It is a known fact that before there was APRC as a political party, there was the July 22nd revolution that brought an end to a democratically elected government through illegal means. However, in 1996 the APRC party was given legitimacy to govern which defeats the purpose of illegality. Why did the Gambians fall for the charms of the APRC that ended up becoming the vanguards of the July 22nd revolution? Many who were not APRC supported the July 22nd revolution, and celebrated for the new development projects introduced to the Gambian people. Whether these were plans the ousted PPP government had in plans or not, it was the APRC ruling Party that implemented them into action. Now that we have an overall picture of the July 22nd revolution with the APRC vanguards, we should see that anyone trying to separate the two will find it very difficult because the vanguards kept the July 22nd revolution alive for 22yrs celebrating it. Now with their leader gone, who on earth is talking about banning the celebration of this movement? Perhaps we should make the case for their continued celebration although we may hate their guts!!!
1. The same people that were celebrating had no issue with it in the beginning.
2. The same July 22nd brought in the development agendas this new government is now enjoying.
3. With all the setbacks of disappearances etc, 200, 000 people still supported the APRC at the last Presidential elections, so this new government never had the majority, but won by 19,000 votes. Take note, which is not over 50%
4. The country is divided and everyone has the right to celebrate their movement.
5. Many still have resentments about the PPP by Former Head of State Jawara forcing himself back into power in 1981 with the help of the Senegalese that led to many deaths. There is a mass grave in Banjul that families never got a chance to pay their respects. Besides, what was life like during that time I was not born yet? I guess history would be the judge!!
6. In 1992 after been in power for almost 30yrs, the announcement of the resignation of Sir Dawda which he later resented brought about the AFPRC to takeover power.
7. Fast forward, after the unfortunate killings of students in April 10th 2000, the same hypocrites who say today that July 22nd should not be celebrated could be seen in crowds, taking appointments as Ministers, and have served the same brutal government. They have taken money from the former Head of State, and celebrated with the then dictator, so who are they fooling today? Did they deny taking appointments or celebrating in public back then? No!! I guess principles, and integrity is something they lack.
8. If these very same people that took positions and celebrated then while others were in Mile 2, dead, or missing, what has changed so much that they cannot respect the rights of others to celebrate their movement?
9. Many who now say this is a matter of National Security are using the same old lines that the former government used. That being said, no one should also use any illegal method to try and jeopardize the peace we have in our beloved Gambia. We should stay away from violence in all it’s forms. This same method cannot be used to silence others in this new Gambia. APRC as a Party being represented in the House of Parliament has the right to continue celebrating their July 22nd movement because to them it brought in the developments still being utilized under this administration. If it brought darkness to many, there are those who would argue that it brought light to our new found Democracy!! Be it GRTS, the airport, hospitals, the Gambia university, and many other projects, many would argue that had they not come in power, we would be talking about a Monarchy under Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, and not the debate of term limits today.
The last point I want to make is for those who say, ” this is a mockery to the victims.” Folks, no one should be mocked for losing a loved one, but in my view this is not a mockery; it is about respecting the rights of others to exercise their freedom of expression, speech, and to peacefully assemble which we all fought to restore. If we ban the APRC, something I was in favor off during the political impasse that the then Parliament decided to hijack the will of the people to extend the term of the President by passing a State of Emergency; how are we any better? What kind of New Gambia are we setting up? How can we celebrate those who wanted to overthrow a government on December 30th, and reinstate them into our military, but find it difficult for the vanguards of the July 22nd revolution to celebrate their achievements over 22yrs? What is illegal is illegal, and there is no coming around it. We are either a democratic nation that respects the rights of all, or we are a non democratic nation that would follow the path of selective justice!!
It is tough to see others rejoice over your pains, and sufferings, but is it right to have our emotions cloud our judgments into doing the right thing? We need to be democratic at all times, and be bold enough to put aside our emotions and defend what is right. I was always concerned about our preparedness to show that we are truly democratic, but I am never disappointed that even the most educated amongst us lack the democratic principles we often preach. There is a beast in us that we should learn to cage, and the only way we can do that is by applying the same rules on all!! Glad to see that the Daily Observer is now running after seeing how politically motivated that was, but it is never late to fix the wrongs. It is wrong to try and deny the vanguards of the July 22nd revolution a platform to celebrate because their right is protected under the Gambian Constitution. Lastly, for those who mention Germany as to the existence of that brutal Party, know that a genocide that ended up killing over 6million Jews, is nothing comparable. We have suffered as a Nation, but to try and equate Germany to Gambia is a bit farfetched.
We have a Nation to build, and it can only start by uniting the country, and recognizing the rights of all!! I will not sway this topic to talk about other issues, but the National Interest must supercede our emotions, and frustrations. We hope that H.E President Adama Barrow will recognize that his strong leadership is seriously needed to be more outspoken to stabilize the nation. When the top gives his/her intake on a particular matter, it gives a sense of direction as to what policies to pursue. If the rule of law is to prevail, the minority must be given protectionto go on with their programs. May peace prevail in our beloved Gambia, and may common sense override our frustrations, and emotions. This is a hard pill to swallow, but it is what’s right. Let us focus on uniting the country, and building a better Gambia. APRC celebrating should not stop The Gambia Government from pursuing their development agenda. The fear of the past can only be forgotten if we give others the freedom to exercise their rights; not by taking them away, and threatening their existence. Paranoia is dangerous and have led many to falter. Let us not fall into the same traps!! We are at a fragile moment in our history, and should promote democracy, not finding ways of suppressing it. We are better than the past mistakes that occurred during 52yrs of history so let us show it by God’s grace. Those who want to celebrate July 22ndshould go ahead with protection under the law, and also adhere to the respect of the law by maintaining peace!! The leader of the July 22ndRevolution has lost power, but no one has the right to stop the vanguards from celebrating their achievements if if there are any!!
WRITTEN BY MOMODOU NJAI