ASI 2006 Reports – Sierra Leone – Chernoh Alpha M. Bah

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Uhuru! I want to express appreciation on behalf of the Africanist Movement and the masses of African people in West Africa who I represent today.

The Africanist Movement is a mass organization that we established after returning from exile in Guinea following the so-called peace agreement that was signed between the current government and the RUF.

Since the establishment of the Africanist Movement, we have been able to organize young Africans into mass organization that is committed to overturning the conditions that we are faced with in Sierra Leone and other parts of West Africa where we have our forces.

We have members located in Sierra Leone, Guinea Conakry, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Liberia and various other places. We are currently opening up fronts Mali and Guinea Bissau and other places.

In November 2005, our movement signed an agreement to unite with the process led by the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) to build the African Socialist International (ASI). Our movement did that because we believe that the struggle we are involved with in Sierra Leone is part of the worldwide struggle for African Liberation.

There is not going to be a Sierra Leone solution to the problems that we are faced with. It has to be an African solution.

Since that time, we’ve been doing tremendous work toward the policy of building the African Socialist International. We’ve been using every opportunity we have to speak about the process of building the ASI.

We’ve held meetings in Guinea Conakry and Sierra Leone, and I’ve been speaking to the press quite often.

I’ve been coming to London. I was here in May, and I was also on a tour in the U.S.

The reason why we did this is because we know that we have to be a part of a single organization that is committed to fight against neocolonialism and imperialism, which are responsible for the miserable conditions that we face.

Coming from Sierra Leone, the contradictions that we are faced with are the same contradictions Africans are faced with in England and any other place that Africans find themselves. There is tremendous crisis because the resources that we have in that particular region are of interest to the various multinational corporations that are currently operating in that region.

I’m talking about diamonds, but diamonds are not the only resources that these various corporations are desperately competing for.

The conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia and the various other places in West Africa are consequences of the scramble among this group of nations for those resources.

Currently, we have identified about 90 multinational corporations tied to the British government, the United States government, Belgium and other European nations who are operating in Kono district alone. Kono is the richest diamond-mining region in West Africa.

These corporations include the British mercenary firm Branch Energy, which has a corporate relationship with Sandline International. Sandline International played a role in the restoration of the current neocolonial government that we have in Sierra Leone headed by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

Part of the agreement signed by Sandline International gave Branch Energy the largest mining concession in West Africa right now.

As a consequence of the activities of that mercenary corporation, over 1,000 families in Kono have been rendered homeless since 2000, and there is a struggle amongst the people in Kono to force these people off of their land. We’ve been working with a movement of workers in Kono that is called the Movement of Concerned Kono Youths to raise that campaign.

Not too long ago, secondary diamond alluvial deposits were found in the northern third of the country. That area covers the famous Yengema mines, the richest mining site in West Africa, and the newly discovered Conakry diamond fields in the Northwest of the country.

This is virgin territory that SLDC is mining. The British government has 50 percent shares in SLDC.

The government signed that agreement because they wanted to raise funds for the election campaign of the current vice president, Solomon Berewa, who the SLPP and the president is bent on making the next president after Kabbah leaves office in 2007.

“The British just sent in something like 1,900 troops for what they call Operation Green Eagle. Operation Green Eagle is a counterinsurgency program in which they are training the Sierra Leonian army to prepare for any kind of insurgency. ”

The election was supposed to happen in February of 2007, but, contrary to the constitution, the president prolonged his mandate in order to raise the resources to carry out the campaign. The election has been postponed until July.

Since 2000, the British government has maintained a military base in Freetown. Initially, they had 2,000 British troops who were in charge of training the Sierra Leone army and structuring what they call the defensive restructuring program so they can be in control of the army.

The British just sent in something like 1,900 troops for what they call Operation Green Eagle. Operation Green Eagle is a counterinsurgency program in which they are training the Sierra Leonian army to prepare for any kind of insurgency.

They did this because it was a recommendation that came out of a meeting that was held between the current U.S. ambassador in Freetown, the British high commissioner to Sierra Leone and the UN representative to Liberia. They met in Freetown and said that Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are serving as a breeding ground for leftist, subversive movements — basically indicating us.

So they have identified our movement and its leadership. They know that we have been organizing the people to fight for self-determination.

The Africanist Movement wanted to send six delegates, but unfortunately they could not be here because of the visa restrictions that the British imposed.

Even when I was coming here they took my passport. They spent two or three hours looking at the passport.

This was the second time they did this. The first time in March, they told me I was traveling too much.

Last November we estimated our forces to be around 70,000 members, but I’m sure that by the time we come to the next Africanist Movement Leadership Conference, we will have a membership that is close to 100,000 or more. We now have a movement that is more than the neocolonial armies of Sierra Leone and Liberia combined.

In our November conference in Guinea, we will discuss strategies on how to take on campaigns to make the British and these multinational corporations that are operating in Kono leave immediately and pay reparations to the affected landowners.

We held a reparations conference where the organizations in Kono who are struggling with these corporations have expressed the determination to be part of the process to build the International Tribunal on Reparations for Afrikan People.

We need to go into action. We cannot continue to allow mercenary corporations like Branch Energy and SLDC to continue to loot the resources that we have in Sierra Leone and subject our people to misery.

We have no future under this situation. The life expectancy is 37 years. People do not have access to electricity, no water supply, no good roads while the resources are leaving Sierra Leone and going to various other places.

The elections that are coming will be contested by three major parties in the country. The Sierra Leone People’s Party has been ruling since 1996. The people are fed up with the party, but the party is determined to hold onto power.

That’s why they have been giving mining concessions to corporations that will help them to hold onto power. That’s why they ensured that the British have a military base in Freetown. That is why they have made it necessary for the U.S. government to have an FBI office in Freetown that is currently functioning.

The opposition parties are made up of people who at one point in time were members of the same party but got fed up because they didn’t think their interests could be guaranteed as members of the party that’s in power.

The Africanist Movement is the only organization in the country that is not committed to that process. It is the only independent organization that is developing among the masses.

We want change, and we want action. We need to transform the conditions of the people.

Smash Neocolonialism!

Smash Imperialism!

Uhuru!

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