Activists in 22 cities raise the alarm on Gambia’s human rights

On Friday 22 July, thousands of activists from 14 different countries worldwide will come together to raise awareness of the human rights abuses occurring in Gambia, in a Global Day of Action.

The global demonstrations coincide with a national holiday in Gambia called ‘Freedom Day.’ The current Gambian president Yahya Jammeh created the holiday to commemorate the day he assumed power in 1994.
Another coincidence of timing is that Gambia’s government has this week charged former Gambia Press Union President Ndey Tapha Sosseh and four other activists on trumped up charges of treason,

To raise awareness of abuses like this in Gambia, Amnesty International is organising demonstrations and solidarity actions with partners in cities across the world, from Lagos to Glasgow

The Amnesty International Campaign Digest Gambia: Climate of Fear Continues, to be launched on 22 July, details nine cases of abuse, including enforced disappearances, extrajudicial execution and torture.

The human rights situation in the country has deteriorated since the last Amnesty International report on Gambia was published in 2008.

Journalists and members of the opposition are frequently harassed and threatened, and some have been unlawfully killed.

Journalists, lawyers and activists have been frequently detained illegally when suspected of providing information to news agencies, or investigating issues the government finds sensitive such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Some of the detentions and imprisonments have a trivial basis.  In March, parents and relatives of a political opposition leader Mai Fatty were detained briefly for displaying a poster bearing his picture.  Last year, an opposition leader Femi Peters was jailed for using a loudspeaker.  Human rights defender Edwin Nebolisa was jailed for inviting the daughter of the President to a human rights event.

In June of this year, staff and members of the newly elected executives of the Gambia Press union were repeatedly questioned by members of the security forces, and of course, this week we have the government charging activists with treason.

Amnesty International is encouraging all people in the United States, Europe and Africa to join together on 22 July 2011 to call on the Gambian government to uphold its people’s basic rights and freedoms.

We specifically call on Commonwealth to ensure that the Gambian Government respect and protect the rights of Commonwealth citizens and foreigners resident in the Gambia.

Demonstrations and public solidarity events for human rights in Gambia will be held in the following countries:Benin: Cotonu
Burkina Faso: Ouagadougou
Canada: Toronto
Ghana: Accra
Mali: Bamako
Nigeria: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt
Senegal: Dakar
Sweden: Stockholm, Uppsala
Togo: Lome, Aneho
USA: New York, Washington DC, Seattle, Annapolis
UK: London, Glasgow
Zimbabwe: Harare