‘Diaspora Gambians braces for more arrest by the FBI’
By Demba Baldeh
Driven away in thousands from their home country of the Gambia for their political views and for speaking out openly against political oppression, Gambians have found themselves in cross roads between fighting against oppression or ignore the plight of their people and quietly enjoy their new liberty in the United States. For simply exercising their democratic civic rights and the desire to participate in their nation’s political discourse; a right guaranteed by their constitution, Gambians ran away in large numbers and seek refuse in the United States and other Western nations. It appears their new host nations especially the United States authorities have a different set of standards for Gambian political dissidents. They are apparently being prevented from continuing to fight for the democratic rights of their people – a would be conventional norm a democracy like the United States would historically welcome. However that doesn’t appear to be the case….
As a result what appears to be an unprecedented crackdown on dissidents, a prominent member of the Diaspora struggle against the dictatorship in Gambia is reportedly en-route to Minneapolis to answer to charges on his alleged involvement in the failed December 30t coup against the Gambian Dictator Yahya Jammeh. Mr. Banka Manneh one of the leading voices in the struggle against political oppression and human rights violations in the Gambia is due in Minnesota today to appear in court Thursday for charges related to the failed December 2014 coup.
Mr. Manneh an open human rights and political activist was among those interviewed and reportedly has been under investigation by the FBI for the alleged involvement in the failed coup. Several FBI agents raided his home in Atlanta Georgia last week and took away his computers, cell phone and other equipment. He was briefly questioned and was let go later on condition that he would voluntarily attend the courts in Minneapolis who are currently handling the cases involving the alleged coup attackers.
Readers may recalled that the alleged Master minders Cherno Njie a prominent business man in Texas; Papa Faal a former US Air force veteran and Alhagie Barrow also a former US army officer were arraigned in court and charged with alleged involvement in wanting to overthrow a dictatorial government in Gambia. All three were subsequently granted bail and were temporary release to a rest house where they were being monitored by US authorities. Both were later allowed to go home but under strict conditions of staying away from the Internet. Four Gambian and US citizens were killed during the failed attacked in Banjul which rattled the President and his security apparatus.
Banka Manneh is believed to be one of several other activists who are on the FBI’s radar being investigated for the alleged coup. Many Gambians are asking questions on why the FBI continues to crack down on Gambians who are fighting for the restoration of democracy in the Gambia. Many understand the FBI has a “job to do” but for the US authorities to continue to crackdown on Gambians on behalf of a monstrous dictator is unprecedented. This reporter was inundated with questions and concerns that the FBI’S actions has far reaching consequences than just enforcing a century old law that is outdated. Many pointed out concerns that by arresting these Gambians many are forced to quit their jobs and stay months without employment. Many of these are the bread winners of their families and therefore by subjecting them to arrest and intimidation – raiding their homes, their families’ civil liberties are allegedly being trampled upon by forcing their bread winners to lose their jobs.
Gambian communities across the US and Europe are outrage that the FBI and the United States authorities would continue to spend resources and waste time in cracking down on innocent Gambians who are out to defend their rights as citizens to participate in their nation’s political discourse. One activist told this reporter that “it is time for Gambians to rise up in the US and demand fair treatment under the eyes of the Law.” He insinuated that Gambians cannot be oppressed in their nation by a monstrous dictator killing their people and also be subjected to further intimidation in the United States. He added that efforts are being made to rally the people to exercise their first amendment rights and petition the Attorney General of the United States and even the White House. “This must stop,” added another activist.
For now Banka Manneh a strong advocate for human rights and rule of law in the Gambia will likely appear in front of a Minnesota judge as early as Friday March 20th to be formally charged. It may default to next week based on the availability of an opening in the court docket. A source familiar with precedencies on the nature of the ongoing trial believes that Banka is likely to be released to his home on self-bail, where he would be required to appear in court as and when needed. This is a developing story… stay tuned for updates