#Opinion

History Corner:  ‘I fear being managed out and eliminated and my opinions suppressed’: E.F Small, Gambian Patriot

Jul 20, 2020, 1:00 PM | Article By: Hassoum Ceesay, The Gambia National Museum

Yesterday, I spent a few hours at the archives and I was intrigued by a small article tucked away on page 2 of a 1958 copy of The Gambia Echo on a very momentous event in Gambian media history been a reported encounter between our foremost patriot, First Gambian Elected Member, and crusading journalist, Mr. E.F Small, OBE(1890-1958), and The Gambian’s first millionaire Sarkis Madi, died 1962. The story tells me that Small was indeed a man of great character, a fierce patriot and a redoubtable defender of the rights of Gambian free expression.

In 1922, Small had founded The Gambia Outlook and Senegambia Reporter as the first newspaper in Bathurst for close to 40 years. Since the folding up of The Bathurst Observer in 1883, Gambians had no newspaper to read, and write about the ills and glory of their country. Desperate patriots like Hamilton Joiner and Njai-Gomez resorted to printing their thoughts on the state of the polity in pamphlets for free distribution at the MaCcarthy Square. Nana Grey Johnson has ably written about his ‘era of pamphleteering ‘in his magnum opus,  The Story of The Gambian Newspaper(2000).

Small wanted to end this hiatus in free expression and founded his newspaper even though he well knew that he could not print it in Bathurst because the Government Printer would never print for him. Small therefore registered his newspaper in The Gambia, in Senegal and in the UK. He will edit it in Bathurst, print in Rufisque, Senegal, distribute in Bathurst and in UK! This was Small’s earnest patriotism!

But I must digress a bit here and explain Small’s view of Senegal. He saw The Gambia and Senegal as one people cut into two by the 1888-1894 French-British Boundary Commission. He saw and believed in Senegambia, a whole polity from the River Senegal to the River Cacheu inhabited by the same people, sharing languages and cultures and civilizations. Small did not allow himself to be hampered by the colonial boundaries. In Rufsique, Senegal, he had friends like Galandou Diouf(1875-1941); like Small, he was the First Elected Member to the French Assembly from West Africa. Diouf helped Small to get a printer in Rufisque.

Printing in Senegal soon proved a heavy financial burden to Small. He spent money he could not recoup due to refusal by the Colonial Government to advertise in his newspaper as it was seen as anti-government. In fact, certain colonial Governors in Bathurst like Sir Cecil Armitage even wrote a Circular to all Civil Servants encouraging them not to buy The Gambia Outlook and Senegambia Reporter. Small soon felt into serious debts to keep his newspaper afloat.

One of his staff reporters, Hamilton Joiner, knew about his boss’ financial woes and approached the richest Gambian at the time, Sarkis Madi, father of John Madi(1913-1965), Gambian nationalist leader and merchant. Joiner told Sarkis to intervene to rescue Small and his newspaper.

In June 1926, Sarkis offered Small a loan of 1000 Pounds Sterling ( over 60,000 Pounds Sterling in 2020 money). The condition was that Sarkis will not interfere in the editorial line of the paper or try to influence it in any way or take part in any editorial production. But Sarkis will  buy and manage the press for the newspaper to ensure payment of staff writers, journalists, pay for newsprint and pay Small a salary until the loan is paid and then Small can take back the business.

Small’s reply to this offer is indeed telling of a great Gambian patriot. He told Sarkis ‘When a capitalist like you begins by managing a paper, it always invariably ends in the original Editor and Founder like myself being managed out and eliminated and his opinions suppressed, and whatever influence he had withers away. To me, I regard my newspaper The Gambia Outlook as a sacred trust on behalf of my people, wherein I give voice to the poor, the oppressed and the underdogs in Gambian society. It would be a betrayal of that Trust if I were to part with the control of the paper’.

There the negotiations ended. Small, Joiner and Sarkis made a Gentlemen’s Agreement never to reveal this project. It was on Small funeral day in January 1958,  that Joiner, out of journalistic itch, revealed the story after keeping it under wraps for 23 years.

I suggest that The Gambia Press Union has a prize named after Small, a stout and unyielding defender of Gambian journalism and free speech!

Hassoum Ceesay

 

 

 

 

Opinion

 

What's False and What's True on China-related Human Rights Matters: Part III

 

Full of ignorance of and bias against China, some people from certain countries have recently made groundless accusations against and disseminated many fallacies about China's human rights conditions concerning Hong Kong, COVID-19, and Xinjiang.

 

Even a small discrepancy will lead to a great error. Malicious lies will, still worse, result in huge misconception and misunderstanding. In this connection, China’s Foreign Ministry has compiled What's False and What's True on China-related Human Rights Matters. In the past few days, we have published some key contents of the document, with the purpose of setting the record straight with facts. Today comes Part III: on Xinjiang-related disinformation.

 

Falsehoods find no market among the fair-minded, as we are confident that people will tell right from wrong.

 

  1. False claim: The vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang are "concentration camps" detaining over one million Uyghurs.

 

Truth:

 

◆The vocational education and training centers, established in accordance with law in Xinjiang, are no different in nature from the community corrections in the US, the Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) in the UK, and the deradicalization centers in France. All of them are useful measures and positive explorations for preventive counter-terrorism and deradicalization, and are in line with the principles and spirit of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and other counter-terrorism resolutions.

 

◆The education and training work in Xinjiang is guided by the spirit of the rule of law as well as international principles on counter-terrorism and deradicalization. It has solid legal basis and follows well-defined legal procedures, and is done in a way that makes no linkage to any specific region, ethnic group or religion. There is no such thing as "suppression on ethnic minorities" or "persecution of Muslims".

 

◆The claim that "nearly one million Uyghurs are detained", an outright rumor, is based on two highly dubious "studies".

 

The first "study" was done by a foreign government-backed Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) with interviews of only eight people. The CHRD applied the estimated ratio shown in this absurdly small sample to the whole of Xinjiang, drawing a crude conclusion that one million people were detained in the "re-education detention camps" and two million were "forced to attend day/evening re-education sessions".

 

The second "study" was done by a far-right fundamentalist Christian Adrian Zenz, a.k.a. Zheng Guoen. In September 2018, Zenz wrote an article published in the Central Asian Survey journal, concluding that "Xinjiang's total re-education internment figure may be estimated at just over one million." According to a US news website the Grayzone, Zenz based this conclusion on a single report by Istiqlal TV, a Uyghur exile media organization based abroad. Far from a journalistic organization, Istiqlal TV advances separatism while playing host to an assortment of extremist figures. One such character who often appears on Istiqlal TV is Abduqadir Yaqupjan, a leader of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Maybe it was because the reference he cited was too absurd even to himself, that Zenz admitted that "there is no certainty" to his estimate. But Zenz "bumped up" his estimate again in November 2019, claiming China was detaining 1.8 million people.

 

  1. False claim: Mass forced labor against ethnic minorities is taking place in Xinjiang.

 

Truth:

 

◆According to the aforementioned US news website the Greyzone, the forced labor stories were in fact a PR blitz orchestrated by anti-China forces from certain countries.

 

◆The stories were cooked up by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) which has long been funded by a foreign government and arms dealers. To serve the interests of its sponsors, the institute blatantly spread disinformation to vilify and demonize China, particularly on Xinjiang-related issues. Together with anti-China forces elsewhere, the ASPI made up baseless and biased stories to smear and attack Xinjiang's counter-terrorism and deradicalization efforts. The institute has no credibility whatsoever. Former Australian Ambassador to China Geoff Raby sees the ASPI as "the architect of the China threat theory in Australia". Former Qantas Airways CEO John Menadue said the institute "lacks integrity and brings shame to Australia".

 

◆Ethnic minority workers from Xinjiang are part and parcel of the country's labor force. They have the rights to be employed, sign labor contracts, obtain labor remunerations, take rest and vacations, acquire labor safety and health protection, and enjoy social insurance and welfare as prescribed by law. They have the freedom to choose their occupation. Their personal freedom has never been restricted.

 

◆There are only limited job opportunities in the four southern Xinjiang prefectures (Hotan, Aksu and Kashi prefectures, and Kizilsu Kirgiz autonomous prefecture) as industrialization and urbanization there are underdeveloped. The government of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region has taken measures based on the wishes of local people to help them find jobs in their hometowns, nearby cities or other areas of Xinjiang, or in the provinces and cities that have pair-up assistance programs with Xinjiang, thus ensuring peoples' right to work to the maximum extent. Since 2018, Xinjiang has helped 151,000 surplus rural workers from poor families in the southern prefectures to find employment elsewhere. With an average annual income of over 45,000 yuan, these workers have all been lifted out of poverty.

 

◆China has been improving its legal system and its State Council has established an inter-agency mechanism to crack down on crimes such as human trafficking and forced labor. Such efforts have proven effective. China earnestly fulfills its international obligations and has ratified 26 international conventions on human rights. China will continue to strengthen exchanges with all parties and fight forced labor and other crimes together.

 

  1. False claim: In media reports or social media posts about "missing persons", overseas Uyghurs tell stories about their "families" and "friends" in Xinjiang who have "lost contact" or "gone missing".

 

Truth:

 

◆Xinjiang has never curtailed the freedom of travel of Uyghur people or people of any other ethnic groups. Nor is there any restriction on communication with relatives abroad.

 

◆It has been verified by the relevant authorities that the so-called "missing persons" mentioned by overseas East Turkistan elements are either living a normal life or simply non-existent.

 

In an ABC News (Australia) report, Azmat Omar, a Chinese citizen living in Australia, claimed that he had lost contact with his family members in Xinjiang, including his father, stepmother, three brothers, two sisters and over 20 nephews. It later became clear that all his family members in China are living normal lives and enjoy full personal freedoms.

 

During a UN Human Rights Council session in February 2020, the World Uyghur Congress put up photos of the so-called "Uyghurs persecuted by the Chinese government" in the square with the Broken Chair in front of the Palace of Nations in Geneva. The photos have proved to be fake. Separatist groups got hold of the pictures and personal information of Uyghur officials and residents living normal lives in Xinjiang and misrepresented them to spread rumors.

 

 

 

 

Opinion

 

What's False and What's True on China-related Human Rights Matters: Part III

 

Full of ignorance of and bias against China, some people from certain countries have recently made groundless accusations against and disseminated many fallacies about China's human rights conditions concerning Hong Kong, COVID-19, and Xinjiang.

 

Even a small discrepancy will lead to a great error. Malicious lies will, still worse, result in huge misconception and misunderstanding. In this connection, China’s Foreign Ministry has compiled What's False and What's True on China-related Human Rights Matters. In the past few days, we have published some key contents of the document, with the purpose of setting the record straight with facts. Today comes Part III: on Xinjiang-related disinformation.

 

Falsehoods find no market among the fair-minded, as we are confident that people will tell right from wrong.

 

  1. False claim: The vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang are "concentration camps" detaining over one million Uyghurs.

 

Truth:

 

◆The vocational education and training centers, established in accordance with law in Xinjiang, are no different in nature from the community corrections in the US, the Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) in the UK, and the deradicalization centers in France. All of them are useful measures and positive explorations for preventive counter-terrorism and deradicalization, and are in line with the principles and spirit of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and other counter-terrorism resolutions.

 

◆The education and training work in Xinjiang is guided by the spirit of the rule of law as well as international principles on counter-terrorism and deradicalization. It has solid legal basis and follows well-defined legal procedures, and is done in a way that makes no linkage to any specific region, ethnic group or religion. There is no such thing as "suppression on ethnic minorities" or "persecution of Muslims".

 

◆The claim that "nearly one million Uyghurs are detained", an outright rumor, is based on two highly dubious "studies".

 

The first "study" was done by a foreign government-backed Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) with interviews of only eight people. The CHRD applied the estimated ratio shown in this absurdly small sample to the whole of Xinjiang, drawing a crude conclusion that one million people were detained in the "re-education detention camps" and two million were "forced to attend day/evening re-education sessions".

 

The second "study" was done by a far-right fundamentalist Christian Adrian Zenz, a.k.a. Zheng Guoen. In September 2018, Zenz wrote an article published in the Central Asian Survey journal, concluding that "Xinjiang's total re-education internment figure may be estimated at just over one million." According to a US news website the Grayzone, Zenz based this conclusion on a single report by Istiqlal TV, a Uyghur exile media organization based abroad. Far from a journalistic organization, Istiqlal TV advances separatism while playing host to an assortment of extremist figures. One such character who often appears on Istiqlal TV is Abduqadir Yaqupjan, a leader of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Maybe it was because the reference he cited was too absurd even to himself, that Zenz admitted that "there is no certainty" to his estimate. But Zenz "bumped up" his estimate again in November 2019, claiming China was detaining 1.8 million people.

 

  1. False claim: Mass forced labor against ethnic minorities is taking place in Xinjiang.

 

Truth:

 

◆According to the aforementioned US news website the Greyzone, the forced labor stories were in fact a PR blitz orchestrated by anti-China forces from certain countries.

 

◆The stories were cooked up by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) which has long been funded by a foreign government and arms dealers. To serve the interests of its sponsors, the institute blatantly spread disinformation to vilify and demonize China, particularly on Xinjiang-related issues. Together with anti-China forces elsewhere, the ASPI made up baseless and biased stories to smear and attack Xinjiang's counter-terrorism and deradicalization efforts. The institute has no credibility whatsoever. Former Australian Ambassador to China Geoff Raby sees the ASPI as "the architect of the China threat theory in Australia". Former Qantas Airways CEO John Menadue said the institute "lacks integrity and brings shame to Australia".

 

◆Ethnic minority workers from Xinjiang are part and parcel of the country's labor force. They have the rights to be employed, sign labor contracts, obtain labor remunerations, take rest and vacations, acquire labor safety and health protection, and enjoy social insurance and welfare as prescribed by law. They have the freedom to choose their occupation. Their personal freedom has never been restricted.

 

◆There are only limited job opportunities in the four southern Xinjiang prefectures (Hotan, Aksu and Kashi prefectures, and Kizilsu Kirgiz autonomous prefecture) as industrialization and urbanization there are underdeveloped. The government of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region has taken measures based on the wishes of local people to help them find jobs in their hometowns, nearby cities or other areas of Xinjiang, or in the provinces and cities that have pair-up assistance programs with Xinjiang, thus ensuring peoples' right to work to the maximum extent. Since 2018, Xinjiang has helped 151,000 surplus rural workers from poor families in the southern prefectures to find employment elsewhere. With an average annual income of over 45,000 yuan, these workers have all been lifted out of poverty.

 

◆China has been improving its legal system and its State Council has established an inter-agency mechanism to crack down on crimes such as human trafficking and forced labor. Such efforts have proven effective. China earnestly fulfills its international obligations and has ratified 26 international conventions on human rights. China will continue to strengthen exchanges with all parties and fight forced labor and other crimes together.

 

  1. False claim: In media reports or social media posts about "missing persons", overseas Uyghurs tell stories about their "families" and "friends" in Xinjiang who have "lost contact" or "gone missing".

 

Truth:

 

◆Xinjiang has never curtailed the freedom of travel of Uyghur people or people of any other ethnic groups. Nor is there any restriction on communication with relatives abroad.

 

◆It has been verified by the relevant authorities that the so-called "missing persons" mentioned by overseas East Turkistan elements are either living a normal life or simply non-existent.

 

In an ABC News (Australia) report, Azmat Omar, a Chinese citizen living in Australia, claimed that he had lost contact with his family members in Xinjiang, including his father, stepmother, three brothers, two sisters and over 20 nephews. It later became clear that all his family members in China are living normal lives and enjoy full personal freedoms.

 

During a UN Human Rights Council session in February 2020, the World Uyghur Congress put up photos of the so-called "Uyghurs persecuted by the Chinese government" in the square with the Broken Chair in front of the Palace of Nations in Geneva. The photos have proved to be fake. Separatist groups got hold of the pictures and personal information of Uyghur officials and residents living normal lives in Xinjiang and misrepresented them to spread rumors.