PRESS RELEASE ON THE BAWKU CRISIS:
FROM: NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT FORUM (NDF)
TO: ALL PEOPLE OF BAWKU THROUGH THE MEDIA
The Leadership of the Northern Development Forum (NDF) and all Ghanaians, particularly from the three Northern Regions, have observed and followed with deep sadness the violence and destruction that has engulfed the Bawku area since January 2008. The NDF extends its deep sympathy and condolences to all the families, communities, chiefs and leaders of Bawku, particularly, the victims of the violence. The NDF further sympathises and grieves with all the people of Bawku, particularly the Kusasis and Mamprusis, who have lost their homes and businesses as a result of the recurring violence and destruction.
While extending condolences, the NDF urgently calls for all hostilities and violence to end forthwith in the Bawku area. Kusasis and Mamprusis must find the moral courage and the spirit of tolerance to confront and overcome violence. Too many people have died in a conflict that can never be resolved through violence. Nowhere has violence solved any problem. The present level of hatred that is consuming the two communities in Bawku has led to revenge killings and deepened internecine violence that is unacceptable in a country where the respect for the rule of law is supreme. The NDF draws the attention of all the youths of Bawku that Ghanaian traditions and values respect the sanctity of life. More importantly, the two great religions that form the majority of our community of faith and (belief not believe) in God, Christianity and Islam underscore the sacred value of human life. Every Kusasi or Mamprusi or for that matter any person from another ethnic group who is killed in Bawku through this conflict is a violation of our own values and the faith in which we seek salvation. The NDF urges that first and formost, the killings and the burning of houses must stop and stop now.
While we ask for restraint from all especially the youths from both sides, Kusasis and Mamprusis, we remind all those active in this violence to reflect on the consequences of their actions. The re-escalation of violence from 31st December 2007 has now persisted with unprecedented levels of killings and burning of personal property with impunity. While the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council (UE-RCC) and the Security Agencies are deploying all the necessary efforts to restore calm and order, the continued killings in Bawku and its surrounding areas make it impossible to build the minimum trust and confidence required to engage in peacebuilding efforts. We urge the Security Agencies to maintain their vigilance in the coordination of security and to sustain professionalism in the conduct of their duties in a polarised environment that has been exacerbated by families still grieving from the loss of their loved relatives.
The NDF recognises that ending the current violence is only an immediate response while engagement for durable peace must continue. The NDF therefore appreciates the personal involvement of the President of the Republic of Ghana by talking to both sides to stay calm while efforts are made to promote peace in the area. The return of calm however must provide opportunity for active engagement through dialogue with Kusasis and Mamprusis as well as other ethnic groups in the Bawku area to build peace within the framework and context of the laws of Ghana and the respect for fundamental human rights. We urge Government to spare no efforts in their primary duty and responsibility to protect all residents in the Bawku area.
We have followed as well and support the efforts of Civil Society Organisations and Religious Bodies to build peace under the Bawku Peace Initiative. Such efforts can only yield fruits when the violence ceases immediately. The NDF appeal for calm and cessation of violence and destruction also goes directly to all political and opinion leaders from the Bawku area resident in Accra and all the Regional Capitals and main towns in Ghana. You must stand up and speak against violence and appeal for peace and calm from your own people from whom you have earned respect and leadership. In this hour of need, your silence could be misinterpreted to endorse violence in Bawku. In your capacity as leaders, your voice to support peace is paramount.
Finally, in this humble appeal, NDF observes that the people of Bawku, Kusasis and Mamprusis have no choice but to reconcile and build a high capacity of tolerance in order to co-exist peacefully. Such co-existence is the only way to bring to all the people of Bawku, human development, peace and prosperity. The journey towards reconciliation must begin now. The courage and convictions of the leaders of Kusasis and Mamprusis from Bawku to build peace amongst themselves can start this journey. The obstacles during this journey of reconciliation will be overcome with the support of NDF and all Ghanaians but the courage and vision of Mamprusis and Kusasis from Bawku should start this journey now.
May Peace return to Bawku.
Signed: Dr. Hakeem Wemah, Chairman, NDF
NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT FORUM