Twenty plus years ago when we bid farewell to military dictatorship, we thought then that we had completely gotten rid of the rule of the khaki clad strong man.
With seven successful elections under our belt, we mistakenly harbored a grossly misplaced notion that we had somewhat managed to keep authoritarianism at bay, away from our flirtation with democracy. Comforted by that thought we entrusted the stewardship of our nation into the hands of civilians and went into a deep slumber. However, two incidents of human rights abuses last week should jar us wide awake from our Rip Van Winkle hibernation.
The troubling events, the arrest of demonstrators at the Kawukudi Park in Nima, Accra and the inexplicable dismissal of an IT government worker for berating the NPP administration on his facebook page explicitly indicate that we are inching/drifting ever so closely towards absolute rule.
I harbor no bitterness towards our law enforcement agencies; they have a difficult job as it is, maintaining peace and keeping order, and battling the violent hordes of armed robbers and other criminals terrorizing Ghanaian citizens.
But to bust up a peaceful demonstration and then turn around and justify that line of action with laughable excuses is unfortunate, portrays the police in bad light and erodes public confidence in their ability to be tough but fair. If there was a counterdemonstration as the police would want us to believe, all they had to do to prevent an ugly confrontation was to form a human wall between the two protesting groups.
Arresting the pugnacious Bernard Mornah of the PNC and his assortment of friends was a a wrong tactical decision by the police and a blatant violation of their constitutionally protected right to publicly protest the shameful regime in neighboring Togo.
The dismissal of the poor IT clerk at the National Identification Authority for registering his dismay with the ruling NPP on a social media platform should raise eyebrows. Where is the outcry from the usual voices —- those so called civil society groups who were lighteningly quick to jump on former President Mahama on every arcane issue.
The lingering question on many enquiring minds is: did the dismissed worker’s alleged “crime” of berating the government warrant official action that has violated his right to employment and temporarily shut down his dreams of helping his country? The answer is a resounding NO.
Whatever happened to expressing an opinion, no matter how repugnant, on national issues in a free and democratic society such as ours? Of course, the government would deny charges that it is becoming all too powerful and intolerant of divergent views.
But the minister of Information did not help matters with his absurd but forceful assertion that the government has no qualms dismissing any public employee who dares to criticise it. Amazing isn’t. And we thought all was well with our democracy. No body is calling the NPP Jack booted thugs, but we are subconsciously entering dangerous territory here and every progressive Ghanaian should be alarmed by the events of last week.
Ghanaians may dismiss the two events as non consequential, so long as the brute show of force by the police and the wrongful dismissal of that hapless IT worker do not interrupt their daily lives. However, it is worth remembering that by electing to pay little or no attention to these human rights abuses, we are tacitly encouraging those who desire to stamp their authority on every aspect of our lives to become more transparent and bold in their deviousness.