Abdulai Bayraytay, a spokesman for the government of Sierra Leone has refuted rumors that the detained radio journalist David Tam Baryoh has been released in Freetown.
David Tam Baryoh who has recently been very critical of some of the actions of the government was picked up a few days ago and locked up in the country's maximum security prison Pademba with notorious criminals he helped to apprehend.
The Sierra Leone Association of journalists (SLAJ) has been critical of the detention of David Tam Baryoh and expressed fears over the condition of his health. David Tam Baryoh is described as being hypertensive and those who saw him at the Pademba Road detention facility when he was arrested described him as looking visibly sick, constantly clutching at his knees in apparent pain. There are reports in the British Guardian that he was allegedly beaten up upon his arrest.
Government spokesman Bayraytay, speaking this morning on Radio Democracy in Freetown, stated that Tam Baryoh's detention stemmed from a direct executive order signed by President Koroma under the public state of emergency regulations recently approved by the country's parliament which is dominated by his political allies. The public emergency regulations, according to the spokesman, gave the President broad powers to control any activity seen as undermining the fight against Ebola in the country.
|David Tam Baryoh|
When pressed as to why David Tam Baryoh had been arrested under the public state of emergency, Bayraytay replied that Tam Baryoh had been arrested for incitement. When prodded further as to what actually the incitement was that had caused the journalist to be arrested by an executive order, the government's very eloquent statesman stated that the police was still investigating the nature of the incitement.
Even when the journalists interviewing the smooth talking Bayraytay asked him why the journalist could not stay at home while the investigations into his alleged incitement were being conducted, he just kept on repeating the incitement allegation over and over and could provide no substance, but kept making reference to how the President now has emergency powers to arrest to control Ebola.
Bayraytay further made the totally ridiculous and completely absurd statement that in America somebody who had threatened the President was arrested. He however could not tell how David Tam Baryoh had threatened the President.
Listening to Abdulai Bayraytay's totally lame defense of the arrest of David Tam Baryoh made me sick to my stomach this morning. These were the same people who when in university at Fourah Bay College had been so vocal about human rights and generally behaved as if they were the next set of Mandelas.
Abdulai Bayraytay in Fourah Bay College was always one of those at the forefront of complaints against all forms of government excesses. He always had the latest quotations from the leading human rights advocates around the world. That this same person would now, just because he happened to be near power, argue in favor of the same human rights violations he had condemned so vigorously in university was pretty appalling. This was hypocrisy at its peak. Our revolutionaries have now become the spokesmen for our tyrants.
|Malicious Sylvia Blyden rejoicing|
How can you arrest a respected journalists and lock him up in a maximum security facility on charges of incitement you are yet to investigate? Does Bayraytay think that everybody in Sierra Leone is a moron or is he just appealing to the President's illiterate supporters in the country or those who are now so blinded by party politics that they no longer see wrong as long as it is committed in the name of APC.
Bayraytay spent the whole time talking about Sierra Leone being one of the country's respected for press freedom. Respected by whom? The few journalists in the country who are not under government employ to print propaganda are routinely harassed and even attacked with not even a statement from the government. Were journalists not recently incarcerated just for using the metaphor of a rat to describe the politics of the President? Give me a break about respect for press freedom.
It should be the responsibility of decent people in Sierra Leone to call for the release of David Tam Baryoh. Though he is a very controversial figure and an opportunist, he is a citizen of Sierra Leone and that is all that matters. For people like Sylvia Blyden who are rejoicing because her enemy is in power. I have only one thing to tell her. If you don't fight Ebola when it is killing your enemy, don't be surprised when you become the next person infected.