HELLO MR PRESIDENT…Freedom of Expression Is the Cornerstone of Democracy…

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To say that I am disappointed in the recent actions of the government will be an understatement. The current state of affairs does not portray what most of us understood by the term ‘New Gambia’. We envisaged a Gambia where there will be freedom of expression, the rule of law, respect for human rights and the protection of individual freedoms and liberties.

The fight was all about restoring democracy and the rule of law. What obtained in the past twenty-two years was that individual citizens were denied of their rights. There were arbitrary arrests and detentions; in some instances, there were cases of torture, murder, embezzlement and rape. All these could only happen continually because there was no freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression is the key to development when it comes to democracy. In fact, freedom of expression is the bedrock of a solid democracy. There is no democracy if people’s freedom to speak their minds is curtailed. We know also that there should be freedom of assembly and association. This is particularly important in the area of academia. It is the academia that proffers ideas from which will spring development.

The incident of the arrest of Dr Ismaela Ceesay is therefore an affront to democracy and the complete opposite of what we all fought for. How can an intellectual like Dr Ceesay be arrested and detained for expressing an opinion? This is totally wrong and completely unacceptable. Dr Ceesay did not do anything that could be said to threaten the security of the nation. If anything, Dr Ceesay should be commended for pointing out something which will contribute to the security of the country in the long term.

Furthermore, it is regrettable that the Editor-in-Chief of the Voice Newspaper was called by Mrs. Amie Bojang-Sissokho for publishing a story that is seen to be critical of the government. If the government officials start calling newspaper editors for publishing stories they don’t like, they will have to keep at it every day which will leave them no time to do their jobs.

Besides, this (freedom of expression) was almost the only tangible achievement we – as a people -registered since ‘New Gambia’ came into being. If that is also taken away or threatened, we will be left with nothing but the change in the name of our president. This is not what we signed up for. We did not go to the polls on December 1st 2016 to change the name of the president. 

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the arrest and detention of Dr Ceesay and the efforts to stifle the press. We must respect the lives of the individual and observe the rule of law. We must always abide by the dictates of the constitution.

Have a Good Day Mr President…

Tha Scribbler Bah

A Concerned Citizen

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