The Coca Cola company has long claimed to support the LGBT community, and to “not condone intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world.” Yet in Gambia, home to a major Coca Cola facility in West Africa, they have said and done nothing while people suspected of being gay are imprisoned, tortured, and publicly threatened with execution. Just last week, one of these men was spotted being held against his will, bleeding from the eyes, nose, and ears.
I am calling on Coca Cola, a major employer and trusted brand in Gambia, to prove they truly oppose intolerance: condemn this brutal mistreatment, and call on President Jammeh to set these people free.
The anti-LGBT policies and actions of Gambian President Jammeh have been getting steadily worse for years. Last year, President Jammeh signed into law a measure that could lead to life imprisonment for Gambians accused of being gay or lesbian, declaring he would “fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes.” Since then he has detained at least sixteen people accused of being gay. Those who were released were forced to flee to a neighboring country.
Last week, one of those still held prisoner, Alieu Sarr, was sighted in a Gambian hospital. Alieu was bleeding from the mouth, ears, and nose, all signs of the kind of internal bleeding caused by beatings and torture.
It is past time to bring the attention of the world to the plight of Gambians living under the brutal dictatorship of Jammeh. Coca-Cola – a major business in Gambia’s economy – has the ability to make a statement that President Jammeh cannot ignore.
Tell Coca-Cola to publicly denounce the Gambian practice of imprisoning and torturing people who are suspected of being gay.
Thanks to Fatu Camara for starting this petition.