By Alagie Manneh
Former President Yahya Jammeh has been likened to former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré.
Mr Habré ruled Chad Republic from 1982 to 1990, and is said to have committed monstrous crimes against humanity, leading a court in Senegal to uphold a life sentence on him for war crimes.
Comparison between the two leaders came during yesterday’s launching of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations.
“Of course, if you look at the atrocities of Jammeh and the former Chadian leader, they are the same crimes,” Aminata Correa, the information and publicity secretary of the organising Committee exclusively told The Standard.
She went on to say that what Gambians now want is to “bring him [Jammeh] to face justice for crimes he committed against humanity and Gambians.”
Isha Jammeh, daughter of Haruna Jammeh, a brother to former Gambian President, said she also wants justice for her father.
“We cannot just let go,” Ms Jammeh said, adding that “I hear some people say we should reconcile but there can be no reconciliation without truth and justice.”
Baba Hydara, son of slain journalist Deyda Hydara, said the presence of three ministers at the convergence and one among them a victim, gives him renewed hope that justice will prevail in his father’s case and others.
“OJ was a victim of the former regime and also a friend to my Dad,” he added. “We would like to see foreign minister also, Ousainou Darboe identify himself as a victim. We need that, because it’s like making noise that something will happen,” referring to justice.
He said meetings with victims of Chadian dictator Habré taught him so many things, but that it was also a feeling of thoughtful sadness for him.
“Sad because it took those victims decades to have justice. But I am sure we won’t wait that long to have justice.”
Mr Hydara also called for renewed dedication and commitment from victims who want to see justice done.
Asked whether Jammeh is not different to Hissène Habré, Hydara said: “I don’t know what Habré did to his people at the time of his reign in Chad, but every dictator in Africa has his own way of doing things; his own brutality. But of course I would like to see what happened to Habré happen to Jammeh or even worse.”
Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou, while promising to continue striving for justice for victims of Jammeh’s brutality, said the only reason he took up the tough job is to make sure “nobody else in this country would go to bed at night and unknown strangers knock your door and take you away from your family. That is why I took this job.”
The justice minister said there can be no justice without studying and understanding what transpired in the past.
“We need to know why they did what they did.
Who asked them to do it and whey they disappeared people’s loved ones? These are questions that are important so that we can learn lessons and prevent what happened here repeating itself.”
He added that the ultimate objective is to understand how the country got to this point in the first place so that no one again will go through the same.
“That is how a truth and reconciliation commission can help us, to determine the truth,” he stated.
Other speakers included OJ, who called for maturity in dealing with issues of this magnitude.
Victims of the past regime also spoke at the event, which was held in Kotu and attended by government officials, stakeholders, and families of victims and a cross section of the public.