Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category


February 12, 2016


Sulayman Jeng

Sulayman Jeng

Presently, Gambia exudes smothering political heat waves which condense at an alarming rate. If these violent political clouds hovering over the Gambian horizon are not dissipated, 2016 will be stuck in our conscience like bad melody forever. One does not need to be in Banjul or Basse to feel Gambia’s repelling humid political climate. Gambia’s senile dictator is not only determined to tighten his grip onto power but avails and alerts himself to utilise any means necessary to continue saddling on Gambians with impunity. Consequently, either result of the 2016 Gambian presidential election will be carved by posterity as historically significant for Gambians.

On the one hand, voting Jammeh into office punctuates legitimizing brutal Dictatorship and on the other hand, voting him out of office rejuvenates democracy. Therefore, it is not an embellishment to proclaim the Gambia as a nation desk on a political brink and the 2016 presidential election is a fundamental deciding factor of her fate. We either push her into a dark bottomless pitch or lift her to safety from the debris of dictatorship and slavery of submission come polling day in December 2016. Many, particularly in the diaspora, are opinionated that Dictatorship is never voted out of office but chased out of office and the Kanilai Monster will not be an exception. Their argument and I reference, “In a democracy, it is absolutely normal for people to vote because elections are free and fair and their vote counts. Far from being a democracy, Gambia is in reality a Dictatorship, in a Dictatorship your vote does not count, then what is the logic behind heading to the polls knowing that there is no way a Dictator can be ejected out of office through the system of voting by the ballot”. Very sad indeed. However, the Gambian malaise is beyond casting votes.

Forlornly, there is yet any glimpse of hope for a unified opposition force to put up a candidate to flex muscle with the Kanilai Monster. This ideal has routinely resurfaced in many panel discussions held by Gambians in the diaspora. Most of my colleagues and I believe with a well-organised, fully funded and unified opposition presenting one presidential candidate against Dictator Jammeh, he will have a show down for his money in the December polls. I hope and pray the opposition leaders will listen to the voices of their supporters and come together to present one candidate against Monster Jammeh in order to raise the Gambia from the images of hopelessness. Hope, therefore, is one powerful energizer that strengthens the heart and enlivens the spirit which propels the will to match on head high when everything else suggests otherwise. It is this hope that President Obama may have alluded to when he posits” …not blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I am not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us just to sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is the stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.” Significantly, it is with this hope that something better awaits us that the opposition must work together to fight and change the tide of political waves in The Gambia to our advantage against Jammeh.

Whether one supports or against President Jammeh, the fact remains indisputable that he is a virtual monster dressed as a statesman. There is a battery of evidences to substantiate the afore premise. Many who perceived Jammeh as a charismatic leader will hasten to affirm, he is not. They, often justify President Jammeh’s good leadership with the building of roads, schools, hospitals, the university, airport and his extravagance/generosity. The Gambian dissidents in the diaspora are the enemies of Gambia because they tarnish the image of the country to the outside world.  Conversely, “the struggle” without a second thought concludes President Jammeh is a non-starter and epitomises evil. What are their reasons for wanting Jammeh go at all cost? His human rights records, muzzling the freedom of speech, poor economic policies, heavy handedness, corruption and political thuggery. Under the unenviable leadership of Jammeh, Gambia has desolately descended from an amazing beacon of democracy to a daunting dictatorship. All functional and independent state institutions such as the police, NIA and national assembly have been transformed into limbs of terror.

As a starter, every eligible Gambian must register to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Equally, each should watch, document and report any voter fraud registration or irregularity within your constituent. Once that is attained, it then becomes the responsibility of the opposition parties to enlighten the electorates on their rights and responsibilities as citizens. A lot can be achieved between now and polling day in December.

Furthermore, the opposition must hold the IEC to task and ensure that there is no only first among equals during the presidential political campaign. Each is treated the same as the other. The international community must equally be informed by any development from voter registration to counting of votes. Each irregularity expose and documented. When it comes to contesting the results, there would be ample evidence to revoke it.

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK


February 8, 2016

Uk-Gambia-Human - Rights - ProtestLondon, UK – UK Gambian activists will gather to hold public protests commemorating The Gambia’s 51st Independence anniversary at the Trafalgar Square in London.

Participants will converge at Trafalgar square by 12 mid-day and proceed to 10 Downing Street, where a petition will be delivered to the British Prime Minister’s office.

This is a call for all Gambians, sympathizers of the country and human rights organisations to turn out in their numbers to participate and keep the pressure on Yahya Jammeh’s APRC Regime. 2016 is an important year for all Gambians and a genuine opportunity for change with elections set to take place in December.

The petition will highlight cases of human rights violations orchestrated by Yahya Jammeh’s regime for the past twenty-one years and will boost past efforts to place sanctions against the Gambian government for its crimes of human rights and rule of law in The Gambia. Some of the key highlights include: • Jammeh’s unconstitutional announcement of The Gambia as an Islamic State in December which is a potential for escalation of terrorism        activities in the West African Sub Region

• Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission’s refusal to entertain Opposition parties and Civil Society concerns for a fair elections by    implementing meaningful electoral reforms

• Continuous and enforced disappearances of Gambian citizens, and the critical condition of Radio Journalist Alhagie Ceesay currently diagnosed with an enlarged liver in prison On Thursday 18th February, Independence Day, the petition will be issued to the Foreign Office of the British government, the European Union and other organisations such as the Commonwealth and Amnesty International. On Saturday, 20th February 2016:

• 12 midday meet up at Trafalgar Square

• 2pm march to 10 Downing Street

For more information please contact Salifu Joof on 07492 759911 or Yusef Taylor (Flex Dan).


December 25, 2015

UDP Secretary General Alhagie Ousainou Darboe

UDP SECRETARY GENERAL Alhagie Ousainou Darboe

Fellow Gambians, as the year comes to an end, we all look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  His birth represents peace and harmony to mankind.  His message was and still is one of peace, enthronement of the truth and rejection of injustice. The hallmark of his teaching has defined the lives of a huge number of people in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia.

This year’s Christmas is a special one.  We celebrate the birth of Christ the day after we celebrated the birth of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH)-the last messenger of Allah and the seal of the prophets.  The prophet of Islam like Christ has preached the values of peace, tolerance, justice and good neighborliness.

For Christians and Muslims the world over, Christmas season is a unique one, but it is more so for us Gambians as Muslims and Christians live together in the same household, attend the same schools, marry into families of different faiths and take part in each other’s feasts and festivities.

Fellow Gambians, it is this special relationship that makes The Gambia a unique society whose citizens do not only believe in the values of peace, tolerance, justice and good neighborliness but practice what they believe in.  We have always been an example of inter religious harmony worthy of emulation.  Gambia’s religious pluralism is in eclipse and its future uncertain.  It is a matter of regret that the President of The Gambia who took the oath to protect and defend the constitution of The Gambia and other laws will declare Gambia as an Islamic state at a time when Christians of the various denominations in The Gambia are preparing to celebrate Christmas.  The ill-considered declaration, influenced by ulterior motives could be seen coming several years ago when the President stated that Sharia will be made applicable to very Gambian.

The reason for the President’s anti-religious pluralism declaration is ostensibly to fight so called imperialism but this is no justification for disturbing the peace and harmony built up in our country for centuries. This is a sinister attempt to distract the Gambian people from the real problems that they face daily.  Problems such as the skyrocketing prices, collapsing economic, inadequate health service, poor education standard, mass exodus of youths to Europe by the backway, threats to the independence of the judiciary and dismissal of public servants on executive directives.

The secular status of The Gambia is not only spelt out in our Constitution but ensconced deeply in our way of life long before we became a Nation. It has always been live and let others live. Pray to your God and let others pray to their God. Christmas has never been an affair for Christians only but of all, just as Tobaski, or Banna, has never been an affair for Muslims only.

Fellow Gambians, Christmas this year falls on Friday, let all Muslims therefore turn out at the mosques for Jumaah prayers and our Christian Brothers and Sisters in their churches and we all pray for One People, One Gambia united and indivisible. Let us after offering prayers for the wellbeing of The Gambia, go out and enjoy our traditional makalos, kankurangs, kumpos, gessehs, huntings etc in solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters as has been done many generations before us. This is what we have been born into and no pernicious religious falsehood will change that. This Christmas is a defining moment for all Gambians.

On behalf of the United Democratic Party and on my own behalf, I wish you all a merry Christmas.




UDP Secretariat

December 24, 2015


December 24, 2015
Migration Crisis  photo: NY Times

Migration Crisis photo: NY Times

On a recent clandestine trip to Paris via the channel tunnel amidst the media storm of the Syrian refugee scandal derailing European immigration policies and borders respectively, our Eurostar train came full frontal with the debacle when the conductor suddenly pulled to a sudden halt half-way from London. The reason, the passengers quickly leant, was that of migrants smuggling through the cables illegally trying to cross into Britain risking their lives with such perilous journey. As French immigration officers descend on the scene arresting the terrified poor souls putting handcuffs on their person, I could only watch in awe and utter empathy for the frightened and hungry young men being led away. The British passenger-train soon grew into conversation, the small-talk kind with people whispering why those immigrants would risk life and all just to enter the U.K. but here was a scenario and a story all too familiar to me. On arrival in Paris, I later learned that the migrants are of Sub-Saharan origin, from such countries as Ivory Coast, Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, and Senegal, and that they will be subjected to detention and deportation respectively.

In a world of extreme wealth, and an age of major technological strides, it is unacceptable and absolutely scandalous that young men and women from Africa have to cross high seas to reach Europe with many perishing amidst the high tide of the merciless Mediterranean sea. Yet, more outrageous and troubling is the fact that in 2015, Africa is still poor, underdeveloped, unable to escape the traps and shackles of colonialism. As usual the Western media will report on the casualties, the politicians drool over it with tough talk embracing photo ops along the way, the morning newspapers will provide commentary and the pages rolled over because tomorrow there will be another brand new occasion to report on; only this time with such headlines as – Russian aggression on Ukraine, Middle East turmoil in a dramatic twist, Castro’s Cuba in major rapprochement with Washington, Libya’s oil wealth disappears into thin air, Another corruption scandal engulfs Nigerian Politics, and so on. Black lives matter too and each life lost across the high seas is a tragedy, and about time African politicians recognise this!
Europe should take stock stepping back and reflect deeply on itself pondering asking tough questions. Interestingly, however, hard talk is common currency in the American political domain where the immigration issue takes centre stage each election cycle. The tussle between the Democrats and the Republican political parties over the issue and policy stance is contested, scrutinised and analysed, but also the economic worth of immigration to the U.S. economy recognised which European leaders and media habitually and deliberately fail to acknowledge. Europe and leaders in such capitals as London, Paris and Berlin must come to the realisation that the status quo is unrealistic, thus unsustainable. For centuries Africa’s resources lay at the hands and mercy of European nations and multinational companies extracting vast sums of profit in the process. Mineral companies, gas to oil companies continue to exploit and ransack africas resources with total disregard to the natives it belong to or their wellbeing; nor the environment. This unethical behaviour culminating in dodgy deals and bribery of a corrupt African political class had been the norm for centuries and must change. The emergence of fresh ideas embodied in a new generation of educated young Africans guided by ethics and moral compass is charging in charge of their own destiny. Finally, change is coming to Africa and its long suffering citizens. The challenges are enormous in an already globalising world, but if Singapore and China can do it, why not the Gambia, Senegal, Kenya, and Africa as a whole?!
Climate change is one of the biggest threats to both African states national and continental security and must be prioritised and tackled as such. We have witnessed countries blighted by drought such as the Darfur region of Sudan, Mali, North Africa into Syria, and many others leading to rural-urban drift; and therefore ought to be approached and challenged as a matter of national security priority. Climate change and climate-related effects has led to and exacerbated the migration of Africa’s youthful population from the countryside into the cities in search of jobs. This leads to cross-border migration culminating in the so-called and maligned migration crisis into Europe. Africa’s wasteful politicians are ill equipped or prepared in solving their own domestic climate related emergencies affecting local farmers. Poor rainfall and crop failures are common currency on that continent for years and unless new terms and a fairer trade system are renegotiated with Europe and farmers in the developing world paid their fair share implementing farming best practices, Europe’s borders will never be secure and free from migrants seeking pastures new and a share of the good life!
Mr Gibril Saine


December 17, 2015

Abdul Savage

Gambian protesters in London

Gambian protesters in London


NOBODY, I mean, NO ONE, wants to take Responsibility for the Failures and or Weaknesses of this so-called struggle. AND no one will deny, justify or explain that this so-called struggle is absent of flaws, weaknesses and or failures.  IN SHORT, Everyone agrees that indeed this so-called struggle is fraught and infested with weaknesses, vices and flaws.

NOW, when everyone admits that this so-called struggle is infested with weaknesses, flaws and other vices, BUT yet no one takes Responsibility for that, how on earth can your so-called struggle begin its “recovery”, “rehabilitation” or “healing processes” when no one takes Responsibility, let alone make any “progress”?

Everyone blames everyone else or everything else but himself or herself or their little “clique”.

DO you know who benefits from this? The beneficiary of this rancor within this so-called struggle is none other than the “Regime” they are claiming to be fighting against, who comfortably sits in a small city called Banjul, and runs a small country called The Gambia.

AND when you examine the dynamics and intricacies of this “Rancor” within this so-called struggle and lay out these characteristics against the landscape of the regime they are supposedly fighting against in Banjul, the resulting Picture paints not only a Futile and Unhealthy perplexing paradox,  But shows gaps that are inadvertently further consolidating this Regime’s continuing grip on power.

SO, after thorough analysis, unless and until RESPONSIBILITY is taken for the failures, weaknesses and other vices hampering the consolidation, recovery and eventual development of this so-called struggle, This So-Called Struggle will keep doing the same over and over again for another 20 plus years, expecting a different result, BUT the result will always be the same: Yaya Jammeh will continue to be in power until he makes his own Exit. He will call the shorts and dictates his Exit Strategy.

BUT who wants to take Responsibility for the weaknesses, flaws and vices infested and ravaging this so-called struggle? WHO wants to take Responsibility for this? WHO? If you cannot answer that, OR cannot find who wants to take Responsibility, then that means you don’t have a “struggle”, that means your “struggle” is so-called struggle, floating somewhere in cyberspace, on social media such as Facebook, Blogs, online radios, and on phone calls, on Viber, Skype, WhatsApp, and email messages.

Let’s continue the Discussions.

And God Bless the Gambian people.


By Abdul Savage,

Retired, US Army

Member, Military Order of the Purple Heart

Member, Veterans of Foreign Wars.


December 16, 2015
Jammeh has sinned against every Gambian.


Sarjo Bayang

Sarjo Bayang

By Sarjo Bayang, Policy Advocate UK  

Recent announcement at a political rally that he declares Gambia Islamic state comes as most unreasonable and misleading statement from current occupier of the presidency. There are many reasons why transforming Gambia into an Islamic state is not feasible. Here are some of the issues in view of this alarming pronouncement being referred to as proclamation.

Political misfit

Under present political dispensation, no sitting president has any powers to introduce even minor changes to the constitution without due consultation. Gambian constitution clearly has it as secular state. No sitting president has powers to change that as matters stand. Head of Gambia government is known as President. There is no documentation brought to public notice that a new nomenclature takes effect even for brief transition from parliamentary democracy to Islamic state whatever that means. Even Gambian Members of Parliament as lawmakers are not consulted on this matter. They only came to know about it over national radio and television like any public announcement comes up. Over last 22 years since the current leader dislodged a sitting government on 22 July 1994 by staging a coup Gambians have seen enough that propels more political awareness.

Legal context

Up to the time of this storming announcement by the President there are no changes on the dispensing of justice and legal instruments. General principles of English Law remain largely in practice. Gambian judiciary is not on a setting to handle drastic changes imposed by transformation from regular due process of law. Nothing is said about crimes committed under Laws of Gambia as secular state. Under new dispensation in dealing with crime and disputes, conventional laws will no longer prevail. That means judges and lawyers can no longer interpret or determine any case according to law. In short there is no orderly transition or succession planning from legal dispensation to an Islamic outfit of regulations. Up to this moment, there is not even one piece of legal documentation to establish changes from whatever to whatsoever.

For now Gambia is in serious crisis management situation where a sitting president commits the most fatal political error that can lead to unbearable chaos. It is the most dangerous and careless statement to come from a sitting president with extreme legal implications. Silence on the part of majority Gambian legal professionals is what most people see as biggest failure while entire fabric of the nation’s justice system is challenged with highly charged threats of anarchy. Legal experts failing to look into this critical matter can lead to catastrophic state of affairs nobody wants.

Economic inadequacies

Free market enterprise may not be the order of commerce and trade when a nation established on profit oriented income generating business suddenly has to observe rules of Islamic mode of business. Transforming a nation from communism to capitalism could have been an easier transition especially when that is preferred by the citizenry. In the case of Gambia people have not been consulted for this drastic change from free market economy to rules of Islamic trading. Current pool of experts and development technocrats may have little or possibly no ideas how to run an Islamic state economy. They will be faced with the most daunting task of balancing the books and putting in place new instruments for managing public finance.

There is no study on the feasibility of changes in fiscal or monetary policy suitable for transformation into an Islamic State economic dispensation. What most Gambian traders consider as profit in their normal business may now be seen as usury and possibly punishable in the new Islamic economic order. Has the president in making this public announcement considered what implications it will bear on vast areas of governance and systematic dispensation? Gambia as peanut reliant nation was promised development into world class superpower nation. The president has been trumpeting about that for more than 22 years. It is clear to everyone that reality of economic conditions and due to lack of resources the president is only making empty promises. The promised time frame already expired and Gambia is poorer than ever while the president through corruption now stands richer than the nation.

Social reality and public awareness enhancing information power

Regular flow of information through social media has contributed to the creation of critical mass awareness. Mobile phones equipped with latest facilities permit faster flow and sharing of vital information to and from all around Gambia. While the president may be thinking that Gambians readily believe in all his loud pronouncements in transforming the nation from least developed status to world class superpower, the population is far more aware and too sophisticated falling for such. Gambian society is closely linked and information flow contributes to that level of sophistication at unprecedented pace.

Technical issues

Establishment and running a new economic order with political and legal dispensation does not come about by mere word of mouth. Administrative and legal infrastructure required for transforming Gambia into Islamic state is not at all in place. The required human capital structure for managing Islamic state of Gambia is nowhere within stock. For entire generations technocrats and specialised professionals of Gambia mostly trained to perform roles under a capitalist commercial trading economy. The country sustains on administrative system and structures for which an Islamic state operations will be alien and total misfit.  Current president already demolished systematic governance by arbitrary rule as evidenced in this situation of declaring Gambia Islamic state without due consultation with lawmakers and stakeholder Gambian tax payer public. Some of the Muslim religious leaders in Gambia may only be able to speak Arab language and know about aspects of Islam. They are not trained for administration of an Islamic state be that legal, economic, politics, commerce or trading. They may know about aspects of Islam but not competent enough running an Islamic state.

Religious tolerance and social integration

Gambians take pride as one of the most cordially integrating society with highlevel religious tolerance. Intermarriage between people of diverse social and religious divide is common in Gambia. There is hardly any social grouping in Gambia with exclusive ties. If there are countries where social integration overpowers religious difference, Gambia will stand out as one of the best examples. Evidently, all religious faiths have their fair share of celebrations throughout the country. In December each year Christmas is celebrated as major event for a country you expect as majority Muslims. Similarly, Christians in the country respect all Muslim events. Gifts are shared between people of diverse faiths as though each belongs to the other.  In some homes, family members do not belong to same religion or sect. That is found even in smaller communities where a head of family belongs to one religious faith while others choose something different. Notwithstanding such diversity, religious disputes are unheard of in Gambia.

Gambia does not need to be declared Islamic state

Going by the facts of social integration and religious tolerance, there is no need declaring Gambia an Islamic state. Christians and other faiths in Gambia will be feeling alienated with this uncalled for pronouncement especially coming from a sitting president. Calling Gambia an Islamic state is not a priority. There is no damage in socio- religious relations that needs government attention to intervene by declaring full blown Islamic state. Current president is not doing any good by declaring Gambia Islamic state. Muslims of Gambia do not need to be called Islamic republic. It does not add any value or change the ways that Muslims worship.

This recent pronouncement that some people choose calling a proclamation is nothing but cheap political shot by a president who in 22 years through corruption caused serious damage to economy and finance of the nation which needs urgent good fix. There is nothing broken in the socio-religious order of Gambia. The economy and finance require most urgent attention. Calling Gambia Islamic nation will not improve ways of worship or bring about better livelihood.

Declaring Gambia Islamic state is one loud empty talk by a president who thinks of making news headlines around the world but this time for worst reason. Gambians are not prepared and have no need for the president making empty political statements to play with emotions. What Gambia needs most urgently is restoration of democracy after 22 years arbitrary rule by a leader who was not elected in first place still insisting he will rule for One Billion years as reported by BBC. With democracy restored in Gambia people are given clear choices and that includes right of religion.  For now it is the economy and finance that require urgent attention.

Politics of tapping Arabic money where Europe refused funding dictatorship

Most people are of the belief that by calling Gambia Islamic state the current president is seeking to deceive Arabs and Muslim world that he promotes their religion. This is all happening at a time that Western development partners put heavy foot down with conditions for restoring human rights and rule of law. After realisation that funds may not easily be tapped from Western sources, the president resorted to this cheap political talk of calling Gambia Islamic country. Based on no logic or sound technical grounds, it is not feasible that Gambia becomes Islamic state so soon. With no needs assessment through stakeholder consultation including Gambian lawmakers and taxpayer public, the president alone is incapable of turning the heavy wheels of history in transformation of Gambia from secular state to Islamic republic. Like other empty talks, this time also the president got it all wrong and must consider withdrawing of an unnecessary public statement made for no good purpose and intent.

Current President not the right person

Since coming to power by staging a coup on 22 July 1994, current President Yaya Jammeh of Gambia defiantly remains disrespecting laws and regulations. He promised returning to barracks and to serve as active soldier after 2 years transition from military dictatorship to restoration of civilian government. Before the end of that transition he deceived Gambians by tendering a resignation from the army with plans of contesting elections as civilian. Since then he rigged 4 elections and still wanting 5th term in office even while majority of concerned Gambians want him to step down. During 22 years military dictatorship he diverts all public finance and vital resources for his personal riches. By that process he is richer than Gambian nation in terms of money and material wealth. If Arabs or the Muslim World fall for this cheap talk of calling Gambia Islamic nation any money provided on that scheme of fake Islamic state will be diverted like money from Western donors over last 22 years.

Even though his wife has partial Arabic heritage she values Western Lifestyle higher than preserving Islamic culture going by her dress code and general outlook. The same goes for his daughter who now in her teens dresses with short pants and half blouse. Extending the scope of scrutiny on how the president conducts, there are less Islamic values. For example if stealing is prohibited in Islamic state of Gambia, the first person to lose both hands will be the president who robs the nation to build his personal fortune. Through such illicit money dealings he is able to buy high value properties and operating fat bank accounts at prime locations around the globe. That includes America and Western nations he castigates by slander while choosing to have properties in their countries. He pays prohibitive sums of money to get Western education for his two known children. That is on top of others sponsored by him to pursue Western education worldwide.

On account of his lacking Islamic values and with no knowledge of basic prayer verses it will be out of place keeping such a person as leader of a nation claiming to be Islamic state. In the unlikely event that Gambia becomes Islamic state as condition for Arabs to pump money, someone with better knowledge of Islam will be most suitable candidate to consider for leadership. This current President is completely disqualified to lead an Islamic nation. Hopefully some smart Arabs already know that the man who wants to declare Gambia as Islamic state to get money from them is actually out to deceive without remorse.  Gambia does not need to be called Islamic nation as a condition for tapping money from Arab and Muslim states.

Eleven Years of Anguish – A Tribute To A Fearless Dad

December 16, 2015
Late Dayda Hydara and his Daughter Marie  Pierre  Hydara

Late Dayda Hydara and his Daughter Marie  Pierre  Hydara

By Marie  Pierre  Hydara

On the eleventh anniversary of the callous and cowardly killing of a daring and fearless journalist, who never gave in to threats or intimidation and stood steadfast for his ideals, I wish to pay my respects. DEYDA knew exactly what his job entailed as he did it objectively without fear or favour. All that he did was for the good of the country. He was a true reformer and a real patriot.

To a lot of people DEYDA HYDARA was just another victimized African journalists who just made the statistics but to us he was the world and a huge part of what used to be a close-knit and perfect family which makes writing this tribute not only with a heavy heart but brings back the numbness of that fateful night.

When 3 bullets were launched into him on December 16, 2004, a lot was killed with him, including his 30 years career. He had great tenacity, passion and conviction for journalism, which never let him off the hook to be a loving granddad, a good husband and an excellent dad who listened and always defended the truth.

Thinking back brings anger, frustration and it is totally hard to grasp with the pain it brings after all this  time is excruciating, as no one can explain it  unless you have been through exactly the same thing you won’t be able to comprehend such agony.

Journalism is one of the noblest of professions and journalists are respected for the sacrifice they undergo to get information through to the masses, while risking their lives. This is the case everywhere in the world except in Africa, where all that our leaders know is to incarcerate, harass, torture, intimate and even kill those who dare criticize them.

African journalists are over-worked and under-paid, endure long tiring hours whilst generating more enemies and are treated as second class citizens, when tyranny and abuse of office is exposed. They remain the voice of the voiceless and the oppressed, with ethics and steadfastness without fear or favour, they are the masses’ eyes and ears.That is what DEYDA was.

After 11 dastardly years it’s pointless to dwell on the Gambia Government’s flagrant disregard of the case, as well as its inhuman and degrading treatment of the whole circumstances surrounding this tragedy from the very onset. Their incompetence and inability to diligently carry out proper investigations which the Ecowas court also highlighted and concluded that the NIA was not an impartial body to carry out the investigations. How can they be, when the then head of the investigation Captain Lamin Saine admitted that he was supposed to be in that very car in which Deyda was killed, on that night as he had been doing a couple of months prior to the incident.

We have seen the bad, the worst and the ugliest sides of some Gambians, who had been transformed over-night and became monstrous like vultures after a prey. When all he was to them was generous and selfless through and through.  At the same time we have come to realise who DEYDA’s real friends were and what was real and fake in them.

With time we had to bear the pain of admitting the reality that some people are born scroungers and will always be. So when people say “we are in this together” we can now tell who really means this and the ones who don’t. We thank the Almighty Allah for blessing us with a very few people who are honest and full of integrity and have been with us in our plight for justice for the last 11 trying years.

We have been calling on the International Community, including International Human Rights Organisations such as Amnesty International, The United Nations, Ecowas, The European Union and The African Union to take up their responsibilities on the matter.

On this occasion and from the perspective of a victim’s family I thought it would be useful to reinforce once again our plight from a different dimension. We welcome all your efforts but can’t help but think whether recommendations, fact finding missions, bilateral sanctions, or condemnations are the way forward and whether this is enough for victim’s families, when the government of the Gambia continues to blatantly ignore and disregard all these decisions and findings. Such sanctions would only make it worst for the masses who have to suffer more and or these might further cause more reprisals. We commend and with utmost gratitude the efforts that your Organisations have gone through, but we cannot help but wonder if more could be done. We appreciate the fact that it is not an easy task when the world today is filled with atrocities from all around, which may be seen as more gruesome than our plight but “nipping it in the bud” would surely prevent it from getting to the level of atrocities you can’t ignore. Also, we would like to acknowledge your dilemma of having to deal with such cases day in day out, but it is heartbreaking to know that the only thing that made my dad sacrifice his life for his ideals was the believe and trust he had in The UN system, Human Rights Organisations and The International Community.

As I said before if there was anything more than gratitude, I will send it your way as we do know how much you are owed for all your efforts, especially when there is so much that you can do, but just thought it is an insult to the Gambian people when the African Union Human Rights office is based in Banjul. That I believe to be a mockery of the very fundamental principles your Organisation is known for.

It could be argued that more strenuous measures should be put in place to eradicate the endless cycle of human rights abuses and violations which are being meted on the people. I am pleading that you are able to understand my frustration and the horrific ordeal my family and many other families have gone through in the past couple of years. With some families not knowing whether their sons, fathers, husbands, brothers and sisters are alive or dead, when some families are left to fend for themselves in the absence of the breadwinner, when some families are still waiting for justice which is denied for so long.

It would seem to me that probably a review of the principles or mechanisms put in place to run some of these institutions are well overdue. Take for instance since the inception of the Ecowas court how many different cases regarding Gambian journalists have been heard at the said court, how many judgments against the Gambia government were given, and yet still over 10 years now none have been complied with. When certain other African governments have also argued why they should abide by the court’s judgments when the Gambia government does not show any respect for the court and nothing comes out of it. How many more have to die, leaving so many more families in destitute, how many journalists have disappeared, how many more are languishing in high security prisons (when criminals and the killers of these journalists are roaming the streets of the Gambia in search of a morality check). Without any proper safeguards in place to investigate such cases, or even make any attempt to arrest or try the culprits.

As the night falls with so many enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture, intimidation, bogus charges and false imprisonment of journalists have become routine. We have seen more journalists forced into self-exile where more journalists are now in the diaspora than on the ground with some of them being sentenced in absentia. Leaving the few on the ground some of whom are left with a very tiny number who will dare to report stories without any fear of reprisals and the rest are left to carry out self -censorship or transformed into mouth-pieces of the government to avoid harassment.

In the absence of any basic human rights and any fundamental freedoms or rule of law, the Gambia continues to silently slip into another Rwanda. When people’s silence and fear have been misconstrued as satisfaction and content to a catalogue of abuses and violation of so many fundamental human rights protocols which the Gambia has ratified. People’s rights are abused on a daily basis without any proper intervention. We can’t help but wonder if the AU Human Rights Institutions are honouring their obligations to those Conventions or are Gambians ignored or forgotten and left to perish in the hands of a Government whose main aim and objectives are to force its people into “Utopia” where no wrong can be seen, heard, uttered or tolerated as in oblivion? Ultimately the so called Utopia promised though fictional seems real or safer to some instead of the alternative, who therefore bury their heads in the sand long enough and pray their promises would be fulfilled or they will be saved. But that then is the problem as the more they wait the worst it would be for the masses and the few who want to stand up for their rights and sensitize the masses to the reality that utopia is a figment of their imagination and can only lead to more repression and impunity making them stand out as enemies of the state. Let us try to save our Smiling Coast before it becomes a bloody river with blood of patriots flowing on the banks of the River Gambia our motherland.

Our heartfelt gratitude and endless commendation to Article 19, and all their partners and sponsors

(Especially Fatou Jagne Senghore), Ndey Tapha Sosseh, Uncle D. A. Jawo, Tonton Njagga Sylla, Tonton Alioune Tine, The Senegalese Media, Radho, Amnesty International and the UN in Dakar.  GPU,

OSIWA, TAEF, WAJA, FAJ, IFJ, PEN, NUJ, AFP, RSF, CNN and Multi-Choice. Also our gratitude goes to all human rights activists, especially journalists, NGOs and to all who believe in good governance, free speech, democracy and justice and press freedom.

Special thanks and prayers go to all Gambian online newspapers and urge them to remain in harmony and work as one team as only collectively will we achieve our objectives. Starting first and foremost, Freedom newspaper and to Pa Nderry Mbai for your untiring support, lengths and efforts, Hello Gambia, Kibaaro, Maafanta, Gainako, Fatu Radio and all other online radios that use their platform to promote justice, freedom and democracy for all especially journalists in the Gambia

I wish to take this opportunity to also wish a Happy 24th Anniversary to The Point newspaper.

We thank you all for the continued support and hard work. Thanks to the entire staffs, publishers, friends and advertisers especially Uncle Pap Saine and Mr Philip Kotey for continuing to keep the candle alight.

To Pa, At the risk of repeating myself a dad like you is hard to forget, you will always remain the only constant thing in our lives, as it will take more than 3 bullets to forget you. Until we meet again you will forever be the best man in my life. To Ma Pa has left you in charge of his grand kids and they need you more now than ever, so please stay strong and remember what they said “Enjoy your Birthday granny that is what Papa would have wanted.” We love you, admire your courage and always thank Pa for choosing you. Happy Birthday Aja Mariam Hydara