Justice Forum Liberia Calls For Disabled Citizens’ Sustained Rights
The Executive Director of Justice Forum Liberia, Maxson Kpakio, has called on the Government of Liberia (GOL) to give citizens with disability sustained full rights in every government position, and has rejected the December 2020 referendum due to government’s poor timeliness to educate its citizens.
Justice Forum Liberia Executive Director Kpakio made the disclosure on the Du-Port Road, Sunday, October 18, 2020 when the Intellectual Class of Paynesville (ICP) invited him to speak on happenings in the Liberian society.
He quoted Desmond Tutu as saying, “If you are neutral in situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelmed the world.”
He quizzed the audience, “Have you seen a disabled legislator in a wheel chair in the House of Parliament?” “No”, the audience replied. He added that intellectuals should asked why for time in memorial there has been no disabled lawmaker in the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate.
He lamented that the Capitol Building was constructed for every Liberian to work, regardless of their physical appearance, but it has become a breeding ground for discrimination, disregarding disabled citizens in terms of becoming legislators. He added that apart from disabled citizens being lawmakers, staffers for the physically fit lawmakers are not disabled.
He stated that in the United Kingdom, where he resides, there are disabled legislators who sit in wheelchairs and use crutches in parliament, which is “forbidden” in Liberia. He further said that the Capitol Building has stairs, which is a clear indication of discrimination—“We are for you but not for this building.” He noted that politicians value the disabled community votes during electioneering period, but do not advocate for their seat in the Capitol Building.
In a nationalistic tone, he called on the government to make room for the disabled citizens to have sustained working rights in every government ministry and agency in order to fulfill the organic law of Liberia, which says, “Every Liberian should have the right to employment.” He disclosed that the Justice Forum Liberia has rejected the pending December 8, 2020 referendum because government has failed massively to educate the citizens about the referendum. He added that Liberians’ focus are on the senatorial election and not referendum because no publicity has been made by government in terms of merit and demerit.
In a patriotic tone, he graded the youthful population, saying they lack vision, look for what they want for today and not what they want for tomorrow to benefit them, their community, children and Liberia. As a result, he observed that the youths, who turned intellectuals, are killing the nation slowly because they are not vision-minded; rather, settle down for little thing.
He bemoaned that intellectuals advocate for those who are voiceless in the society, noting that some intellectuals are praise singers for regime, politicians, financiers, philanthropists and failed to defense the downtrodden masses because they are not financially equipped to hired them.
“You are intellectuals to be the voice of the suppressed and oppressed in your community and nation. When you are passing by in the community as an intellectual and hear family members crying because someone has raped their little daughter, you must go there immediately to get the detail and amplify their voices in order for them to get justice. It is intellectuals’ role. You amplify their voices to national government and others for justice by radio, press release, newspaper, and so on. Liberian children’s future lie in the hand of intellectuals,” Justice Forum Liberia’s Executive Director intoned.
He defined the role of intellectuals: they should be informative about happenings in the society, be honest to themselves, the institution they represent, the community, country, and stand up for the rights of others. He observed that in every human society everyone could not speak about their right but depend on intellectuals to do so.
He challenged intellectuals not to accept information from one source and dwell on it; rather, do proper investigation before taking it to the public glare. He added that intellectuals are responsible people and not money driven—to be tempted by anyone to trade their integrity for a little amount.
“Intellectuals, stop defending people falsely; by doing so, you are trading your children’s future just for a little amount, which is on rampage in Liberia. I do not have many friends in Liberia because of the work I do; I am not afraid to tell anybody the truth. Since we lost about four significant citizens, we are yet to get justice for them. I should guide Liberian children’s future, and that is why I am advocating, and will not stop. Intellectuals should not be embracers of political parties, politicians or activities,” he noted.
He frowned on government and the Education Ministry for their failure to recognize two books he wrote to have impact on Liberian children.