Scatred Janneh, a onetime minister of Information Communication and
Infrastructure during the APRC regime has told journalists that the reaction of
former President Yahya Jammeh had made him believed that Jammeh knew about
Deday Hydara’s killing.
“I was informed about Deyda’s killing by the late George Christensen and I also in turn informed Yahya Jammeh about it. He emphatically made it clear that he warned us to desist from advocating for press freedom in the country,” he added.
Janneh was speaking to the press as Gambian journalists visited the site where Deyda Hydara was gunned down. It was on the Sankung Sillah Highway, on Dec. 16, 2004, while returning from work to staff drop his staff home at around 22:00 p.m.
Since then, the former government under the watchful eye of Yahya Jammeh has refused to conduct any independent investigation into the killing of Mr. Hydara.
The 13th Commemoration of Mr. Hydara commenced with a procession, starting from the Kanifing Municipality Council (KMC) to visit the site where he was killed.
Journalists, human right activities, legislators, the family of the late Deyda Hydara and Chief Ebriama Manneh and other sympathizers chanted: “We need justice! When? Now, as walked towards Mr. Hydara’s killing site and then to the university’s Law Faculty where a symposium was held.
The former information minister added that he, Pap Saine and others tried to commemorate the brutal killing of Hydara but the Police Intervention Unit were sent to dispatch them. “Our concern is all the perpetrators of heinous crimes – assignations, murders, rapes and others are brought to justice,” Janneh said. “There shouldn’t be any kind of political accommodation that the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission should not involve extending amnesty to perpetrators of crimes.”
Mr. Janneh said that the only way to end impunity even if it takes 30 years is to bring perpetrators to justice, as he called on the government to redouble its efforts and also citizens and former military personnel who have information that’s crucial to any of this matter to come to fore.
“The best way to uphold their legacy is to continue to fight for freedom to ensure that the criminals are brought to justice,” he noted.
Niansarang Jobe, a living victim and witness, who was in the same vehicle when Deyda Hydara was brutally gunned down, also hinted on the circumstances of Mr. Hydara’s killing.
“After 13 years of today – coming to this site makes me feel like the incident is happening now,” she said in emotion. “My wounds and pains reflect every moment of my life. May his soul continue to rest in peace.”
She said thanks to the new government, “we can come here and identify the place where he was gunned down, which was never allowed during the former regime.” “We want justice to be done; we call on the new government to do everything possible to bring the culprits to book,” she stated.
For his part, Baba Hydara, the first son of the late Deyda Hydara in emotion called on the authorities to speed up their investigation in ensuring that the suspects responsible for killing his father are brought to justice.
“I hope that the minister of Justice will hear this so that we can work together for something positive for both parties,” he noted.
Pape Saine, co-publisher of The Point Newspaper who is a childhood friend of the late Deyda Hydara described the day as “a sad day for us.” “I lost a good friend and a brother who continued to fight for press freedom and defended the voiceless. Because of his commitment to press freedom he was killed,” Saine said.
The late Hydara, he explained, was killed for two reasons – because he was critical to the former government and on that year of 2004, he and some of his colleagues filed a petition to the court to make sure that the draconian media laws are abolished,” Mr. Saine said of Deyda Hydara.
He commended the new government for honouring the ECOWAS Court to pay compensation to Hydara family. “We appeal to the new government also to bring the culprits to justice because already the police have issued an arrest warrant for two ex superior officer who are Ex-Lt. Kawsu Camara and Major Sanna Manjang. “They are at large. The government thorough the cooperation of ECOWAS and Interpol should do everything possible to bring them to justice,” he stated.
The secretary general of The Gambia Press Union, Saikou Jammeh, described Mr. Hydara’s killing as shocking. He said efforts were made during the regime at the time to come to the site where late Deyda was brutally killed but proved futile.
“This is the first anniversary since the fall of that regime, so now we have access to go to place were he was shot and killed, so today is a very symbolic day,” he remarked.
The GPU secretary general called on the state to launch an investigation as soon as possible.