Are Our Cries Falling On Deaf Ears?


Gambia’s Open Defiance To UN Inspectors

As Gambians, sometimes we feel as if our cries and tears are falling on deaf ears. The accounts that the activist, opposition politicians, journalist, commentators, media analysts and human rights organisation detailed about the Gambia, are rendered futile because the international diplomatic wheel continues to operate in normal terms with the Gambian dictator.

However, since diplomatic language can be deceptive, one expects the Gambia government to respect the United Nations protocol, especially as regard to their special rapporteurs’ visits and intended inspection of Mile 2 Central Prisons. This inspection turned out to be a fruitless exercise, as the Gambia government shamelessly denied the inspectors access to vulnerable Gambian prisoners who have been denied their fundamental human rights.

When the news first broke out, many people were left scrambling for answers, ruling out that this can’t be true in the glares of the viral world media. But who says the Gambia’s power-hungry dictator cares about what the world thinks? President Jammeh has once again proven to the world that he does not care about the eventual reaction of the UN since the world body will continue to carry on business as usual with his administration.

The question that keeps lingering on the minds of people is what Gambians should do to end this era of dictatorship madness. How can Gambians create intense global attention on the continuous harassment and autocratic rule? Another mind-boggling questions becomes whether young people have stake in this venture of restoring sanity back home. This fight belongs to them since they know no other president other than Yahya Jammeh whose government cowed youths through National Patriotic Student Association and youth development schemes. All these turn out to be tools of youth manipulation.

The world it seems need to empower and enhance the capacity of our country’s oppressed opposition parties. Without the UN getting tough and serious with the Gambian government, the investigators will never be allowed to do their job.

The lead Special investigator, Christof Heyns, was convinced that “an inference must be drawn that there is something important to hide”. This I firmly believe is the crux of the Gambia government’s defiance. Knowing fully that inspectors would have uncovered so many atrocities and violations of human rights, the Gambia government decided to deny them access to certain areas of the prison. If their hands are clean, then what is the point of the denial. The bottom line is that Gambian authorities obviously have something to hide.

Another startling revelation came to light when “Both investigators said that during their three day visit in November, they had received many reports that there are paramilitary hit squads in the country”. If the UN investigators were allowed to carry out their duties, the inhumane prison condition will laid bare, the tough and torturous regime in Mile 2 will also be documented and made public.

I urge Gambian activists to focus on sober diplomacy and get the message out on the daily violations of people’s rights. Let us remember that we all owe an obligation to those voiceless, shackled and hopeless prisoners in Gambian prisons.

By Siray Touray


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