(JollofNews) – The fundamental principles of democracy have long been so weak in governing of the Gambia for over the past two decades. And if the world is yet unaware of the severity and insecurity of the two million human lives in this narrow strip of land, her citizenry has now arise with their last innermost impatience to emancipate their country from the rule of terror, torture and rampant slaughtering of people who dare claim the fundamental human rights for all.
Thus; democracy and human rights are universal values that should be vigorously promoted in the Gambia. They are integral to effective work on poverty alleviation and sustainable development, in addition to being valuable bulwarks against dictatorship, oppression and injustice. Democracy promotes human rights and human dignity and it is therefore impossible to create a truly free, peaceful and humane world while ignoring or apologising for the executors of totalitarian ideologies.
On 16th of April 2016, the Gambia, and the world received the shocking news that Youth Leader Solo Sandeng of the United Democratic Party (UDP) was tortured to death by security forces following a peaceful protest calling for electoral reforms.
His march to demand his constitutionally guaranteed right cost him his death. Similarly, many other young people who took to the streets with him were arrested and reportedly tortured and sentenced to three years in prison on 21st July 2016.
Solo Sandeng’s body has not been returned to his family for a dignified burial, despite several appeals by family members.
Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, leader of UDP and senior executive of the party were arrested and held in custody for demanding the immediate release of Solo Sandeng ‘dead’or ‘alive’ on 16th April 2016, and have been equally sentenced to three years in prison by a kangaroo court on 20th July 2016.
All these events and many before them continue to pose serious questions to Gambians in particular to the legitimacy of the current government. As we reject the jailing of Darboe and his associates and call for their unconditional release of all political prisoners, we launch a movement today, bringing global attention to the decaying political space in Gambia, a movement to unite and bring together actors and individuals to demand for democracy, justice and rule of law as well as an inclusive political system.
It is now evident and vivid, that a new Gambia 2016 is possible with young people reclaiming their country.
Sixty per cent of the Gambia’s population consist of young people and they can decide to vote out Jammeh in the December 2016 presidential elections. However, the rate of exodus due to politico-economic instability is alarming with a good number of young people missing in the Mediterranean sea.
No doubt, the hostile politico socio-economic atmosphere of the Government of the Gambia shall continue
to force her citizenry to undertake suicidal adventures to reach exile in the believed democratic worlds. Hence, the New Gambia Global Campaign Movement foresee the necessity to inform and raise the awareness of the young people and to empower and equip them with tools through training programmes to liberate themselves and face the challenges of their environment.
Today, as we launch this campaign, leading opposition politicians, human rights activists and journalist are languishing in Gambian prisons for no other reason but standing up for their rights and believe for a free Gambia and Africa by extension.
The launching of this movement today is significant for many reasons. Most importantly, it was in this day in 1994 that Yahya Jammeh seized power illegally from a democratically elected government, ending Gambia’s record as one of the longest surviving multiparty democracy in Africa.
It was on this day, that the Gambia started falling deeper and deeper into the yolk of dictatorship and the constant violations of the rights of its citizens. As the APRC government celebrates this day of darkness and the seizure of our fundamental political rights as citizens of the Gambia, we rise today to claim our rights, freedom and dignity.
We rise to liberate ourselves from tyranny and injustice. We rise to claim the many people who have suffered in the hands of this regime. A future where everyone no matter ones sex, religion, ethnicity or economic status is free to openly express one’s discontentment and their rights protected under our secular constitution.
On this day, we send a strong message to our oppressor in Banjul. Your time is near and we indulge you to do the right thing. It is not too late.
The New Gambia Global Movement for Justice and Democracy in is inspired by Solo Sandeng and the many other Gambians that have been killed, maimed, tortured and illegally imprisoned. We exist to rally global support and solidarity to bring justice and democracy in the Gambia.
The campaign shall inspire the convergence of Gambians and pro-democracy supporters and sympathisers in order to collectively tackle the prevalent political terrorism of Yahya Jammeh’s regime.
We are coming together to inspire and commit to actions that empower all Gambians, especially those who have been marginalised; and in order to collectively tackle the root causes of inequality, injustice, poverty, human slaughtering and torture.
We reject all forms of oppression, manipulation, deception, arrests, shootings and killings by President Jammeh and demand the following;
1. We demand the immediate release of Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and UDP members arrested, including all political prisoners recently sentenced.
2. We call on President Jammeh to accept full responsibility for the death of Solo Sandeng and address the nation accordingly.
3. We demand electoral reforms and smooth, free and fair elections in the Gambia
4. We call on religious and traditional leaders to fulfill their responsibilities, by condemning the oppression on Gambian citizens by President Jammeh.
5. We urgently call on the disarrayed opposition parties, to form a united and formidable coalition and present to young people of the Gambia a credible candidate for our endorsement and votes.
In conclusion, we call on all Gambians, concerned individuals and organisations, the media, and the international community to support the New Gambia global campaign and speak up for justice and democracy in the Gambia and everywhere in the world. Together we can usher in a new Gambia fit for us and our children.
Phaatemah Sandeng of New Gambia Global Movement for Justice and Democracy also contributed to the story