The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is deeply concerned about the recent spate of attacks on critical radio stations in Liberia by unknown assailants, and call on the authorities in the country to take urgent measures to arrest the trend.
In the latest incident which occurred at about 1:30 AM on March 5, 2019, some unknown assailants attacked Joy FM, a radio station based in Monrovia. The assailants disrupted the station’s transmission by cutting the cables connecting the antenna to the transmitter. The General Manager of Joy FM believes the attack was carried out or instigated by people who are affected by the station’s critical stands on certain national issues.
“It was not a criminal who came to look for cables, because they didn’t take the cable away after cutting it. The intention was to damage the institution,” the General Manager, Emmanuel Dahn, said, adding that the station “might go off air for quite some time.”
The Manager believes the assailants ultimately want to silence the critical radio station.
“Joy FM is one independent radio station and sometimes the way we are vocal and critical on national issues… those who are involved, apparently they don’t want us to be here and they are looking for a way to silence the institution,” he said.
The attack on Joy FM is the third act of violence against a radio station in Liberia in two months. On January 31, 2019, some unidentified gunmen attacked Roots FM, also based in Monrovia. They cut cables and destroyed some equipment, forcing the station off air for 24 hours.
Roots FM was attacked again on February 10, 2019. This time, the attackers carried away two broadcast transmitters (100 and 500 watts), a 2-kilowatt amplifier, a mixer, and a receiver.
The Center for Media Studies and Peace-building (CEMESP), MFWA’s partner organisation in Liberia, has condemned the attack on Joy FM as “an affront to free speech, press freedom, and tolerance” and urged the Police to speedily investigate the matter and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The MFWA believes these attacks can intimidate other critical media organisations and journalists to observe self-censorship. We, therefore, join CEMESP in condemning the attack on Joy FM and in calling on the authorities in Liberia to take steps to protect media organisations in that country. We also call on the Police to investigate this incident thoroughly and intensify investigations into the previous attacks on Roots FM in order to bring the perpetrators to book.