PRESS RELEASE, JUNE 19TH, 2018.
We write with heavy hearts to express our outrage, and condemnation for the fatal shooting by the police of, what we believe to be two “unarmed” protesters in Faraba Bantang Village on June 18th, 2018. While we do not have all the relevant facts and circumstances which led to the use of live ammunitions by the Police, it is our fervent conviction that excessive force may have been used in this particular instance, given the fact that a similar encounter had ensued in the preceding days or weeks , in which case the police exercised greater restraint, and as a result , there were no casualties reported on either side.
We do not know if the security forces felt an eminent threat to their lives, and if they did, how? Notwithstanding, it is our hope that these pertinent questions will be answered by the findings of the investigation. Speaking to some residence in the village, we have confirmed earlier reports that the premises of the Village Mayor (Alkalo). Mr. Nuha Kujabi, the District Chief. (Seyfo) Mr. Babucarr Sanyang, and one Mr. Fansu. Jung. Conteh, were ransacked and burnt down by the protesters, following the fatal shootings. This was a clear indication that the community was understandably very shocked by the actions of the police and of course the untimely loss of two young souls of their own.
Further, it has come to our attention through social media reports that one Mr. Pa. Modou Bojang, a radio journalist who went to the scene to cover the story was also arrested, tortured and detained by the police, and that he has sustained some injuries in the process. Once again, we emphatically condemn the arrest, torture, and detention of Mr. Bojang. We therefore call on the authorities for his immediate and unconditional release, drop all charges against him, and allow him access to medical attention. We believe that the authorities at the village, District, Regional, and yes government levels should have been able to resolve this dispute by suspending the sand mining at the site, while negotiations were held behind closed doors. By doing so, we in our view, the situation would not have escalated to this level, the result of which was certainly horrendous. We hope that this unfortunate situation will serve as a learning lesson for the authorities.
Finally, we call on the Inspector General of Police to launch a speedy and unbiased investigation into the matter, and hold the perpetrator(s) accountable for their actions. In the meantime, we appeal to the residence of Faraba Bantang, especially those who have lost their loved ones, to exercise patience while the investigation is underway. We mourn with you, and we share your pain and suffering in these trying times.
The Interim Committee: C16D Support Movement.