(JollofNews) – The Gambia’s main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) has called on the regime of President Yahya Jammeh to immediately release its leader and other party members.
The party’s leader, Ousainou Darboe and over 20 of his supporters are currently remanded at the Mile Two prisons after they were arrested last month for taking part in two days of rare anti-government protest.
State prosecutors have already indicted them with multiple criminal charges including conspiracy to commit felony, unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with traffic, holding a procession without a license and disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession.
But in its first media statement since the Jammeh regime launched a crackdown on its leadership, the UDP condemned the excessive use of force by security officers who it accused of not only preventing and denying its members and other concern citizens from exercising their constitutional rights, but has gone to the extent of inflicting brutal and inhumane treatments on them.
It called on the security force put a total stop to the excessive use of force in denying and preventing the citizens from exercising their constitutional rights to peaceful demonstration.
The statement which was signed by the party’s deputy secretary-general and deputy party leader said: “The Executive Committee of United Democratic Party (UDP) wishes to inform the general public and the International Community, of its total condemnation on the high handedness of peaceful marches on Thursday 14th and Saturday 16th April 2016 at Westfield Junction and Kairaba Avenue respectively by the state security officials. The party further condemns the subsequent arrest, detention and torture of some of the party officials, members and other peaceful marchers.
On the 14th April 2016, a group of concerned Gambians demanding genuine electoral reform to open up the country to conducting credible, free and fair elections, were arrested and whisked away to an unknown destination by the officials of the Gambia’s Police Intervention Unit. They were reportedly subjected to severe torture. As a result, one of them Ebrima Solo Sandeng, the UDP National Organising Secretary was reported to have died from the torture inflicted on him.
News of Ebrima Solo Sandeng’s death was as shocking as it was unbearable, compelling the leadership of the UDP to a peaceful march demanding that the authorities release him dead or alive, as well as the unconditional release of all the other detainees. On Saturday April 16th 2016 the executive of the United Democratic Party were also arrested and have been in enforced state detention since.
On Wednesday 20th April 2016 after more than 72 hours in detention, eighteen people were brought before a judge and charged with varying trumped-up offences including conspiracy to riot and conducting a march without a permit etc. However seven of those arrested are yet to be produced in court; In essence, they still remain unaccounted for. They include: Ebrima Solo Sandeng, Nogoie Njie, Fatoumata Jawara, Fatou Camara, Modou Ngum, Kafu Bayo and Ebrima Jabang.
For those arrested on 16th April 2016 which include the UDP Leader Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and his executive, Nineteen (19) remain in custody while thirteen (13) have been released on bail. On Thursday 28th April 2016, the state produced one more person before the court who was also jointly charged alongside the UDP leader and his executive.
The Gambia government continues to flout the high court orders for the detainees to be allowed family visits, food from the families, access to lawyers and other rights and privilege under the prison rule to change of clothes. The UDP condemns in strongest possible terms the inhumane manner in which the detainees are being treated.
The UDP still remains deeply concern about the whereabouts of one of its supporters, Dembo S. Darboe (Touray Darboe). He is from Kafuta village Kombo East and was picked up by plain cloth security officers on Saturday evening 16th April 2016 in the same village on his way from the mosque. His whereabouts are still not known.
The United Democratic Party noted with great concern, the actions and conduct of security forces for not only preventing and denying its members and other concern citizens from exercising their constitutional rights, but has gone to the extent of inflicting brutal and inhumane treatments on them.
The UDP expresses her total condemnation of the apparent bias of the security forces for breaking up its peaceful march while allowing the militants and members of the ruling APRC Party to conduct series of pro-government demonstrations in the past.
The UDP recognizes the concerns of the International Community and is grateful to the solidarity from civil society groups, Gambians and friends of The Gambia at home and abroad in this difficult moment.
The UDP will continue to remain steadfast in demanding for freedom, justice, rule of law and democracy in The Gambia. We continue to stand firm in the collective efforts to liberate our beloved country from the clutches of this tyrannical regime.
We salute the uncompromised support and solidarity of the party’s militants, youths and women in particular.
The UDP unreservedly demand:
⦁ That our party leader and secretary-general Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and all other political detainees be immediately and unconditionally released;
⦁ That the torture and reported death of Ebrima Solo Sandeng be fully investigated and the culprits are brought to book;
⦁ That the severe torture of other detainees be also fully investigated and the culprits brought to book;
⦁ That the security force put a total stop to the excessive use of force in denying and preventing the citizens from exercising their constitutional rights to peaceful demonstration;
* That the security of our party officials and members be guaranteed.”