The Gambian-Americans who staged an attack on Jammeh’s State House in December 2014 have issued a statement on their recent return to The Gambia.
For clarity purpose we reproduce the full statement below:
“When we left the United States to travel back home to The Gambia, we meant to commiserate with the families of our deceased brothers, to pay our respects to the many victims of the Yaya Jammeh regime, and to visit our family and friends. We wanted also to meet a broad section of Gambians to seek a holistic understanding of the direction of the country and to see how we can contribute to ensure that it becomes a better Gambia for us all.
We thank everyone that showed up to accord us an emotional welcome and we thank all the media houses that graced the occasion. We thank our family and friends who stood by all of us through the thick and thin. We held very fruitful meetings with various political leaders and ministers who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with us including Mai Fatty, Halifa Sallah, Ousainou Darboe, Hamat Bah, Amadou Sanneh, Dr. Isatou Touray and Omar Jallow (OJ). Mr. Jallow went out of his way not only to welcome us back home but to take the time to host us on other occasions. We also thank the wonderful volunteers at the Victims’ Center and all the victims that took the time to meet with us, including the families of our deceased heroes. We appreciate all their prayers and support.
We also wish to express our disappointment, indeed dismay, with the President’s office and specifically with the office of Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang, the Vice President. We attempted to coordinate a meeting with both offices, but Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang insisted that as a precondition of meeting with her, we must release a statement of support to the current government of The Gambia. We felt this was a Yaya Jammeh era tactic. We were disheartened that while the government of The Gambia has willingly embraced former Jammeh enablers and, furthermore, has no compunction about interacting with or hiring a convicted APRC supporter as a presidential adviser, they insisted on our issuing a statement of support as a precondition for meeting them.
We appreciate the fact that our choice of action on December 30, 2014 was not universally approved by our fellow citizens. We harbor no animus towards those who hold opposing views. In seeking a meeting, our interest was not a validation for our decision, but rather to press the case we have made consistently, namely that all Gambians must work together to make sure the abuses of the past are not repeated, and, furthermore, to work towards building consensus on the transformative changes we must implement to foster economic growth and national renewal.
As we write this press release, it has come to our attention that Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, a lecturer at the University of the Gambia was arrested on January 31, 2018 for expressing an opinion regarding the security situation in the country during an interview with the Voice Newspaper on January 23, 2018. While we welcome Dr. Ceesay’s release, this episode is a troubling development that confirms our suspicion that the authoritarian disposition of the Jammeh-era security services continues to exist. For a better Gambia, this culture of the security services in the country must be reformed to eliminate wanton abuse of power.
The use of “national security” as a fig leaf to silence opinions the Barrow administration considers critical of its policies must be confronted in the courts. Without judicial review, this arrest and any future unilateral actions will have a chilling effect on public debate. We join with other Gambians in our condemnation of this gross violation of fundamental constitutional rights. The release of Dr. Ceesay does not end the matter. We demand that the government conduct a thorough investigation of this incident and hold the relevant authorities accountable.
We have identified ways and means we wish to contribute towards building a better Gambia for us all and we will continue to engage our fellow citizens in the next few months to embark on that journey. Thank you all for your support.
Cherno M. Njie