As we follow court cases in the Gambia, it is quite saddening to see the open persecution of UDP supporters, especially the many active ones participating in active politics. One is tempted to ask: Why the open arrests, tortures and persecution of UDP members continually with similar patterns? In my view, the answer is not farfetched. In this piece, I relied on some of UDP’s many cases, which in my view are politically motivated and a direct target on the UDP.
The then 64-year old UDP strongman Femi Peters Senior was arrested in March 2010; charged for using a loud speaker and participating in an open rally, then sentenced by Jammeh’s mercenary judges. The late Shyngle Nyassi (May his soul continue to peacefully rest) was arrested countless times, tortured, threatened beyond breaking point, and subjected to open humiliation and harassment by Gambia’s notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA). While Waa Juwara’s true political history is yet to be properly written, he too as a then UDP member, was arrested, tortured and finally forced to accept a position in the APRC, which ended up contributing to Waa’s political down fall.
Those arrests won’t be it. Many years later, as currently observed, the UDP is still going through the same political discrimination and open persecution under Jammeh’s power excesses. Currently, we have on the court dockets, cases for Alasan Jobarteh, Amadou Sanneh, Solo Sandeng, and scores of others all arrested and treated in discriminatory manner. After his latest visit to the U.S in 2013, and upon return to the Gambia, the head of the UDP party, Lawyer Darboe was invited for questioning, and some of the discriminatory questions he was asked was how he obtained his office computers, specifically to whether they were given to him by the United States Government and receipts for his computers. The whole drama came right after the APRC’s new darling Secretary General, Momodou Sabally who openly prides himself for doing Jammeh’s dirty work, just like his predecessor Njogu Bah currently serving mile two, openly on National Television insulted Gambians in the Diaspora, the UDP party, the Government of the United States and that of great Britain. The joke is that, Darboe who has been a successful lawyer way before Momodou Sabally was born; is now being asked how he obtained his office computers. If Momodou Sabally can afford to be an SG in any administration, even though it is a tyranny, how come Darboe who is a successful lawyer cannot buy office computers?
I am sure there are numerous other UDP cases and I am the least qualified of documenting all the UDP militants who are under attack for merely speaking their mind and participating in democracy, something they are entitled to like any other Gambian citizen. All these cases came and time went by fast. Party supporters are getting in trouble from one angle to another for merely being UDP party members. The only crime as visibly seen is just affiliation to the UDP. Perhaps, others may be tempted that the UDP poses threats to Jammeh’s dictatorship, and that is true no doubt. Dictators by nature of their cowardice are threatened by even the noise that comes from their shoes. So yes, you can say that and you are not wrong, but it is not only enough to keep hanging onto such beliefs that won’t yield a desired result.
In the end, let us face it. The UDP members are being persecuted for their political affiliation. I refused to see any wrong that these citizens have committed, at least to my knowledge, as a citizen following events from the Gambia like any other. Jammeh and the APRC are determined to continue on this travesty of justice until the UDP organizes itself to repel Jammeh’s targeting aggression; but the party head Darboe has said openly that he will not participate in any demonstration. Yes, that is his right as a legal mind and a party head, but Darboe must be reminded that he won’t win these cases in Gambia’s kangaroo courts headed by Jammeh’s mercenary judges, which means the environment to seek redress is not currently available. The continuous arrest of UDP members, persecuting them openly, and sending them to jail is unacceptable. The duty to protect Gambian citizens, to which UDP is a consortium of, is to me, a duty to all of us, not necessarily the UDP and Darboe alone.
Negotiation and patience has been exhausted, seeking of justice is proving unsuccessful under the current justice system filled with mercenary judges, and the nightmare of terror continues to be unleashed to UDP party militants in open space. It is time for Darboe to move the political game to the next level, stepping up and mobilizing youths to use resistance through a special “self-defense” mechanism when confronted by these deadbeat criminals. That is the only solution. Even with this open “self-defense” strategy I am proposing, Darboe is capable of partnering with the likes of OJ, who said on Freedom radio that he is willing to march to the streets of the Gambia to demonstrate against Jammeh’s misrule. A power hungry destitute as mighty as Jammeh will never give citizens their rights because that means he is out of power. If Darboe due to his own political ideology doesn’t believe in self defense or cannot lead this effort as it demands, it is in his interest, the interest of the whole Gambia and that of the UDP that he allows a fresher blood within the UDP to lead the party, of course according Darboe the full credit and respect of fighting for all of us during a time of need. Darboe can still lead from the behind or within the party as a proud gainako, leading his animals from the behind at all times, but as long as he is the UDP’s flag bearer, he have to muster the courage, and must be ready to pay the price of what it takes to be the commander-in-chief, which of course comes with taking no small risk. What Darboe’s stepping up as a party leader to confront these criminals means, is to revive the vibrancy of youths, getting loved more by his supporters, and claiming back the country from the clutches of tyrannical decadence.
To Jammeh and his notorious henchmen, I say stop the persecution of UDP supporters! It is wrong and a travesty of justice.