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Thursday, October 1, 2020

President Yahya AJJ Jammeh means a lot to Gambia

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 In their super-bloated egos, their kind of ideal government has to be predicated on the foundation of a political structure totally devoid of human and civil rights violations with a leader always accountable to the public, nationally and internationally. A kind of utopia!  Anyway with the awareness of their ineffectiveness to consolidate a viable political support base in The Gambia for obviously showing no credible credentials for earning it, other than merely having to live in exile abroad – in Western nations and the USA in particular – countries often referenced as examples of running their desired kinds of government, these folks not having anything better to do with their meaningless lives, seemed to need  serious special schooling on being truthful to themselves. Thus, I cannot, but for their own good, refer them to William Shakespeare’s age-venerated words said by Polonius to his son Laertes in Act 1 of Hamlet that: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night and the day, thou canst not then be false to any man”. It is as simple as teaching us to be truthful to ourselves before maintaining honest relations with others.

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For the best part of last week, they generated sensational denunciation of the Gambia government through the internet and extranet for passing stiff laws against homosexuality as if it was an international crime punishable by regime change in the country. And as usual, they tried everything imaginable to impress upon the world that passing the law was one of many examples of the Gambia government’s violation of the civil and human rights of its citizenry and overblowing it into calling President Jammeh a torturer, deserving reprimand from the US government. Unfortunately, the US White House seemed to have fallen for it, an external government affair that I believe by normal protocol fell within the jurisdiction of the State Department. 

Where is their honesty when in 13 states in the very USA they are attacking The Gambia from, still maintain legal objections of homosexual tendencies where it is in their laws that “oral and anal sex between consenting adults remains a criminal offence”. Four of these states (Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri) prohibit these acts between same-sex couples and, as a result, essentially outlaw homosexuality. The other nine, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Utah and Virginia all ban consensual sodomy on the same principles that marriage and sex is only acceptable between a man and a woman. Demographically, we all know that the global human impulse to reject or prosecute those engaged in same sex relationship has always been a sentiment deeply rooted from our religious beliefs. Therefore, no matter how we want to justify homosexuality, devoted Christians and Muslims alike will continue to believe in their scriptures, categorising the

behaviour as sinful. However, with almost every Gambian living in the country in support of the position of the government over this matter, the majority of whom will never hesitate to condemn homosexual behaviour for religious reasons, then outlawing it by the government, appears unquestionably justified on the hypothesis that the word of the people is the word of God. 

But, for the US White House to be hasty in attributing this unique matter to The Gambia’s general disrespect for the civil and human rights of its people in what appeared to have originated from political pressure exerted on them by few Gambian or American-Gambian dissidents living here and committed to destabilise the Gambia government, goes to show how little we learnt from the likes of Ahmed Abdel Hadi Chalabi. Chalabi as we could recall was the controversial Iraqi dissident in the USA who for years on very selfish reasons orchestrated the critical campaign with the assistance of the US lobbying powerhouse BKSH & Associates that ultimately convinced the Bush government that Saddam Hussain was indeed in possession of weapons of mass destruction  and had strong ties with al-Qaeda. This was not only proven false after its disastrous and shameful repercussion to the entire world, but Chalabi subsequently boasted about it in an interview with the British Sunday Telegraph,  admitting that the impact of their falsifications leading to America’s  military invasion of Iraq in 2003 also caused his fallout with the US Government.   

President Obama was among the few lawmakers in the USA at the time who openly doubted the credibility of the intelligence behind the aggressive drive for the war and therefore vehemently opposed it to the end; yet I find it hard to differentiate between how George W Bush could be deceived by such political opportunists like Chalabi in 2003 with how Barack Obama could also fall for the same kind of American-Gambian characters in 2014,  selfish political opportunists determined to do whatever they can to destroy a very stable and progressive government in the Gambia, headed by a peace-loving leader in the good name of President Yahya AJJ Jammeh. The Gambia by political age is far younger than the USA, although I think by honest comparison of how well the two societies tolerated their citizens’ diversity or human and individual rights when they were the same age after independence from British colonialism, the facts will decisively prove the Gambians more forbearing in every respect. As a matter of fact at the time The Gambia was politically born or attained its independence in 1965, America was close to clocking 200 years of Independence but was still living with a constitution that prohibited interracial marriages and considered black people as lesser human beings than whites. Contextually therefore around the time Barack Obama’s parents met in America – a black African man and a white American woman – racial discrimination of the worst kind was still prevalent in the society. Now imagine going back to when America was only fifty years, the age of The Gambia now since independence. Must I dig into that dark past as a black man to further prove the point I am trying to make?

One can argue that the laws in the USA have since changed for the better until a clear-headed observer starts questioning why, in what seems to be the perpetuation of the same negative racial polarisation, predominantly white police forces in the country are militarised with policies suspiciously hostile towards blacks and other minorities in the country. The shooting and killing of the unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson and that officer’s shocking exoneration by a grand jury from all types of criminal charges, angered the nation more because of its similarity to previous incidents on African-American youth, than anything else associated with the crisis. The widely-watched footage of Eric Garner’s police chokehold that snuffed the life out of another black man in Stanton Island, New York, an additional case dismissed by another grand jury with nobody culpable for that crime translated in the eyes and minds of too many Americans a huge mistrust of our justice system. 

Nothing of this sort happens in The Gambia where blacks and whites get along like brothers and sisters; where religious difference appear to unite the inhabitants rather than divide them; come to the Gambia during Christmas and you will be tempted to believe that you are in a nation inhabited by Christians alone; likewise during Eid-ul-Adha (Tobaski) everyone, Muslims, Christians and agnostics all come together to celebrate the ceremony in a typical Muslim way; in the Gambia Muslims are free to marry Christians; in The Gambia different ethnic groups intermarry regardless of their political or religious differences; in short, they call the country the smiling coast because everybody you see or meet tend to be very happy with life in general. It is a country where the people have faith with the understanding that life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside their control regardless of what they believe or disbelieve about politics in general.  And this is exactly what President Yahya AJJ Jammeh is working on day and night to protect from being destroyed by these few Gambian-American Ahmed Chalabis. These Chalabis will never talk about these wonderful things in The Gambia but have literally suspended their life – responsibilities waiting for an event that will sooner rather than later dismantle the regime whereby they will take over and start living productive lives. Trust me, it isn’t happening!

To still drill my point home over the fact that these so-called freedom fighters are not truthful to themselves, why the deafening silence over the damning Senate Intelligence Committee report on the brutal assessment of the CIA’s “Enhanced Interrogation” method on captured al-Qaeda enemy combatants? If it had anything to do with President Jammeh or The Gambia, they would have been in the forefront demanding the arrest and prosecution of every government official in that country including of course the president. But they are not even discussing the UN and human rights groups calling for the prosecution of US officials involved in the brutal torture. Yes, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson has made a statement that “senior officials from the administration of George W Bush who planned and sanctioned the crimes must be prosecuted as well as CIA and US government officials responsible for torture such as waterboarding.” The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) is also making their position clear that nothing sort of prosecuting the torturers was acceptable. They are arguing that the crime of torture has no statute of limitation when torture risks or results in serious injury or death, and that the US government has the obligation under international law to investigate any credible evidence that torture has been committed.

The report shocked the world more because of the level of brutality applied by the torturers that was proven ineffective. The torture methods, explained in the document, merely got false confessions that led the CIA to pursue dead leads that did not help in the fight against al-Qaeda. One detainee was killed from hypothermia after being chained, nearly naked, to a concrete floor. They were later found to experience “hallucination, paranoia, insomnia and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilations. 

And what is President Obama saying about it? “The country should now move on after the publication of the report”. And with all honesty, I think that is the right thing to do. An attempt to drag former President George W Bush or Dick Chaney to stand trial for these crimes which some human rights elements are calling for is in my judgment unhealthy to the image of past, present and future presidents of America.

Let me however conclude by saying this: The President of the Republic of The Gambia, His Excellency, President, Yahya AJJ Jammeh, is the kind of leader most African countries wished they could have in these troubling times when nations are falling apart for lack of strong and good leaders like him. He is the no-nonsense type of leader who hardly gets along with the intellectually dishonest and the condescending ones as well. He is the ordinary people’s leader and they love him to death. May god bless him and his entire family!


Samsudden Sarr, a published author is a former commander of the Gambia National Army. He now lives and works in Newark, New Jersey, USA.


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