My take on #occupywestfield
For record, I think it is completely unjustified to deny #occupywestfield a permit. The paranoia is unnecessary.
The security threat is when you deny people the right to express their views, not the contrary.
Even when you think you can stop people, it can only be temporary and it ends up exploding on your face. Jammeh, Ghadaffi and their equivalents all went this way.
The thing with free expression that police and security people tend not to understand is that, this is the best way to rule a people. We often hear others telling people, just scream it out, when they are angry or unsatisfied about a particular thing.
Freedom of speech and expression is a therapy in a sense. Controlling it with oppression doesn’t work, it ends up blowing on your face. I hope the Interior minister understand this very basic thing.
And to the movement, step up your organisation and ensure that you are organised. In fact, already your statement is heard and this is how we are going to develop as a nation.
Let’s put anger aside. This is not the argument here. Someone wants to just do what is his right and that is what we must all defend. So, we are all #occupywestfield. This is not war or uprising, it is a mere statement, a voice of reasoning. Just see it as that.
If Barrow does not understand, Gambia is the human rights capital of Africa by symbol because of the role the country played in the forming of the continent’s biggest human rights protection mechanism, Banjul Charter. That can no longer remain a symbol. It has to be real.
Here is what Ousainou Darboe said before he was jailed:
“The law speaks the same language under a military dictatorship as under a democratically elected government…”
I dream of a day when sons and daughters of our land will have freedom of assembly, freedom from intimidation and right to express themselves as guaranteed in our constitution. Until then we will have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
It’s a shame watching live pictures coming from Westfield yesterday. Thank God they left early. The pictures remind me of the bitter days of “UDP struggle”. My office was located in Westfield. I was seeing armed men patiently waiting to crush citizens who want to express their rights. Most of our staff were left in tears in one afternoon after witnessing young officers beating mostly elderly and not too young men and women of the UDP party. We could not do anything but watch from the office balcony and cry. Yes you heard me right.
“Strong” once just shook their heads and quiet went back to their desks, tears rolled down for others. Our anger was not only on the right abuses but “kids” beating elders-an abomination in our culture.
Our prayer, our anger, our dream on that and many other days was solved on December 1. We fought peacefully to end tyranny. We may have political differences but our love for The Gambia is singular. I’m ashamed the New Gambia government is still reminding us of Jammeh’s era. Please don’t misquote me. You can’t compare Babili Mansa’s bad records to Barrow’s but denial of permits to hold peaceful demonstration is synonymous with Jammeh’s style of government.
I am very positive that #OccupyWestfield wouldn’t turn violent. I don’t guarantee that though. However I believe our young people love our country hence would not turn to be hooligans.
Meanwhile I want to leave you with this question: if you are against #OccupyWestfield, does it mean you agreed that Uncle Darboe and co jailing was justified?