Friday, October 2, 2015

Ousman Sonko: Gambia's silent killer and prolific torturer

Ousman Sonko
Ousman Sonko 
Ousman Sonko, Interior Minister

Ousman Sonko, Gambia's Interior Minister, was an army officer in the administration of Sir Dawda Jawara when he was accused of' and charged with rape in 1994, just barely weeks before the coup d'etat that ushered in the current dictatorial regime of Yaya Jammeh.  His case never proceeded in the courts, and all charges were subsequently dropped.

He was freed and immediately joined the brutal regime of Yaya Jammeh and has since 1994 occupied prominent and powerful positions within the dictatorship.  He's served as Inspector General of Police where he supervised and was reported to have taken part in the brutal murder, execution-style, of the forty-four Ghanaians who were mistaken for foreign mercenaries by an extremely nervous and overwrought regime.

The nervous suspicion that characterized the Jammeh regime since the moment he seized power to date has been taken advantage of by Ousman Sonko to cement his position within the dictatorship and to advance his personal ambition.  He falsely implicated Almamo Manneh and Landing Sanneh in a coup plot and then proceeded to lure the former to, what appeared to be, an ambush that led to his death.  The latter was charged with attempted coup and sentenced to long-term sentence and recently pardoned by Yaya Jammeh.

Ousman Sonko was removed as Minister of Interior, reinstated for barely a week only to be redeployed as Ambassador to Spain in February 2012.   He was however reportedly the point-man directing the operations as the presidential killing machine known as the "Jungulars" when he returned from his Ambassadorial post. were tracking the journalist as he was making his way home the night after celebrating the 13th anniversary of his newspaper.

The spate of recent defections from the regime's security apparatus, particularly from the "Jungulars" and agents of the notorious National Intelligence Agency - primarily responsible for the systematic torture of the regime's opponents - brought with it fresh insights into a dark and sinister operations of a regime that use brute force and violence to maintain order and retain power.

Some of these former agents have started shining light on those within the dictatorship who are responsible for the killings, torturing and general tormenting of the citizenry.  And Ousman Sonko, the Interior Minister, has been identified as the central figure who acts as the coordinator and supervisor of the systematic murders and torture sessions conducted in the name of the regime of Yaya Jammeh.

The disappearances of journalist, Ebrima Chief Manneh, and a member of the main opposition party, Kanjiba Kanji have been linked to the handiwork of Ousman Sonko in his role as Interior Minister. Countless disappearances of opponents - perceived or otherwise - has become a signature trademark of a regime that use extreme repressive measures to stay in power.

Ousman Sonko is one of those trusted member of an extremely violent regime who ensures that Yaya Jammeh stays in power through assassinations, disappearances and torture that includes sexual violence.   He is the silent killer and prolific torturer because he has managed to stay away from the radar for many years until recently.

It is time for all decent Gambians everywhere to stand up and expose murderers and rapists like Ousman Sonko presently in our midst who carry out illegal orders of murder, disappearance, assassination, sexual assault and torture in the name of Yaya Jammeh.

* This is an amended version which corrected an error placing Ousman Sonko at the Interior Ministry which is incorrect.