By Mathew K Jallow, Madison, Wisconsin
No, I don’t mean the horrendous Nazi atrocities of a half century ago. And it may not be in the grand scale of the tragedies of Auschwitz or Kampala either, but without mincing words, there are parallels to be drawn between what the monster in Hitler and the devil in Idi Amin did so long ago, to what the Kanilai Frankenstein, Yahya Jammeh is doing to our country.
What happened in Germany and Uganda decades ago is a microcosm of the hapless ignominy that continues to consume and drag our country into the depths of despair. At least, that is the universal contention of the Gambia’s vocal diaspora media. And they are right. The facts are irrefutable. The evidence is there aplenty in the faces of children growing up without fathers, widowers struggling to put food on the table for their children; the weak, aging fathers, whose sons and daughters will never come home again, and the mothers who mourn the beloved sons and whose gravesites and burial grounds they may never know.
In every corner of the country, in every community in the land, the same sad stories are told; heart-wrenching stories of friends, neighbours, relatives, schoolmates, and co-workers, forever vanished from the face of the earth. These victims of Yahya Jammeh’s brutality have become the endless story-lines behind closed doors; stories that will not go away as long there are people left to tell and bring them to life, lest we forget.
But don’t tell that to Gambia’s former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Edward Anthony Gomez, a man who, in his disdainful arrogance, struggles to project a veneer of sanctimony in his ubiquitous denials of the murders, summary executions, disappearances, tortures, detention without trials and endemic corruption committed by Yahya Jammeh’s regime. AG and Minister Edu Gomez’s denial of the self-evident and his propensity for confrontational diatribes and hostility towards the media, has become the hallmark of his tenure as the Gambia’s chief law-enforcement officer.
AG Gomez’s frequent castigations and threats of criminal prosecution of Gambia’s Diaspora media practitioners, has reached a level of dissonance that is inimical to the promise of tolerance that the minister was only recently espousing. But now, to say that the minister’s querulous tone has put the Gambian media on edge as evidenced by his outrage and indignation, so clearly articulated in the media, is an understatement.
There is some degree of concern about the irresponsible statements made by Minister Gomez, but the media remains unfazed, even boldly dismissive of threats by a political prostitute and economic leach such as Minister Gomez; whose claim to fame is his legendary financial scamming schemes and coercion of his legal practice clients. Minister Gomez may as well save his breath, because he will never succeed in his efforts of silencing the media; instead, his unprofessionalism and thuggish threat will only have the opposite effect, and in the process, put a target on his back.
The Minister’s continuing defense of Yahya Jammeh’s regime is counterproductive, as it will aggravate media practitioners and further expose the extent and gravity of Yahya Jammeh’s reign of terror. In his recent denial of gross human rights violations in Gambia, it is evident that Minister Gomez is lying through his teeth, and does not either believe what come out of his own mouth, or he lives in a parallel universe. In a short space of time, we as a country, have degenerated from a vibrant, emerging democracy, to a country standing on the precipice of political anarchy and social conflagration, and if Minister Gomez cannot appreciate this political reality, then he needs to be awaken from his power intoxication.
Any defense of Yahya Jammeh’s human rights record, as Minister Gomez is attempting to do, is pure manifestation of intellectual dishonesty, fuelled by malignant fear of Yahya Jammeh. Justice Minister Edu Gomez’s frightening display of insensitivity towards families, whose loved ones have been murdered, is a stupefying act of unforgivable treachery to the memories of the dead.
There is no doubt that Minister Gomez is blinded by intellectual inertia and the unscrupulous pursuit of little fame and fortune; a quisling, who, like Yahya Jammeh’s office maid, Isatou Njie-Saidy, deserves what is coming to him. Minister Gomez must realize that his tenure as Justice Minister is only a passing cloud, as tentative as the twenty-five AG appointees who preceded him in his God-forsaken position of Attorney General. Moreover, his pulpit is deficient in stature to silence the media, and his bluster is too weak to be taken seriously by the Gambian media.
The media’s credibility is powerful enough to drown out Minister Gomez’s voice; from the United Nations, to the African Union and ECOWAS, to name just a few. Now, human rights aside, Yahya Jammeh’s regime is, by choice, entangled in a conundrum of mediocrity, which is stalling our country’s potentials for social and economic growth.
The institutions of government are vanishing into oblivion, and even Yahya Jammeh’s pet agency, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), once feared and loathed by the public, is not spared Yahya Jammeh’s insanity. The agency appears to have quietly been consigned to the dustbin of history, its infinite power and authority unceremoniously delegated Gambia’s drug agency. Minister Gomez’s temperamental disposition to ignominiously and so stridently defend the indefensible, will come back to bite him, sooner rather than later. As we can safely say, “Yahya Jammeh has no permanent friends, only permanent interests.”
By the time Minister Gomez realizes his disposability, it will be too late. And when the demons of Yahya Jammeh come to hound him, as they surely must, he would have ruined his goodwill with the suffering people of our country, and turn himself into a future collateral damage, in the eventual downfall of Yahya Jammeh.
There is no way around this eventuality. As the Gambia Bar Association, takes a proactive position in defense of civil liberties, the Gambian media in the diaspora stands firmly in support of their actions and calls on Gambia’s political establishment to publicly verbalize their support of the Bar Association efforts. The Bar Association has taken a small, but critical step that has the potentials to develop into further efforts at collective political liberation. The Gambia Bar Association efforts is further condemnation of Attorney General Edu Gomez as a corrupt and failed lawyer, known more for cheating and stiffing his clients of hard earned money than scoring legal victories in the courtroom.