Saturday, March 18, 2017

Have we no moral conscience or sense of decency?

Sidi Sanneh 
The republication of this blog post was inspired by Pa Modou Jobe's re-posting of it and the comments that followed on his Facebook page.

The blog was penned on 9th March, 2015 at the height of Jammeh's rampaging hit squad unleashed on a defenseless and much traumatized population with scores of forced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and torture which were taken in the jaw in stony silence by civic, political and religious leaders with some allowing themselves to be infected with the Stockholm Syndrome, the virus externally induced by the tormentor-in chief with cash and worldly goods.

Fatu Camara also re-posted the story of Ya Binta Jarju who was targeted and her brains blown out by the Bulldozer group and then proceeded to threaten her boyfriend who was riding in the same taxi that fateful night if he should ever speak about the incident - the link to the story can be found here.

The country will never start on the road to reconciliation and normalization without addressing the horrors of the previous regime.  The nation will never heal if the painful process of confronting the past does not take place and the longer it is delayed, the more difficult it will be to attain the cleansing of the National Soul which is, as we've said previously, a prerequisite to reconciliation. Those responsible for these heinous acts are still roaming our streets and, more repulsively, occupying the highest and most coveted positions in the Barrow government.  These people must be weeded out of the system, charged and brought before a court of law.  Those found guilty punished and those found innocent be let free.


Sidi Sanneh 
To sit, watch and actively participate in the destruction of the Gambia through our active or passive support of Yaya Jammeh who came out of the blue to torment, torture, maim, rape, extra-judicially execute, exile, imprison and humiliate our sons, daughters, wives, husbands, uncles, aunts, grand-children while we stay mute, and pretend nothing ever happened.

There was an instance when the life of a father was attempted, and if not for the timely intervention of medical treatment in Senegal, another precious life of a Gambian would have been wasted by Yaya Jammeh's criminal gang.  What did Yaya Jammeh do?  He appointed the victim's daughter to the bench while the father was still in exile in America.

Eventually, the victim returned to Gambia to those who attempted to assassinate him.  These are personal tragedies with national proportions and, thus, must be discussed within that context, and also within the context of trying to understand Jammeh's tactics that he's used to stay in power. The world must know what Gambians are going through under the regime of Yaya Jammeh.  We cannot accomplish this goal if all of us stay mute.

It is only in The Gambia where a husband is killed by the notorious security henchmen of the regime only to find the wife hitching a ride the next day to Kanilai to engage in 'celebrations' and fraternizing with the very soldiers who killed her husband.  Gambia's social fabric is being destroyed by a regime that careless while we watch from the sidelines or help in the destruction.

Stories like these are horrid and numerous.  As a Gambian, I am embarrassed by them.  How did we get to be where we find ourselves?  How did we degenerate to this inhumane and unprincipled state of mind that a wife will report a husband to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in the name of a brutal dictator? These and many questions will engage psychologists, psychiatrists, behavioral scientists and other social scientists for generations to come.  What a degenerate life we have resigned ourselves to as a Nation?  Where is the moral decency in us?

Ebrima Barry, a schoolboy was forced into a sinister exercise that required him to load and off-load a truck-load of cement by a group of Fire Service personnel.  Young Ebrima collapsed and died of stress because his small skeletal frame could not bare the brunt of the abuse while we stayed silent.

Within the same time-frame, a thirteen-year old girl was raped by members of the same Jammeh security henchmen.  We stayed silent.  As a result of our irresponsible behavior as elders, fellow students had to take to the streets in civil disobedience to demonstrate against injustices meted out to the populace resulting in 14 students being mowed down.

In this one instance, Pa Dacosta, with Manu Kumba as master of ceremony spoke up while the rest of us stayed mute.  Eventually, Manu succumbed and was consumed by a vile regime that thrives on sectionalism.  Rape and murder have become a weapon of choice of the tyrannical regime in Banjul. We all know it but chose to stay silent.

On the eve of the unofficial release of the 'United Nations' Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment' which describes The Gambia's precarious security position as being at a "pivotal moment".  The Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs warned that, as a result of last 30 December events, Jammeh "seems poised to further suppress fundamental human rights and retreat into isolation The Gambia's neighbors, the region and international community."

We have seen the proliferation of military check points and marauding "bulldozer death squads" tormenting civilians which has resulted in the assassination of Ya Binta Jarju, a Red Cross volunteer because she was a passenger in a taxi that, according to the polices, fail to stop at a military check point.  The official version of events contradicts witnesses versions - witnesses who will not come forward for fear of reprisals which is not surprising because report after report, ranging from Amnesty International to the Robert F. Kennedy's Center for Justice and Human Rights substantiates the fact that The Gambia is ruled through fear instilled on the population by the regime.

Community policing has failed precisely for fear of reprisal - a failure confirmed by the Rapporteurs' Report.  We have become the enemy and yet we continue to support a regime that has us under siege with military checkpoints every 500 meters, choking traffic and affect normal conduct of business.

It pains me to write this blog post because of we have failed the most vulnerable of the Gambian population in pursuit of our own selfish ends.  Perhaps when the NIA agents come knocking at our door in the dead of night, maybe we would have realized then that the strategy of keeping one's head down and to pretend that everything is hunky-dory is not such a wise idea after all.