By: Suma Jadama/ www.africanakua.com, The Gambia
(Edited by Richard Fiebor)
On Thursday, thousands of supporters of The Gambia’s former ruler, Yahya Jammeh, protested for his right to return from exile in Equatorial Guinnea.
The protestors who were mostly members of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction Party (APCR), Yahya Jammeh’s political party, gathered on the outskirts of the capital, Banjul, carrying banners, placards and photographs of the former President.
They demanded that regional and international bodies including the African Union (AU), The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations (UN) must honour an agreement allowing Yahya Jammeh, who has been in exile since 2017, to return.
Yahya Jammeh ruled The Gambia from 1994 until January 2017 when he fled into exile. Initially, he refused to step down after losing elections in December 2016 to the current president, Adama Barrow, triggering massive protests and a political impasse.
Human Rights Violations
At the ongoing hearing at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations commission, which has been set up by President Adama Barrow, Jammeh is accused of grave human rights violations and other crimes while in Power, firstly as chairman of the Armed Council and later as president.
During his 22-year rule, Jammeh violently purged dissent, making widespread use of detention, torture, rape and state-ordered killings to intimidate and silence journalists, student leaders, and opposition politicians.
Disappointed in President Barrow
Victims of the former president including the daughter of one of the Jammeh’s late brothers, Haruna Jammeh, who has allegedly been killed by Yahya Jammeh are blaming the government of President Adama Barrow for granting a permit to the members of APRC whose leader had killed, tortured, maimed, raped and suppressed Gambians and other foreign nationals including over 44 innocent Ghanaian nationals.
The Gambian Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations in a press statement copied to AFRICA NAKUA expressed dissatisfaction regarding the issue of a permit allowing the APRC to stage a protest demanding the return of Yahya Jammeh.
Part of the statement indicated that “Considering the fact that The Gambia is going through a truth seeking and reconciliation process, the APRC protest demanding the return of former President Jammeh is a mockery of all victims of the 22-year Jammeh rule.
Furthermore, it is highly inconsiderate and insensitive to the suffering that the victims went through during the Jammeh regime. By giving the APRC the permit, they have been allowed to undermine and trivialize all the transitional justice processes.”
Wednesday evening, the Inspector General of Police granted a permit for members of the APRC to embark on the protest to demand for the return of their leader.
The Gambian Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations have also requested for a permit to stage a peaceful protest on the 23rd of January, 2020 from the ARCH 22 to the Police Headquarters in Banjul to express their dissatisfaction to the issuance of the permit to APRC.