By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT, Video and Photo Credit Louise S A Alsan
Last month, December 2019, Operation Three Years Jotna held a peaceful protest calling for President Adama Barrow to respect the Coalition agreement and to step down by January 19th 2020. After organising what is largely regarded as the biggest protest in The Gambia’s history, the group was denied a permit to protest last week Sunday (19th Jan 2020) and were finally granted a permit to protest this Sunday.
Yesterday, 25th January 2020, the Gambia Police Force issued a press release stating that a protest permit was issued to Operation 3 Years Jotna movement “through genuine mediation efforts led by TANGO”. Tango is the recognised umbrella body for Gambian Non Governmental Organisations including Civil Society Organisations. The press release allowed for the protest to “commence at 12:00pm and end at 14:00hrs”. The permit also restricted the procession from “the Bertil Harding Highway from the Y Junction at the beginning of the Bertil Harding Highway to the Independence Stadium”.
The following morning, Sunday 26th January 2020, protesters gathered early and the permit was revoked after a fracas between the Security and the Protesters. This occurred before the protest scheduled for 12 pm had begun. The Police then issued another press release stating that the permit had been revoked “following the violation of conditions of the permit issued”. The press release added that protesters had turned violent and that all individuals were advised to disperse.
However, a number of Three Years Jotna protesters and organisers have repeatedly declared that the Police had provoked them by firing tear gas into the crowd. One protester even alleged that some Barrow supporters on motorbikes branded Barrow Youth Movement had attempted to mingle with the crowd leading to a fracas which escalated when the Police got involved.
Adama Fadera of Mengbe Kering explains his encounter
Mass Arrests and Attacks on the Media
Following the fracas between Gambian Police and Protesters, the Chairperson of Operation Three Years was arrested after providing an update to the Gambian Media outside Serrekunda General Hospital in Kanifing Layout. In addition to his arrest at least four media personnel were also arrested and detained. According to the Secretary General of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), Saikou Jammeh “four journalists currently under custody. We do not know the whereabouts of Pa Modou but Gibbi Jallow and two of his staff are being held at Bundung Police Station”.
Gainako has been informed that Pa Modou Bojang is being detained at Brikama Police Station.
Three Years Jotna Chairperson update in Mandinka
Besides the mass arrest, two media houses have been shut down and one journalist was attacked by an angry mob. GPU’s Saikou Jammeh informed the media that “two media houses – King FM and Home Digital FM have been unlawfully shut by the police”. One Sankulleh Janko of West Africa Democracy Radio narrated how he was attacked by an angry mob.
According to Sankulleh “I was attacked by a mob from Three Years Jotna group simply for reasons I don’t even know. Thanks to someone who was also manhandled by the protesters, who recognised me and told them that this guy is a journalist. Only God knows what would have happened to me because they had stones, they had weapons, they had sticks and they all surrounded me, wanting to hit me. They took my phone. Just for doing my job this is what I get. While I was suffering from tear gas I couldn’t even see properly.”
Three Years Jotna Chairperson being arrested
Senior Police Officer Kanteh “Two of my brothers stabbed”
One Police Officer identified as Superintendent Kanteh rushed to Serrekunda General Hospital after receiving news that two of his brothers were stabbed. A Gainako Reporter captured the moment journalists questioned him to understand the reasons for his presence at the Hospital.
According to Senior Officer Kanteh “I received information that two of my brothers who were out to exercise their constitutional right being guaranteed by the constitution and secondly were issued with a permit to go for their lawful procession were stabbed with a knife. I’m here to see them and to sympathise with them.”
The senior officer stressed that “hundred men are under me as I speak at Brikama. I left them because two of my brothers have been stabbed”. Clearly frustrated with the news of his brothers stabbing, Superintendent Kanteh insisted that “I am not feared, you know what, the President himself will know Kanteh is not fear. When Yaya Jammeh refused to step down, I took President Barrow from his house and took him to my brother’s house. That’s where he slept.”
Police Officer Kanteh “two of my brothers stabbed”
Around six pm this evening Gainako received information that Superintendent Kanteh has been arrested.