Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and 18 officials of the opposition United Democratic Party of The Gambia; Momodou Sanneh, Lamin Dibba, Kemeseng Jammeh, Femi Peters, Fakebba Colley, Lamin Jatta, Junkunda Suso, Lamin Ceesay, Tapha Makalo, Fanta Darboe, Amadou Sawo, Kebba Khan, and more , have been sentenced to three years in the notorious Mile Two Prison for engaging in a peaceful demonstration. They were demanding the body of Ebrima Solo Sandeng, a UDP official murdered in government custody for leading a peaceful protest for electoral reforms, and the release of the other protesters tortured by government agents. Some of the women were beaten, raped, and locked up with serious life threatening injuries.
Petition Link: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/release-lawyer-ousainou?source=c.em.mt&r_by=1329072
Instead of respecting the constitutional rights of the UDP officials and activists, the government on April 16, got them arrested and had them on trial in a kangaroo court. We are deeply troubled by their convictions. Most of the officials are elderly men over 65 years. And some of the women are mothers with young children. Already, another UDP member, Ebrima Solo Krummah, died in custody without official explanation.
These were not isolated incidents. Rather, they fit into a disturbing pattern of Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year iron-fist rule. In the words of Amnesty International, they are part of a “continuing downward spiral for human rights in The Gambia.” And according to Human Rights Watch, “Sandeng’s senseless death in custody appears to be the latest in a long line of abuses against the political opposition in Gambia. …This case heightens concerns that the Gambian government will intensify its crackdown on independent voices ahead of elections in December.”
In recent months, for instance, he summarily fired and detained dozens of senior officials, including Sarjo Jallow, a veteran Foreign Ministry official, at the notorious National Intelligence Agency headquarters. They are still not charged with any crime or released, in clear violation of the Constitution.
The UDP is the largest opposition party in The Gambia. And Lawyer Darboe is a popular opposition figure and prominent human rights attorney. Yahya Jammeh perceives him and his party as a threat. Hence, the clampdowns, arrests, abductions, detentions, sham trials, and murder.
Please join us, Gambians and friends of The Gambia, to call on The Gambia Government to release the UDP officials and activists and all political prisoners. We need your voice to end the tyranny.
By Fatou Jaw Manneh
Human Rights Activist/ Exiled Journalist
Note: I do not belong to/affiliate with any of Gambia’s political party or candidacy