Gambians in America Seek U.S. Govt Help to Halt Prisoner Executions
Journalist Yero Jallow talking to a local TV reporter about rights violations in Gambia
Following the August 23 execution of 9 death-row inmates by President Yahya Jammeh, Gambians in Minnesota Monday marched onto the State Capitol seeking U.S. government support to dissuade the west African dictator from carrying out any further executions of the remaining 38 condemned prisoners.
The protesters also called on the state’s U.S. Senators and House Representatives to exert pressure on Gambian authorities to abolish the death penalty, which they claimed was being used by Yahya Jammeh as a cover for his ‘human sacrifice’ purposes. And as they marched onto the steps of the Capitol building, they chanted anti-Jammeh slogans and waved placards decrying death and torture in Banjul. One such placard reads “United States, help stop Jammeh now!”, while the other says “My president is a cannibal”.
President Yahya Jammeh has vowed to execute all 47 prisoners condemned to death by mid September. Rights group, Amnesty International and the international community, including the west African regional bloc Ecowas, AU and the European Union, have all pleaded with the dictator, but their efforts weren’t enough to save the nine prisoners.
There are reports that the EU and the U.S. may consider sanctions against the impoverished tiny west African state of 1.7 million people.
U.S. –based Gambia civil society group, CSAG and Amnesty International have claimed most prisoners on death-row are members of the opposition and former security officers implicated in failed ‘coup attempts’ and later convicted in trials deemed not to have met international standards.
Yahya Jammeh came to power 18 years ago after overthrowing a democratically elected government of the country’s first post colonial president Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara in a military coup. His rule has all along been tainted with a bloody human rights record, including the murder of a prominent news editor Deyda Hydara. His government is also accused of gunning down 12 unarmed protesting students 6 years after coming to power.
In 2006 a dozen plus security officers, including his intelligence chief Daba Marenah are believed to have been summarily executed following a ‘failed coup attempt’. And in the same year, 52 Europe –bound west African migrants were hacked to death by members of president Jammeh’s security forces.
The Minnesota protest drew support from U.S. citizens, Guineans in the States and Senegalese nationals. Notable among the protesters were Gambian rights activits and journalists Yero Jallow and Fatou Jaw Manneh. Minneapolis-based Sierra-Leonean journalist Isa Mansareh was also in attendance. The protest leader was a respected community leader Papa Faal.
Local television channels Fox 9 News and WCCO News covered the demonstration.
Similar events will be held on Tuesday in New York and Washington.