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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The need to fast track Jammeh’s indictment, criminalise open loyalty to him, and stabilise Foni

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It may be seen by some as too harsh, but desperate situations calls for urgent and similar desperate actions. Mr President, I must say that The Gambia is heading to an unknown destination partly because a minority of the population wants to take the law into their hands all in the name of so-called new Gambia, ‘misreading democracy’.  The newly-found democracy literally being abused by many Gambians must be put into its proper context. The reality is, democracy works on ‘peaceful minds’ as Afrifa Gitonga taught us. Democracy cannot triumph in the absence of peace and stability. In fact, the principle highly discourages people taking the law into their hands.

It should be clear to you that there are people still enduring the trauma of Jammeh’s atrocities, yet having those who continue to openly justify his crimes and supporting him outrightly without a second thought. It is true that we need to focus more on how to restructure our economy, solve our other most pressing issues such as unemployment and underemployment, ensuring discipline in the public sector and a whole lot of attitudinal change, thus making our current challenges numerous, yet complex, but the right thing must be done if the wounds are to be heal.

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Mr President, 22 years of torture, killings, enforced disappearances, maiming and raping are still traumatising the victims of such atrocities and the majority of Gambians who in one way or the other have been affected by Jammeh’s crimes. Not only has Jammeh killed, tortured and maimed Gambians throughout his rule, he has looted our little resources. Jammeh has openly told us on numerous occasions that he was going to kill anybody who was to be a threat to his rule and he did it. Jammeh has openly accepted and ‘justified’ the horrendous killing of late Deyda Hydara. Jammeh has openly accepted and ‘justified’ the killing of late Solo Sandeng and a whole lot of others. The list of victims of his atrocities is so long that no one will be able to complete it. The latest revelation by the government regarding the freezing of the assets that purportedly belong to Jammeh is just demoralising and will break the heart of any Gambian in his/her right senses. Being very much cognisant of the fact that, proper investigations are needed before bringing one of, if not Africa’s worst dictator of the 21st century to book, there is nevertheless the urgent need to fast track the investigations by invoking national, sub-regional, regional and other international mechanisms and indict him for the crimes committed against Gambians and non Gambians alike. You have heard the UN human rights chief categorically said that, amnesty cannot be granted on certain crimes. These include war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Yes, Jammeh has allegedly committed crimes against humanity and he must be brought to book if justice is to be served.

Mr President, with the pain we are going through, there are people who are still openly showing loyalty and support to Jammeh, to the point of praying for his return when his so-called party loyalists celebrated what they called his born day. Yahya Jammeh as an individual is by all indications a criminal and should be considered a criminal. Pursuant to that, openly showing support to him by justifying his criminal acts should be considered a crime and people found wanting should face the full force of the law. To this end, legislation is needed to bring such into effect and ensure that victims and families of Jammeh’s crimes are not force to opt for vendetta. I am of the opinion that openly justifying Jammeh’s crimes can incite violence. I once entered a vehicle with two young ladies who were praising Jammeh as a ‘good leader’ to the point of ‘justifying’ his crimes. My fear in that vehicle was the probability of having one of Jammeh’s victims who could have acted otherwise which could lead to something undesirable. You have seen by yourself what had happened in one of the court hearings of the NIA 9, where the daughter of late Solo Sandeng got into some form of physical confrontation with some relatives of the accused persons and supporters of Jammeh, to the point of a lady being beaten by some angry court spectators. Numerous other examples that can be potential sources of violence can be cited. This may be considered by some as outrageous, but kindly revert to history. One of the world’s worst tyrants, Adolf Hitler, killed over six million Jews in what is known as the ‘holocaust’. In Cambodia, Pol Pot massacred between one to two million people in what is known as the 1975 Khmer Rouge Massacre. But today, no one in any Jewish society dare deny that the holocaust had occurred which will be a way of justifying what Hitler had done in Germany and Europe as a whole, especially his crimes against the Jews. No one dare go to Cambodia and justify the killing of innocent Cambodians, or even openly show support to these two leaders with impunity. Therefore, The Gambia should not be an exception. Open support and justification of Yahya’s crimes should be criminalised to restore sanity in our country.

On the Foni issue, Mr President, the peace and stability of this country are sacred and must not under any given circumstances be compromised. The recent incident in Kanilai and the previous ones in the village and other parts of the Foni area should not be taken lightly. You should be aware of the dangers of such, as they can easily trigger violent conflict. Jammeh illegally overthrew a democratically elected government some 22 years ago, yet supported by Gambians and the change of government was accepted. Imagine his government was democratically (legally) defeated at the polls which represented the will of the Gambian people, yet the APRC supporters, especially those in Foni, Kanilai in particular, do not want to accept the change of government. Let me tell you one thing, there is no so-called democracy in any part of the world where citizens can take the law into their hands. Foni is just a fraction of the geography of The Gambia and the supporters of Jammeh constitute just a fraction of the population of this country, and they are to abide by the laws of The Gambia whether they like it or not. They are bound by the ‘social contract’ of our land  – the Constitution. Foni is not an independent entity within The Gambia. The inhabitants MUST accept that Jammeh is gone and that there is a new government in power and The Gambia remains a sovereign state with its laws that deserve to be respected at all times and costs by citizens and non citizens alike.

In addition, I was totally flabbergasted to have learned that the entrance of Kanilai has two check points, one military and the other by the youths of the village who receive commands from the villagers, and that people cannot enter – even our own military officers – without the permission of the youths or the villagers. This is totally unacceptable!  The need to make the people of Foni, so-called Jammeh sympathisers to be specific, accept change and stop living in self-denial is non-negotiable and all measures MUST be taken to put them in their proper place. You must come out and address the nation, particularly the Jammeh supporters in Foni, that they must accept what has happened or face the consequences if they want to act otherwise. As Minister Fatty rightly put it, Ecomig forces would not have been in The Gambia if Jammeh had accepted defeat and allowed a smooth and peaceful transfer of power. You must show leadership for people to know that indeed there is a leader and a government. Arrogance and ignorance must not characterise our newly found democracy and so-called new Gambia.

Let Jammeh be indicted! Criminalise the action of openly supporting him and put a firm grip on Foni!
Yours in the service of the nation, Essa Njie, a sovereign and a concerned Gambian citizen

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