By Aji Fatou Faal
The National Assembly Member for Foni Kansala Musa ‘Amul’ Nyassi has told parliament that the Senegalese forces stationed at Bwiam have accused the community women of inviting Casamance rebels to help at their rice fields.
Consequently, he said the women could not work in their rice field because of the harassment from the Senegalese Ecomig troops.
“They told me last year they could not work in the rice fields because of the threats from the Senegalese soldiers… Last year when they started working, these Senegalese soldiers went and mounted tents in their rice fields,” Nyassi said.
He said when the people asked the soldiers why they were pitching their tents in the fields, “the responses they got from them was that they were reliably informed that the rebels from the Casamance always come to give support to the women who work in that rice field and so they were scouting those rebels who come and to give helping hand to the community or the women that worked in the rice field,” the parliamentarian who doubles as spokesman of the opposition APRC said.
Nyassi said, as he does not believe in hearsay, he visited the scene to acquire first-hand information. “As a representative of the people, if you get information, what you need to do is go and engage those relevant authorities and whenever you are informed you get the right information,” he explained.
He said the rice field at the entrance of Bwiam belongs to the community and the women of Bwiam work on it every year.
He said he engaged their camp commander about the issue but he was “mishandled”. He added: “The next level is now I have attempted talking to them but to no avail and I want to take it upon myself to engage the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Forestry whether they are aware of the seizure of the firewood and charcoal in my community in Bwiam.
“Anyone who has crisscrossed that area would see that women nowadays are finding it very tough to transport their firewood. If you have firewood in a truck, once you get there, it is seized regardless of where you get the firewood from and we all know most of these women sell the firewood and use the money in multiple ways for the family up-keep.
“So nowadays they are having it very tough to transport their firewood and charcoal. If it is firewood, the conclusion is that it must be from Senegal or Casamance. What is the justification that makes them conclude that all these firewood and charcoal that are being transported [through Foni] is either from Senegal or Casamance?” he queried.