Sep 28, 2009, 6:24 AM
Ever since that Black Thursday (6 August 2009) when six top Gambian journalists were thrown in jail, there has been a groundswell of rumours about their well-being. The grapevine had it that the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to negotiate their early release from prison. Other sources insinuated that their health was in danger. But the one that took the biscuit was the one that specifically said that Pap Saine collapsed and was hospitalised overnight at a hospital.
As revealed during the trial, both Pap Saine and Bai Emil Touray suffer from acute medical conditions that need urgent and diligent attention. That was why Pap Saine was allowed, throughout the trial, to sit down in the public gallery instead of standing for hours in the dock, as did his five other colleagues. Though both Pap Saine and Bai Emil Touray are ill, they took their custodial sentence in their stride and walked into jail with their heads held high; not whimpering, bleating or bemoaning their fate. They were convinced in their minds that "conscience is an open wound: only truth can heal it".
Did Pap Saine collapse and was hospitalised? The answer is NO! The story of Pap Saine's collapse and hospitalisation as reported in the Internet is a figment of the imagination. We want to clear the air on that. The reporter must have imagined that because Pap Saine was in poor health, he would, as a matter of course, be prone to such a thing. But it must be noted that the story has no basis; in fact it is unfounded, farfetched and even surrealistic.
We appreciate the solidarity and concern the entire world has shown towards the plight of the six journalists who are in jail. In particular, we are grateful for the advocacy that is launched to keep their issue alive, but then again we would like such advocacy to be carried out within the confines of decency, decorum, good taste and good faith so that one can always enjoy the goodwill and credibility of our teeming sympathisers, well- wishers and supporters.
The truth of the matter is that Pap Saine, Sam Sarr, Bai Emil Touray, Pa Modou Faal, Ebrima Sawaneh and Sarata Jabbi-Dibba are all well, strong and buoyant in spirit and physically. From what we gathered, they have refused to give in to melancholy, or be defeated by the vicissitudes of life. They are cheerful, despite their grim and dreary surroundings, and are in high spirits. And more importantly, they are without bitterness!
But the rumours have only confirmed the need for free flow of information in society. Where the press is restrained all around, rumours and speculations take over to the detriment of society. It would therefore be wise to repeal all laws that hinder freedom of expression. We make this recommendation in recognition of Thomas Jefferson's admonition: "Where the press is free, and all is able to read, all is safe." Some food for thought!
"Great is Truth, and mighty above all things."
The Bible (King James Version)