The Association of Nongovernmental Organizations in The Gambia (TANGO) has learnt with dismay and displeasure the disproportionate use of force by personnel of the Police Intervention Unit in Faraba leading to the death of two youth and injuries to several more on Monday 18 June 2018.
It is with a heavy heart that TANGO extends heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and prays that the departed souls rest in perfect peace and hopes for a speedy recovery for the injured. We wish to call on the residents of Faraba to continue to exercise restraint and observe the rule of law in defending their rights and welfare. All citizens have a duty to maintain the unity, peace and stability of the Gambia.
The residents of Faraba and indeed every Gambian have a constitutional right to peacefully protest in protecting their rights and welfare. This right is sacrosanct and must be protected by those we voted in power to do so. We are therefore shocked that the Gambia Government would deploy police armed with live bullets to afflict its own people with this fatal blow in the guise of crowd control.
The Faraba Incident brings to question the very rational for the democratic change that Gambians registered on 1st December 2016. During the dictatorship Gambians had almost no means to vent out their disagreement with government decisions and actions while also lacking effective avenues for redress. We are of the view that this new political dispensation offers the unique opportunity where Gambians could utilize peaceful, democratic and nonviolent means of disagreement and engagement with the State.
We are therefore concerned that, not only in Faraba but there has been several instances in many other communities around the country where citizens face heavy-handedness from the police including arrests, detentions and prosecutions for merely seeking to express their disagreement with certain government decision that they feel infringe on their rights.
In light of the above, TANGO hereby calls on the President as well as the National Assembly to institute an independent enquiry to determine the circumstances leading to the use of force and the loss of life and property in Faraba on Monday 18 June 2018 and ensure that perpetrators are brought to book. Furthermore TANGO urges President Adama Barrow to urgently address the nation as a means to stabilize the situation and assure citizens of the commitment of his Government to the protection of the rights and welfare of Gambians.
TANGO wishes to urge all citizens and CSOs in particular to remain vigilant, peaceful and committed to the ideals of democracy and good governance in our country. For that matter TANGO intends to mobilize the Civil Society and all concerned citizens as a whole to embark on a pro-democracy march in July 2018 at a time and date to be communicated shortly, to remind our Government and people of our decision to move from tyranny to democracy and the rule of law in our dear motherland.