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Activists in Dakar Demand Release of Gambian Opposition Members

People with a white paper covering their mouth and a t-shirt reading "enough is enough" demonstrate in Dakar on April 22, 2016, against the alleged human rights violations in Gambia.

In Dakar, rights activists and members of the Gambian Diaspora marched Friday to demand the unconditional release of dozens of opposition members arrested in Gambia one week ago. The opposition says at least three of its members were killed in detention.

Hundreds of marchers in downtown Dakar chanted “Defa doy,” “Enough is enough.”

The march is a show of solidarity with dozens of opposition members detained for over a week in Gambia. They were arrested during a protest calling for electoral reform. The government says the demonstration was unauthorized.

The UDP opposition party says three of its members were tortured to death in custody. The high court charged 37 others Thursday for participating in an unlawful demonstration.

But Gambian rights activists say about 80 people were arrested in all and they are still searching for information about those who did not appear in court Thursday.

Sedat Jobe, a former Gambian government minister, says the world can no longer ignore the worsening human rights situation in Gambia.

“ECOWAS and the African Union will realize that the only thing to in order to help Gambia is to see that Yahya Jammeh is no more a part of the political atmosphere of the Gambia.”

Gambia is surrounded on three sides by Senegal. President Yahya Jammeh has been in power since 1994. A coup attempt by former military officers last year failed.

In 2015, Amnesty International condemned what it called “iron-fisted repression” by Jammeh’s government and widespread rights violations.

Amnesty’s Senegal director, Seydi Gassama, says free and fair elections must be held.

“Senegalese people and the Gambians are just one people in two different states, and we will not stand and let him kill our brothers in the Gambia. We will not accept that. We not accept any further brutality against peaceful demonstrators in the country,” said Gassama.

Many Gambian journalists and activists live in exile in Dakar.

Killer Ace, a young Gambian hip hop musician, says they are ready to return to Gambia.

“Absolutely, we are one hundred percent ready. If people on the ground are ready, we definitely want to join them you know because this is everybody’s fight,” he said.

Killer Ace took the microphone at the march and said: “Defa doy.” “Enough is enough.”