By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
On 17th August 2019 the Gambia Anti Crime Unit conducted raids in Serrekunda Market which resulted in the arrest of dozens of youths, mostly males in connection to last months protest. It can be recalled that during last months protest which started at Serrekunda, the house of Gorgi Mboob, (head of Anti Crime Unit) was burnt down by rioters.
Last months protest erupted after the death of a market vendor, Ousman Darboe, a Sierra Leonean national, who friends and relatives say was allegedly tortured at the Anti Crime Unit. Speaking to an executive member of the Sierra Leonean Association in the Gambia, I was informed that the brother of the late Ousman Darboe, called Muhammed Darboe is one of those detained by the Anti Crime Unit.
As a colleague of Ali Cham, commonly known as Killa Ace I went to inquire at the Anti Crime Unit on the reasons for his arrest and detention. Killa Ace is an outspoken rapper/activist known for his activism against Police brutality. He is currently engaged in a court case with the Gambian Police after he was allegedly brutalised by security officers. Together with family and friends we were denied access to see him and told to leave until Monday. As we waited outside Anti Crime Unit for answers if Killa Ace was inside we witnessed three pickups full with detainees including Killa Ace drive right into the Anti Crime Unit in Bijilo.
Soon after we were informed that we should direct our inquiries to Kairaba Police station where a panel was constituted on the raids. Minutes later another officer redirected us to Talingding Police Station where the case was being handled. After arriving at Talingding Police station we were informed by Police that the arrests are in connection with the protest which took place last month and that this effort to identify protesters was in its inception.
Speaking to Killa Ace we were made to understand that he was arrested in Serrekunda market and that detainees were asked to give a statement on the protests which some of them provided. At the time of departing Talingding Police station there were at least seven youths detained there. Most of the detainees were arrested by Anti Crime Unit who were being directed on who to arrest by an informant.
In summary information at our disposal indicates that the detainees were arrested by the Anti Crime Unit and moved to various stations for further investigations. The exact number of people arrested has not been confirmed.
Gambian Police are making significant efforts to arrest protesters and it’s left to be seen if similar efforts will be made to address cases of Police brutality, especially those resulting in loss of life.
- The Author of this article is a friend and colleague of Ali “Killa Ace” Cham