Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

ACID TO HOLD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON DEADLY MIGRATION THROUGH THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA

July 3, 2015
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Migrants at Sea

Migrants at Sea

As the world witness the worst refugee crisis in modern times finding a solution or ameliorating this crisis rests squarely on the shoulders of the entire human race. Hundreds of thousands of youngsters from the African continent and other war-torn areas of the world are storming the european shores and thousands die in the high seas before reaching the shores of europe. Each and everyone one of us has a perception of what is responsible for this crisis and the possible solutions to it.

Some say the answer to this crisis lies in fixing the issue of governance in third world countries as Lakhdar Brahimi puts it “The crisis is not in the sea. The crises are in the countries where there are so many problems that people are willing to face almost certain death to leave their country. Conflicts, like in Syria; the absence of governance, like it is in Libya; and Myanmar, you have communities that are the victims of total injustice.” Others like Saul Njie say  “we need a plethora of things, including a serious overhaul of our structural, economic, monetary, financial, political, and most importantly – our societal edifice”.

It is on this backdrop the African Centre for Information and Development (ACID) in Norway is organizing an international conference to create awareness on the crisis so as to brainstorm on possible solutions. The conference which is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Corporation(NORAD) will take place on the 28th of July 2015 from 15 – 2100hrs  at Photels Grensen 19, Oslo Norway.The theme for the conference is deadly migration through the mediterranean by African migrants: what are the challenges for Africa and Europe  It is an open conference and the entire public is highly invited to attend. For more information on the conference contact; email: acidcenter@acidcenter.no  or call: 4794572695/ 4791616055.

U.S HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT ON GAMBIA MEANT TO SCORE POLITICAL POINTS – SAYS SHERIFF BOJANG

June 30, 2015
Reads :785
Information Minister Mr.Sheriff Bojang

Information Minister Mr.Sheriff Bojang Picks bones with U.S report

Mr. Sheriff Bojang the Minister for Information and Communication Infrastructure said the human rights report issued by the United States on Gambia was meant to score political points and does not represent the reality on the ground. Mr Bojang a veteran journalist and proprietor of Standard  newspaper transformed into mouthpiece of Gambia’s autocratic leader lamented that it is very rich for the United States to preach to the Gambia about human rights issues and violence against women. He said a fitting response to such a report by the U.S is the biblical quotation “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Mathew 7.5″

In a press release issued by his ministry he stated that “It is true that every state has its incidental vulgarities and challenges and The Gambia is not an exception.But this blanket indictment by the self-appointed policeman of the world is inaccurate, grossly misleading and blatantly false.The United States is guilty by a hundred if not a thousand times of the litany of the very things they are accusing The Gambia of perpetrating. And not just in the United States but throughout the world wherever they have influence and sway.”

Responding to the U.S report on violence against women and children Sheriff said ” we all know that The Gambia Government under the dynamic leadership of His Excellency, the President, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh, Babili Mansa, has empowered women and the girl-child more than any leader in the world.The president has used every opportunity to praise Gambian women and underscore the very high premium he puts on improving their welfare and their well-being.”

Despite the blatant disregard of human rights and fundamental freedoms which includes; recent sacking of 3 supreme court judges, the continuous detention of a minor Yusupha Lowe for a crime he has not committed  Mr. Bojang went on to defend the regime of his boss Yahya Jammeh  stating that ” “The Gambia has achieved significant progress in legal due process, press freedom and trafficking in persons.

In the midst of the Gambian leader’s interference with religious practices e.g the prosecution of a local imam for holding Eid prayers on a day different from the day stipulated by the rogue regime Minister Bojang went on the defensive by reiterating that Gambia is universally hailed  as a haven for religious tolerance and freedom. A Fair analysis of Mr.Sheriff Bojang’s stance would be like any other person working for dictator Jammeh he doesn’t own his mind and he is only dancing to the musical chair game in which he would be shown the exit door like his predecessors when he eventually becomes a loser in this game.

Information Minister Mr.Sheriff Bojang

Information Minister Mr.Sheriff Bojang

Where It’s Wrong…Our Path To Making It Right!

June 27, 2015
Reads :647
SIR DAWDA JAWARA

SIR DAWDA JAWARA

TO-LEH MANSA JAMMEH

TO-LEH MANSA JAMMEH

Our politics is centered on elections. The underlying assumption is we are a democracy. This isn’t true! Jawara has commingled PPP and state to gained undue political advantage. He has also appointed his political representatives at each division as his Election Returning Officers. Yahya also commingled A(F)PRC and state and even claimed personal ownership of state. He on the other hand appointed one Election Commission that he fires and hires as he wish. Both exert similar control over the local administrative structure thereby dictating the very nucleus of our society. In this formulae there can be only one outcome – the one in power will always win with the seeming will of the electorates.

The problems are not necessarily Jawara and/or Yahya as it is the system that gave them an unlimited and unchecked power. The sustenance of that increasing executive power (dictatorship) is the direct result of no/limited political education of our citizens. We create these men – simply listen to what Jalamang Keita, late Chief of Niani told Jawara in one of those Meet The Farmers Tour, what late EK Sarr, wrote about Jawara being the Jesus Christ of Gambia and the behavior of our supposed political elites on the retirement announcement of Jawara at MansaKonko. The same is true on Yahya – listened to Dembo Santang Bojang’s (Chief of Brikama), ‘remain in power even if we (people of The Gambia) eat grass’.

Under the current political disposition regardless of who assumed power and through what means, the likely outcome is a continuation of dictatorship. Sure the dictatorship of different individuals will likely be different based on their personality and lust for power. The tried strategies of elections, coup and/or Yahya dying will not deliver democracy at our shores. The best they could do is a new president.

After 50 (or 20) years we need a different approach. This is if our goal is making our nation ‘A FUNCTIONING INSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY’. Lets go after the underlying problems. Any gaining’s in that endeavor will by definition take care of all the effects and make us a functioning democracy.

What’s the underlying political problem of The Gambia? Simply we’re NOT A DEMOCRACY but only in name. To make Gambia ‘A Functioning Institutional Democracy’ would require ‘A CITIZEN’S POLITICAL REVOLUTION’. That wouldn’t happen in a vacuum; it has to come from us with some guidance of visionary leadership(s) with wisdom. Here are basic of that approach:

  1. A National Face’ (an organization that represent us and put forth a democratic transformation agenda)

  1. A National Democracy Agenda’ – our goal breakdown programmatically

  1. Organize/Mobilize Our Citizens – both inside and outside of Gambia our citizens are educated and rally behind such a nationalistic cause (not parties or groups, tribes, etc.)

  1. Lobby The International Community – for moral, political and financial support that gave us leverage to push back authorities in Banjul to capitulate to our demands for reforms

  1. Unadulterated Capacity Building of Our Citizens – to educate our citizens on (I)ndepedence (R)epublic (D)emocracy (IRD).

What’s a democracy Agenda? Examples are:

  1. Constitutional Reform/Overhaul – more importantly mechanisms to the adherences to the constitution as is

  1. Bill Of Rights

  2. Elections and Elections Management

  3. Impartial Justice Administration and Due Processes of Law

  4. Separation of Powers

  1. Decentralization of Governance – delineate authority between Banjul, Regions, Districts, Villages, Wards, etc. with defined and delineated authorities

  1. Cultivate Circular Democracy Culture – this is an unadulterated civic education where the very definitions of IRD are explained to the citizens and their unlimited role as the sovereign. This goes further to ensure each citizen is capable of living a democratic lifestyle hence equip with skills and know-how to check government excesses.

This is the call The People’s Movement For Democratic Gambia (tpmdg) is making on every Gambia. Visit us a www.movementfordemocraticgambia.org. Join us to advance this CAUSE. There is no limit to your participation – you maybe become a functionary, an advocate, a member, etc. based on your own desires, interests and expertise. We are not and will not be the National Face but facilitators, educators, organizers, mobilizers, fund raisers, etc. This doesn’t require you to abandon your party, group/organization, tribe, etc. but simply working together on ‘Our COMMONALITIES’ as citizens of that NATION.

Public opinion matters in a democracy but Gambia is a monocracy. We can express ourselves as much as we want that autocrat in Banjul wouldn’t care. What he will understand and care is an equal or more opposing force. With our union plus the support of the free world we can over time garner enough political leverage that will cause his capitulation. We don’t have guns to fight this battle. Even if we do or have others to do – can we really trust them? Any use of force in Africa ended in worst governance than their predecessors including Yahya’s. In addition many came with untold human suffering with long lasting negative impact. We can save Gambia from going down that lane by civilly managing our political transformation on our very own terms.

For The Gambia, Our Homeland………..To The Gambia Ever True

Burama FL Jammeh

General Secretary

The People’s Movement For Democratic Gambia

810 626 3924

UN TO DISCUSS JAMMEH’S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD IN GAMBIA

June 15, 2015
Reads :2376
UN Special Rapporteurs in The Gambia

UN Special Rapporteurs in The Gambia

United Nations Human Rights Council will this week formally hear the UN Special Rapporteur’s report on Dictator Yahya Jammeh’s human Rights records in the Gambia. The event will take place at the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr Christof Heyns, who jointly visited the Gambia with the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Mendez. Mr Heyns will participate in the 29th session scheduled to take place on 18 and 19 June 2015. He will address the Council about the country-specific and thematic report for Gambia, as well as conduct an interactive dialogue with State delegations and NGO officials at the session.

Mr. Heyns and the Special Rapporteur conducted an official visit in the Gambia from 3 to 7 November 2014. Their report will presents the special rapporteur’s main findings with regards to the imposition of the death penalty; the resumption of executions; the use of force by law enforcement agencies; impunity for extrajudicial executions; torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, use of force during demonstrations; lack of accountability for human rights violations; risks and fears of reprisals for freedom of expression, etc. Their proposed recommendations for the Gambia government, the international community and civil society to prevent unlawful killings and improve human rights protection in the Gambia.

The United Nations officials’ visit was originally scheduled for August 2014, but was postponed by the Gambia government at the last minute for reasons still unknown. They were later invited to visit the country for 4 days in November 2014. During which, the government refused them access to visit Mile 2 Central prison or interview detainees.

Instead the Special Rapporteur was limited to meetings with the Vice-President of the Gambia; the Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Minister of Interior; the Minister of Justice; officials of the Office of the Attorney General; the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency; the Director General of the National Drug Enforcement Agency; the Director General of Prisons; the Inspector General of Police; the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and High Court Justices; the Prison Visiting Committee and the Office of the Ombudsman.

The additional to those meetings the Special Rapporteur met with the United Nations country team, the diplomatic community and civil society. In preparation for the visit, the Special Rapporteur met in Senegal with staff of the OHCHR West Africa Regional Office, and with representatives of the international community and members of the Gambian community in exile.

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions expresses regret that the President of the Gambia was not available for a meeting with the two Special Rapporteurs during their stay in Banjul.

“AMERICA IS NOT INTERESTED IN REGIME CHANGE IN THE GAMBIA”, DIVULGED U.S DIPLOMAT STATIONED IN BANJUL

June 2, 2015
Reads :842
JOSEPH STAFFORD

JOSEPH STAFFORD

OBAMA SHAKING A DICTATORS HAND

OBAMA SHAKING A DICTATORS HAND

As Gambians are struggling to come to term with America’s betrayal and selling of their heroes to Monster Jammeh during the aborted Banjul December coup, Uncle Sam came out clean that he is neither interested nor ready to facilitate a regime change in Banjul despite acknowledging Dictator Jammeh’s dismal human rights record. What the Obama administration can do for the sake of the political values it preaches is to bare its closet of the December thwarted coup. America owes it to her citizen and the families of the Gambian fallen heroes to come out clean on what, how, when and why it helped a despicable tyrant foil a plot to oust his regime. Gambians will forever remember America as that so-call world police and super power who compromised their freedom and humanity.  Below is the detailed press conference given by America’s Charge d’Affairs Joseph D. Stafford

The most senior United States diplomat in Banjul has said that the relationship between Washington and Banjul “is correct” but the two governments continue to have reservations about each other. Charge d’ Affaires Joseph D. Stafford at the US embassy in Banjul said: “The relationship we have with the Government of The Gambia is a correct one; it is one where we have dialogue at different levels, and we are committed to continuing that dialogue.”

Speaking to journalists on Friday at his residence in Fajara, the U.S. diplomat said the White House has continued to appreciate The Gambia government’s efforts in combating terrorism; its contribution to peace and security in the continent and beyond through its participation in the regional peacekeeping forces

Similarly, he said Washington recognised President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia as the sovereign leader of a sovereign country. “We wish him, his government and his people well. We are not interested in regime change in The Gambia,” said Ambassador Stafford, who was a fully accredited US Ambassador to The Gambia from 2004 to 2007.

Relations in transition

In spite of the correctness of the bilateral relations and the appreciation of the Banjul government’s efforts, the relationship between The Gambia and U.S. is not the best. As Ambassador Stafford said the bilateral relation is in a “transition period”. The Gambia government continues to see the U.S. as imposing its beliefs and lifestyle on The Gambia and wanting to meddle and pester into the domestic affairs of an independent country.

On the other hand, Washington sees the Banjul government as having to adhere to and uphold various human rights and democratic principles. The tension between the two countries reach its all-time peak in the recent years as there has not been fully accredited US ambassador to The Gambia, neither has there been a Gambian ambassador to the US for the past few years

“I recognise that there are challenges in our bilateral relationship,” Ambassador Stafford said

Asked to further dilate on the root cause of the diplomatic fracas, he said: “I recognize that there are challenges in our bilateral relationship, but I want to assure you that the US believes that the past is the past. We are looking into the future; I expect in the incoming months to have ambassadors in each other’s capital.

“The U.S. is committed to working with the Government of The Gambia in the spirit of goodwill, to address the challenges and move forward on the basis of mutual respect,” he said.

Frank dialogue neede

According to the US diplomat, in order to put the challenges to bed, there is need for Washington and Banjul to have “a frank and open dialogue” where the US will table its concerns and the Gambian side can also bring in their concerns in the spirit of goodwill

“We can discuss, find areas of common ground, identify what are the areas of difference; we agree to disagree in the spirit of mutual respect,” Ambassador Stafford said.

“We are expecting to have such a dialogue as soon as possible when our annual human rights report is publicly released; we expect that to happen soon. We will use that document as an important part of our dialogue to present the assessment we have of the human rights in The Gambia and look forward in the spirit of frankness and openness to the reaction of The Gambia government.”

Not a demigod

The U.S. diplomat said his country has no intention to play god or impose its beliefs on any country. “What we do is call upon the international community and other governments to live up to their obligations under the international agreements,” he said.

He also said any country that signed the UN Charter should respect human rights and democratic values. The Gambia like the U.S. or any country that signed the charter is expected to be committed to its human rights obligations.

“The United States is not perfect; we have our own issues. Our system is not perfect; our system of rule of law is pretty good but it can always be improved,” Ambassador Stafford said.

“Every democracy is a work in progress; our democracy has been around for a long time; we think we have made a lot of progress but a lot can still be done.

“So it’s not a question of imposing or trying to impose our views. Human rights are universal values that people impose on themselves not the US imposing on them. It is important for all governments – our (U.S.) government, the Gambia government – to respect the norms, the principles of human rights, democratic values.”

Homos too have rights

The diplomat said Washington is not trying to impose its lifestyle on The Gambia or anyone else. “But what we are concerned about is that people – whether homosexual, heterosexual, or whatever – are human beings and they deserve to be treated with dignity, respect like any other human being without being discriminated against.”

Though thorny at the moment, The Gambia-U.S. relations is expected to be fully normalised in the coming months as the two governments are collaboratively working on improving relations in the soonest possible time.

Courtesy of The Point newspaper

CAN YOU IMAGINE IT WAS AMERICA THAT SOLD THE 30TH DECEMBER COUP PLOTTERS TO DICTATOR JAMMEH?

June 1, 2015
Reads :1650
OBAMA SHAKING A DICTATORS HAND

OBAMA SHAKING A DICTATORS HAND

FALLEN HEROES

FALLEN HEROES

In a very disturbing article coined “How a reviled African ruler survived a coup hatched in the United States”, The Washington Post bare how America sold our heroes to Monster Jammeh. Frankly, the revelation has not come to me as a surprise knowing the two-faced side of America. Below is the full excerpt of the article:

MINNEAPOLIS — Every other Saturday evening, the coup-plotters excused themselves from their wives and kids to join a conference call. The half-dozen dissidents — all middle-aged men, most with military experience — dialled in from their suburban homes scattered across the South and Midwest.

There were operational details to discuss, logistical hurdles to overcome. How would they smuggle rifles and night-vision goggles to Gambia, the tiny West African country from which they were exiled? Was their $221,000 budget enough to topple the brutal strongman who had ruled Gambia for two decades?

In the predawn hours of Dec. 30, according to court documents and interviews with people involved in the operation, the U.S.-based conspirators teamed with other dissidents to assault the Gambian presidential palace. They expected to find it lightly guarded. Instead, they ran into an ambush. Four people were killed. Those who survived fled the country.

Afterward, the Justice Department charged four U.S. residents with taking part in or supporting the failed coup, saying they had violated the Neutrality Act of 1794, an obscure law that prohibits Americans from taking up arms against countries that enjoy peaceful relations with the United States.

What the U.S. government did not disclose, however, was that it had been monitoring the plotters and had secretly tipped off West African authorities to the travel of at least one of them. In doing so, U.S. officials may have at least indirectly helped to protect the president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, who has drawn international condemnation for his dismal human rights record, his violent rhetoric against gay people and bizarre beliefs such as his claim to have concocted an herbal cure for AIDS.

According to three U.S. law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because details of the case remain secret, the FBI interviewed the plotters’ lead military planner, Lamin Sanneh, an exiled Gambian army officer, in early December at his home in Maryland. The FBI had been monitoring Sanneh, and agents wanted to know why he had purchased a plane ticket to West Africa, the officials said.

Around the same time, a second plotter who had arrived in Gambia to prepare for the coup confided to co-conspirators that he also had been contacted by a federal agent, according to a person involved in the operation. Soon after, other hints surfaced that Gambian officials had received a tip that a plot was afoot. The exiles decided to proceed anyway after a Gambian informant assured them they had not been exposed. It was a fatal miscalculation.

According to two U.S. law enforcement officials, the FBI notified the State Department that agents had concerns about Sanneh and that he had left the United States. In turn, one of the U.S. officials said, the State Department alerted authorities in a West African country near Gambia that Sanneh was returning to the region — in hopes that local officials could intercept him and prevent any possible bloodshed. The official said Gambia was not alerted for fear that the country might round up innocent Americans.

Sanneh managed to slip through the net. Like the other conspirators, he flew into Senegal and travelled overland into neighbouring Gambia. Although it remains unclear how Gambian authorities learned of the scheme in advance, they laid a trap. When the plotters tried to seize the presidential palace, “the Gambians are waiting for them,” a U.S. law enforcement official said. Sanneh was among those killed in the ensuing gunfight.

Rodney Ford, a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, declined to comment. FBI spokesman Kyle Loven also declined to comment. West Africa has long been riddled by coups and countercoups. But the Gambian putsch was perhaps the first to be hatched on U.S. soil by immigrants who had carved out comfortable lives in their new land. Most had arrived in the United States decades earlier and worked hard to become citizens and build successful careers. Three had served in the U.S. military; two were veterans of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The investigation into the botched coup has been centred on Minnesota, home of a thriving community of Gambian immigrants as well as the base for federal prosecutors and agents overseeing the case. Three plotters have pleaded guilty to firearms charges and violating the Neutrality Act. A fourth defendant has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. The prosecutions have stirred anger among many Gambian Americans who fled their country to escape repression under Jammeh. Some praised the coup organizers for risking their lives to bring freedom and democracy to Gambia, while sharply criticizing U.S. officials for siding with a ruler they described as a tyrant.

“Why in the world would they act on his behalf?” asked Pa Modou Ann, a former Gambian army officer who ran afoul of Jammeh in the 1990s and now lives in a Minneapolis suburb. “We have talked about it incessantly because it doesn’t make any sense.”

One plotter who has pleaded guilty likewise expressed astonishment. Papa Faal, a U.S. military veteran who served in Afghanistan, noted that the State Department has blasted the Gambian president’s human rights record for years.

“People need to know: Is this the kind of person who needs to be protected by the country that claims to be a beacon of hope?” said Faal from his home in Brooklyn Park, Minn. He declined further comment because his sentencing is pending.

Smiles with Obama

Dressed in white tribal robes, Jammeh was ushered into the White House on Aug. 5 for a handshake with a smiling President Obama. It was a diplomatic home run for Jammeh, whose government widely circulated a photograph of the encounter. Jeffrey Smith, an advocacy officer for the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights, said that, from Jammeh’s perspective, the photograph’s underlying message back home was invaluable: “He was saying, ‘There’s nothing you can do to oppose my rule. The strongest nation in the world and the strongest man in the world stand behind me.’

Jammeh was invited to Washington to attend a U.S. summit with African leaders. But the special White House welcome puzzled Africa policy experts. Over the years, Jammeh had irritated the U.S. government by cosying up to Iran, Venezuela and Cuba. He had no tolerance for dissent, at home or abroad. During his August visit to Washington, his bodyguards attacked a group of Gambian dissidents holding a protest outside the Hay-Adams hotel, sending some to the hospital. Jammeh has earned special notoriety for his persecution of gays. Homosexuality is illegal in Gambia. In August, the government went a step further and declared that the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” would carry a life sentence.

Gambians living in the United States said they’ve long been perplexed at the U.S. government’s unwillingness to take a harder line with Jammeh, whose impoverished country has just 1.9 million people and few natural resources.

“People are surprised and they’re angry, because they find it to be hypocritical,” said Pasamba Jow, a Gambian political activist from Maryland.

Around the time that Jammeh visited Washington, the coup-plotters intensified their planning, according to court records filed by prosecutors and the FBI. They purchased about 30 firearms, body armour, ammunition, night-vision goggles and military-style garb, stuffing the gear in 50-gallon drums and shipping it to Gambia, the records show. In other ways, the plot came off as amateurish. The players referred to each other with code names such as “X,” “Fox” and “Dave.” One of them kept plans in a folder labelled “Top Secret” but left it at home, where it was later seized by the FBI. At another defendant’s house, agents found a book titled, “How to Stage a Military Coup: From Planning to Execution.”

‘Gambia Reborn’

According to the FBI, the group was led by Cherno Njie, 57, a real estate developer from Lakeway, Tex… Njie, who holds dual U.S.-Gambian citizenship, financed the coup attempt and would have replaced Jammeh as president had the plot succeeded, according to the FBI affidavits.

The FBI said it found a document at Njie’s home titled, “Gambia Reborn: a Charter for Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy and Development,” as well as a spreadsheet breaking down the coup’s $221,000 budget. Njie is the only one of the four defendants to have pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Andrew Birrell, declined to comment fully on the allegations, saying: “It’s a legally and factually complex case.”

According to participants in the plot, the military mind behind the operation was Sanneh, the exiled Gambian officer who was killed while storming the presidential palace. Once a rising star in the Gambian military, Sanneh was awarded a coveted scholarship in 2012 at the National Defence University in Washington, which caters to U.S. military officers and diplomats, as well as foreign students in military exchange programs. Shortly afterward, he was named head of Gambia’s presidential guard. Within a year, however, he was forced to flee the country after being targeted in one of Jammeh’s frequent political purges. He sought asylum in the United States and lived with his family near Baltimore.

While at National Defence University, Sanneh wrote his thesis on drug trafficking in West Africa and frequently discussed the challenges of fighting corruption with his faculty adviser, Jeffrey Meiser. Although the university emphasizes the importance of civilian rule and working within a democratic system, Meiser said the political situation in Gambia was so hopeless that he could understand why Sanneh felt compelled to lead an armed uprising. Sanneh, he said, was confronted with a hard choice: “Either I’m going to be corrupt and part of the system, or I’m going to do something about it.”

Recruiting U.S. veterans

Similar motivations prompted three U.S. military veterans to join the plot. Njaga Jagne, a captain with the Kentucky Army National Guard, moved to the United States two decades ago from Gambia. He was deployed twice to Iraq and received his U.S. citizenship in 2006 — on Veterans Day — in a ceremony in Baghdad.

“He believed in the whole idea of going over there to bring the Iraqi people freedom,” said his sister, Sigga Jagne. “That’s who he was; he really believed in those ideas and tenets.”

Another member of the conspiracy was Alagie Barrow, a former officer with the Tennessee Army National Guard. Barrow, 41, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. His attorney, Robert Richman, said his client had no reason to believe that fighting for freedom in his homeland was against U.S. law.

“One can certainly sympathize with the decisions of the Gambian expatriate community to do something that would have helped their relatives and friends still in the Gambia, who are living under an abusive regime,” Richman said.

The last to join the group was Faal, who served for a decade with the U.S. military. Even more than the other plotters, Faal had long seethed at Jammeh’s autocratic rule. Faal’s great uncle, Dawda Jawara, is considered to be the founding father of Gambia. He served as Gambia’s first prime minister in 1962 and then president after the country won independence from Britain in 1965. He led the country until 1994, when he was ousted in a coup — by Jammeh, then a young army lieutenant. In 2013, Faal self-published a book about a previous, failed attempt to oust his great uncle. In the book, titled “A Week of Hell,” Faal lamented the chronic coups d’état that have destabilized West African countries for generations, but he gave no hint that he would soon help plan one.

“When a country’s democratic process fails or is usurped, in my view, it may be necessary for the citizenry to force change through civil disobedience and peaceful demonstration rather than. . . through the barrel of guns,” he wrote. Coups, he added, only plant “the seeds of a future conflict.”

Shifting plans

The exiles returned to Gambia separately and set up a safe house in Banjul, the capital. For weeks, they discreetly monitored the comings and goings at the presidential palace, known locally as the State House. Early on there were hints something was amiss. Barrow, the National Guardsman from Tennessee, told others in early December that he had received a call from a U.S. federal agent, asking where he was. Later, Sanneh and another plotter met with a soldier in the presidential guard whom they hoped would support the coup. The informant reported that Gambian security forces had received a tip that a plot was in the works but weren’t taking it seriously.

The rebels’ original plan was to intercept Jammeh’s convoy on a highway as he travelled from Banjul to his native village for an annual holiday visit. But Jammeh suddenly left the country instead. Despite the unexpected developments, the conspirators decided to try to seize the State House anyway and oust Jammeh while he was abroad, according to FBI affidavits. At 2 a.m. on Dec. 30, the plotters split into two groups – Alpha Team and Bravo Team – and attacked the State House from the front and rear, hoping that a few gunshots would scare off the guards. But the State House had been fortified with extra soldiers loyal to Jammeh. Sanneh, Jagne and two other rebels were killed.

“The leak happened somewhere,” said one of the participants, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid self-incrimination. “Who did it, we don’t know.”

‘Unconscionable’ threats

Three of the accused plotters — Faal, Njie and Barrow — escaped and made their way back to the United States. The FBI arrested Faal and Njie within days of their return. Barrow was charged in late January. A fourth defendant, Banka Manneh, a Gambian dissident from Jonesboro, Ga., never left the United States but was charged in March with supporting the conspiracy.

Omar Faye, the deputy Gambian ambassador to Washington, said his government was keeping close tabs on the U.S. prosecutions. He declined to comment on particulars of the plot, saying he did not want to interfere with the criminal proceedings.

“This is a very serious situation,” he said. “It is about trying to destabilize or remove a constitutional government that was elected overwhelmingly by the Gambian people.”

Meanwhile, Jammeh has kept up his controversial pronouncements. At a political rally in early May, he warned gays in Gambia that he would personally “slit your throat.”

“If you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again, and no white person can do anything about it,” he said.

That prompted a stern response from the White House. In a May 16 statement, Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser, condemned Jammeh’s comments as “unconscionable.” She noted that his threats were part of “an alarming deterioration of the broader human rights situation” in Gambia, including reports of torture.

“We are reviewing what additional actions are appropriate to respond to this worsening situation,” Rice added.

 

PRESIDENT JAMMEH IS TO UNDERGO CIRCUMCISION

May 31, 2015
Reads :1234

GAMBIA'S RAGING MONSTER

GAMBIA’S RAGING MONSTER

A ‘man’ in an African context is not only a human with a penis and testicles but a person who embodies courage, humanity, integrity, honesty, principle, loyalty, endurance and maturity. Coupled with these laudable hallmarks accentuating manliness are compassion and caring. This reminds me of a lad who queried his dad: “Who is a good man?” After highlighting all the trademarks of a man to the innocent lad, he looked at his dad in the eyes and said “When I grow up, I would like to be like mum”. His dad was for a moment baffled and lost in his imagination. As he was pondering if his son was growing into a gay, the reality of his son’s statement slapped him hard across the face. He awakened to the fact that all the cherishing characteristics he evoked to portray a man except the penis and testicles were extraordinarily housed in his wife.

Similarly, circumcision for the African boy, is not only the removal of the foreskin of the penis but a rite of passage to the world of manhood. “Rites of passage play a central role in African socialization, demarking the different stages in an individual development (gender and otherwise), as well as that person’s relationship and role to the broader community. The major stage in African life is the transition from child to adult when they become fully institutionalized to the ethics of the group’s culture. Rites of passage are for this reason critical in nation building and identity formation”, posited Shahadah. Conventionally, this initiation of the African child from childhood to adulthood exposes one to the underworlds of manliness as elaborately captivated in some of the rite songs of varied African tribes. Most importantly, one is expected to emerge grown-up, respectful and helpful at all times. Consequently, if an initiated man behaves in a nonconformist manner such as disrespecting another person is tagged a solima-uncircumcised. Arguably, on this plane, it is fitting to call President Yahya Jammeh a solima who needs circumcising.

Firstly, President Jammeh is arrogant and indiscipline. However, before referencing instances to substantiate my deduction, I would like to contrast his character to that of Okonkwo of Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” novel. Okonkwo, a son of a vain, lazy and wasteful father, got catapulted to fame and power by the hand of nature when he defeated Amalinze the Cat in a wrestling contest. He loathed his dad for his poverty, laziness and weakness such that he resolved himself to become his father’s complete opposite. His father represented failure and he will epitomise success. To nest success and acceptance in a world which hails manliness, Okonkwo dressed himself in a uniform of brutality. With the passage of time, he transcended into a very volatile man who excelled in exploding at the slightest of provocation. Regrettably, he became insensitive and controlling to his wives and children. At the height of his power and fame, he became stoic. Like his father, Okonkwo found himself at odd in adapting to the changing realities of his community. As a result, he began defying the gods and disdainfully rejected the advice of an elder not to partake in the killing of his adopted son in a futile effort to avert the course of nature. He nonchalantly dismissed the advice as personifying weakness. The execution of his adopted son relegated him to a relic. Eventually, he ended taking his own life to avoid capture and humiliation. Arrogance with misjudgement, anger and violence brought about his demise. Ironically, Okonkwo exemplified President Jammeh in many striking ways as can also be inferred between Okonkwo’s father and that of President Jammeh. Jammeh’s arrogance and indiscipline can be illustrated in many instances.

One of the most striking is his recent insulting of the Mandinkas which generated headlines in most Gambian media outlets. He had also contrasted Imam Bakawsu Fofana with his shoes in a live national TV coverage intending to humiliate the Islamic cleric. Also insulted by President Jammeh are some cabinet ministers, religious clerics and senior civil servants. Jammeh’s arrogance is amply captured in his disregard for establishment, custom and ethics.

It is repeatedly reported that Monster Jammeh always orders the filming of the tortures of his captured perceived enemies which he watches in his quiet moments and gratifies his demonic ego. The unlawful detentions, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and political thuggery all punctuate lack of the benchmarks of manliness in President Jammeh. It all add up to reveal a rotten inner core beneath the hard outer cell of his whitish Grand Mboubou.

The fundamental question which now arises is how do we circumcise President Jammeh? For a start, Gambians must acknowledge that political power resides in their hands and not on the politicians. Precisely why they come back to us at the end of every five years to beg for our votes. Furthermore, we must also appreciate the fact that it is us who decide the next president come 2016 election, not Jammeh, Darboe, Bah or Jatta. To believe that whether we vote for Jammeh or not he will win is nothing but a fallacy and political ploy to get your vote. Incumbent presidents have been and will continue to be voted out of power and the closest to home is Senegal and Nigeria. Accordingly, we can circumcise President Jammeh by voting him out of office in 2016 Presidential election. He has avails us all the reasons to do so. For instance, he accuses Jawara of corruption and flamboyant life. Today his personal wealth is more than the national. He rides in the most expensive American cars, he travel on private planes, has offshore accounts and one of the most expensive houses in America. Secondly, he said Jawara overstayed for 30 years. He is now 21 years in power and recently opposed a two-term limit for ECOWAS member state presidents which was tabled in Ghana for consideration. Another reason why we should vote him out of office is the decaying economy under his leadership. Basic commodity prices are sky-rocketing daily, the Dalasi is equally depreciating at an alarming rate, the national reserves are depleting unflinchingly and standard of living is worsening every second.

In conclusion, President Jammeh must be voted out of office in 2016 election.

Sulayman Jeng

Birmingham, UK