Archive for the ‘Press Freedom’ Category

“Halifa Sallah Is the Only Man Who Wears Trousers”

November 24, 2013

Tantamounts to Insulting President Yahya Jammeh

 

Untitled

Bai Mass Kah’s right to speech is abused by the very people paid by taxpayers to protect him!

Gambian police have in their custody an employee of Foroyaa newspaper. Bai Mass Kah was arrested at his home in Serekunda after he was accused of “denigrating and insulting” President Yahya Jammeh.

Police Public Relations Officer confirmed Mr. Kah’s arrest on November 14th. Assistant Superintendent David Kujabi said the messenger of the privately-owned newspaper was initially detained at Serekunda police station before being transferred to Kotu police.

Mr. Kujabi warned Gambians to be “mindful of their utterances because of the laws in place. “No one is an exception as far as these laws are in place,” Gambian journalist, Saikou Ceesay, quoted Kujabi as saying.

Kah was yet to be charged with any offence. He was subjected to marathon of interrogations during which police officers reportedly hauled insults at him. Kah was given access to his family until Saturday when he was moved to an unknown destination.

Informed sources attributed Mr. Kah’s arrest to a statement he had uttered during a discussion at his home, saying “Halifa Sallah, an opposition politician and sociologist, is the only man that wears trousers in the Gambia.” Gambian officials said Kah referred “Halifa as the only man in the country.”

Foroyaa newspaper management has been struggling to secure Mr. Kah’s release. They threatened to seek redress in court if their attempts to secure Mr. Kah’s release have failed.

Prior to his arrest, Foroyaa Managing Editor said Mr. Kah “was sitting at his normal chatting place with a friend. He is not held for any matter connected with his work.” Sam Sarr said his “arrest appears to emanate from allegations made against him by a stranger who had an encounter with him. The content of the allegations are still unknown to us and whether they should provoke such drastic reaction is still a subject of enquiry.”

Foroyaa officials doubted whether Kah, whose wife was in a desperate state, has become a victim of “disappearance without trace.” Since he was last seen by many people at Kotu Police, Mr. Sarr said “all of them would be able to testify that he has been under police custody up to Saturday. The police should be able to explain what happened to him in any court of law.”

Mr. Kah is the second Gambian to be arrested for “denigrating President Jammeh” in less than two months. His case followed that of a student who is fighting for his freedom in court on charges of seditious intent. Jamanty Mboge was accused of describing President Jammeh as a “useless President who disturbs people during a Skype chat.”

Embattled GRTS Journalist Fatou Camara Freed On Bail

October 10, 2013

Fatou Camara State HouseThe Gambia’s popular prime-time TV show host has been freed on bail. Fatou Camara spent 25 days in illegal detention without trial. She was kept at the National Intelligence Agency headquarters in Banjul.

Fatou was arraigned in before Magistrate Lamin Mbai of the Banjul Magistrate’s Court on Friday. She was charged with spreading and publication of false news.

The state accused Mrs. Camara of tarnishing the image of President Yahya Jammeh on Freedom Newspaper.  The former Director of Press and Public Relations at State House was also accused of ‘‘giving false news through the internet to Pa Nderry Mbai, editor-in-chief of the Freedom Newspaper.’’

After maintaining her innocence against all the charges, Fatou was granted bail in the amount of D5 million Dalasis. The bail bond also includes a Gambian surety who should provide a title deed to a property situated in the Greater Banjul Area.

Fatou’s lawyer, Edward Singhateh, had earlier made application to consult his client.

Fatou Camara’s case file was earlier sent to the NIA for security review.

Her court appearance resulted after the Gambia Press Union filed habeas corpus at the High Court in Banjul. Declaring Fatou’s continuous detention illegal, the union’s writ demanded the TV show host to either appear before a judge or be released.

Fatou Camara returns to the dock on Monday 28th October 2013.

Ends

Gambian Journalist Publishes Democracy Delayed

October 3, 2013

By Ebrima Ceesay

Alagie Yorro Jallow, co-founder and former managing editor of the banned Independent newspaper in the Gambia, has just published a highly recommended book on the Gambian Media.

The book will be officially released (available for sale) on 26th October 2013. The book cover, meanwhile, is attached here, for your information; and the price of the paperback edition is £19 dollars per copy.

Appropriately titled Delayed Democracy: How the Press Collapsed in the Gambia, the book has 250 pages and is by published by Author House, USA (www.authorhouse.com)

The study is scholarly, extremely well-researched, theoretically sound and clearly structured, with end notes, bibliographic references and acknowledgments.

And although it is a scholarly text, it is, all the same, easy to read and written with clarity. It is a very compelling and well-written account of how the Yahya Jammeh regime has, since 1994, continuously targeted freedom of expression and opinion in The Gambia, and passed draconian laws that have been used to stifle journalists, human rights defenders and government critics.

The book analyses the effect of President Yahya Jammeh’s takeover of the Gambia from a historical, political, and socio-economic context. It offers a useful and comprehensive contribution to the legal and political debate about freedom of expression—or more accurately stated, the lack thereof—in the Gambia. The study also proposes a theoretical framework specifically applicable to the Gambia, because the author maintains that the relationship between the Gambia and the media is in some ways unique. But there is a good balance between the theoretical material and empirical evidence, and this makes the study particularly refreshing. This is, by far, the best, most up-to-date, certainly fills (or closes) a major gap in the literature on mass communication and the press in Africa generally.

At the end of the book, the author offers useful suggestions for reforming the media in the Gambia. The author indicates that, above all else, lasting change in the Gambia can likely only be successful if the political climate in the Gambia shifts rather dramatically, or if the Jammeh regime shows signs of sensitivity to international political pressure. The author urges the government to repeal laws that inhibit freedom of expression, and ensure that both law and practice are in line with the standards enshrined in the human rights treaties to which the Gambia is a party to.

Alagie Yorro Jallow has written an excellent and relevant study that provides a well-documented insight into the deteriorating freedom of expression in the Gambia, as well as offer some helpful/useful

suggestions for effecting changes that could bring about improved human rights in the Gambia. The study will also prove a valuable source of reference for students, researchers and policymakers.

The author, Alagi YorroJallow, is currently a lecturer in Media Studies and Communication sat the Department of General Management, Martinde Tours School of Management and Economics, at the Assumption University in Bangkok,Thailand.

 

LU DEFU WAHU

August 23, 2013

FAMILIES DID NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED

TO THEIR EXECUTED RELATIVES

 

Ndey Tapha Sosseh telling the execution story!

By Ndey Tapha Sosseh

Today, Friday August 23, 2013, marks the anniversary of the executions of nine death row inmates in The Gambia Mile 2 prisons.  An incident that shook the world for no one had taken it seriously that the threats made by President Jammeh at the traditional Eid El Fitr meeting on August 20, 2013 with the Muslim leaders would materialize into reality. 

On that fateful night as news came to me from my colleague, Amadou Scattred Janneh that the executions had indeed taken place against all hopes that it would not – I quickly alerted my colleagues at CSAG about the alarming event.  Amid denials from the Government of The Gambia and doubts from even my closest friends and associates it was thanks to the online media that CSAG and Amnesty International were vindicated.  For several days, the government of The Gambia put out press releases denouncing the story as irresponsible rumour and a senior member of the Senegalese Human Rights Community told me that one of their ministers of state had met President Jammeh who denied that the executions took place.

Human rights groups say they had also contacted opposition and other leaders in The Gambia who on the basis of denials by the government also doubted the credibility of the story.  Without the perseverance of CSAG, Amnesty International and the online media, the families of Lamin B. Darboe, Alieu Bah, Lamin Jarju, Dawda Bojang, Abubacarr Yarbo, Malang Sonko, Lamin F Jammeh, Gebe Bah (Senegalese), Tabara Samba (Senegalese, female) would still not know what happened to their loved ones exactly on that dark and dreadful night.

If one year after this sad saga and using the same platform – the traditional meeting of the President with the Muslim leaders on the occasion of the feast of Eid El Fitr – President Jammeh once again threatens to execute Lamin Jobarteh, the erstwhile Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Njogu Bah, former Secretary General and Minister of Presidential affairs and National Assembly Matters, if sentenced by the courts for the charges levied against them then it behoves us all to take this threat seriously.  We cannot standby and wait for a repeat of such horrendous acts on the part of the government followed by rebuttals thus my response, Lu defu wahu[1], to the current Secretary General, Momodou Sabally on his remarks made on Eid El Fitr.

Thursday August 8th 2013 was significant in so many ways.  It marked the end of Ramadan and the celebration of the Holy Feast of Eid El Fitr.  It also was the day when the new Secretary General of The Gambia Momodou Sabally possibly made the greatest faux pas of his career by making statements against the online media.  Sabally’s error of judgement is likely to haunt him all his life.

Momodou Sabally failed to realize that high profile people do not put themselves in adversarial positions with the media, making utterance that put them in untenable situations much more so at the beginning of their new appointment.   Maybe he never heard the adage by Mark Twain to “never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel and paper by the ton.” Mark Twain was referring to the power of the newspaper.  Applied to the online media, Momodou Sabally should be well advised to “never pick a fight with people who have unlimited access to the Internet.”

Despite assurances to the contrary made to President Jammeh, Sabally and his cabinet colleagues are aware that irrespective of whatever legal restrictions that the Jammeh administration tries to put in place, the content and output of the online media is outside the control of the Government of The Gambia, hence his appeal to the religious leaders to intervene to stop “tarnishing the image of The Gambia.”

Others have already expounded on the foolhardiness of this futile statement of the Secretary General.  Did Momodou Sabally believe that his appeal would have some results?  Did he really believe that the Muslim religious leaders have influence the online media?  Does he really believe that the online media is campaigning against the government of The Gambia?  I think not.  What Mr. Sabally tried to do was to make a great first impression.  Unfortunately he failed in his bid to impress others at his first public engagement with the Muslim leaders.  As someone who had earned the title of “top class student”, Mr. Sabally’s behavior was rather “bottom class”.

First class students generally are smart enough to know that first impressions matter and that with every new encounter, one is evaluated and a lasting impression is formed about you.  These first impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making those first encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for all the relationships that follow. This first impression that I got was of a person who is uninformed but wants to appear savvy.  Unfortunately he floundered for he was totally out of his depth when he accused the Gambian online media of making degrading statements against the government of The Gambia.

Sabally failed to realize that Lu defu wahu, and that the online media have not said anything that is untrue.  Sabally, like other Jammeh sycophants wants the story to be told differently.  The online media and Gambian activists are relentless in their quest to tell the story as it is and not as the President, or his Secretary General or any other person wants it to be told.

The present Gambian story is ugly.  It is characterized by IMPUNITY.  Killings, disappearances, abductions, unlawful arrests, reprisals against media houses, or anyone thought to be anti-Jammeh, pillaging of people’s properties and businesses, rape, drug dealing and corruption are the order of the day.   Can Sabally who swore on oath to serve without fear or favour truthfully say that this is not happening?  Can he deny the assassination of Deyda Hydara, the disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh, the torture of Musa Saidykhan, the arson attacks on Radio 1 FM and the Independent Newspapers, the closure of Citizen 1 FM and Teranga Radio, the arrest and detention of the GPU six and their subsequent release, the imprisonment of Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh for the printing of Tee shirts with the slogan “Say No to Dictatorship” and the printers of the Tee shirts and the beatings, arrest and deportation of so many journalists including Kenneth Best, former proprietor and editor in chief of the Daily Observer Newspaper?

My response focuses on the media and not the global human rights abuses as Mr. Sabally’s diatribe was focused on the online media.  If the local Gambian media and journalists were not repressed by government, if journalists on the ground had the leeway to practice freely then there would not have been a mushrooming of the online media.  In trying to impress, Sabally depicts the media as the transgressor and the government as the transgressed.

What an anomaly?  Then again, it is not really an anomaly for in The Gambia of today, lies are truth; patriots are unpatriotic, the sincere are insincere.  Where Jammeh and his cabinet can go to the extent of formally writing to institutions and financial partners discrediting hardworking and honest Gambians who have worked tirelessly in service of the nation for many decades,  declaring them persona non grata and describing them as enemies of the state.  Baffled that despite all attempts to stifle them in a bid to coerce them to join his bandwagon (if you can’t beat them join them), these individuals continue to prosper, the Jammeh administration decided to target their livelihoods.

To choose the Holy Feast of Eid El Fitr, a day which exhorts forgiveness on Muslims, a day when Muslims are expected to whole-heartedly ask for forgiveness from each other and pray for forgiveness and strength of faith to display ill feelings towards the online media by saying untruths about them.

The Muslim who has completed the fasting of Ramadan is expected to continue his or her life in the spirit of Ramadan.  Yet on the very day that marked the end of the fasting period Mr. Sabally, instead of contemplating and reflecting on the day chose, like his leader Yayha Jammeh to make statements that demonstrate his lack of depth and knowledge of developmental issues.  What influence if any can the religious leaders have on the online media? His predecessor Njogu Bah had implicitly asked Imam Baba Leigh to focus on his religious teachings and stay out of politics.  In an immediate about turn the Secretary General who took over from him is now asking the Muslim religious leaders to pro-actively intervene and ask the online media to desist from criticizing the government of The Gambia.

After Sabally, other speakers buttressed this point.   In effect, what Mr. Sabally and the other speakers did on this occasion was to urge the Muslim religious leaders to be accomplices to murder,  disappearances, rape, torture, pillaging of properties and business and many other atrocities.  Horrendous acts that they should be preaching against in their pulpits, a move which led to the arrest and detention of their peers – Touray of Brikama, Ba Kawsu Fofana and Imam Baba Leigh – are the very things that they are asked to condone.  If the media at home cannot point these out because of repression then their online media peers will do so.

The online media has demonstrated that they have the commitment to continue to call attention of Gambians and the whole world to the massive human rights abuses that are ongoing in The Gambia.  They have criticized the authorities when state officials and politicians make mistakes.  The news they give is designed to stimulate a criticizing attitude towards the political course of the country so that society, in its turn, can hold the public authorities to account.  This can only be done if society is aware of its actions and if necessary can intervene.  If we have the opposite of this then we will have to deal with an authoritarian regime as we are doing today.

It is thanks to the uncritical, hypocritical stance of the Isatou Njie – Saidy’s, Momodou Sabally’s and Njogu Bah’s that the country has landed in the mess that we are in today.  Sugar coating the bitter pill only masks but does not take away the bitterness.  Similarly apportioning blame where it does not belong will not make it stick.  Truth will always prevail.  The nafeha’s[2] on Yaya Jammeh’s government turn a blind eye to the living reality and suffering of the people of The Gambia and for their own selfish interests give a rosy picture of the country.   People who twist the truth; people who have no respect for the rights and reputations of others; people who in the name of public interests and safety and national security are willing to condone maiming, killing and destruction of lives and properties.

Mr. Sabally and others should know that anytime they come up with such false platitudes in a bid to please the tyrant that they become victims of their own subterfuge. Coming 12th in the list of Secretary General’s since 1994,– Larey Ceesay, Mustapha Wadda, Julia Dolly Joiner, Tamsir Mbye, Alieu Ngum, Ousman Jammeh, Mariama Khan, Abdoulie Sallah, MamBuray Njie, Njogu Bah, Madi Jatta and Momodou Sabally (not counting the number of times that Njogu Bah has been recycled).  Mr. Sabally should know that there were others there before him.   Not all of them have degraded themselves but served with dignity and honour and moved on to other things.

Then there are the Momodou Sabally’s, Njogu Bah’s and Abdoulie Sallah’s who sing the same monotonous tune about the media.  When they have to face up to the music they turn to the same media that they castigated to publicize their cases for them so that they can have some semblance of justice.  In 2009, after a relentless global campaign following the arrest of my colleagues, Abdoulie Sallah made the declaration that it is “stupid people like Ndey Tapha Sosseh that go on CNN and BCC to spoil the image of the country”, two weeks later he was removed from office and arrested kicking, squealing and squeaking – ‘Waye Yai Yoye, Fo Len Ma Yobuh.  Hame Ngen Ne Werou Ma[3] all the way to Mile 2 Central Prisons.

The recent the sacking and arrest of Njogu Bah has received wide publicity on the online media in spite of his unequivocal stance against the media that brought public attention to his plight.  His family turned to the media, expressing concern.  Again, it is the ‘enemies of the state’ that are championing his cause.

These are things that the present Secretary General has chosen to ignore or turn a blind eye to.  Everyone, including Momodou Sabally know that up to the time of his dismissal, arrest and detention Njogu Bah was at the “the top of the class”  in singing praises, wishing the President well and praying that he remain in office for “nine hundred years.”  The Secretary General turned praise singer sang so well that in addition to being Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service he was given an additional portfolio that of Minister of Presidential affairs and National Assembly Matters on the 26th July 2012.  The man who was so favoured and trusted fell from grace less than a year later.  He was not among those who were “tarnishing the image of the country.”  On the contrary he was among those who were painting a glossy picture of the country and was a strong opponent of those whom he perceived to be the enemies of the state.  Maligned and vilified only by the powers that be -their only crime telling the true story instead of presenting a fake picture of the country.

Better to tell the truth and be damned than to speak falsehood and be damned.  Sycophancy did not help Ngogu Bah for in unequivocal terms Yaya Jammeh has publicly stated that he will never forgive him.  What crime could he have committed that is so great that it cannot be forgiven.  Sabally, sat and listened to the utterances that were being made against the man who had occupied the seat before him.  Putting aside the legal arguments against the prejudicial statement by the president the context of the day should be taken into consideration.  The Holy Feast of Eid El Fitr is a day of forgiving and forgiveness; A day when Muslims gather in a joyful atmosphere to offer their gratitude to Allah for helping them to fulfill their spiritual obligation prior to Eid. This form of thanksgiving is not confined to spiritual devotion and verbal expressions but goes beyond to manifest itself in a humanitarian spirit – the giving of alms to the needy.

Where was the humanity in this gathering (an assembly of Muslim religious leaders) when the President threatened to execute Njogu Bah and Lamin Jobarteh if found guilty and sentenced to death.  This was not a threat against the persons who were tarnishing the image of the state but against two men who up to the time of their sacking and arrests were defending the state and painting it with a glossy paint. Now they have the paint all over their faces and hands and are wishing in their hearts that they had gone with truth and not falsehood.  He who dines with the devil dances with the devil.  The devil who in his two faced manner castigated the Muslim religious leaders for not giving him advice.

I’m completely at a loss to know what advice or truth speaking Jammeh was referring to.  Just trying to comprehend the sense of the contradicting statements between President Jammeh and his cabinet is mind boggling.  Jammeh claims he wants to hear the truth, yet any person who has tried to tell him the truth, whether you’re an ally, opposition leader, religious leader, journalist or family member, he has publicly castigated, bullied, terrorized and or locked up.  Many of those who dare to tell him the truth are now living in exile.

It is these same people that are described as enemies of the state, hell bent on destroying the image of The Gambia.  The Muslim Religious leaders of course know better than to take this at face value. They have had enough lessons to learn from.  Since the 1994 military take-over Jammeh has called our Imams murderers, liars, gold diggers, fathers of thieves, prostitutes and alcoholics.   No Imam will run the risk of being ridiculed by the President.  Outside such occasions the fate of the few that have tried to speak up is well known.  There is no need to repeat what has happened to Brikama’s Imam Touray, Imam Ba Kawsu Fofana and Imam Baba Leigh.

Harry Truman (33rd President of U.S) said  “I want people around me who will tell me the truth, who will tell me the truth as they see it, you cannot operate and manage effectively if you have people around you who put you on a pedestal and tell you everything you do is right because that in practice can’t be possible.”   How true.  No man is perfect except of course Yaya Jammeh who since he took over the reins of power has systematically “swept away everyone” that he considers to be standing in his path.  In spite of having numerous examples of the people who have been used and abused there are still people who think that they are the “sacred cow” – the one who will survive Jammeh’s bulldozer.

Think Sabally, think.  The survival rate of a Secretary General is one and a half years (less if the recycling is taken into account).  The highest position in the civil service has been reduced to nothing, with its occupants imprisoned on flimsy charges, recycled like bin bags and the incumbent lives on a roller coaster.  Take the position by all means but watch what you say or keep quiet. It is difficult to see you speaking up as advised by Enoch Powell (British Politician) who said that, ‘’to see and not to speak will be the great betrayal’’.  If we go by this advise then we can ask ourselves who the traitors are?  Cast out the stone in thine eyes before casting stones at the online media.

To the families, relatives, and friends of all those executed on that fateful night, I once again extend my most sincere and heartfelt condolences.  Yours’ is a battle that we have sworn to uphold and we will do everything within our means to fight on your behalf to ensure that you are given the opportunity to be able to decently bury your loved ones and bring closure to this unfortunate, dark episode of our history.

I also take this opportunity and make a personal plea as secretary general of the CCG and CSAG to call on those families who are yet to sign up to the Court Case taken up on their behalf at the ECOWAS Community Courts to reach out and do so.  It’s never too late to stand up and fight for your rights, for each and every one of you that remains silent and does not act, all Gambians continue to suffer.

May the souls of your loved ones rest in peace.

Ends

Pressure Belligerent Gambian Regime, Right Groups Insist

July 23, 2013
Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, Amnesty International staff member at the International Secretariat, London, UK

Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Alieu Badara Ceesay

Dr. Janneh: We need to end dictatorship in the Gambia

The regional economic grouping has been urged to “exercise its authority to enforce its Court’s decisions by ensuring the Gambia to conduct a full investigation into the cases of Ebrima Manneh and Musa Saidykhan and pays adequate compensation, as ordered by the ECOWAS Court, for the violations of their human rights.”

The call is contained in a joint statement issued by Amnesty International, Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia (CHRH) and Coalition for Change-The Gambia (CCG).

The organizations call on Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and the European Union to be more decisive and put pressure on the Gambian authorities to implement in good faith their human rights obligations and commitments.

“We also urge the African Union to be more proactive to ensure the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ resolutions and recommendations are effectively implemented,” right groups said, throwing punches at Gambian authorities for their continuous disregard to implement the “decisions and recommendations on their human rights obligations made by international bodies.”

They blamed the Gambia government to abide by the verdict of the ECOWAS Court in 2008 and 2010. In both cases, the Gambia government was found guilty of violating the rights of journalists Ebrima Manneh and Musa Saidykhan. “The Court found the Gambian government to have violated its legal and human rights obligations, but the government has persistently failed to comply with the Court’s judgment. The government is yet to adequately investigate his disappearance and has refused to account for his whereabouts. Further, in 2010 the Court found that the government illegally detained and tortured journalist Musa Saidykhan in 2006. The government has refused to pay him compensation as ordered by the Court.”

The groups also faulted the Gambia for its refusal to implement the resolution passed by the 44th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR held in November 2008 in Nigeria. The resolution did not only condemn human rights violations in the Gambia but also ordered the West African country to “investigate allegations of torture and extrajudicial executions, end the harassment and intimidation of journalists, comply with the ECOWAS Court’s decisions and uphold human rights in the Gambia. The government has not implemented this resolution and the human rights situation has only deteriorated further.”

The Gambia is also challenged on its newly legislated law restricting internet freedom, the only channel of news source for Gambians. The law imposes stiffer punishment on those found wanting, which according to right groups, clearly explains the Gambia government’s intolerance to dissent.

The groups also blame the Gambia government for its complete disregard for human rights of the Gambian people, citing the six months detention incommunicado of Imam Baba Leigh for speaking against last year’s illegal executions of death row inmates.

The organizations called on the Gambian authorities to end their repression of journalists and human rights defenders and urged the international community to strengthen their efforts to improve the human rights situation in the Gambia.

LETTER TO GAMBIAN PRESIDENT YAHYA JAMMEH

July 23, 2013

JULY 22 ANNIVERSARY: THE PARADOX OF A

BLOODLESS COUP D’ETAT AND A BLOODY 19-YEAR RULE

 

Dear President Jammeh,

Ndey Tapha-Sosseh

Ndey Tapha-Sosseh

Today July 22nd 2013 marks 19 years of your coming into power – the day that you wrested power from a democratically elected government and imposed an undemocratic illegal franchise which lasted for two years.

Today, you are the ‘legitimate’ head of state of The Gambia.  After coming in illegally, by overthrowing the Government of President Dawda Kairaba Jawara you became legal by taking off your uniform to contest for elections in 1996.  An election you won and have continued to win in four subsequent Presidential elections.

It is paradoxical that you have been rewarded and continue to reward yourself for carrying out a coup d’état yet you punish with the utmost severity people who are alleged to be coup plotters. What is it that makes a coup d’état legitimate or illegitimate?  Is it the successful outcome that makes it legitimate and the unsuccessful outcome that makes it illegitimate?  Coupists like yourself who stage a successful coup d’état go on to ensconce themselves in power and show no inclination of leaving. You organize sham elections and, as elected Presidents enjoy all the trappings that go with the Office.  You sit with your democratically elected peers in the same spaces, institutions that have protocols on democracy and good governance such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN).   This is an indicator of weakness on the part of our regional and international institutions – to hold their members accountable to commitments to democratization of their countries.

Going back to my question of what makes a coup d’état illegal or otherwise it seems that success is the measure of legality and failure the indicator of illegality. Success results in reward and failure in punishment. When an attempted coup fails or is foiled then it is seen as an illegal activity for which the coup plotters whether real or framed are condemned and tried on charges that have dire punishment including death. The Gambia is an outstanding example of this anomaly and provides an interesting case study for political analysts – the rewards and punishments of coup d’états.

Mr. President, I know that you hate being addressed in this manner. Why? I am still to comprehend.  However, if you so much dislike to be addressed as Mr. President then why do you want the position so much? You bridle anytime you hear this greeting and several journalists have paid the prize for using it. In December 2004, Deyda Hydara paid the ultimate prize for his Good Morning Mr. President. State sponsored gunmen, apparently authorized by you, have confessed to his murder, yet you do not blink? In 2009, The Gambia Press Union paid dearly for the letter I wrote to you about the disparaging statements you made about Deyda Hydara, the assassinated Proprietor and Editor of The Point newspaper.  The saga of the GPU six is well chronicled as men and a woman of the press were imprisoned and fined for committing no crime but simply to publish a letter I wrote to you Mr. President in my capacity as President of the GPU reminding you of your responsibilities towards ensuring the safety of all of your citizens – a message you did not take kindly to. The greeting Mr. President goes with the position and is not meant to be derogatory.

Mr. President, Deyda’s assassination is one in a long list of unexplained and uninvestigated murder cases during your nineteen (19) year tenure of office. Your assertion and that of your supporters that your coup d’état was bloodless can no longer hold true for your tenure of office has turned out to be the bloodiest episode in the history of The Gambia. While the events and circumstances of each episode are different the spilling of the blood of thousands of Gambians is a real tragedy that mars the peace and tranquility of a nation that was once the envy of the sub-region and provided a safe haven for thousands of refugees that were fleeing their countries –Sierra Leone, Liberia and Senegal (Casamance) in search of peace, security and safety. They found it in our small and peaceful country. That was The Gambia of yester year. In The Gambia of today the persons and properties of Gambians and non-Gambians alike are unsafe and at risk from state sponsored terror and killings.

The arguments of under-development prior to your taking over go on unabated as justification for your military takeover. This letter to you Mr. President is not about growth and development or under-development but about peace and security. The peace and security you promised Gambians with “your soldiers with a difference” statement. This has not materialized however and the opposite holds true.  Prior to July 22, 1994 Gambians did not know about death squads, unexplained putsches, abductions, rape, killings and executions. After Independence, the only execution that ever took place in The Gambia was that of Mustapha Danso, in 1981.

Mr. President, true there was pain and suffering during and following the abortive coup d’état of 1981 but in the true nature of Gambians they reverted back into the rhythm of complacency, maslaha[1] and peacefulness – leaving everything in the hands of God the Almighty. It is this attribute of Gambians that you have exploited and continue to exploit for you know too well that Gambians are fatalistic people who believe that all events are predetermined by fate and are therefore unalterable.  We are a people who also believe that khen du heh ngurr[2] and a people who believe that peace should be maintained at any price.

This belies the true spirit of democracy. Power flows from the people to the leaders of government, who hold power only temporarily.  The people are free to criticize their elected leaders and representatives, and to observe how they conduct the business of government.  Yet you, Mr. President, broker no criticism from your own party members or from the opposition.  On the contrary Mr. President you have monopolized the democratic space.  Yours is the only voice that predominates obliterating all others as you erroneously believe that you know it all and that you have the answer to all societal needs and interests.

Over time you have alienated many including your own friends, supporters, ministers and military forces, the media, opposition political parties, religious leaders and civil society many of whom are angry and frustrated.  Everyone who is willing to participate peacefully has been alienated except those who sing to your tune and dance to your music.  When they finish dancing and singing to a particular tune they get pushed aside for the next set of dancers.  Their actions are now anathema and no longer sources of the utmost satisfaction.  You abhor and reject them and end up by dismissing, imprisoning and even killing them. You squash with brute force any dissenting or divergent voices.

This letter Mr. President is to remind you that even though you claim that you “did not kill a chicken” when you took over you have since then turned the tide by the numerous state sponsored killings that have taken place in a bid to silence the opposition and to quell any perceived move that will remove you from office legally or illegally.  Some concrete evidence of your repressive actions is listed below to remind you of your heavy handed actions against the people that you are obliged to listen to, take  their criticisms into consideration, where possible act on them and where this is not possible give cogent reasons.

Mr. President, the first demonstration of your desire to entrench yourself and to wield absolute power was the night of 11th November 1994.   A day that is still vivid in my mind as your violent and surprise attack of Fajara Barracks ended in a personal tragedy for my family.  The rude awakening of residents of Fajara and Bakau by the booming of gunshots and artillery resulted in my grandmother going into shock.  She suffered a brain haemorrhage and went into a coma and stayed comatose until she passed away a year later on the 19th October 1995. She was an indirect victim of the shootings at Fajara Barracks when blast explosions caused a wave of change in atmospheric pressure and adversely affected my grandmother even though she did not come into direct contact with the shrapnel.

As serious as our own family tragedy was it was nothing compared to the massive loss of lives that resulted from the gunfight at Fajara Barracks.  The exact toll will never be known as those who know have been neutralized or permanently silenced in a cyclical spate of violence in which anyone who is deemed to have information is systematically annihilated.  While some names standout such as Lieutenants Basiru Barrow, Alieu Ceesay, Abdoulie Faal, Bakary Manneh, Buba Jammeh, Basiru Camara, Momodou Darboe and Gibril Saye, Sergeant Fafa Nyang and Lieut. Alieu Ceesay, others have disappeared into oblivion.  After nineteen years their families have kept quiet and not asked for an explanation about the mysterious disappearances of their loved ones – a Gambian trait that I have already alluded to displayed by a people who can endure pain, grief and long suffering in silence.

The probability of this happening elsewhere than in The Gambia is rare.  After nineteen long years of not knowing where their loved ones – son, brother, husband, fiancée, relative, and friend – people in other countries would have demanded for a public explanation.  In the aftermath of the event, some made enquiries about their relations and were told that they had gone on a mission. While this was plausible then it no longer holds water.  Even then it was a flimsy excuse but people were willing to hold on to some shred of hope.  Hope that their loved ones were not among those massacred on that fateful night.  Some are still in denial as they hope against hope that their loved one somehow escaped.  Nineteen years is a long time to keep quiet and make no contact.  If an emergency warranted their prompt departure they would have made contact with their families on arrival at the country of mission or if they escaped from their pursuers they would have tried to make contact after some time.  The indicators are that they are no longer alive.

The ones who died outside the Barracks on the 11/12th November 1994 far outnumber those who died inside. The surprise attack by your operators left many of the defenseless and helpless soldiers dead as they tried to get away.  The rest were rounded up and put into trucks and taken away in broad daylight to the firing range in Brikama and other places in the Kombos.  Stories of their sad demise came when some of the killers on sobering up after the macabre massacres gave anecdotal evidence of what had transpired.  One of the stories was of the young soldier who turned to his assailant and pleaded to be given the opportunity to pray two rakats. His cruel response was ya ko tall[3]. In religion it is the intention that matters and for the deceased young man his prayer was answered.  For his killer it is now between him and his God for the young man is no more and is not in a position to forgive his killer or otherwise.

Gibril Saye was not even at the barracks.  Arrested on his way to work the next morning and brutally killed he was named among the persons who had been killed at Fajara Barracks in spite of his father’s protestations that he saw his son that morning before he left for work.   The late Captain Sadibou Hydara called his father a “stupid old man who did not know what he was talking about.”  By a strange quirk of fate and in retributive justice the man who heartlessly rubbished the calls of a grieving father for justice of his slaughtered son lost his life in March 1995 just five months after the 11/12th November 1994 incident.  He died in Mile 2 Central Prisons where he was incarcerated with the then Vice Chairman Captain Sana Sabally for attempting to “kill you” Mr.  President – the very allegation that was leveled against the soldiers who were accused of waging war against you and your government.

Mr President, even though the exact number of deaths from this gruesome night is unknown there are unmarked mass graves which will bear testimony to the atrocities that took place on that night.    Recently (2009) as you toured security bases, you tried to apportion blame for the presence of human remains in Fajara Barracks to the 1981 Coup D’état. In your usual diatribe you said the Barracks was full of human bodies – remains of persons who had died in 1981.   As you spoke you forgot that DNA and Forensics can tell how a person died and when.   A day will come when forensic experts will help the people of The Gambia to know the truth about the different historical periods and the horrifying deaths that some people endured.  If you were so sure Mr. President that these “bones” as you described them, belonged to “persons that were tortured and killed in 1981” why did you not call in the experts to investigate and bring the true culprits to justice.

Mr. President, What crime had these young men committed?  None, all they did was to express their dissatisfaction about their living and work conditions.   Given assurance that these would be addressed the response they got that night was to be killed in cold blood when their defenses were down and they least expected it.  Rumours of a counter coup had spread round the city and the Kombos that morning.  Later on through the grapevine the story was also told that the top leadership of the AFPRC consisting of Sana Sabally, Saibou Hydara, Edward Singhateh and Yankuba Touray had met with ‘the boys’ to ask them their grievances. The young men listed these not knowing that it was a trap to identify the leaders in the military who were capable of putting up a resistance.  Having given them false assurances but armed with the identity of the leaders your men came back that night and brutally eliminated any form of resistance that could have grown in the army.   The announcement the next morning was that they had waged war on your government.

Mr. President, how could unarmed men who were asleep have waged war on your government?

Mr. President, almost one year after coming into power, just a month before the anniversary of the 22nd July takeover, on the 23rd June 1995 the young and dynamic Minister of Finance Ousman Koro Ceesay lost his life in mysterious circumstances at a culvert between Jambur and Jambanjelly in the Kombo South District.  The charred remains of the dashing and debonair 33 year old gentleman was found early the next morning beyond recognition and identified only by his car.  You had travelled out of the country but the story is told that as soon as you arrived  at your destination you turned to the people in your entourage and made the statement “Koro is dead.” How you knew that your Minister of Finance had died is the million dollar question.

On your return you went to sympathize with his family.   You wept profusely as you extended your condolences to the grieving family – a classic case of doma leka la doma jaleh la[4]. The crowd outside murmured angrily against this show of sympathy.  They did not have the evidence but their hearts told them that the death of their son, brother, nephew, cousin, friend, neighbor and colleague was state sponsored,  Seni Sise, Koro’s father and his mother Fatou Sagnia Sise maintained their composure as they accepted your condolences.  Both of them highly disciplined educationists knew how to comport themselves even in the most trying of circumstances.  The family’s departure and decision to live in the USA speaks volumes of what they really believed.  They no longer felt safe in living in the country where their loved one was so brutally taken away from them.

All this happened in the first year of your coming into power.  Even though you announced the return to multi-party elections you would not brook any opposition that stood in the way of entrenching yourself in power.  Following the launching of the United Democratic Party (UDP) in Banjul September 1996 you diverted your attention to the new party who became the target for your attacks.  Things did not always go according to plan.  When APRC supporters attacked the UDP campaign convoy on its return from Basse in the Upper River Region it was unfortunately one of your people Alieu Njie who died in the fracas – another indirect victim of your violence.

It is nothing short of a miracle that more deaths were not recorded at Westfield junction and Denton Bridge when the jubilant convoy and supporters of the UDP were viciously attacked on their return journey after what was perceived to be a successful campaign up country. However the death of Sedia Sagnia (1997) administrator of the party is directly attributable to the beatings that he received from the thugs in uniform.

Mr. President not only your perceived foes but your own people – family members, party militants, loyalists and friends are all at risk.  They are killed, imprisoned or abducted when you fear that they are becoming too popular or too powerful and may serve as challengers.    They are also eliminated when they witness scenes that they should not have.  Some are killed when your witch doctors associate them with the health or lack of it of your children.

Baba K. Jobe, former majority leader of the National Assembly, a man who had done so much financially to elevate the APRC and ensured that he vigorously fought any opposition to you was imprisoned for 9 years in 2004 for economic crimes – a charge that you use to get rid of all threats to your presidency.  Baba died under questionable circumstances at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital on the 29th October 2011, shortly before being released from custody at Mile 2 Central prison.  His wife Tida, suffered a stroke and his mother died of shock when his release date was commuted – another indirect victim of your machinations.

Lieutenant Almamo Manneh – one off your closest henchmen was killed in January 2000 accused of conspiracy to topple the regime.  Why did you not take him to court instead of eliminating him?

Corporal Dumbuya was shot in broad day light two days after at the Albert market as the women and market sellers fled in panic from the murder scene.   His body was dragged away and no one knows what happened to his remains.

Daba Marena, former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director General and four others -Lt. Ebou Lowe, Lt. Alieu Ceesay, Warrant Officer Alpha Bah and Staff Sgt. Manlafi Corr were officially reported to have escaped while en-route to Janjangbureh Prisons on Tuesday April 4th, 2006  .  It is now public knowledge that these people have been exterminated.  They were also accused of being coup plotters. The ministers of state at the time, who vigorously defended this version of the state are now either exiled or have fallen victim of one of your many accusations.

Superintendent Manlafi Sanyang, the former head of Gambia Government vehicle control unit at State House another close ally died while in custody on the 20th August, 2008.

Colonel Vincent Jatta, was poisoned and told his family that he knew he would die as a result of the poisoning.

Journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh was picked up from his place of work on July 7, 2006.  Until recently, had I not met with Bai Lowe, who later repeated what he told me on online Gambian media outlets, I would have continued to believe and to wish that Chief was holed up in one of your many detention centres around the country.  During my stint as GPU president, I met his father on many occasions and even did a short film with him to be used on a campaign against Impunity in The Gambia.  His ailing father had hoped that you, Mr. President would respect the ECOWAS Court Decision instructing your government to release the young man.  Little did we know then that by July 2012 I would meet one of your hit men, Bai Lowe, who’d confirm to me that Chief was indeed killed, murdered by men who work directly under you and who are answerable to none other than you.

Mr. President, the confessions of the murder, maiming and torture of hundreds of Gambians, the 48 Ghanaian youth and acts of banditry, coming from Jugglers, Black Black, Republican Guard, Border Patrol Team or whatever name you choose to give them to make them look official and pay them from our state coffers is not only mind boggling but defies logical thinking.  It is however further testimony that the period after your “bloodless” coup d’état has turned out to be the bloodiest in the history of The Gambia.

There are so many other examples but these are enough to drive the point home that you do not build a democracy by annihilating your opponents whether real or imagined.  The 14 students who were mercilessly gunned down on the 10th and 11th student demonstrations were not your enemy.  They were simply exercising their democratic right to freedom of assembly and to hold the government accountable for their safety and to live their lives without fear.  What did they get instead – death, abuse, imprisonment, maiming and exile?  These young people have had their actions and names immortalized by the media.  If their parents and families are afraid to speak out as the families of the soldiers killed on the 11/12th November 1994 attacks the media will continue to speak out for them to ensure that their names and actions are never forgotten and live on in the annals of Gambian history.  Some of them were not even involved in the demonstrations but were indirect victims of the shootings from the military on innocent school children and students.  As with the Ousman Koro Ceesay incident you were out of town but gave the order to “shoot the bastards” as you believed that they were children of the opposition who wanted to oust you from power.

Mr. President, two of the executed prisoners of the Mile 2 Central Prisons Alieu Bah and Malang Sonko were on death row on convictions of being involved in attempts to overthrow the government.  Along with other inmates who were convicted on other crimes unconnected to state security they were executed on the 23rd August 2012.  These were convicted on the basis of the involvement in the Kartong attacks, an attempted military takeover in 1997.  Isn’t it instructive Mr. President that in your 19 years of rule there have been several attempts to get you out of office?  Whether these attempts are true or fabricated means that there are important lessons to learn and corrective measures undertaken if The Gambia is not to explode into conflict.

I have not said anything that has not already been said before.  Apart from the personal perspectives that I bring into the story several others have brought up these cases over and over again but it seems that you do not care nor do you want to know.

Mr President, The purpose of this piece is to illuminate to you that in a democracy you will have allies but you will also have opponents.  The opponents are not “bedbugs and fleas” (as you described the alleged coup plotters in 2006) who deserve to be exterminated.  If that were the case then you would not be the President of the country today.  You would also have been in Mile 2 Central Prisons if people had put up a resistance to your take over.

Gambians gave you a chance in the name of wanting change.  The price that we have paid for this change is enormous.  We have paid with our blood.  Gambian soil is soaked with the blood of innocent men and women who have been killed intentionally to perpetuate your rule.  In this quest you have been aided and abetted by other Gambians.  Many of whom including Baba Jobe, Daba Marenah, Tumbul Tamba and co. have along the way also paid the heavy price of their life; Many of whom like Bai Lowe and co are now exiled and running for their lives; Many of whom like Lang Tombong Tamba and cohorts are now on death row and could be executed depending on which side of the bed you wake on; Many of whom like Lamin Jobarteh, Pa Harry Jammeh and Ngoju Bah who until as recently as a few months ago were busy describing activists and journalists as troublemakers, enemies of the state and “unpatriotic” Gambians, bent on destabilizing The Gambia are now detained illegally.   Today, you have declared them criminals and treat them the same way you would have treated “unpatriotic” people like us – journalists and activists.

Unfortunately, every time you push others off your bandwagon, you find others more eager to please, hob nob and go a step further to demonstrate to you, how weak your previous public servants were and how they can help you further nail your opponents, perceived and real, including bringing to ‘justice’ Gambian Diasporans and those living in exile, who, from our safe havens have exposed the blood thirsty nature of your regime through our advocacy and the relentless push of the Gambian online media.

Mr. President, it comes as no surprise to me that exactly 114 days after his appointment as Minister of Information and Communication, Nana Grey Johnson, introduced the Information and Communications Amendment Act 2013, an amendment passed into law by our rubber stamp National Assembly.  Apart from once again, bringing global attention to The Gambia for all the wrong reasons, exposing the highhandedness of your regime in an attempt to quell any form of dissent and divergent view, the new law is practically impossible to implement.

Mr President, I need not remind you that The Gambia does not have any known extradition arrangements with any country and even if it did, it is unlikely any state would hand over a Gambian citizen for daring to caricature or express a view, different from that of President Jammeh.   Any attempt to implement the external element of this new Act would not only mean that you would not get what you want but once again you’d be wasting the Gambian tax payers’ money.

Like their predecessors, your minister of Information land Communication, Nana Grey Johnson and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Aji Amie Joof, had to go through the baptism of fire.   Let us see how they would now defend your other actions to kill and maim should you decide to lift the temporary moratorium on the death penalty; should you decide to continue to hold incommunicado, your former friends and their former colleagues in Government.

Perhaps your new found friends have forgotten how recently, Ngoju Bah, prayed for you to continue to rule for the next 900 years.  Today, he is held incommunicado, with his family using the same medium you and your henchman loathe so much – the online media, to express concern about his whereabouts and well-being.

Mr. President, like you, many Gambians continue to decry colonialism and slavery. As evil as these two phenomena were they were externally motivated whereas what is going on in The Gambia of today in the name of development is internally motivated. Led, orchestrated and masterminded by none other than you.  You order killings, torture, disappearances, in-communicado detentions, unfair trials in the name of development and national security.  Our ministers of state, members of parliament, heads of department, entire government departments and security structures, till your farms knowing fully well that you, Mr. President benefit financially from the proceeds of the sale of the produce; knowing fully well that you, Mr. President forcibly took the land from our poor farmers and rural communities.  If this is not modern day slavery, then what is?

Mr. President, all Gambians know the rules that govern our inheritance in particular land and gifts related to landed property.  For one who neither owned nor inherited land as at July 22, 1994, it is baffling that you now own more than a third of the arable land in The Gambia.   You have not only “inherited” land from the Foni’s where you claim to originate but own swathes of land in the Kombos, Kiangs, Niumis and all other parts of the country.

Mr. President, when I hear the televised calls for help to cultivate the farms of your mother Asombi Bojang, I cannot but wonder how one who owned so much land could not even afford to educate her own son but had to let others, more affluent educate you.

Some of your farmland in the Fonis apparently is also home to the wells and pits of horror.  The wells were jugglers acting on your orders dumped the bodies of the 48 dead Ghanaians and at least a “hundred other” Gambians including your real and perceived enemies some of whom are watchmen, rice distributors and even your own kith and kin Mercy Jammeh, Jassaka Kujabie to name but few of your relatives that are not spared.

Mr. President, when Macbeth got tired of killing he turned to Lady Macbeth and asked:  “Will all the water in the ocean wash this blood from my hands? No, instead my hands will stain the seas scarlet, turning the green waters red”.  (Macbeth, William Shakespeare).   I want to tell you Mr. President that: “all the water in the Atlantic Ocean and the River Gambia will not wash your hands clean.    Instead your hands will turn the waters of the ocean and the river red”.

Mr. President, redeeming yourself may seem practically impossible.  You can however start by making some reparations?   During this holy Month of Ramadan which coincides with your July 22nd takeover you could start by releasing all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in The Gambia.  If you could release Yousef Ezziden, alias Rambo a Lebanese national, accused alongside Lieutenant General Lang Tombong Tamba, Brigadier General Omar Bun Mbye, Major General Lamin Bo Badjie, Lieutenant Colonel Kawsu Camara, alias Bombardier, Momodou Gaye, former Deputy Inspector General of Police, Gibril Ngorr Secka former ambassador to Guinea Bissau and businessman Abdoulie Joof, alias Lie Joof then you can release these men and all the others who were there before them.  If you could release Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh and Tamsir Jasseh then you can release navy officer M.B Sarr who has never been brought before a Court of law.  If you could release the GPU Six in September 2009 because it was Ramadan then you can release all the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience who are in Mile 2, Jeshwang and Janjanbureh and other places.  The dead cannot come back but the living can rejoin their families and try to rebuild their lives.

Mr. President, I do hope that you find it in your heart to let our people go.  I also do hope that from now going forward, you would start reflecting on the same spirit of patriotism that led you to overthrow a legitimately elected government.  The issues of corruption, abuse of office, and the lack of transparency, accountability and probity, which led you to intervene, holding a gun are more widely prevalent today and are the same reasons for which other patriotic Gambians have the right to question, probe, demand for improvements and encourage civil disobedience.

Mr. President, you need to respect the rights of others to have some say in the way the country is governed.  This will result in a win-win situation and not one in which you want to control everything including the online media which are out of your reach and control.

Ndey Tapha Sosseh
Secretary General
Coalition for Change – The Gambia (CCG)
Civil Society Associations Gambia (CSAG)

 

 

Ending 19 years of repression and impunity in The Gambia

July 21, 2013

IT’S TIME TO TAKE ACTION NOW

 

19 Years of Repression & Impunity

July 22, 2013, marks 19 years of President Yahya Jammeh’s rule of West Africa’s smallest country, the Gambia, after the 48-year-old leader ceased power in 1994 through a military coup. 

The 19-year rule of President Jammeh has been characterised by brutal repression of citizens’ rights to free expression. Freedom of speech and media rights have remained stifled mainly through the application of inimical laws and the meting out of stiffer punishments after politically motivated trials.

During the period, dozens of human rights advocates and journalists have been exiled, others have been killed and several others have disappeared. In the Gambia today, critical media reportage is literally outlawed, while other rights violations continue to be perpetrated by the government with gross impunity. For example, The Jammeh regime has refused to comply with two human rights judgements delivered against it by the regional community Court of Justice (the ECOWAS Court) since 2010.

While traditional media remained repressed, Gambian citizens have over the years relied on the internet as an alternative channel for expressing themselves. Gambians based home and abroad have, over the years, used the internet to advocate for the respect and protection of human rights (especially freedom of expression) in the country. Online freedom too has now been severely restricted through a new draconian internet law passed on July 3, 2013.

The new internet law known as (Information and Communication Act 2013) allows for a 15 year jail term and/or a US$90,000 fine for the offence of “publication of false news” about the government on the internet. Many have expressed concern about the obvious dire implications of the law on online freedom and freedom of expression in the Gambia.

On this day, July 22, marked by human rights organisations and civil society groups globally as “Gambia Day of Action,” the MFWA entreats all internet-users across the world to join the campaign to protest against the new Internet law and the worsening conditions of freedom of expression in the Gambia.

We specifically, request internet users, rights activists and individuals to act by sending a protest message via SMS to the Gambian government through its Minister of Information, Nana Grey Johnson, on his cell phone number: 002209916181.

We also encourage you to republish this statement in your newspapers and websites. Join the MFWA’s 1-hour Twitter forum on The Gambia via “@MFWAALERTS” on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 14:00 GMT.

For a visual impression of Human rights situation in the Gambia click here.

To see a video on the “Dangerous Business of Journalism in The Gambia” click here.

For more information please contact:
Kwame Karikari (Prof)
Executive Director
MFWA
Accra
Tel: 233-0302-24 24 70
Fax: 233-0302-22 10 84