President George Weah’s maiden appearance at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) received not only commendations and a plethora of jubilation for ably presenting Liberia’s case but challenged with a series of protests.
A demonstration was staged by supporters of jailed Dr. Malachi Z. York, in an effort to claim President Weah’s attention at the level of the international scene to help free the “Liberian Citizen and Diplomat,” who they believe is serving an undeserved prison sentence at ADMAX Maximum prison center in Colorado, United States of America.
The Middle District Court of Georgia in the U.S. declared Dr. York guilty of “Conspiracy to Transport Minors in Interstate Commerce for Unlawful Sexual Activity; Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce for Unlawful Sexual Activity with Minors; and Conspiracy to Structure Cash Transactions to Evade Currency Transactions Reporting Requirements.”
York’s followers, however, believe that the U.S. government has no concrete evidence against their leader in all the accusations levied against him and, as such, are calling for his freedom from prison.
The group, under the banner “Help Free Dr. York,” marched to the Liberian Consulate Office in New York on Wednesday, September 26, and appealed to President Weah to engage the Government of the United States so as to set Dr. York free and later repatriate him to Liberia, reflecting that he is a Liberian citizen who was serving as a diplomat on behalf of the country when he was arrested and subsequently imprisoned in 2002.
More than 50 members of the Malachi York Foundation peacefully gathered, holding signs in support of Liberia, while requesting that Liberia repatriate Dr. York, a naturalized Liberian citizen and diplomat of Liberia, who has been incarcerated and allegedly tortured in the U.S. for the past 16 years.
“Dr. York became a naturalized citizen and diplomat in 1999. He was incarcerated in the U.S. in 2002. Since then, his citizenship and diplomatic status have been ignored. In 2004, the Republic of Liberia hired attorneys to repatriate Dr. York, but circumstances prevented efforts directed towards his freedom. The Liberian government received a diplomatic note from the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia, claiming that Dr. York is a U.S. citizen,” the spokesperson for the group, Huntwy Sanan Atum Rayay, said.
He added, “We are confident in the ability of President Weah to lead Liberia in the right direction. We are also confident that President Weah and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have more than enough information to repatriate Dr. York. We are looking forward to making an exodus to Liberia to help rebuild the country with Dr. York’s proceeds.”
The group carried placards with inscriptions that read: “Correct the Mistake, Repatriate Dr. York” and “Dr. York Foundation Supports Liberia,” among others.
Rayay said the membership of the Foundation consists of indigenous tribes, who have been influenced by great African leaders like Dr. York. He boasted of his tribe’s membership being over 30,000 worldwide.
The members, as video footage shows, were dressed in their traditional garbs and the demonstration lasted from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. without incident, the Daily Observer learnt.
Even though the government of President Weah is yet to take a decisive action that would determine the freedom or further stay in prison of Dr. York, Criminal Court “B” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia recently discovered and reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs all of Dr. York’s naturalization records.
The request of the Liberian Foreign Affairs Ministry was relative to claims by the U.S. that Dr. York is not a Liberian citizen and, as such, he cannot be freed and repatriated to Liberia.