By Sarata Jabbi
The recent uprising in The Gambia that led to the arrest and detention of many people including United Democratic Party (UDP) opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and some of his supporters has become a cause for concern as the detainees are reportedly tortured, raped and one claimed death. The detainees are currently held in different locations and denied access to their families, legal team, or friends.
In an interview with UDP United Kingdom campaign manager, Mr Bamba Mass said the solution to Gambia’s current situation is for Jammeh regime to be internationally isolated because Gambia’s human rights record is zero. “There should be consequences for president Jammeh government for failing to protect defenceless citizens of our country as the ruling government”.
Asked why the uprising, Mr. Mass explained that since the ruling APRC party controlled parliament brought those draconian laws called the Electoral amendment ACT 2015, the whole nation cried foul as it was purposely meant to disfranchise the poor Gambians. “The law means presidential candidates should pay D500,000 Gambian currency (about £10,000), which is very unfair for candidates who can’t afford it, as such we called for electoral reforms so that there could be a free and fair elections. However an interparty committee was constituted to work out ways to find a common ground, and this interparty committee was instituted by all political parties to find ways for a free, fair and peaceful election come December 2016”.
It was due to this law Mass added, their Party Organising Secretary Ebrima Solo Sandeng together with some youths organised a peaceful march to the Independent Electoral Commission office to demand an electoral reforms. Upon their arrival at West Field junction they met the armed police intervention unit officers who forcefully arrested them and took them to their head office in Kanifing for questioning. “They were reported to have been tortured and Ebrima later reported dead whilst the female arrestees Fatoumata Jawara, Nogoi Njie and Fatou Camara went into coma”, he revealed.
“Many opposition members are currently in custody, since April the 14, nine people were arrested together with party organising secretary Ebrima Solo Sandeng, followed by the arrest of the party leader himself and his entire executives, then another massive arrest took place on last Monday May 9th when forty-six people were reportedly arrested. However the total arrestees are estimated to around three hundred people who are held in different locations”.
In terms of assisting the families of the victims, Bournemouth graduate explains that they have been helping the families both financially and morally. Mr Mass added that the families have been receiving constant phone calls from the part’s other members across the world to check on how they are doing. “In addition each family have been given D1, 500 Gambian currencies for a start and this amount will increase as long as the detainees stay in custody”.
Mass finally advised the Gambians to rise up and demand what rightfully belongs to them, and those in Diaspora he stressed should remember to stand for their country to claim back freedom as there is no place like home. “Let’s all speak up for our beloved country because as long as we keep quiet the problem will not be solve rather aggravates it more and this will enable fear to grow”, he emphasized.