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September 04, 2012

Gambian Diaspora Declares Tuesday Day of Outrage

by James Butty

Gambians in the United States and elsewhere around the world declared Tuesday a National Day of Outrage against President Yahyah Jammeh for the executions last month of nine death row prisoners.  

Pasamba Jow, one of the coordinators of the Gambia National Day of Outrage, said the executions violated the Gambian constitution.

“The purpose of this National Day of Outrage is to protest the barbaric executions of nine prisoners by President Yahyah Jammeh, after constant appeals from the international community for him not to carry out the threat that he gave on the day of Eid that he was going to execute all 47 death row inmates.  And, we are protesting because we believe that the very act was a violation of the Gambian constitution,” he said.

Jow said demonstrations were being held in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Georgia, Seattle, Washington, the northeast state of Rhode Island, as well as in the Norwegian capital Oslo, Denmark, Holland and London.  He said Gambians in New York will protest on Thursday.

He said all those who were executed did not receive a fair trial, as stipulated in the Gambian constitution, and the executions indicate how far Jammeh would go to maintain power.

But, Gambian Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy accused Gambians abroad and foreigners of politicizing the executions.  She said the executions were carried out in line with Gambian constitution. 

According to Gambian publication Daily Observer, Njie-Saidy said capital punishment was practiced in many countries, and she wondered why those countries were not being criticized.

Butty interview with Jow

Jow said the protesters are not politicizing the executions.  Instead, he said it was Jammeh who politicized the issue by violating the Gambian constitution.

“Mrs. Saidy, or Dr. Saidy, as they call her, is right.  There are so many other countries that have the death penalty, but those countries practice the death penalty according to the laws of their countries,” Jow said.

He said Gambian constitution requires that, before a person is executed, he or she must be granted a public hearing for the public to know the crime for which that person is being executed.

Human rights groups and the United Nations have accused The Gambian government of violations of human and political rights, including disappearances, detentions, excessive force and summary executions of political dissidents.

Jow agreed Gambians have not been as vocal in condemning Jammeh’s human rights record, but he said the executions have outraged Gambians.

“I think what has happened now is that for the first time I have never seen Gambians be this outraged collectively, and we are hopeful that maybe finally we have opened our eyes and realized that finally this will be the end of the Jammeh regime,” Jow said.