Sierra Leone Teacher Activists Arrested for Demanding ‘Living Wages’

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | FREETOWN (IDN) — Schoolteachers in Sierra Leone say they’ve had enough after the arrest of Mohamed Salieu Khan, interim chair of the Teachers Solidarity Movement (TSM). On April 26, he was grabbed by police outside the popular AYV TV station after speaking about the dismal plight of schoolteachers and their unequal conditions of service.

Two other TSM leaders were subsequently arrested despite President Bio’s claim to have expunged a law that hinders free speech.

Members of the Teachers Solidarity Movement in Bo, southern Sierra Leone, said they were seeking “living wages”, harmonization of salaries in the civil/public service, and improved employment conditions for all public sector workers in Sierra Leone.

In an open letter dated April 21, the teachers group cited “the perennial hardship that political leaders from the Sierra Leone People’s Party and the All Peoples Congress, the country’s two major political groups, have inflicted on Sierra Leonean teachers.”

For sixty years since Independence, teachers were treated recklessly and left to starve with impunity, the group stated in their letter.

“Don’t we deserve a better living like the lawyers we taught, the doctors we prepared, the bankers we raised, the engineers we schooled, the police and the Army we instructed and the very politicians we inspired?” they asked rhetorically. “Enough is enough”!

Teachers were destitute, they said, lacking transport, medical, rent or leave benefits, and the Education Minister had failed to relay this fact to the President.

They called on President Bio, the Teaching Service Commission and the international community, including the European Union representative, the Department for International Development (DFID), the US Embassy and the British High Commission to come to their aid.

National Security Coordinator, Abdulai Caulker, called their press release “unfortunate.”

The arrests were swiftly condemned by TV station AYV, which responded: “Mr Khan was a guest on the program and was arrested just outside AYV’s premises soon after he left the show… AYV would like to remind the Sierra Leone Police that our work is protected by statutes including the most supreme law—the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.”

The Sierra Leone Bar Association also took a stand, condemning the police for arresting the schoolteachers for speaking out against the poor working conditions of teachers in Sierra Leone. [IDN-InDepthNews – 02 May 2022]

Photo: Thousands of teachers are presently up in arms in Sierra Leone against the government of President Bio. Source: COCORIOKO The Voice of the People.

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