By Abdoulie John
One year after Gambia presidential palace attack by a group of dissidents from United States and Europe, the bodies of the assailants killed are still in the custody of the Jammeh regime, despite a torrent of calls to hand them over to their respective families.
“For us their families, we are left with a huge gap in our hearts and a yearning to know the real truth of what really took place on that fateful night of December 30, 2014; a night that is etched in our very DNA now and forever,” said in a poignant tone Sigga Jagne. She is the sister Njaga, a former army soldier from Kentucky Njaga killed during the foiled coup.
In the early hours of Tuesday 30 December 2014, a group of Gambia born dissidents of US and Western citizenship led an attack on State House.
After hours of fire exchanges, loyal forces took the upper hand and killed four of the attackers, including former State Guard Commander Lt. Colonel Lamin Sanneh.
The victims’ families have since been searching for answers concerning attack. “We are left with so many unanswered questions and so many challenges that we have continued to endure as a result of their deaths,” Sigga Jagne said. “We realize this is now the new reality we will forever live with.”
Pasamba Jow of the US-based Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA) decried government unwillingness to release the bodies of the ‘freedom fighters’ and allow their family to offer them proper burial. “The mutilation of corpses and his refusal to hand them over to their families for proper burial contravene Gambian values,” Mr. Jow said, proving a point that “Yahya Jammeh lacks an iota of human decency.”
Also relaying a similar call was Aboubacry Mbodji of the Dakar-based human rights watchdog RADDHO who said The Gambia should obey the international law and allow families linked with the killed attackers to have access to their corpses.
“The international community should scale up pressure on President Jammeh in order to get their compliance,” he said, stressing the need for the regional bloc [ECOWAS] and United Nations to take all necessary measures to force Gambian authorities to comply with the demands of desperate families.
Since he forcefully stole power in a July 1994 coup d’état, Yahya Jammeh has been ruling the once democratic giant with iron fist. The Dictator whose government is widely known for its persistent crackdown on the media, human rights defenders and political opponents, has survived several reported coup attempts.