First published in November 2013 in commemoration of Nov 11 ( Deem to be relevant to recent subjects)
It is yet another November 11th anniversary; 19 years since some Gambian Army officers were rounded up and executed in cold blood for allegedly planning a counter coup to topple the AFPRC Junta who illegally seized power few months earlier. It was another day in our history no genuine decent Gambian who loves their fellow countrymen/women and swore to protect the security and lives of citizens should ever forget. Certainly the families and Orphans who were robbed of their fatherly love on that dark day when their young parents never returned from work will forever forget.
19 years later, some of the people who were allegedly either involved or were eyewitnesses to one of the most heinous of crimes committed on Gambian soil remained among us going about their lives in Exile without any moral obligation to speak on the facts or pay respect to their fallen comrades. Some of these Ex-Army Officers with the exception of a few brave individuals have betrayed their oath of office as soldiers by choosing to be muted on the facts. This is either out of cowardice and fear which is uncharacteristic of real soldiers or simply lack of moral responsibility in failing to live up to their oath of office by leaving fallen comrades in the battle field and their family victims to speak for themselves.
The tragedy and Mayhem that was meted on Gambian citizens on Nov. 11th is just one of several brutal cases inflicted on innocent Gambian citizens by the AFPRC and Jammeh administration since 1994. The brutal killing of former Finance Minister Ousman Koro Ceesay; the gunning down of 14 innocent school students, the barbaric shooting of Journalist Deyda Hydara and several other known or unknown cases were all carried out by Gambian security personnel on behalf of the military junta. The same military junta has chronically gone after security personnel, accused them of false coups, executed and or imprisoned some of them for life. Yet not a single trained Gambian military officer who owe so such to their country came out and speak about what they know about the brutality of the Jammeh regime much less defend their fellow soldiers who continue to be victimized by President Jammeh and his callous regime.
It would be irresponsible on our part to condemn and box all Gambian security personnel together for failing to stand up against the Junta. We therefore must give credit where credit is due as former Lt Binneh S. Minteh now an adjunct Professor and a few other former Soldiers continued to speak publicly about the injustices carried out against Gambian citizens. However, many former Gambian soldiers who were well trained and enjoyed all kinds of privileges on tax payers’ coffers continue to choose to look the other way while our country get mutilated by none other than fellow mediocre military officers. Worst even, every atrocity allegedly carried out under Jammeh’s order was done and continue to be done by soldiers who swore to protect the security of the nation and citizens.
If we may ask what moral audacity does a soldier have to question another’s when they cowardly gunned down innocent students armed only with their uniforms and constitutional rights? What pride does an ex or currently serving trained military officer has when they are not only afraid to stand up against unlawful commands but publicly come out and tell the truth about unlawful killings in Gambia? What morality does a soldier have who knowingly served and carried out orders against innocent civilians in the name of being a so called Juggler? Where are your moral conviction, humanity and duty to nation when your fellow soldiers openly tortured and killed your fellow citizens without you speaking against it? What duty do you have to uphold and protect the oath of duty and sacrifice to country and to the constitutional rights of your fellow citizens? How could you ever again asked your country to trust you or your institution when everything you represent and stand up for is selfishness and betrayal to oath. When and how do you expect your fellow countrymen to ever trust you again when one of your own continue to butcher our fellow citizens without a word coming from you lot?
Gambians have forever endured the ultimate betrayal of their security personnel who are willing to bend backwards to torture and kill unarmed innocent men, women and children without remorse. Like many other African countries, Gambia’s security apparatus are a major contributor to the country’s backwardness and deteriorating democratic institutions. The display of flashy motorcades, unearned wealth, and attendance of credible international training institutions has become the pride of the Gambian soldier at the expense of the country’s coffers. These training have only benefited soldiers and their immediate family. Many former Gambian soldiers enjoying their freedom and dignity in the West today were major contributors to the establishment of the ruthless regime in Banjul. The least they could do is to come out publicly and speak against the brutality and what they know about inhumane treatments of Gambian citizens they witnessed. All atrocities must be accurately documented for historical references. Only eye witnesses can lend credence to such a valuable endeavor.
Ultimately, we are aware that Gambia’s plight can only be salvaged by its citizens. What we are asking of former security personnel is nothing extraordinary. The country that paid for your luxurious training; that you took an oath to protect and defend needs you today more than ever. The least you can do is to come out and speak on the brutal killings of Nov 11th victims; the student massacres, and whole host of things you may be privy to during your service to our nation. Your country will only respect and honor you when you uphold your oath of duty to serve your country and protect your fellow citizens. Until such a duty is manifested, we can only take the words of Captain Thomas Sankara as the ultimate truth that “a soldier without political education is a virtual criminal” May the victims of Nov 11th and all other innocent citizens’ souls rest in eternal peace.