Citizens’ Patriotic Role vs. the Liberian Government’s Responsibilities to Its Citizens:

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Following the trend of recent events relative to the four Liberians who were shot in Turkey vis-à-vis the Liberian Government’s responsibilities to its citizens, I have personally drawn two key impressions from this particular scenario.

First and foremost, the situation is one that clearly shows how love and concern among fellow countrymen may have grown to another level as exhibited by the mounting concerns Liberians have been showing since the ugly shooting scenario took place. Of course, the obvious condemnations have been going along with it; condemnations in two-fold of citizens condemning national government for “doing little or nothing” and the condemnation on the other front that many are quickly politicizing the situation “unnecessarily at the deliberate ignoring of the government’s efforts”.

Whether some have been politicizing the situation for their own unusual political game or just understandably showing love and concern for their compatriots facing such a difficult situation in a faraway country, Liberians have in a united front shown patriotism in urging the government to show love for their injured brothers and sisters in a foreign land.

But I have also gathered, on the other hand, that the Government which is usually caught in the midst of many priorities has been swift in responding to the needs of its trapped and ailing citizens. Not only that, the Government’s immediate quest of seeking justice for the four Liberians  and providing care and other efforts have shown how the Government can still go extra miles in responding to such emergency needs for its citizens.

The four Liberians — Bemore N. Toe, Patience Roberts, Deddeh Simmonds and Blessing Vinton — were shot by an unknown gunman at a coffee shop located in Sisli Mecediyeko around the Trump Tower in Istanbul in Turkey.

Laudable in what some may call a rigmarole situation are Liberians’ concern for their brothers and sisters equally being matched with the government’s instant response and intervention that are now bringing relief to the seriously wounded Liberians.

The Government, through the Foreign Ministry, immediately demanded an explanation and inquiry from the Turkish authorities about the shooting of its citizens. Fortunately, the Turkish Government through its Foreign Minister, Professor Dr. Ahmet Daavutoglu, via a telephone conversation with Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan responded sharply with assurances of doing so.

Still not complacent with that, the Liberian Government moved on to dispatching a veteran ambassador, Senior Ambassador-At-Large Marcus Koffa to Turkey. Additionally, the Government’s full sponsorship of a family member of the victims to Istanbul further demonstrated its overwhelming determination in seeking the welfare of its troubled citizens in Turkey.

Now with reports emulating from Turkey via Ambassador Koffa that the relevant Turkish authorities (the Turkish Ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs and Health) are collaborating on resolving the issue, Liberians at home and everywhere have all reasons to be rest assured that our compatriots’ medical predicament and welfare are being remedied while justice is knocking on the door of whoever the perpetrator is.

In spite of it all, bilateral relations between the pair continue to improve. In fact, Turkish-Liberian relations have even heightened as that European-Asian nation continues its firm relations with Liberia.  For instance, the fruit of a sidelined discussion during the last African Union (AU) Summit between them will soon be reaped when Foreign Minister Ngafuan honors an invitation from his Turkish counterpart, Professor Dr. Davutoglu to visit Turkey at which time detailed information on the methodology and procedures for successfully accessing a US$200 million annual Turkish grant for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) will be concluded. With that fund, Liberia will be able to finance technical cooperation projects and human capital development through scholarships while other pertinent bilateral issues will be discussed.

In all honesty, it is also important to note here that this identical situation has proved how our government can be sensitive to the plight of its citizens in the midst of so much to do. And while it is true that it would be unfair to characterize as fortunate the attention being shown the victimized Liberians because they have the constitutional rights to be protected by their government, it is also worth mentioning here how many Liberians in the Diaspora have been engulfed with similar and probably worst situations than the one the Turkey-based Liberians just experienced.

Liberians, who are scattered in all corners of the globe due to the civil war, have continued to encounter problems of all sorts in their respective countries of refugee or survival. Such ranges from immigration to social and economic problems. The most frequent among them were the repeated run-ins of Liberian refugees with their respective host countries, noticeable among them being with Ghanaian authorities in Ghana on several occasions that sometimes resulted into deaths. Condemnations against Government ran parallel to these incidents. In other parts of the world, like the United States where thousands of Liberians reside, Liberians there are either shot in cross-fire incidences while in other Asian nations like Malaysia and Thailand, there are reported news of the ill-treatment of Liberians aside from the reported news of their alleged illegal activities that may result into some of these incidences.

The above speaks to Government’s huge challenge of protecting its citizens outside of the country. The absence of Liberian diplomatic missions or consulates in most of these countries as a result of financial constraints and constant budgetary shortfalls, and the refusal of unsettled and immigration-weighted Liberians in the Diaspora in spite of calls to return home “if you are not doing well” in whatever country will continue to be burdens for the government’s efforts to adequately cater to its citizens outside Liberia.

For instance, even in the midst of their troubles, the four shot Liberians in Turkey are demanding to be treated in a “third country” outside Turkey, even though the Turkish government has agreed to help them medically and seek justice. That is according to the Liberian dispatched envoy there.

With these said, I think if Liberians would continue to show more concerns for our compatriots (here and outside the country) more constructively void of the unusual politics that would warrant government’s prompt response and interventions even in the midst of all of its challenges, we would be stepping our patriotism to another level. Thanks to those who kept the pressure on but a million thanks to the government for swift intervention while even heightening Liberian-Turkish relations.  

About the Author: Nat Bayjay is a Media Consultant/Communication specialist. Doubling as a PUL Best Investigative & Best Environmental Journalist in 2011, Bayjay uses his journalistic profession to always highlight issues in the country including political, economical and socio issues through in-depth articles and news analyses.

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