Open letter to Peace Council Chair

Mon, 25 Jul 2016 Source: Kwesi Biney

Good day, His deferential Rt. Reverend Prof. Emmanuel Asante of the National Peace Council. I have been compelled, a lowly man that I am, to write this humble letter to your very high office, whose location now is not of much relevance to me, (I heard you say that you are perching) on matters of interest to me and I believe to so many others nationwide. That is the matter of PEACE for this nation. We all need it badly.

I must state however that this nation is becoming notorious for creating Peace Industries only during election periods as if we are about to cut our heads. As soon as elections are over, all other human rights abuses particularly those against the poor and the vulnerable are treated as if they do not exist.

I am personally not so happy about this attitude towards ensuring peace in our society. Sir, lasting peace for any society is based primarily on respect for individual rights and dignity, equality before the law and justice.

This letter to you personally is precipitated by a statement you made at a National Peace Forum held recently in Accra, to which all flag bearers of the various political parties were supposed to deliver speeches to the audience and by extension, to Ghanaians.

I did not have the opportunity of attending because I live in a certain village far away in the Western Region. I only had the privilege of listening to some of the speakers including you on Joy News (T.V). In all honesty, I was very disappointed in some of the statements you made.

Straight to the point, Sir, you were talking about peace and justice and went on to say or better still admonish those who preach or ask for justice in society to know that there must be peace before justice can be discussed or attained. You cited nations which are at war or have gone through civil strife and the effects of those wars on the people.

You made reference to what you see on Al Jazeera, which seems to be your favourite T.V channel and the gruesome atrocities meted out to fellow human beings as well as the horrible conditions of even the survivors of those wars or civil strife.

Surely, I also sometimes shed tears when I see some of these human disasters and do not wish them for our country or any other countries as it were. But have you bothered to find out the causes of these wars? Do the wars just begin out of the blues? Do we care about the injustices that are meted out by one group of people towards another group of people all of whom live in the same country and must and are entitled to equal treatment that dignifies human existence?

When people, no matter how insignificant their numbers might be, are subjected consistently to such degrading physical, emotional and psychological tortures, Sir, you do not expect them to forever remain silent in the name of PEACE.

Now you may listen to Nelson Mandela: “Defiance was a step of great political significance. It released strong social forces which affected thousands of our countrymen. It was an effective way of getting the masses to function politically; a powerful method of voicing our indignation against the reactionary policies of the government.”

Sir, I am sure when our brothers and sisters in South Africa in their days of struggling for equality, justice and respect as human beings, others were preaching peace in the midst of such pungent injustice. I will love to know your views on these matters as related to South Africa. Did you preach peace to the black South African at the time?

If the South Africans had resorted to your kind of peace to address the injustice they went through, would they have been free? I was amazed when you went on to refer to a certain young man in Kumasi who phoned in to say whatever and that he was only able to do that because of the peaceful environment he has.

Sir, there seems to be a narrow definition of peace in your view and many others in this country. Peace is not the absence of war, when young men well trained in schools of higher learning do not have jobs and have to depend on their poor parents many of whom might have lost their jobs, for the basic necessities of life, do you think they are at peace?

There can never be a more harrowing experience in life than to be pushed down the poverty ladder by a reckless group of leaders when you have all the abilities, capabilities and capacities to live a decent life to the glory of God and humanity.

That young man you made reference to may be unemployed, has no decent accommodation, can’t properly care for his children if he has any, he is not respected by society. If he dies today, he has nothing to lose. Yes, I agree with you that it is easy to destroy than to build, but why do you create the avenue that will engender destruction?

Sir, you and your Council are very much aware that every respected Civil Society Organisation in this country is talking about the unreasonableness of the electoral register for the 2016 general elections. The Supreme Court has said so too, the EC is so adamant and wants to do things according to its own dictates, damning the consequences.

Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante and his Peace Council have expressed deafening silence on this disrespectful and premeditated attitude of the EC with an unwritten intention to favour a particular political party in the coming elections.

While generally the EC is being asked to create a fair playing field for the elections, President Mahama keeps on asking Ghanaians to allow the EC to do its work simply because the way the EC is operating will favour him. I believe you and your office have not heard about the President’s support for the EC in spite of the clarion call for openness of the process. All you are interested in is peace even if others are being treated unfairly and justice is being turned upside down.

The security agencies are selective when it comes to punishing offenders and breakers of the law. NDC activists vandalize public property and inflict bodily pains and injuries to others, the security agencies turn a blind eye, if the same lawlessness is from the other side of the political divide, matters that can be dealt with by the Police are taken over by the BNI for obvious reasons.

Injustices by a section of the security agencies towards a certain group of people have become part of our daily lives. Your Council is silent for the sake of peace, I believe. And the affected must keep quiet for the sake of peace, according to you.

The open insults on the airwaves against certain particular political individuals with huge following go on every day, but the Council does not hear any of these let alone admonish the perpetrators of these evil. Let the affected threaten response, and the Peace Council will all of a sudden surface to take us through biblical injunctions.

Sir, it is worthy to note that governance in modern times is different from the governance of the biblical era. We are not in the era where ‘if you are slapped, turn the other cheek to be slapped as well’ pertains, we are not in the era when a wrong must be forgiven 77×7 times.

We are in an era of law and order, a period when offenders and breakers of the law must be dealt with according to prescribed laws and punishments. Even Churches are seeking justice in the courts of law from among themselves when they could have ‘given their matter to God’.

If your understanding of peace is that sufferers of injustice must whine and pine as they are mistreated and disrespected for the sake of peace, then in my view, there must not be peace. No Ghanaian, no matter how highly placed, is better than the other. JUSTICE BEGETS PEACE.

Thank you for reading this my humble letter. Good Day, Sir.

Columnist: Kwesi Biney