“The current government wants to silence critics. The current status quo is clear indication to that; hence that’s why we’re here today to show solidarity and to send a strong signal to the Barrow government that gone are the days where you will use the state security as an instrument to silence critics,” said Dr. Ceesay, a political science lecturer at the University of The Gambia (UTG).
Dr. Ceesay was speaking to journalists yesterday, outside the Kanifing Police Station where he came to show solidarity with Madi Jobarteh, a prominent human rights advocate who currently has been charged by police for false information and broadcasting in accordance with Section 181A (1) of the criminal code.
Mr. Jobarteh who has been asked by police prosecutors to report to the Kanifing Police Station on Monday 6th July is likely to appear in court next week. He was yesterday granted a police bail in the sum of D200, 000 with two Gambian sureties.
According to Dr. Ceesay, “…it’s like we are going back to dictatorship. However, there is good news for us and bad news for the Barrow government. Since the change of government in 2016, the minds of the citizens have been reset to democracy. Certainly, the state might still be on dictatorship mood but that is their problem. But for us we are in democracy mood and we can’t go back.”
The whole world, he added, is watching Gambia. “Gambia was exemplary for a successful transfer of power from a dictatorship to a democracy peacefully. So, the whole world is watching our transition and our transition is not over yet. The reforms are still on and all the transitional justice mechanism is still on.”
Gambia, Dr. Ceesay went on, is seen as the “beacon of hope” for Africa in as much as democracy is concerned. So, the message I will send to Barrow is to understand that he should not disappoint us because this is a “watershed” moment for Gambia to show the whole world that we can do it in our own way.”
He added: “With all what is happening at the moment in the country, it’s a big disappointment and a big let-down for many people. In fact, the manner in which it’s happening is very dangerous.”
“Letting people down can happened gradually and people can get used to it, but when it happens in a “revolutionary” manner it can trigger reactions from the population which is not good for the country.”
On the Truth Commission
Commenting on the country’s Truth Commission, he said, the government started undermining the truth commission before it started operation and even during the truth sessions.
“We have seen people considered to have committed “heinous crimes” in this country and some people who bore the greater responsibility are “put back into the system”. This alone has undermined the “integrity” of the truth commission.”
He maintained that the purpose of the truth commission “was to find the truth, how it happened under dictatorship and which institutions failed and which people bore the greatest responsibilities and who are the victims and what happened to them,” saying that was the purpose of the TRRC.
“Once the truth is known, then we can reconcile as a nation and we can reconcile with the state because the state was the biggest perpetrator at that time. It was not a case of citizen against citizen; ethnic group against ethnic group; but it was the state using the security instrument to perpetrate terror against the citizens.”
The government, he continued, is not helping the transitional justice system mechanism. “All they are interested is to enrich themselves with power at the detriment of the whole transitional justice process.”