Protesters Besiege Gambia’s UK High Commission

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Gambians on Monday blocked the entrance to their country’s High Commission in London, England, for four hours, in protest against their government’s bad governance punctuated by gross violations of human rights.

The protest was a response to a call by the Campaign for Democratic Change Gambia (CDCG). Gambians have taken to the streets to express their dissatisfaction against President Yahya Jammeh’s “irresponsible, unilateral and unconstitutional decision to withdraw the Gambia from the Commonwealth of Nations.”

The protest also coincides with the 19th anniversary of the extra-judicial killings of Gambian soldiers on November 11th, 1994. The coupists, purportedly led by the late Lt. Basiru Barrow, were executed in mysterious circumstances. The junta has since refused to publicly release the exact number of executed soldiers.

Dozens of protesters began the protest at Trafalgar Square in Central London before proceeding to the Gambian High Commission situated at 92 Ledbury Road. They found Metropolitan Police Diplomatic protection team already stationed at the Gambian mission. As a result, protesters were barred from entering the Gambian mission complex, let alone laying siege inside.

However, their presence at the front of the mission has disrupted business as usual for at least four hours. Apart from police officers on guard, diplomatic officials were not able to welcome anyone inside.  Fearing a repeat of the September 2012 occupation, diplomatic officials shut their doors to business to even those who showed up for appointment. One Portuguese citizen who came for a visa application appointment could not have access to the mission.

During the siege, protesters were chanting slogans such as “Jammeh Must Go; Down, Down Dictator; We’re Gambians; We Don’t Want Yahya Jammeh; Go to Hell Yahya Jammeh.”

One of the organizers of the protest explained the rationale of the Monday event.  “Our main goal for coming out in large numbers is to prove Yahya Jammeh wrong that gone are the days when Gambians have been cowed by his government’s threats,” said a Gambian-based London Solicitor Yanks Darboe. He said it is worth sacrificing for sacrifice for peace-loving Gambians. “However such a sacrifice should not be misinterpreted as a weakness or cowardice,” Solicitor Darboe said, brimming with confidence that Gambians would have flushed out President Jammeh if they had the magnitude of his powers.

Darboe said they will continue to shed light on the plight of Gambians through available means, including protest marches “until we see the end of this regime.”

The London protest came on the heels of similar protests in New York and Washington, D.C. While the New York protest succeeded in confining President Jammeh for fear of being physically attacked by irate Gambians the of Washington turned out to be an occupation of the Gambian Embassy building.

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