By Flex Dan, @FlexDan_YT
Gainako has received reports of the abduction of three young men by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) for wearing #GambiaHasDecided T-Shirts. One Wandifa KANYI, Daba Muhammad KUYATEH of Dippa Kunda and Alpha SEY of Bakau were arrested over the New Year weekend. To date their current whereabouts are unknown and their family members are very concerned about their safety. In 2011 well-known activist Dr. Janneh was arrested for wearing and distributing T-Shirts with the slogan “End to Dictatorship Now”. Last week Gainako published a report detailing the destruction of #GambiaHasDecided billboards by outgoing President Jammeh and his associates.
According to eye-witness reports, Kuyateh was arrested at Bakoteh Bantaba while Sey was abducted next to the Kanilai Bakery, a well-known business owned by Dictator Jammeh. Fortunately, eye-witnesses at the scene followed Alpha’s abductors to a brown vacant house, next to Four Seasons, a well-known restaurant close to Alliance Franco Gambia. The NIA are known to be responsible for countless enforced disappearances, torture and killings. Numerous testimonies from victims who managed to escape details the role of the NIA who operate a death squad for Dictator Jammeh. Jammeh has barely two weeks to step down but is reluctant to relinquish power and determined to progress a petition against the elections results at the Supreme Court.
NIA Agent-Turned-Defector Speaks
According to a Human Rights Watch report, former NIA agent Bakary, confirms the deadly practice of the NIA on its people. “My worst memory is seeing my family member, the very person who first recruited me, being tortured,” recalls Bakary. “They had a plastic bag over his head, and beat him and beat him to the point of death.” According to Bakary “People are picked up one day and never seen again.” After the December 1st, 2016 elections, many people believed that enforced disappearances would come to an abrupt end. Surprisingly, NIA officials are still willing to abduct, arrest and torture innocent citizens until his last day.
According to section 19 of The Gambian Constitution, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary, arrest or detention.” The constitution further dictates that every detainee must be charged in court within three days or released. Dictator Jammeh has acted with impunity since 1994 and most recently called for reconciliation after conceding defeat and then surprisingly rejecting the elections results. In his New Year speech, Jammeh, now a master of the constitution, defied ECOWAS’ intervention by quoting various sections in the constitution around National Sovereignty. In his 22 years in power Jammeh has demonstrated no intention to respect the constitution and conveniently makes no mention of the enforced disappearances of numerous innocent civilians. To date, the Coalition is yet to issue a statement addressing the recent abductions taking place. On 24th December, another young man by the name of Kebba Sanneh was also arrested by Chief of Defence Staff, Ousman Badjie. It’s alleged that an altercation between the two took place while Ousman Badjie was in civilian clothes. This resulted in the young man’s arrest and detention at Bakau Army Barracks.
Statement from Gambia Has Decided
A statement issued on the Gambia Has Decided social media page confirms the abductions of the two aforementioned youths. “We have also received unconfirmed reports of young men wearing #GambiaHasDecided T-shirts who were abducted last night. On December 2nd we realized the power of our voices and today we can confirm that these voices are drowning all forms of illegitimate power in the country. Yesterday’s news about our members and the abduction of these young men shows nothing but a desperate attempt to silence us.” The non-violence civil society initiative is urging all citizens to observe some precautionary steps to avoid abduction, torture and enforced disappearance.
- Do not walk alone in quiet areas (especially at night)
- Move around in groups whenever you can
- Run towards a crowd and shout if strange men approach you.
- Make sure your phone is always charged and has credit.
- Be mindful of tinted cars (esp. pickups) with/without vehicle registration following you.
- If your friend or family member goes missing, send us a private message immediately