Gambian Protesters at UNGA 78 Want Gov’t to Stop ‘Witch-hunting Political Opponents and Journalists’

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Gambian protesters at the UN headquarters in New York

By Kebba Ansu Manneh

Gambian protesters gathered outside the United Nations headquarters in New York have called on the government of President Adama Barrow to “stop the witch-hunting of political opponents and journalists in the country.”

It happened on Thursday, 21st September 2023, during the current United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 78th Session.

The protesters reminded the Gambia government that the ‘Never Again’ slogan is a declaration never again to tolerate a dictatorship in the country, as happened under the former president, Yahya Jammeh.

They also said the government must ensure justice is served in the “murder” trial after the recent fatal shooting of the two paramilitary police officers.

Lamin Sillah, a resident of the Bronx in New York who is one of the protest’s organizers, was interviewed by TAT.

He said they want to call attention to the continuing violation of human rights in the country under the government of President Barrow.

Barrow has failed to address the country’s pressing issues but engaged in arresting his political opponents and journalists.

“We came to the UNGA to protest against the government of President Adama Barrow on many salient issues affecting our country and its citizens.

“Currently, Gambians are going through tough times due to the ineffectiveness of the Barrow Administration in fulfilling its obligations to the people of The Gambia,” Sillah told TAT.

He added: “We want to express our condemnation of the Barrow Administration on the witch-hunting of political opponents and journalists in our country, and there is nowhere better to stage it than here (UNGA).

“Over the recent past, key opposition figures and journalists have been invited for questioning by the police for no justifiable cause, and we want this to end.”

The protest is meant to send a strong message to the world to pay attention to matters affecting the Gambian people, whose welfare continues to dwindle due to poor administration, he continued.

Currently, the Gambia is “faced with rampant corruption, nepotism, miscarriage of justice, a deteriorating health sector, price hikes, and the brutal killing and arresting of innocent Gambians, among others.”

“We want the government to quickly deliver justice to the families of the two slain paramilitary officers and provide adequate treatment to police officer Ancy Jawo.

The government must stop arresting opposition figures and journalists by accusing them of being collaborators of alleged coup plotters and murderers, Sillah went on.

Still speaking on behalf of the protesters, Sillah further stated: “This protest is not politically motivated, nor are the people who attended the event. What matters to us is the message we send to the world and the government of President Barrow, which has been achieved.”

Sillah, in further venting the feelings of the protesters, decried the government’s perceived “unwillingness” to bring to book the perpetrators of various forms of human rights abuses under Yahya Jammeh after the TRRC report produced evidence.

Yet the Barrow government, to the surprise of Gambians, has rewarded some of the perpetrators with senior positions who continue to use the playbook of the former regime.

“We are saying’ Never Again’, and this is why we are protesting in the presence of the whole world so that dictatorship never comes back to The Gambia,” Sillah declared.

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