The Ghana Police Service has come under fire for arresting about 50 protesters who participated in the #OccupyJulorbiHouse demonstration on Tuesday, September 21, 2023.
The demonstration, organized by the #FixtheCountry movement, aimed to demand a range of reforms, including a reduction in the cost of living, an end to corruption, and improved governance.
The police had filed an application for injunction seeking to prohibit the protest from moving forth, citing security concerns. However, the organizers went ahead with the demonstration despite the warnings from the police.
According to a JoyNews camera man who witnessed the arrest, about 15 to 20 protesters had gathered at the 37 Trotro Station in Accra, which was supposed to be the converging point for the protest.
They were sharing the Ghana flag, red colors and other items for the demonstration. Suddenly, they saw horses coming in, followed by police officers who were not in uniform. The police started arresting anyone who was in black or red, or who was talking to the media. They put all of them in a car and took them away.
“So basically, we were here very early in the morning, and about 15 or to 20 protesters were here. I don’t know, maybe not 15, but along that lines, there weren’t so much. They were now trying to put themselves in order and see whether they could start. So they were sharing the Ghana flag, red colors and all. And suddenly we saw horses coming in. Then police who were not in uniformed started also coming in gradually before we realized, arrest them, arrest them. Arrest this one. Arrest this. Arrest this. And they just put all of them up in a car and they took them away,” he narrated.
Some of the media personnel who were also around were also attempted to be arrested, but they were spared after they showed their branding and identification. However, they were impeded from getting some of the shots that they wanted to get.
“And some of us who were also around, media people, they tried arresting us, but later they saw our branding and stuff. They left us. Some of us were trying to get some shots and all, but they impeded us from getting some of the shots that we wanted to get. Yeah” he added.
Among those who were arrested were the #FixtheCountry convener, Oliver Barker Vormawor, and was taken to the regional police headquarters in Accra Central.
Several Ghanaians have expressed their disappointment and outrage at the police’s interference on social media. Some have accused the police of being puppets of the ruling elite and of using illegal ways to disrupt the peaceful protest.
Some have also questioned the police’s motive for using horses and riot control gears against unarmed civilians.
The #OccupyJulorbiHouse demonstration was part of a series of protests that have been organized by the #FixtheCountry movement since May 2023. The movement has been calling for better living conditions and accountability from the government.
The movement has also faced several legal battles and obstacles from the authorities in their quest to exercise their constitutional right to protest.
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