The disturbance that took place at Farato today is senseless beyond human comprehension. Folks, for 22 years Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia, could anyone recall how many peaceful protests were organized. To my recollection, few and the ones that got off the ground were quenched with bloodshed. Did we forget the April 10 & 11 massacre? How many students and other first responders were killed in just a peaceful protest? Last year, we saw Gambians going out in large numbers to protest for electoral reforms and the very first protest took the life of Solo Sandeng and the subsequent imprisonment of Darbo and others.
The aftermath of the Solo Sandeng incident led Yahya Jammeh’s government to strongly urge the international community to stay away from the Gambia’s internal problems and even further vow to relentlessly deal with anyone that threatens the fragile peace of the country. The Gambian women continued their daily protests despite Jammeh’s threats and eventually the coalition came into being and tyranny is now a thing of the past.
Today, we are breathing a sigh of relief because Yahya Jammeh is no longer in the Gambia and people are free to exercise their rights to free speech and assembly. However, just because we have a new Gambia, we must also understand that there is a demarcation as to what constitutes a peaceful protest as opposed to a senseless riot The Farato incident was totally callous, senseless, and out of context. There are no laws in the Gambia that supports barbaric acts Farato saw today. Those that damaged public and private property must be charged and brought before the law. Just because Yahya Jammeh is no longer in the Gambia does not mean people can form an illegal assembly and go on the rampage to destroy property.
Let’s not take the Barrow Government for granted and try to justify unlawful things just because we have democracy in the Gambia now. We worked very hard to get to where we are today so let dialogue be the bargaining power. People can go out and protest but be peaceful and request for dialogue with authorities. I believe this way we will all reap the fruits of our labor and enjoy the new Gambia.
Written by Ebou Ngum in Everett Washington