By: Kebba Ansu Manneh
Demba Ali Jawo, Chairman of the Gambia Center of Victims of Human Rights Violations and former Minister of Information, has condemned the use of the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) by President Adama Barrow to downplay the suffering of victims and castigate political opponents, activists, and journalists.
According to him, former President Yahya Jammeh used the same State broadcaster that belongs to all Gambians as a tool to attack his opponents and suppress his critics, arguing that GRTS should not allow such acts to continue and must remain ethical in giving equal space and attention to other members of the public as the President.
D.A Jawo made this statement at a press conference organized by the Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (TANGO) meant to condemn and express concern over recent utterances of President Barrow while opening the political bureaus of his ruling National People’s Party (NPP), where he hauled attack and threats at his political opponents, journalists and activists.
“President Jammeh used that platform, and the platform he used is GRTS, which is a public service broadcaster that belongs to every Gambian. So if he (President Adama Barrow) used GRTS and the people he is criticizing are not given the same opportunity to respond through GRTS, I think that is unfair and unethical,” D.A Jawo highlighted.
He added: “I expected the GRTS to take their responsibilities and ensure that they give all Gambians equal opportunities but not one side. Suppose it is a political speech that President Barrow is supposed to make or having a political rally. In that case, he can hire private media to cover his events, as his colleague President Macky Sall of Senegal would do without using the RTS. This State institution belongs to all the citizens.”
The Victims Center Chairman also condemned the President for belittling the late Nogoi Njie at his political gathering, noting that the victims have paid the highest price with their lives and limbs to usher in the current dispensation in which Barrow led, saying the Gambia doesn’t need any more victims and that all victims deserve respect from all Gambians.
“We are very concerned about any attempt to belittle victims because we all know what they have gone through. We are aware how some people paid for it with their lives, some with their limps; it’s so serious, so we expect everybody to pay some respect for the victims,” D.A Jawo, Chairman of the Victims Center, underscored.
He finally called on the attention of the civil society organizations in the country to take their rightful position on the ongoing issues, noting that civil societies should also remind the President that he did not give democracy to Gambians; instead, Gambians fought for it and won it through the ballot box.