Friday, April 15, 2016

GAMBIA: Solo Sandeng and Alhagie Ceesay, two torture victims die at the hands of Jammeh's security agents

Youth Leader and protester -Ebrima Solo Sandeng

Radio journalist Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay 

Solo Sandeng, a youth leader in Gambia's largest opposition party, the United Democratic Party, and Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay a radio journalist who has been in the custody of the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) have both died of torture wounds inflicted by Jammeh's torture team. Both underwent severe torture sessions and both died of internal injuries as a result.

In the case of Solo Sandeng, he was leading a demonstration against the dictatorship in the outskirts of the Gambian capital city of Banjul in the suburb of Serrekunda when he and other protesters were arrested.   They were peacefully protesting against the draconian electoral laws, including the recently passed Electoral (Amendment) Act of 2015, clearly designed to disqualify many, if not all, of the opposition parties including Sandeng's own United Democratic Party from the scheduled December 2016 presidential elections.  .

It was while leading the protest that a truck load of paramilitary personnel arrested him and many others.  Our sources put the number of those arrested at thirty, including Solo Sandeng.  They were rushed to the notorious Mile II and from where they were transported in groups of five to the NIA headquarters, a mile and a half away, to be tortured.  We have reported extensively, in the past couple of days, the ordeal that these young men had to endure.  You can find the relevant blogs posts here and here.

The torture sessions on Wednesday night proved to be too much for the young youth leader.  As we reported on Thursday, Solo Sandeng was in a coma as a result and he never recovered consciousness. He died of his injuries today, Friday.

According to our source, when Yaya Jammeh, the Gambian dictator was informed in the early hours of the morning of Friday that Mr. Sandeng had died, a panicked Jammeh directed his Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Yankuba Badjie, to bury the youth leader's body at the NIA premises at Tanji village, a tourism resort area in the Tourism Development Area, a few miles from the city of Banjul..

In the case of the 25-year old journalist, Alhagie Abdoulie Ceesay, he has been held in the remand wing of the Mile II prisons for over 200 days.  During his long stay, he has been tortured severely on numerous occasions.  In addition to the physical abuse he suffered at the hands of Jammeh's torturers, he was charged with sedition for sending a photo image of Jammeh with a gun to his head, according to the police.

During his 9 months ordeal, the radio journalist suffered an enlarged liver, among other internal injuries.  The judge presiding over his case is a Nigerian national by the name of Simeon Abi who was deliberately delaying the case at the instruction of Jammeh as a means of further punishment of the young man by letting him go through excruciating pain during an unending trial that was still on at the time of his death which, we have been informed that took place last Monday night or Tuesday morning.  We do not have information on where he was buried.

We have written over two dozen blog posts on the plight of Alhagie Ceesay too numerous to delineate here. We will, therefore, refer you to the Open Letter we wrote last September to the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency complaining about the journalist's case and many other abuses inflicted on Gambians by the judiciary by demanding the resignations of numerous Nigerian judges who are referred to locally as mercenary judges.  You can find the open letter here.

At the time of going to press, Yaya Jammeh is still in Ankara, Turkey attending the Summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference from where a strange statement from him was drafted and read over Gambia Radio and Television Service (GRTS) a state-controlled propaganda outlet this evening warning the Western powers to stay out of Gambia's internal affairs.

In light of the deaths of Solo Sandeng and Alhagie Abdoulie at the hands of Jammeh's torture squad, and in retrospect, the statement is seen for what it is - a clumsy attempt at preempting the anticipated fall-out that is likely to occur as a result of the deaths of these two young men that's consistent with  his deplorable human rights record that spans his entire 22-year dictatorship.

In view of these latest tragic events, we continue to urge the Gambian people to rise up and take their country back from a regime that is repressive, corrupt and incompetent.  Gambia deserves better.