Editorial: Deydah Hydara: Witness to murder confession; but still no credible investigation

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When the cowards were sent to pull their triggers on an innocent and decent citizen, their goal was to silence the great pen and ideals that he stood up for. What they did not know and were too myopic to understand is that you can take a human’s life but you could never eliminate the very ideals for which he stood for. As the Greek philosopher Sophocles said “You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea” Ideas are immortal and therefore the late Deyda Hydara and what he lived his life for will forever be immortal.

Deyda was not an ordinary man; he was the brightest and bravest citizen to ever confront true evil that a few Gambians saw being implanted in a young nation struggling to nurture democracy, human rights, dignity and freedom. What Deyda saw in the eyes of young zealous power hungry devilish soldiers were a threat that threatened the very ideals of a society that coexisted in peace, harmony and tranquility bonding to build a nation from virtually nothing. Deyda felt it was duty bound on him and all citizens to openly confront through the might of the pen and persuasion an accident in history of power seizure that would proof to be the greatest threat and mistake to the survival of a young nation and its people.

Deyda smelled the seeds of dictatorship, lawlessness and total abrogation of freedom of the press as embodied in the national constitution into the hands of a junta who had an ambition that far exceeds the ordinary Gambian could imagine. But Deyda saw it, wrote about it, counselled against it and try everything possible in the most intellectual and peaceful way to sway the imminent danger of turning a peaceful close-net society into a survival of the fittest. His fears from a father’s guts; a patriot’s mind and a citizen journalist’s duty played exactly how he prophesized it.  On his famous educative column “Good morning Mr. President” Deyda wrote in a warning against cracking down on the press The problem is that Mr President you and your supporters antagonizing the press failed to understand one thing; that journalists do not invent news they forward it as they gather it. We are the messengers of both government and other actors of national life. The government and its supporters must also know that we take very seriously our role as translators of the people’s aspirations. We said when one wants acara one must be prepared to bear the pepper. Put simply that means if someone takes public office he or she must be ready to be scrutinized. People who do not want to be in the news must not take up public offices; for all in the public domain must be exposed for the people to pass judgment”.  This was the final warning statement the brave journalist penned down understanding very well that the lives of journalists including his own were threatened under the new military regime. Just like the Civil rights leader Dr. King before his assassination, Deyda knew they saw his writings to expose their hidden agenda as a serious threat thus he fearlessly said “the Almighty is who gives and takes life” courageously revealing that he was ready to die for what he believes. Thus, this unflinching stand for freedom of expression and transparency is what led to the brutal murder of a citizen icon. Deyda’s murder for his ideals immortalized him forever and the Gambian nation and people will forever be indebted to him and his family.

What is in fact so unprecedented on the brutal murder of this brave citizen is not the lack of evidence but the clear negligence and failure of the administration to refuse to allow a free unfettered access by independent institutions to investigate thoroughly this brutal murder. In the history of murder cases there have never been not one, but two eyewitnesses to crime of murder of a prominent citizen who openly confessed to witnessing or potentially taking part in the killings of the Deydah and yet no credible investigation by any institution has contacted these two soldiers who confessed to taking part in the killings of journalist Deyda Hydara. These two former soldiers; Private Bye Lowe and Lance Corporal Sheriff Gisseh confessed on Freedom radio that “they as Jammeh’s hit men were ordered by the President to Murder Deydah”; conduct other arsons and eliminate other citizens.

They went further to name other criminal soldiers who were also involved in firing bullets that killed Deyda few yards away from a police station. Essentially, these two confessed to murder either by association or witness without taking any action. At the very least when citizens confessed to murdering an innocent citizen or naming assassins and perpetuations of the crime much less a prominent journalist, International rights group and certainly the UN could have sermon these citizens and ask for evidence on their allegations that the President ordered the killings of Dedah Hydara.  There were overwhelming circumstantial evidences that directly implicates both the killers and the Jammeh administration?

There cannot be a more compelling reason to investigate a murder case than eyewitnesses coming out and publicly confessing to being there when the crime occurred. One would have expected that the United Nations will not easily give up on demanding an unfettered investigation of this heinous crime against humanity. The reluctance of President Jammeh to even publicly comment on the case and referring people “to ask Deyda who killed him” is reason for him to be investigated and brought to justice against the killing of innocent civilians. There is certainly no statute of limitation to murder and therefore Gambians continue to call for an investigation and prosecution of the culprits who cowardly murdered an innocent citizen action. Whether during or after the second republic Deydah’s killing must be thoroughly investigated no matter how long and the perpetrators brought to book. We urge all those who witnessed the innocent killing of Gambian citizens to come out and help document what they witnessed in killing and maiming of innocent citizens. Only then shall our nation heal from the barbaric acts of few at the expense of a people. We call on the United Nations, ECOWAS and international press organizations to continue to exert maximum pressure on the Gambia government to allow unconditional investigations to Deydah’s heinous killings. Until then every decent Gambian must continue to call for justice and justice must not only be rendered but must prevail over evil no matter the duration. To Deydah’s family we celebrate with you life of a legend and a citizen icon whose ideals shall live forever. May Allah continue to bless and rest his soul in eternal peace. Gone but you will never be forgotten.

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