation….

We are talking innocent women and children, who have done nothing but peacefully protest and exercise their right to free speech. Granted, their protest is in breach of Ghanaian law – but, again, to send armed men to arrest a group of sleeping women seems completely and utterly over the top.

In the midst of all this, thankfully, a group has stepped up to the plate to advocate on behalf of the refugees – a coalition of human rights organization operating in Ghana (the Legal Resources Center and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative) is investigating the situation and calling out the Ghanaian government on their handling of the crisis, threatening to sue them. I’ve already written them to see how we can support their work, and if there is anything The Niapele Project and its supporters can do to help with the situation. Here is the full text of the article, from MyJoyOnline:

The Coalition of Human Rights Organizations says it will sue the government of Ghana if it fails to resort to the courts in dealing with the arrested Liberian Refugees.

The coalition slammed the government of Ghana for what it calls an “over reaction” to the protests of the refugees.

The coalition has formed an investigative team to look into the stand off between the refugees and the government.

The team comprises of people from the Legal Resources Centre and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

A fact finding team was dispatched to both the Buduburam camp and holding area for the over 600 arrested refugees in Kordeabe in the Eastern Region.

The team claimed its initial findings revealled that the rights of the refugees had been grossly violated by the Ghanaian government.

The Head of the Legal Resources Centre, Mr. Edward Amuzu who was part of the team told Joy News that the public was generally misinformed on the crisis.

He said the women had not striped themselves naked as had been reported in the media and that there were no road-blocks at the Buduburam camp.

Mr. Amuzu said the government’s handling of the crisis was embarrassing to the country.

According to him only a court of competent jurisdiction could determine whether the refugees should be repatriated.

The Country Representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Ms Hida Harley Mariam told the BBC that the UNHCR was concerned about the manner in which the crisis was being handled.

She said the Commission supported the government’s decision to ensure that the refugees respected the country’s laws.

It was however worried about any disproportionate action by the government.

I know that a lot of people are extremely concerned about the current situation. My pessimistic tendencies have resurged as this story is unfolding – my biggest concern is for the orphans and unaccompanied minors we work with… I wonder how authorities are planning to handle the deportation of orphans – it’s my deepest hope that they will not, and that refugees in Buduburam are given options to choose from.

Here is an email I just received from Karrus Hayes, founder and director of the Carolyn A. Miller School (the ONLY tuition free school for refugee children), with an update of the situation on camp:

Dear Pen,

Many greetings and many thanks again. I am ok really. The situation here, tension is slowing down but the problem still reamains is that those who were arrested are still been held by the government and will be deported this week.
I think we all have to continue to tell the world what is going on. Dee has been writing to so many NGOs about the situation and even wrote to the BBC to correct the misleading informatuion they had about NAKED PROTESTER no one was NAKED at all. They wrote back to say that they have made a changes on that.
All schools are still closed down. Camp being safe, well everything seem to be normal but police are still at the entrance of the main gate with their cars and maybe waiting for an order.
I hope this will end soon.


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