The Life Community Development Organization (LCDO), representing communities along the Marshall Road, from Boys Town to Kpan Town in Lower Margibi County, has told the Liberian government that they want the Indian community crematorium to no longer be used again.
LCDO’s spokesperson, Mr. Tibelrosa Summoh Tarponweh, told newsmen and women yesterday, that while they are pleased that the government listened to them and stop the cremation of Ebola victims at the Indian-owned crematorium located in their “backyard,” they, however, urged the government to also “disallow” the Indians to use “the crematorium for the same reasons the government was pressured to cease its cremating activities.”
“We believed then and now that the decision to undertake an unskilled mass cremation in our vicinity was wrong, sloppy and harmful; and hoped such a decision had come sooner to avoid painful experiences,” Tarponweh said, reading the community statement.
He admitted that when the Indians established the crematorium in the 1980s, it was deemed a logical site because the area was uninhabited. However, “Today, it stands in the middle of a thriving neighborhood, which makes occasional cremation even by the Indians an immoral act due to its closeness to occupied residential buildings.”
The community’s spokesperson recounted that on August 2, 2014, at about 8:30 p.m. “heavily armed soldiers invaded the usually quiet community. The invading force prevented residents from leaving and entering their homes, while others suffered physical mistreatment for disobeying what was called ‘Special Operations’. That fateful evening marked the beginning of nonstop cremation of confirmed and suspected Ebola corpses without consultation and awareness to those who live in the area.”
He stated that inasmuch as they are united against such “heartless treatment”, they, however, are supportive of all efforts toward eradicating the deadly Ebola virus from Liberia.
He expressed the community’s condolences to families of the victims; adding: “How can anyone who lives in this area ever forget the daily sight of mass parade of their fellow citizens being incompetently dumped and burned so close to them with smoke deriving from their burned remains saturating the air and homes? The psychological and environmental cruelty and its associated impact are indeed immeasurable.”
The community also recommended, through their spokesman, that the government initiates counseling services to members of the community, including a select few that were hired without proper guidance to perform such an abnormal task; and that a benefit package be organized for “grossly violating the community’s rights to live in a safe and healthy environment.”
The Indian Honorary Consul General to Liberia, Mr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva couldn’t be reached for comments as he is said to be out of the country and up to press time didn’t respond to an email from the Daily Observer.
However, the Deputy Head of the Incident Management System (IMS), which manages the nation’s Ebola situation, Mr. Dorbor Jallah, told this newspaper personally that some of the community’s requests “are doable.”
“Personally speaking, if I were the one making the decision on a site for monument, I would consider geographical location because this disease has affected the whole nation. I would also look at space because the memorial would be at a place where hundreds of Liberians would gather at certain point to pay their respect to their loved ones,” Mr. Jallah said.
On the Indians being disallowed to use the crematorium again, he urged the community residents to dialogue with the Indians, whom he described as being “good friends to Liberia.”
He called on the community to send their communication to the IMS, so they could send it to people, who are above the IMS in order for those higher-ups to provide solutions.