Voltarains in the diaspora have condemned the alleged harassment and intimidation meted out to people of Ewe descent in some parts of the country by military personnel in the ongoing voter registration exercise.
According to the group, the deployment of extra military and other security detachments to the border towns has resulted in high levels of intimidation, harassment, and disrespect of the people.
Military personnel deployed at Ghana's border towns have been alleged to intimidate residents from participating in the voter registration exercise, claims which the government has denied vehemently.
Dominic Nitiwul, the Minister for Defence, explained that the military deployment was in support of the Ghana Immigration Service’s (GIS’s) efforts to stop illegal entry of foreigners through unapproved routes along the borders. The move was also to protect the populace in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and not targeted at instilling fear or suppressing a group or tribe.
But in a statement issued yesterday, Ewes in the diaspora described the military presence in the border towns especially from “Aflao to Wli”, and reported intimidation, as unfortunate.
“The heavy-handed nature of the deployment and the reported cases of intimidation and branding of Ghanaians as Togolese is simply deplorable, offensive, and deeply unfortunate,” their statement read.
The group observed that Ghana is headed in a dangerous direction with the alleged victimization, marginalization, and intimidation of Voltarians in the ongoing registration exercise.
According to the Ewes in the diaspora, the continuous demonization of Voltarains by some “ignorant and bigoted politicians must end immediately”.
Below is the full statement issued by Voltarian Associations in the Diaspora:
VOLTARIAN ASSOCIATIONS IN THE DIASPORA CAUTION AGAINST HARASSMENT AND SUPPRESSION OF GHANAIAN CITIZENS
We, sons and daughters of the Volta Region resident in the USA, Canada, Germany, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, wish to express our grave concerns on recent developments in our country, with particular reference to our region.
We are also offering recommendations and measures to address certain intractable problems which threaten the very survival of Ghana as a united nation-state that is made up of various ethnic groups, put together by the colonial rulers.
We are opposed to the deployment of extra military and other security detachments to our border areas, resulting in a high level of intimidation, harassment, and disrespect of our people in this dire period when Covid-19 has already destabilised the lives and livelihoods of our people. The heavy-handed nature of the deployment and the reported cases of intimidation and branding of Ghanaians as Togolese is simply deplorable, offensive, and deeply unfortunate. We add our voices to the chorus of condemnation from chiefs and politicians as well as many well-meaning ordinary citizens.
We observed the garrulous and flippant comments of the prominent Adansi constituency MP, K.T. Hammond, who claimed openly that the militarization of our homes and communities was an attempt to prevent Togolese from registering to vote in Ghana. His false and misguided utterances follow the lines of the ignorant and tired refrain of a group of politicians, to wit, people from the Volta Region are not Ghanaians. We are convinced that these last claims are not limited to a small group of politicians such as K.T. Hammond but are beliefs that have been shared and fueled by many ignorant and bigoted politicians for far too long.
The incessant demonization of Voltarians must cease immediately. We are concerned that Ghana, with the victimisation, marginalisation and intimidation, is headed in a dangerous direction.
We are therefore offering the following recommendations to produce a lasting solution to the current situation:
1. We detest vehemently the militarization of the Volta Region especially the border towns and villages from Aflao to Wli, and call on the President of the Republic of Ghana, and the security services to bring it to a stop immediately. Reasonable people are at a loss as to why military personnel are manning some registration centres and intimidating villagers in a civilian government.
2. We note that the Government has made arrangements to evacuate stranded Ghanaians from high Covid-19 infected countries in Europe and North America. As recent as last week several flights sponsored by the Government of Ghana departed European and US cities carrying Ghanaian citizens. We have also observed that the government led a convoy of fishermen to enter Ghana through the Togo border with police escort back to their hometowns in Central and Western Regions. One would have expected that concrete steps would be taken to avail other Ghanaians in Togo of the same opportunity but this was not to be. Why is the government evacuating some Ghanaians and discriminating against others who need the same help to come home from neighboring countries such as Togo?
3. The opaque ignorance which clouds the minds of some fellow Ghanaians about Voltarians must be tackled at its roots: the school system. The school curricula in history and geography from the basic to the tertiary level must be updated to include accounts of how the nation of Ghana was put together. At the moment, it is a pity that many Ghanaians are not taught that over half of the Volta Region was part of the Gold Coast colony proper from the 19th century before the Asante and Northern Protectorates were added.
4. We were reliably informed through first-hand accounts that the military forces deployed in Ketu South have been invading people’s homes without a court order and with military assault rifles demanding and seizing registration cards under the pretext that the holders were Togolese. We demand from the President of Ghana who is the head of the security services that such dehumanizing treatment of Voltarians in their own country must cease.
5. We view with utmost concern the blatant militarization of areas outside the Volta Region where Voltarians are resident. We refuse to accept that these are coincidences. In a video that most Ghanaians have watched, the Ewe residents of Banda (Bono Region) are being harassed and denied the opportunity to exercise their constitutionally-mandated right to obtain a voter’s ID card. We wish to place on record that some of the affected families have been resident in the area for about a hundred years. We view with disgust a military vehicle with an assault rifle mounted and blocking the road in a rural area preventing Ewes from registering for a voter’s ID card.
6. While these blatant acts of discrimination against Ewes may be viewed by some as normal, it evokes sad memories of Apollo 568 which was implemented by Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia’s government which culminated in the wholesale dismissal of Ewes from the civil and public services.
7. We condemn, in no uncertain terms, some Voltarians, who have found it necessary to join in the harassment of their own people in the name of party politics.
We hope these observations will set the tone for future dialogue and actions that will bring peace and development not only to the Volta Region but to Ghana as a whole.
We look forward to fruitful engagements with all relevant parties, bodies and persons.
Long live the Volta Region. Long live Ghana.
Kossi Nutekpor; One Volta Group, USA.
Dr. Tsatsu Nyamadi; Council of Ewe Associations of North America (CEANA).
David Abusah; Anloga Development Association of North America (ADANA).
Togbe Aglasu Henyo III; Aflao Association of North America.
Belinda Bugadam; Mid-Volta Association of Canada.
John Kumasah; South Volta Association of Canada.
Patrick Adzadu, Tongu Citizens Abroad.
Emefa Manteaw; Norvihaborbor of Australia.
Frank Dake; Norvihaborbor of New Zealand.
Daniel Torkornoo; Ewe Dukor Germany.
Dr. Nat Abotchie; USA (Spokesperson); +1-281-919-4871
Prof. Anthony Mawuli Sallar (Ghana Rep/ Spokesperson ) 054 315 4128