|The People of Kartong|
"The release of the illegally detained Kartong youth is a welcome development but hardly satisfactory," says Coach Pa Samba Jow of the Washington-based DUGA.
"It is not within the president's powers to file a nolle prosequi. The responsibility lies entirely with the Attorney General," says an experienced lawyer and keen observer of developments in the Gambia who also said that Jammeh could not claim to have pardoned them when they have not been found guilty of any wrong doing.
Parading these innocent youths before television cameras to beg for mercy - a cheap propaganda ploy employed by Jammeh will not the regime well in the event that that is what is being contemplated.
The youth were protesting against mining activities in Kartong that threaten their livelihood with equally damaging effects on the immediate communities. These issues relate to the mining of sand and other heavy minerals in Kartong that is destroying the environment, dotting the landscape with open pits and heavy metal residue that pollute the streams and the soil, making life considerably more difficult for the population.
The mining is being done by KGI, a company owned by the very same dictator who has decided to release the Kartong youth. The official action must go beyond simply releasing the youth. The concerns of Kartong residence must be addressed to the satisfaction of the village residence.
Similar issues of concern exist in other parts of the Kombos and across the country where agricultural land belonging to the communities have been forfeited to the Gambian dictator, threatening the traditional tenure system. These lands must be returned to its rightful owners : the respective rural communities across the country.