Britain- Stop the Dictatorship in The Gambia
Britain- Stop the Dictatorship in The Gambia
We are petitioning on behalf of the Gambian Diasporas living in the United Kingdom who are most starving for liberty, dignity and peace in their motherland. We are also petitioning on behalf of the entire Gambian Diaspora who would like their country to be free from fear, oppression and tyranny like other countries in the world. The Diasporas who forms more than 4% of the country’s total population, enriched with one of the largest pool of resources per capita in the African continent. A resource pool deliberately left untapped and unengaged by the current regime. We are finally petitioning on behalf of The Gambian people who are enduring 22 years of dictatorship, persecution, impunity and severe lack of basic human rights in their own country. Our Gambian people who are at this very moment struggling to free their country from the tyrannical ruling of Yaya Jammeh.
Yaya Jammeh is an authoritarian leader who rules our beloved country with an iron feast, imposing fear in the minds of the citizens, and using divide-and-rule as a strategy to create tribal disunity in order to consolidate himself in power. Recently, declared The Gambia as an Islamic State without any referendum or consultation with the citizens even though the country’s constitution states that The Gambia is a secular state. Only the National Assembly of The Gambia, in the exercise of its legislative powers, has the constitutional mandate to amend or repeal a provision of the Constitution. Even then, the National Assembly cannot amend or repeal any such entrenched provision of the Constitution to make The Gambia an Islamic State (according to section 100  of the Constitution). He also ordered all women working in the civil service to cover their heads in the same arraign. Similarly, this is the same president we saw in 2013 making an announcement on state TV that The Gambia is withdrawn from the commonwealth forthwith, accusing the UK of backing his political opposition ahead of elections. Few years ago, he has publicly threatened to behead homosexuals and claimed that he can cure several diseases including HIV and other deadly deceases.
The Gambia is losing tens of thousands of its young men and women through the Mediterranean for the promise of Europe. Needless for us to talk about the effect of this on the UK and the European union however, a key fact that you may not be aware of is that the Gambia is one of the biggest contributors to this flow. You will be curious to know how a tiny nation of barely 2 million, who has neither war nor famine and yet be one of the continent’s largest exporter of its young men and women? The answer to this needs no empirical evidence to work out I trust. But a little statistic as starting point (if a closer focus is needed) - 48% of the population lives below international poverty line (UNICEF), 22% unemployment rate, only 48.2% of the 15- 24yr olds are literates and -0.2% rate of economic growth, approximately 62% of youths in employment works in the civil service with other means of making any money to keep up with the standard of living is to be close to the president. Moreover, two UN special rapporteurs gained access to the country for the first time in 2014, and reported, “torture is a consistent practice” by authorities and “avoiding arrest is a necessary preoccupation” for ordinary Gambians (Human Rights Watch).
More recently, our people witnessed the regime’s atrocities once again on April 14, 2016 when a group of inter-party Gambian opposition political activists decided to stage a peaceful protest march to demand electoral reforms. As the march took momentum, a heavily equipped security force armed with guns, tear gas and batons soon met these folks at the Westfield Junction of Serekunda city. The unarmed peaceful protesters were severely beaten before been arrested and thrown in a back of a truck like planks of wood and taken away. Hours later, reports started emerging that the arrested protesters were brutally tortured and that some may have even lost their lives including the protest leader Ebrima Solo Sandeng of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP). Some of the other protesters (Fatou Jawara, Ngoi Njie and Fatou Camara to name but few) were reported to be in a state of coma as a result of the severe torture they endured in the hands of the security forces. Identities of the other arrestees are still not yet been confirmed by the Jammeh regime. These protesters were in detention well over a week and up to the time of writing this petition today (Sunday, April 24) they have not been taken to court to be taken through the due process of the law.
On Saturday April 16, 2016, the UDP executive headed by the party leader Ousainou Darboe took to the street for another peaceful march this time to demand the release of their party members ‘dead or alive’. This group were also soon arrested and taken away in a similar manner. On April 20th, 2016 Ousainou Darboe and 18 others were arraigned at the High Court in Banjul charged with six counts of ‘unlawful assembly’, ‘riot’, ‘incitement of violence’, ‘riotously interfering with vehicles/traffic’, ‘holding a procession without a permit’ and ‘disobeying an order to disperse’. The group was denied bail on the day of the hearing and was taken back to the state’s central prisons, Mile-2. And according to a local newspaper, six of these accused persons are put in solitary confinement at Mile-2. However, killing unarmed protesters is not a new thing for this regime. You will be aware of the killings of 14 unarmed students and a journalist, with dozens more injured on April 10/11th, 2000. These students were merely demanding justice for the killing of one of their fellow students and the raping of another by the security personnel. So, if those massacres were neither investigated nor the perpetuators punished, who can stand up and say this latest one will be any different?
We can go on and go for pages without exhausting the evil deeds committed by this dictator. The rain of oppression, terror, impunity and economic hardship will continue as long as Yaya Jammeh’s regime stays in power.
So we stand together in solidary for our citizens who are murdered, unlawfully imprisoned, missing, silenced and exiled due to their political ideology or opposition to the regime for the last 22 years. For them and for us we ask you the British government; as our big brothers, as a former colonial power, as allies who’s forefathers fought alongside you against tyranny and terror in the past and as partners in the pursuance of democracy for all, to help salvage The Gambia. We are not asking you to invade The Gambia militarily, but if you will offer the least, please let it be the use of your other influential powers like imposing sanctions, bans, isolations and asset freezes on Yaya Jammeh and his enablers to replace the autocracy with democracy.
We may not have oil or other mineral resources to attract the international business community and media focus, but we certainly have lives that every individual values - so please help us safe them. We say we’d enough. We want our motherland back. We want our people to live in democracy and rule of law. We want our young people to gain education, have proper health facilities, have job opportunities and meet standard of living aspirations enjoyed by others around the world. So we finally call on you Britain; to please use your influence as a great nation, a nation who protects democracy and fundamental human right for all, to effect change in The Gambia.
We urge all peace loving citizens of the world to please take some time to sign this very important petition in support of restoring peace and dignity back in The Gambia. Thank you.
UK Gambian Diaspora