The Gambia: Yahya Jammeh is destabilizing Senegambia/Bissau



MatthewBy Mathew K. Jallow

A recent Daily Observer editorial captioned: Senegal continues to destabilize Gambia, was rather baffling to most Gambians. Evidently, The Daily Observer is suffering from the bat syndrome; seeing things upside down. There is only one person who is destabilizing the Senegal and Gambia region, and that person is Yahya Jammeh. Besides, no one in the international community should take Yahya Jammeh’s whining seriously since both he and his regime have lost credibility at home and abroad. The regime’s accusations that the Senegalese Jakai rebels helped Col. Ndure Cham escape is not going to shock anyone, on the contrary, if that is true, then we Gambians not only thank the rebels for that act of kindness, we also hail them as our partners and heroes. We as Gambians are thankful that Col. Ndure Cham has escaped with his life, otherwise he would by now have been reduced to one of Yahya Jammeh’s death statistics. Consequently, it is the Jakai rebels who deserved the Medals of Honor, which Yahya Jammeh gave to his mother and his Casamance musicians last year. We thank the Jakai rebels for extending a helping hand to our dear brother, Col. Ndure Cham, but the rebel’s job is not quite done yet, because they may still see more of our citizens fleeing into Cassamance jurisdictions to escape Yahya Jammeh’s killers: his NIA and his Green Boys.

That said, it was both dumbfounding and sobering to know that The Daily Observer does appear to have some ounces of sympathy reserved for the innocent civilians and villagers caught in the crossfire between the warring Casamance rebels. This “humane” side of The Observer has not been evident in recent memory, but the fact that the paper is now speaking out on behalf of the Casamance citizens who became or may become collateral damage in this fractional Cassamance skirmishes, is laudable. However, for us in The Gambia, the misplaced sympathies The Daily Observer is exhibiting, begs the question: Where was The Daily Observer when all the politically sanctioned murders, attempted murders, and tortures were being and continue to be carried out by Yahya Jammeh’s NIA and his Green Boys? Where was The Daily Observer when Daba Marenah and five other young Gambians were murdered without the benefit of a judicial process? Where was The Daily Observer when so many of our fellow citizens are still disappearing from the face of the earth? Where was The Daily Observer when Yahya Jammeh’s henchmen executed Private Camara and many of our military sons, nephews or cousins?

But even more than that where was The Daily Observer when scores of Gambians are being arrested right now and detained for no reason, whatsoever, and without due process, all across our country? Where was The Daily Observer when all our educated and most productive citizens are languishing in our prisons and jails or fleeing the country in droves to countries in the region and to Europe and the U.S where they can be safe from violence? Where was The Daily Observer when Yahya Jammeh’s regime murdered nearly four-dozen innocent Ghanaians and dumped their bodies in the bush? The Yahya Jammeh regime and The Daily Observer are complaining and whining about the sad predicament facing Casamance villagers, as they rightly should, but where is their compassion for The Gambian families whose children; sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, uncles and friends are being murdered or thrown in jail by the government of Yahya Jammeh, for absolutely no reason? Today, no one really knows how many Gambians are stuffed and packed in our dirty, stinking, mosquito and rat infested prisons and jails, what is clear is that over the past year or two, about forty inmates have been known to die of diseases there. Besides, many more have been tortured with some destined to carry their scars for the rest of their lives.

All these atrocities are happening right under the nose of The Daily Observer, but for some reason, the paper that is speaking out for the villagers in Casamance, is ignoring far worst atrocities happening within their borders; to their own fellow citizens. How does that make any sense? That is the height of hypocrisy. If The Daily Observer chooses to ignore the murders, attempted murders, tortures and disappearances in our country, they should just shut up. And if they hope to arouse the sympathies of the international community, forget it. No world leader of repute will shed any tears if by any means necessary, Yahya Jammeh is removed from power, and The U.S, U.K, E.U, A.U, U.N, ECOWAS will immediately recognize any new civilian government that replaces Yahya Jammeh. In light of this, it is in my opinion way over due for Gambian dissidents to meet in the U.S. or in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss the future of our country, in particular, the transition to a multi-party democracy, and the drafting of a new Constitution. Because Yahya Jammeh has the national elections locked in his favor for the next five decades, we must figure out how we must remove him by whatever means necessary. For every day that we do not act, is a day wasted.

 (First published June 2007)



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