Speaking on Friday at Tango in a public discourse marking the tenth anniversary of the murder of journalist Deyda Hydara, Mr Darboe said: “What is affecting the politicians affects journalists. We suffer the same way they do. We have been persecuted because we can no longer read ‘Good Morning Mr President’ [column] on the pages of The Point; we are persecuted when we cannot go on any of the radio stations as I used to on Radio 1 FM and Terenga. It is just not impunity for non-investigation into the death of Deyda hydara, it is the protection of our society and we all have a duty to come together not just dialogue here and leave it here. There should be coordination; politicians need to coordinate among themselves. Journalists need to do the same and come up with some concrete proposals on how to handle the question of impunity because you can never eradicate it. But you can reduce it to a level that is acceptable in any society and I think we can do it if we are determined but I am not sure if we have that determination.
“I am not sure they will be willing to talk to the president of the GPU on how to get about investigating the death of Deyda Hydara, on why The Independent was shut down. What should be done in order to ensure that the press whether print or electronic are free and operate within the limits of the law and do exactly what is expected of them in a democratic society? I don’t think they are willing to do that. We should be taking positive and concrete steps. We should be mounting challenges. Some of us have lost faith in those institutions but we should mount challenges and embarrass those institutions in which we have lost faith. That is the only way for us,” he said.
In his comments, the PDOIS secretary general Halifa Sallah asserted: “Deyda is a sacrificial lamb and that is why we are here. If you are to control a people you must control their mind. Knowledge is power. The only way you can dominate a people is to deprive them of knowledge of who they are. A culture of impunity leads to a culture of silence and if the victim starts blaming himself then something is wrong. The victim must never be blamed. There is impunity because power is unchecked or refrained. The idea is that genuine democracy is the sovereignty of a people where power resides in the people. Wherever power resides in the people, then obviously any government would have to derive its authority from the people and can only maintain that authority if the people so will. In theory, that is the power we have to be able to control and restrain those who governs us. But everybody accepts that is not the reality.
“The issue is not only impunity today but preventing it tomorrow. GPU cannot counteract this power, this might. There are two powers in any sovereign republic; the power of the state and the power of the people. It is the power of the people that brings about the check. Where the people are together, whatever they want, they will get it because the state will listen to them.”
GPU secretary general, Gibairu Janneh, said: “There has to be a proper investigation into the killing of Deyda Hydara so that those who killed him can face justice because The Gambia is a country of laws and we have our institutions to ensure that those laws are enforced. So we are gathered today as we always have been doing to renew our commitment to pursue justice for Deyda and to demand from the government to live-up to its constitutional obligations. Ten years is not ten days. He was not just a journalist but a Gambian, a father and a responsible person. We cannot live in a country where people will drive by and shoot you to death and then that is the end of story. That is not the Gambian society we want to see. It is ten years since he died and we are asking the fundamental question again, who killed Deyda Hydara?”]]>