Supporters of Gambia's opposition National
Alliance for Democracy and Development are giving new details about what might
have led to the arrest of their leader by Gambian police. Halifa Sallah, one of
the most outspoken critics of President Yayah Jammeh's government was arrested
Monday outside the capital, Banjul.
International has expressed concern about political and media freedom in Gambia
since Jammeh seized power in a bloodless coup in 1994.
Sam Sarr, a seniorparty member and editor of the Soroyaa newspaper told VOA Sallah was
arrested soon after visiting the village of Makumbaya outside Banjul where
there had been allegations
of rights abuses.
things have been happening in Makumbaya. The newspapers have been reporting of
people who were abducted and taken to a place called Kololi which is about 25
kilometers from the Capital, Banjul. What they normally do when they take them
there, they take them and give them concoction to drink. They also forced them
to make confession that they are witches who have eaten this person or that
person," he said.
said Sallah was concerned about who was behind the abductions and the inhuman
treatment of the villagers.
makes very strange is the fact that it is accompanied by people putting on
military uniforms and armed by rifles. They are also accompanied by a group of
young people, militants of the ruling party who are normally know as "green
boys" and "green girls". So on Saturday Halifa visited Makumbaya on a fact
finding mission to talk directly to the victims who are involved. They narrated
their experiences to him, and these things were recorded, and the following day
he was arrested," Sarr said.
2007, President Jammeh claimed he could cure AIDS in three days. With the
reports of witchcraft being practiced in some parts of the country, Sarr said
Gambians must act to reverse the negative image of their country.
"These are really things
which have to be reversed because if at all people are being forced to make
confessions that they are witches are being treated in this manner, then these
are acts which a violation of the constitution because the treatment can be
considered as inhuman and degrading treatment because you are taken somewhere
against your will first to drink something which you do not know about and
which many of those who are narrating claimed has affected their health," Sarr
has expressed concern about political and media freedom in Gambia since Jammeh seized
power in a bloodless coup in 1994.
in the country recently urged the ruling AFPRC to give amnesty to all political
Gambian leader Jammeh reportedly
said the detainees committed crimes that were tantamount to treason and should
have been killed under normal circumstances.
VOA has made repeated
requests with current and former Gambian information ministers for interviews
to address issues about the country. But too often the officials would either
cancel or postpone the interview at the last minute.