Western Togoland: Members of HSGF Systematically Persecuted by Ghanaian Authorities
Members of the Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF), the non-violent organisation advocating for the right of self-determination of the people of Western Togoland, have been systematically persecuted by Ghanaian authorities in the last months. The leader of the movement Charles Kormi Kudzordzi announced that the Ghanaian authorities had driven the HSGF into exile and that those arrested have been put in prisons without trials and many men and women have disappeared. Neverthless, despite being subject to extreme violence, the HSGF continues to stress its commitment to peaceful activism.
In May 2019, a number of members of the HSGF were arrested by the police and charged with conspiracy to commit “treason felony, abetment of unlawful training, unlawful assembly and offensive conduct conducive to the breach of peace.” However, the situaiton has worsened progressively since the declaration of independence, after which the Ghanaian authorities have cracked down on the HSGF and their activities.
By 5 December 2019, the police had arrested 31 people from the HSGF – 21 for gathering at a local radio station in the regional capital Ho, and 10 more for planning to embark on a demonstration against the arrest of their leaders.
On 8 January 2020, Volta Regional minister, Dr. Archibald Letsa served notice to media houses propagating the agenda of the Western Togoland secessionist movements in the region that they would not be spared by the state security apparatus, all in the name of national security.
On 28 January, leader of the HSGF Charles Kormi Kudzordzi announced that the Ghanain authorities had driven the HSGF into exile and that those arrested have been put in prisons without trials and many men and women have disappeared.
The next month, the HSGF were accused of training their own military in preparation for action against Ghana. In response, the HSGF issued a statement in which they reiterated that the HSGF has “never engaged in any act that will or could disrupt public peace and order.” They further called on the Ghanaian authorities to stop the needless arrests that could fuel rebels in their cause for an independent state. According to the statement, “Innocent Western Togoland citizens persistently have been harassed here and there. Many for fear have disappeared while many suffered severe torture in the hands of the Military and the Police. Others are shot and information about their bodies are unaccounted for.”
The Ghanaian crackdown on the HSGF is unwarranted and an overreaction as the HSGF has maintained its peaceful methods to achieve its goal of self-determination - 19 men and 1 woman were arrested for rebel activities, claiming to be associated with the HSGF.
During the colonial era, Western Togoland was controlled by the British, while Eastern Togoland (which went on to become Togo) was administered by the French. The region of Western Togoland has been a part of Ghana since it gained its independence from the UK in 1957. However, while a plebiscite was held on Western Togoland’s incorporation into the Gold Coast (later Ghana), the vote was marred with difficulties: bribery, violence and killings. The British justification for uniting the two colonies was that the two colonies’ “affairs are so closely mingled that the separate administration of this inland territory would be against both the interests and, almost certainly, also the wishes of its peoples.”
Since the two entities were merged, Western Togolanders have never been fully integrated into Ghanaian society. There have been multiple attempts to exclude the people in the region by designating them ‘aliens’, continuously highlighting their irreconcilability with the rest of Ghana, as well as advocating their expulsion from the country.