Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) Leader Omar Amadou Jallow, AKA OJ, has indicted the Jammeh dictatorship during a press conference organized by the Dakar, based Human Rights Group RADO, on Tuesday, by accusing the regime of perpetrating gross human rights violations, massive corruption, the destabilization of the country’s weak economy and infrastructure. The firebrand politician started his strongly worded speech by educating Senegalese, and the world at large about the situation of governance, human rights, the rule of law and press freedom in The Gambia. Mr. Jallow, told newsmen, human rights groups, and a cross section of the Senegalese community, who showed up to witness his speech that he (OJ) is a victim of the dictatorship, as he has suffered numerous tortures and false arrest since the advent of the Jammeh administration.
Recounting his ordeal in the hands of the former junta, and the present Jammeh dictatorship, OJ, explained how he was arrested, and brutally tortured to a point that he lost his left eye. The incident occurred during the early days of the coup, in which Jammeh led the then military Council referred to as the Armed Forces Provisional Council (AFPRC). OJ, told the audience that he was denied access to treatment, when he lost his eye. His passport was also seized by the junta. The international community had to intervene in his case. OJ was finally allowed to secure medical treatment in Ghana.
OJ also went onto tabulate the gross rights abuses the Jammeh dictatorship perpetrated since coming to power. He talked about the fourteen unarmed school children killed in cold blood in April of 2000, by Jammeh’s trigger happy soldiers. OJ, further noted that journalists have also suffered the brunt of Jammeh’s dictatorship with the regime killing three journalists, setting ablaze media houses, exiling hundreds of journalists, and the continued clampdown of media houses in the country. He recalled the Teranga FM radio, interviewing him, and the next day government security agents closed the station.
OJ also lamented the execution of the mile two nine inmates by the Jammeh dictatorship. He said the government never followed due process before executing the inmates. He cited the case of one of the executed inmates Lamin Darboe. OJ, said Lamin Darboe was sentenced to death by the former Jawara government, but President Jawara refused to enforce the death penalty. He added that despite the fact the previous PPP regime spared the life of Lamin Darboe, Yahya Jammeh decided to execute him.
Describing The Gambian appalling political and worrisome economic situation as another form of the South African apartheid, OJ, noted that as he addressed the Dakar meeting, two respected Gambian Imams have been abducted by the Jammeh dictatorship without any legal justification. OJ lamented that what’s happening in The Gambia is unacceptable.
OJ said his Dakar trip, was rather too late adding that he should have started his international campaign in Senegal, to expose the Jammeh dictatorship, before travelling to the United States, England, and elsewhere around Europe.
Underscoring the close cultural ties between The Gambia, and Senegal, OJ said Senegal should not watch by and allow The Gambia, to slide into political instability—given the proximity of the two nations. He cited Sierra Leone, as an example adding that Yahya Jammeh should be stopped before he further destroy the impoverished West African nation.
Answering a question from a Zimbabwean native Amnesty International representative at the press conference, in regards to the nation’s upcoming Presidential elections, and Jammeh’s move to pass draconian electoral laws ahead of the polls, OJ described the move as a “last kick of a dying horse.” He maintains that no amount of draconian laws or electoral manipulations from Jammeh, would hinder the opposition’s desire to send the regime packing. OJ said come May, the opposition will face Jammeh heads on, and the rest will dictate the nation’s political future.
The maverick popular politician used the press conference to call on the international community, especially ECOWAS, and the African Union to prevail on Yahya Jammeh to step aside in the interest of peace. He warns that Gambians have reached a boiling point and without the intervention of the international community the country is likely to be plunged into political turmoil.
The charismatic and outspoken politician, also talked about Jammeh’s unexplained wealth. He recalled Jammeh walking into the State House, in July of 1994, without a penny in his pocket.
“I was richer than Yahya Jammeh before he came to power. How comes that he is the richest Head of State today? Jammeh is richer than The Gambian economy. If he cannot answer my questions, then, I would accuse him of being corrupt; straight up,” OJ posited.
Regarding the recent proclamation made by Jammeh declaring The Gambia as an Islamic State, OJ said, Yahya Jammeh is a photocopy of the late Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. He said Jammeh and Idi Amin shared some common characteristics.
“I see Jammeh as another Edi Amin. He lives on dreams. He wants to divert attention. Jammeh attended Christian schools before becoming a President. So for him to declare The Gambia as an Islamic State is a joke. If he wants he can declare The Gambia as a Buddhist State; that will not change nothing on the ground. The Gambia is a nation of one people. My biggest families in The Gambia are Catholic. Jammeh is trying to distract Gambians,” he said.
Hailing Senegal’s democratic credentials, OJ said, Senegal, is a model of democracy in Africa, and the world over. He said in The Gambia, citizens cannot speak their mind against the government. He also said the press has been censored. Politicians have been denied access to the state radio and television in The Gambia, even though there are constitutional provisions empowering the opposition to use the state media to articulate their views and policies, the former Serre-Kunda Member of Parliament said.
OJ said The Gambia has become an open prison under Jammeh’s watch. Therefore, he noted that it is meaningless for Gambians to celebrate Independence Day on February 18, as they have nothing to celebrate. He observed that Gambians were freer prior to February, 18th, 1965 than under Yahya Jammeh’s government. He added that the twenty one years of Jammeh’s rule, has ushered a modern day slavery in The Gambia, culture of fear, rampant corruption, gross rights violations, economic destitution, and economic stagnation. OJ told newsmen that Gambians have lost their respect, and dignity under Jammeh’s rule.
Mr. OJ Jallow has been arrested twenty two times by the Jammeh government. He said in three of his arrests, he was brutally tortured. OJ describes Jammeh as a monster, who thinks that he owns The Gambia and her people. Jammeh, he went on, tells Gambians when to pray and when not. Jammeh also exposed Gambians to modern day slavery, he further lamented. The Gambian veteran politician, has called for the removal of the Jammeh dictatorship in 2016. He urged Gambians both at home and abroad to be united in purpose and mission to bailout the country from the clutches of Jammeh’s dictatorship.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai