Late Sheriff Dibba’s brother speaks “They are still threatening our family”

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By Flex Dan @FlexDan_YT

My brother Sheriff was a lovely person, an inspirational and dedicated family man. His children are currently being supported by family members.

Context

In late February Gainako published an article entitled “International Transport Workers Federation Challenges Gambian President over death in Custody”. In a letter to the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, the ITF expressed “grave concerns” on “the arrest of several trade union leaders of the Gambian National Transport Control Association (GNTCA) and the death of Sheriff Diba” who died  while in detention at the ‘Mile 2’ prison . According to several sources, Sheriff Diba’s death was reportedly as a result of abuse and torture received in the offices of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

The ITF together with its affiliates strongly condemned the dissolution and prohibition of GNTCA activities and requested that Jammeh urgently investigated the death of Sheriff Dibba, lifted the ban on the GNTCA and dropped all charges and legal proceedings against the GNTCA. To date The Gambian Government has refused to progress any of these demands for justice to Sheriff Dibba and his family. Instead they have been confronted with further persecution and intimidation by Jammeh’s dictatorial regime and the NIA. Gainako’s human rights activist Flex Dan conducted an exclusive interview with Sheriff Dibba’s brother Ansumana Dibba.

Interview

Flex Dan: What is your relationship with Sheriff Dibba?

Ansumana Dibba: Sheriff was my blood brother, we shared the same mother and father.

FD: Was there a massive age gap between the both of you?

AD: Yeah he was about 47 and I’m 33 now, so there is about 14 years age gap between the two of us.

FD: When did you find out about his death?

AD: We found out the same day he died because we went to take him some food. They couldn’t hide him. He was meant to go to court the next day on Monday, he passed away on a Sunday.

FD: Has his body been returned to the family for a proper burial and was there a post mortem conducted?

AD: The body was returned to the family but they didn’t tell us anything, no explanation. Yeah there was a post mortem but you know how it is, if there was foul play they try to cover it up

FD: Did your family conduct a post mortem with their Doctor?

AD: We were not allowed to conduct the post mortem it was conducted by the Government and their doctor.

FD: What was your initial thoughts when you learned about your brother’s death and how did you feel about it?

AD: I was traumatised, shocked, it was hard to take after losing our dad in the past 6 months. We believe he was pinpointed as the leader and because of his supposed political affiliation with the opposition. He was tortured and killed. We know the government has been following our family for a while now. Things are very hard for the family because of this.

FD: And is that still the case that your family is being followed by the government?

AD: It is, they are still following my family members everywhere and they are threatening them. They feel that the west are getting information from us. It’s hard for them to get me but my family members are all under threat, they can’t speak, I’m the only one who can speak. Its very hard for the family we are currently mourning him [Sheriff Dibba]. His survived by two boys and two girls who are young and are deprived from seeing their dad again.

FD: You mentioned that your dad passed away 6 months ago, what about your mother is she still alive?

AD: Yeah she’s still alive, the government is also threatening her because they feel the international media and the International Workers Union are still following the case. They come to the house and say whatever they want to say.

FD: Did they arrest any of your family members?

AD: No because my family members are scared to talk, so they haven’t arrested them.

FD: Your brother was fighting a just cause for the reduction of fuel prices because fuel prices have gone down everywhere else in the world with the exception of the Gambia which is having a negative impact on the transportation industry. Is this still the case in The Gambia?

AD: Yes it is still the case in the Gambia, fuel prices have not dropped and this is a contributing factor to the current border impasse between The Gambia and Senegal.

FD: The ITF has called for an independent inquiry on the death of Sheriff Dibba, has there been any progress in this regard?

AD: Yeah I’m aware of the ITF’s request for an independent inquiry but up to now there hasn’t been any progress on this. It seems the government is paying a deaf ear to the request for an independent inquiry to this request.

FD: What kind of support do you require from the international community?

AD: All we asking for is justice for our brother and protection for our family. We can’t continue to live in fear in our own country. We can’t talk and there is no constitutional rights that protect us because the government is run by the President who’s calling the shots. We need protection for our family. Every Gambian in general needs help from the international community. We have a very bad president, a dictator who has no respect for rule of law, he’s killing people especially when you’re opposing him. He has no regard for freedom of speech.

FD: The people who come to your house can you tell us more about them and have they identified themselves as working for the government?

AD: We all know how Gambia is, they come in tinted glasses, four wheel drive without number plates, and we all know that they are the government NIA personel. If they pop into your house they don’t introduce themselves, they are very brutal. They have no mercy and they always come for people at night.

FD: What do you think about the current situation in The Gambia as the border situation has escalated and there is a current civil unrest in The Gambia?

AD: It’s very sad seeing what’s going on in the Gambia, seeing it on TV and hearing it on the radios. Opposition leaders detained, tortured and maltreated for merely exercising their constitutional rights. And the president is treating people worse than dogs and animals. We all hope that one day all this will come to an end. The sooner, the better for us. My heart bleeds seeing the way security officials that were meant to protect us, are beating their own people. I feel helpless but I condemn the current situation as much as I can.

FD: Any last word that you want to add?

AD: I’m hoping very soon he leaves out of their so we can all go back and have peace in our country Jammeh must go.

My brother Sheriff was a lovely person, an inspirational and dedicated family man. His children are currently being supported by family members.

Photo Credit: Ansumana Dibba

Photo Credit: Ansumana DibbaPhoto Credit: Ansumana Dibba

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