Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kasim Kanji was killed by an out-of-control security forces

A wikipedia definition of a police state is one"in which a government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the population."  The entry further elaborated that in a police state "there is usually little or no distinction between the law and the exercise of political power of the executive."

By this definition, The Gambia does not only qualify as a police state, it is a full-fledged police state that rivals the likes of North Korea and the old Soviet Union and East Germany.  The most ardent supporters of Yaya Jammeh can no longer claim that "the boys are trying" or argue that the Gambian human condition has not deteriorated beyond levels of acceptability.  In the past, The Gambian dissident community has been accused of exaggerating the human rights condition and economic development issues with spirited denials from supporters of Jammeh.  Most of those voices have now been silenced not by dissidents but by the very action of the government they supported, and some still continue to support.   The remaining Jammeh supporters have now accepted the reality that they are in a quandary.  The revolution they embraced thinking that life will be better under a new management has turned out to be a nightmare for many of them.  It turns out that Kasim's own brother is a member of Jammeh's security apparatus.  Baba Kanji is a member of the Gambia Armed Forces.  This information was revealed by a member of the family during a radio interview.      

Young Gambians have paid a particularly heavy price for a demographic group that has consistently supported the regime - a misplaced support, in my view, because unemployment in general and youth unemployment in particular has worsened under the current regime, with little or no job opportunities for the young.  Consequently, increasing numbers have taken to drugs with is now readily available given that The Gambia is now a drug transit point of the Latin American drug cartel.  Over a dozen school children were mowed down with AK-47s in April 2001 for holding a peaceful demonstration.  Their protest was to show support for two of their colleagues, one of whom was tortured and killed and the other was raped - all by the same forces that have now killed Kasim Kanji. 

I have argued in the petition I filed with that the targeting of children by the Jammeh security forces is a deliberately designed form of intimidation employed to serve notice to parents and elders that they should control the young - a group that has historically played a galvanizing role that challenges the power of the state.  The murder of Kasim Kanji is a reminder to parents that the state will not hesitate to use excessive force to keep order.

That said, it is also evident that the state security apparatus has grown so powerful that it appears that even the dictator can no longer control it.  This is not surprising because the security set-up is designed in specialised cells, each under a separate command and control.  The structure appears to be decentralized and highly compartmentalized.  And it is common knowledge that these units are staffed by Casamance rebels who do not speak a word of English but discernibly fluent in Jola. Previously, these fighters made a conscious effort to conceal their national identities, but I am told that this is no longer the case.  It is now common to hear them issue instructions in French or in Jola to fellow security agents.  Troubling developments indeed.  

To sign the petition demanding justice for Kasim Kanji, please click the link, and after signing, encourage others to sign. :

Encourage others to sign the petition.  Thank you.