#Article (Archive)

Former Observer Boss Appeals to President Jammeh for Sarata's Clemency

Aug 24, 2009, 10:01 AM

The former Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director of the Daily Observer, Sheriff Bojang has appealed to President Yahya Jammeh to grant clemency to Mrs. Sarata Jabbie-Dibba.

Sarata, the lactating mother of an eight-month baby is one of the six journalists jailed for six-count of seditious and defamation publication. She is also the Vice-President of the Gambia Press Union and works for this newspaper.

In a letter sent to this paper yesterday, Mr Bojang wrote:

"President Jammeh should use his power of clemency to release these journalists. The story of Sarata Jabbie is particularly distressing. The suffering being endured by her poor baby would fill the tear duct of anyone.  Given Sarata's special circumstances, a suspended sentence or even a censure from the judge would have sufficed.  And no one can say Sarata is by any means the lady who puts back the b in 'bitch'. She's a simple woman, who writes about issues that impact the daily lives of the women in our country.

I read and hear people saying President Yahya Jammeh has no mercy at all. That is not true. In 2004, I was on weekends with my friends in the Islands of Central River Region when we heard he was holding a public meeting nearby. We went to see. During the meeting, he saw this woman with her baby strapped on her back standing in the blazing sun in a temperature in the upper 30s. He summoned her to come forward and told her to find a shade or take the baby home.

It is to that empathy, that caring goodness in his heart that I appeal to Jammeh to release Sarata. Just as that baby's place was not under that scorching sun; Sarata's baby's place is not in the Bakoteh orphanage or within the dark, grim and hot walls of Mile 2 Prisons.

I hope the President would listen with the ears of compassion as we enter this holiest of months. It is a month of abstinence, temperance and mercy.  And as God gives us of His mercy freely, we should be equally charitable to those under our care. The Prophet once told Aqrah bin Haabis (quoted in At-Tirmidhi), that he could not do anything for him if Allah has removed from him the feeling of compassion.  If Muhammad could forgive Hind and Suhayl, why could Jammeh not offer clemency to Sarata?"

  In the lines of the immortal bard of Avon:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown;

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God's

When mercy seasons justice.