Gambia: Open Letter, United Nations Secretary General, His Excellency, Ban Ki-moon

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Hon. Ban Ki-Moon Monday, January 5th, 2015

Secretary General, United Nations

760 United Nations Plaza

New York, New York 10017

Dear Hon. Ban Ki-moon

Please allow us the opportunity to elaborate on the genesis of The Gambia’s ongoing civil strife; a strife marked by devastating human right’s violations and the impossible task of changing our government through the normal democratic electoral process. May we first remind you, Sir, that education of the international community about the deteriorating Gambian situation began as early as a dozen years ago. Although Gambians recognized the steep hill they had to climb in putting a small West African country, without natural resources, The Gambia, on the map and the radar of international interest, they never stopped trying, and never stopped hoping. And, together with the two most receptive international organizations, Amnesty International (AI) and Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the growing Gambian dissident movement never missed an opportunity to call international attention to the deadly human rights violations in the Gambia. Sir, Gambians first began to reach out to inform and educate the United Nations in an open letter addressed to the body in early 2000s. Since then, Gambia’s overseas dissident movement has continued its efforts to inform the United Nations, European Union, the Commonwealth, as well as the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom about Gambia’s frequent flares of unprecedented state sanctioned violence against citizens. Most notable among the barbarities committed by the state, the following stand out as mind-numbing highlights:

  1. November, 1994, the extrajudicial executions of ten military officers
  2. June, 1995, murder and burning of civilian, Finance Minister, Koro Ceesay’s body

iii. April, 2000, massacre by security forces of sixteen demonstrating students

  1. December, 2004, assassination of Deida Hydara, President, Gambia Press Union
  2. July 2005 execution of 44 Ghanaians and 10 other ECOWAS nationals
  3. April 2006 execution of eight military and security personnel

vii. August, 2006, forced disappearances of twenty civilians

viii. November, 2006, mysterious poison deaths of six witnesses of Ghanaians’ massacre

  1. March, 2009, rounding up of over 1000 elderly, and death of ten in witch hunting
  2. June, 2009, mass rounding up and detention of a dozen journalists/media personnel
  3. August, 2012, execution of between nine and twenty six Mile Two Prison, prisoners

xii. April, 2013, abduction and disappearance of Gambian dissidents from Senegal

xii. December, 2014, rounding up and parading of gays on national television

Sir, in between these notable atrocious human rights cases, Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh sanctioned the murder of hundreds more innocent Gambians, caused the deaths of over three hundred prisoners at the notorious Mile Two Prison, and the fleeing of several thousand more to the west and the West African sub-region; notably, Senegal. Sir, the recent efforts to restore democratic, civilian rule in the Gambia on December 29, 2014, was conceived against this background. It is an ongoing effort approved by the suffering Gambian people. Sir, December, 29, 2014, was prompted by international indifference to the extremely deadly Gambian tyranny, and the incapability of Gambians to change their government through the democratic electoral process. The collective Gambian civilian population and dissident military forces, faced with doing what is legally right or what is morally just, chose to restore justice to their country, prevent further senseless loss of life, and to seek justice for the hundreds of Gambians who faced extrajudicial executions, murdered, forced disappeared or incarcerated in the Gambia’s notorious gulag, Mile Two Prison.

Sir, for a brief period on the night of December, 29, 2014, Gambians across the globe could once again sense the proverbial “shining city on the hill,” as represented by their country, Gambia. It all started way back in 1994, when the newly installed military regime commissioned the drafting of a new Constitution. After the Constitutional Commission completed its work, the two-term limit recommended by the Commission was promptly stripped out of the draft Constitution without the approval of either the Drafting Commission or the Gambian people. By all accounts, this spelled the Gambia’s coming political catastrophe. It was the genesis of the Gambia’s current political predicament, and the inability to change the ruthless military regime through the electoral process. This inability to peacefully change the regime through a free and fair electoral process, reinforced by the parallel creeping tragedies of grizzly human right violations; for instance, the murder and burning of the body of former civilian Finance Minister, Koro Ceesay and the multiple rape of a Senegalese national, Ms Tabara Samba, before her execution by a military firing squad, among other similar cases, all combined to factor into Gambians decision to effect regime change by any means necessary.

Sir, in 2006, former ECOWAS President, Hon. James Victor Gbeho, after a fact-finding mission, determined the presidential elections in the Gambia would not be free and fair, and, therefore, rightly declined to send electoral monitors to an election whose results were predetermined by the regime. The Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, is renowned for a combination of three strategies that have kept his regime alive and in in power for so long; the dangerous Rwandasque tribal divisions, use of financial bribery of regional and international government and institutions officials to buy indifference to Gambian’s egregious human right violations, and use of murders, incarceration and forced disappearances to instill fear among Gambians.

As we speak, Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh is salivating over an opportunity to waste more human lives to human sacrifice amidst the confusion prevailing in the country. In light of this, Gambians across the world commend the United Nations for promptly sending envoy Mohamed Chambas to the Gambia. Hopefully the UN envoy can prevent the summary executions of both the accused persons and falsely implicated Gambians rounded up across the country, as has happened before.. Sir, Gambians prefer and will always seek to prevent the unnecessary loss of life, but without international assistance to enable and facilitate the necessary change of government, the Gambia’s dissident movement, working in tandem with members of the military and security forces, reserve the right to use any means necessary to stop Gambia’s ongoing carnage and blood-letting being perpetrated by a callous military regime. To this effect, the Gambian people ask your indulgence in permitting and facilitating meetings with your Excellency, or your representatives in order to allow us an opportunity to further elaborate on the Gambia’s human rights crisis. Sir, we also seek your indulgence in authorizing the relevant United Nation bodies to interview former members of the regime who have horrendous stories of human sacrifice of newborns, the mentally sick, and many other heart-wrenching human rights abuse cases to share with the international community. A mailing response has been provided to facilitate communications. The Gambian people hope the United Nations will understand Gambians’ position between a rock and a hard place, and look forward to have an opportunity to open dialogue with your Excellency or your representatives in order to further elaborate on the Gambia’s sickening human rights situation. Thank you.

CC:

President, European Union

President, African Union

President, ECOWAS

US, Secretary of State

Foreign Minister, United Kingdom

Foreign Minister, Republic of Senegal

Signed: The Gambia’s Dissident Movement.

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