The emotional Danso threatens to commit suicide because of the way people treat him because of suspecting that he's gay.
According to Danso, he is a very hard working man who wishes to support his family. He gets up at 5am everyday to go to work. just so he can support his young sister who he loves so much and everything he does is because of her and his mother. ...
Out and proud Nigerian lesbian and passionate human rights activist Pamela Adie, is set to speak about the challenges to being open about ones sexuality in Nigeria at the West African Regional Conference [WARC] scheduled to hold on Saturday September 1 at Conference Centre Hall, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. ...
Out and proud Nigerian lesbian and passionate human rights activist Pamela Adie, is set to speak about the challenges to being open about ones sexuality in Nigeria at the West African Regional Conference [WARC] scheduled to hold on Saturday September 1 at Conference Centre Hall, University of Ibadan...
PLEASE SUPPORT MY FRIEND: "I Am Gambian refugee. I came to Senegal to seek asylum. They found out that I am gay. My father was to call the neighborhood to come together and beat us to death because being gay is punishable by death and am a disgrace to our family. That's why I don't deserve to live." ...
Hello, I Am Gambian refugee. I came to Senegal to seek asylum. I had to flee the Gambia due to anti-LGBTQ discrimination. I had a problem with my family. They found out that I am gay and they were about to form together and beat me up to death. My father was to call the neighborhood to come tog...
Being gay in Nigeria is unbearably tough and frustrating. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and Queer [LGBQ] people face jail term of up to 14 years if caught in the act and 10 years for individuals and organizations who support or provide services to LGBQ people in Nigeria.
Criminals and even the police have all taken advantage of the country’s anti-gay law to perpetrate all kinds of crimes against individuals solely on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation. Gay people are victims of crimes such as kidnapping, unlawful arrests, rape, blackmail and the latest is extortion which has become very lucrative for police officers across the country.
Several documented cases and reports have revealed that police officers pretend to be gay and lure unsuspecting homosexuals to locations where they are being arrested and asked to pay huge sums in exchange for their freedom. The police officers mostly go online to get their victims.
Homophobes and transphobes could be thrown into jail for three years in Australia
You face a lengthy jail sentence if you threaten violence against someone LGBTI or living with HIV
People found guilty of threatening or inciting violence against someone based on their gender identity, sexuality, race or religion could get a jail term of up to three years. Intersex people and people living with HIV/AIDS are also protected under the new laws.
The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) passed the new laws in June which came into effect today.
The Crimes Amendment (Publicly Threatening and Inciting Violence) Bill 2018 will make it illegal to incite violence against certain groups. Perpertrators will not only face lengthy jail terms but also a fine of AU$11,000 (US$8,046). Corporations face a fine up to AU$55,000 (US$40,220). Any form of communication to the public inciting or threatening violence is now illegal in NSW. As is any conduct – including actions and gestures and the wearing or display of clothing, signs, flags, emblems and insignia – observable or disseminated to the public. Those public acts will still be illegal even on public land.
Much needed law
NSW is the biggest state in Australia. Its capital, Sydney, is home to the world famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. One of the oldest LGBTI advocacy group, the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) welcomed the new laws.
'NSWGLRL believes that the groundswell of support is moving in the direction of removing the last bastion of remaining discriminations against LGBTI Australians in NSW,’ said NSWGLRL co-convenor, Lauren Foy. ‘NSWGLRL support the proposal to hold all people, including religious bodies, more accountable for their actions and the effect that their actions have on LGBTI people living in NSW.’
George Michael mural
The laws come into effect just weeks before a man is due to be sentenced for vandalizing an iconic mural to George Michael in Sydney. A judge found Ben Gittany guilty of vandalizing the mural in July. The mural depicted George Michael as a saint, holding a bottle of poppers, a joint and wearing a crucifix earring. Gittany said he wanted to paint over the mural because he believed it disrespected his religious beliefs.
After a long, harrowing journey for Matofu and ten-year-old Suphi*, the nightmare did not end when they arrived in a refugee camp in Malawi, where they both experienced further violence. It took two years to find sanctuary as asylum seekers through Malawi UNHCR. But without the advocacy efforts of a local organisation, it may never have happened.
Suphi has been raised by his doting dad since his mother died, when he was just three months. “It was hard to bring him up but I am proud,” says Matofu. “People were telling me, ‘you, an African man, you don’t know how to tie a child on your back, everywhere you go you walk with the child. Abandon him and marry another woman who can give you more children’. How could I do that? He is a human being and I am responsible for the life of this child.”
Matofu is concerned with the usual things a parent prioritises, such as wanting Suphi to get a good education, eat well, have friends to play with, and most importantly stay out of harm’s way. All have been difficult for him to obtain. “He’s experienced too much,” says the father.
The toll of homophobia Matofu himself also experienced too much as a child. When his father started to suspect he was gay, his mother took him across the border to Kenya to stay with maternal family. Years earlier, her husband’s family had killed another of her sons for being gay, and she wanted to protect Matofu from the same fate. Instead, they murdered her when she returned. “My uncles killed her because she hid me,” Matofu says with a deep intake of breath. He was eight.
In 2015, as an adult Matofu returned to Uganda, but was taken hostage by relatives who were deciding whether to call the police or kill him. It was Suphi, then just six, who rescued him. “Suphi stole the key at night when they were sleeping and unlocked me,” Matofu says. “I sneaked out with my son and we just ran.”
When their search for refuge eventually brought them to Malawi, initially it went from bad to worse. At Dzaleka Refugee Camp, they suffered extraordinary homophobic abuses, including dead dogs piled on their doorstep and faeces thrown through the kitchen window onto their cooking. Matofu has been beaten, stabbed and chased by men with machetes.
The camp, run by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and partners, has a police station onsite. Matofu reported the attacks, along with friend Didier* who has also experienced extremely violent abuse for being gay. Instead of getting support as victims of crime, the police humiliated and taunted them.
Forced to flee refugee camp Suphi was also physically attacked on two occasions, for being the child of a gay man. “It haunts me so much,” says Matofu. “He’s done nothing. He doesn’t know why he’s rejected or why people want to torture him. If they want to kill, they better come and slaughter me but leave him, he’s innocent – what’s wrong with them!”
He shows the scar on his son’s ear from when a man chased him and split it open with a metal rod. He also shows the pictures of Suphi being brave while getting it stitched, cuddled tightly by his father. That was Boxing Day 2016. The second attack tipped them over the edge. Tears free-fall from the devastated father’s face as he tells how three men dragged Suphi to a graveyard and drugged him, probably with chloroform. He believes they intended to bury Suphi alive. He and Didier heard Suphi scream before the handkerchief was placed over his face and ran in his direction. Matofu believes he saved his child’s life by minutes. That night he packed a bag and he and Suphi were on the road again.
Malawi safe house By this point, Matofu and Didier had gained a vital contact, Michael Kaiyatsa, advocacy manager at Malawi’s Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR). Michael has carried out research on the extent of homophobia in Dzaleka, and is working to reduce LGBT-related stigma and discrimination within the camp, through radio shows and training with volunteers and staff. The work is supported by a challenge grant from the International HIV/AIDS Alliance’s Rapid Response Fund.
Knowing that Michael was one of the very few people they could trust, Didier alerted him to Matofu and Suphi’s disappearance. Michael responded quickly and managed to negotiate with Plan Malawi, a UNHCR partner, to find a safe house for all three of them.
Initially they struggled. Although they were relieved to be away from the violence of the camp, they were completely reliant on food being brought to them – and it wasn’t enough. Matofu said he felt like he was being given the choice to “die of violence, or die of starvation”.
Struggling to get refugee status “Mike was our rescue,” he says. CHRR applied for a second emergency grant from the Alliance’s Rapid Response Fund, which allowed the men to buy food and other essentials, such as clothes, blankets, mosquito nets and lightbulbs.
It was July 2017 and the three had been in Malawi for more than two years, but UNHCR had still not granted them refugee status because there was confusion over their rights, as gay people are criminalised in Malawi. Yet without this status they could not be resettled.
CHRR started advocating hard with UNHCR for Matofu, Didier and Suphi to be recognised as refugees. They also brought books for Suphi and were pushing for him to be enrolled at a nearby school. Suphi had missed months of school, stemming back to while he was still in the camp, pretending to go to school but hiding in the forest because of taunting from other children as well as teachers.
In the safe house all Suphi had was a disintegrating football, a Road Dahl book he had read cover-to-cover, Connect 4, and a card game he didn’t have the rules for. Although he was happy he could now play without being hassled, it was also lonely. “I was just alone,” he says. “There was just that ball of mine, but I was getting tired of it because of playing alone.”
Putting pressure on UNHCR Finally, in February 2018 Matofu, Suphi and Didier were recognised as refugees. Most likely this would never have happened without the dogged advocacy efforts of Michael and his colleagues, whose probing had stirred up international media interest, putting added pressure on UNHCR to address the situation.
As a result, local and regional UNHCR officers became aware of the details of the case, which was further scrutinised, including taking objective, verified evidence into account. In April 2018, Matofu, Suphi and Didier were relocated to Canada. UNHCR has now lived up to its mandate to "protect refugees… and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country”.
Michael says: “The Rapid Response Fund grant helped us to better understand the situation on the ground and design an appropriate intervention.” CHRR will continue to work with UNHCR, and in partnership with other NGOs working in the camp for the safety of all asylum seekers and refugees.
No longer living in fear Now that Matofu, Suphi and Didier no longer live in fear, they can concentrate on new hopes and dreams.
However, as Oratile Moseki, the Alliance’s senior human rights advisor says: “People should not have to flee their homes and lives, simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. But the reality is that many African countries are facing a constitutional crisis where, morality and not law, has been wielded to deny LGBTI rights. As a result, many LGBTI individuals find themselves without recourse to or protection of the law, stripped not only of the right to sexuality, but also of many other ones, including the right to live in a safe and non-threatening environment in a place of one’s choosing. While resettlement can alleviate suffering it in no way excuses a country’s obligation to honour its constitution and rights that exist inherently.”
Matofu says: “Now we’re in Canada and focused on getting a great life and future. Suphi is longing for school, which he’s about to start. He wants to become a doctor. He’s missing football with friends, which I know he’ll get once he starts school.”
As a religious man, Matofu finds it baffling that the bible is often used as a justification for homophobia. “It’s a misinterpretation of the bible,” he says. “I look forward to becoming a missionary, and helping Africa with the gospel of truth and love. Thanks to all that did anything for our freedom. We did it.” ...
By Rohit Sarkar, senior programme officer for sexuality gender and rights at India HIV/AIDS Alliance, and communications consultant Shreya Ray
The Samarth Noida Clinic, situated down a dusty lane in an industrial suburb of Delhi in India, serves not just as an HIV healthcare centre but as a safe haven for men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender and hijra communities.
We're visiting the clinic as part of an HIV prevention workshop hosted by India HIV/AIDS Alliance, which brought together advocates and prevention experts from Alliance Linking Organisations to share best practice on community-led HIV programmes that put people at the centre.
Funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Samarth takes a ‘test-treat-adhere-prevent’ approach, in line with UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 targets, by offering services that are person-centred and peer-led. People coming to the clinics are offered early HIV tests and immediate linkages to treatment and are also able to access a variety of sexual and reproductive health and rights services, such treatment for sexually transmitted infections and legal support.
In Delhi, the Samarth clinic was established in Noida partly because it was “anonymous, and far enough from the city to maintain a distance [from the areas where the community members live and may face stigma],” says activist Deepak Kumar, the clinic’s manager.
Deepak adds: “Between 200 and 300 transgender and hijra sex workers come to Noida every night for work, from around 9pm to the morning, so it also made sense that a clinic geared to look after their needs was located in the area. We had to look at over 20 properties simply because no landlord wanted to rent his place to MSM and transgender communities, even though we told them it was going to be a clinic.”
We had to look at over 20 properties simply because no landlord wanted to rent his place to the MSM and transgender communities, even though we told them it was going to be a clinic. “The current property was found with great difficulty. The first months after opening were littered with incidents of harassment and taunts from neighbours. There were comments on the lines of ‘what immoral activity are you doing here?’, ‘you people are loud and obnoxious’,” says Sneha, a transgender activist who works as a counsellor at the clinic.
Changing attitudes Partnering with Basera Samajik Sanstan, a community based organisation housed in the same building, Samarth Noida Clinic worked with the police and local health workers to hold a series of awareness-building workshops. This has enabled neighbours and other people in that area to interact with project members and staff and learn about the purpose of the space, and its benefits for wider public health.
Smarth Noida is now open 365 days a year. Typically, it gets around five clients a day, a number that can rise to 15 on Sundays, its busiest day. Successes like these have led to the Samarth programme being recognised by India’s National AIDS Control Organization for its ability to connect with the most at-risk sections of MSM, hijra and transgender communities, who had not previously been reached by public HIV prevention services. As a result, Samarth representatives have been invited to develop national community-based testing guidelines.
Understanding issues, building trust A big part of the Samarth programme is about building relationships. As local MSM and transgender communities mainly socialise through social media, staff will use Facebook, Whatsapp and Grinder to reach out to them. Staff will also visit people in their homes or communities in order to get to know their concerns and issues. “We usually go and start talking about general health like diabetes and sugar levels, and only then move on to HIV,” says Sneha.
We ususally go and start talking about general health like diabetes and sugar levels, and only then move on to HIV. “We then go over, and give information about the latest drug PrEP [pre exposure prophylaxis] that can prevent HIV. Although common in other countries, this is still new in India,” explains Akshita, an officer at Samarth.
A place to belong But what makes Samarth more than a medical programme is the sense of community and belonging it provides to MSM, transgender and hijra groups. On the floor above the clinic, Basera Samajik Sanstan implement the ‘Wajood’ (‘identity’) programme, a project initiated by Alliance India with funding from Amplify Change.
Here, people are at liberty to be themselves and most don colourful sarees, make-up and jewellery. Wajood has a subsidised beauty parlour attached to it, and distributes pamphlets for affordable laser hair-removal. There is also a condom box, and another for suggestions.
The staff at Samarth view client confidentially as absolutely crucial; if somebody turns out to be HIV positive, only the client and their counsellor or nurse will learn of this information. The trust MSM, transgender and hijra communities have in the project staff plays a big part in helping them feel comfortable in visiting and returning to Samarth, a trust they do not enjoy in wider society.
“Many of us are afraid to roam around like this in the outside world – we are in plain men’s clothes there. People stare too much and it hurts”, says Akshita. “But inside here, it is home, we are free to be who we are.”
It was already a crime to be gay in Gambia: adults found to have had consensual same-sex relationships faced up to fourteen years in prison, until October 2014 - now it's a lifetime.
An amendment to the country’s Criminal Code toughened existing laws punishing people for the 'crime' of homosexuality in Gambia and lengthened the criminal sentences for those found guilty.
Life sentences for the 'crime' of homosexuality The Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2014 introduced the new crime of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ for ‘serial offenders’ and gay or lesbian people who live with HIV – which comes with the punishment of a lifetime in prison.
The Bill was passed by Gambia’s parliament, the National Assembly, on 25 August. Gambia's president, Yahya Jammeh, made the Bill law on 9 October. He did not announce this publicly.
Crackdown begins 'They threatened to break in the doors. As they could not find me, they also threatened to arrest one of my relatives. They finally left the house promising to kill me if ever they caught me.' A Gambian woman who fled to Senegal to escape being punished for her sexuality
Since 7 November, state forces have launched a homosexuality investigation, leading to at least eight arrests.
Four men plus one 17-year-old boy were arrested by the National Intelligence Agency and Presidential Guards in Banjul, the capital city, under investigation for crimes of homosexuality. They are being held in a secret location without access to a lawyer, and are at high risk of being tortured. By holding the men in detention for more than three days without charging or releasing them, state forces are breaking the law according to Gambia's constitution.
Three women were also arrested in Banjul on 13 November. They said they were beaten in detention and threatened with rape by secrutiy forces. The women have now been released, but the police kept their identity cards and banned them from travelling.
All detainees, male and female, were told that if they did not 'confess' to the charges of homosexuality, a device would forced into their anus or vagina to 'test' their sexual orientation.
State forces are reportedly collecting a list of names for future arrest. Other men and women managed to escape the forces' interrogation as friends and relatives gave them advance warning that security forces would be targeting them.
Building discrimination into the law 'We know what human rights are. Human beings of the same sex cannot marry or date.' President Yahya Jammeh
Gambia's national Criminal Code, which punishes anyone who identifies as - or is accused of identifying as – gay or lesbian violates Gambia’s own constitution, which says that all people must be equal and free from discrimination before the law. It also stipulates that national laws must not embed or encourage discrimination.
The law also violates international human rights standards that Gambia claims to abide by, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
Gambia’s human rights crisis The law comes at a time when the space for free speech in Gambia is rapidly shrinking. This is particularly evident in restrictions on the media, where the government controls what is printed and broadcast.
Human rights defenders, journalists and political activists face harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and enforced disappearance. President Jammeh has repeatedly criticised human rights defenders for promoting and protecting the human rights of sexual minorities. ...
Dakan is an 87-minute French and Mandinkan language award-winning African gay-themed film written and directed by Mohamed Camara.?The film has been described as the?first West African film to deal with homosexuality. The drama-film Dakan is a proof that homosexuality has always been an issue in the African society; yet, none can deny the surety of love and the sincerity of what same sex couples feels, which is as genuine, prone to trials and can stand the test of time just like any heterosexual love. [ 476 more words ] www.gaygambia.com/2018/08/05/a-review-of-dakan-the-first-west-african-gay-themed-film/...
Dakan  is an 87-minute French and Mandinkan language award-winning African gay-themed film written and directed by Mohamed Camara.?The film has been described as the?first West African film to deal with homosexuality. The drama-film Dakan is a proof that homosexuality has always been an issue....
While I was sleeping in the street I met an old friend online whom I explained my situation and my story touch him so much the he help me open the go fund me account so that I will have other people help me in the meantime we were chatting I was facing so much difficulties in term of feeding health issues I told him that I was gonna sale my phone to buy food and do some check for my health because the situation was getting worst and very stressful so he couldn't support that but to send me €100 which am using for feeding at the moment but I couldn't receive the money on my name because I was attacked one night while I was sleeping in the street and the attackers took my bag where I had all my documents but luckily I had my phone under my pillow so it's wasn't taking at that night. So when I met my old friend online and i explain my situation he asked for a name which he could help me send the money I was so worried because I had no documents and had no one until I checked my phone and saw a Senegalese friend who help me receive the money and accommodate me at his family house which is full but I was let to be sleeping in their balcony that's where I'm at the moment it's not so comfortable but at least am out of the street and I still had some money of the €100 to be spending on foods but am not sure if it's going to take me long
your help and support is highly welcome safe me and safe your brother😥 ...
Hello, I Am Gambian refugee. I came to Senegal to seek asylum. I had to flee the Gambia due to anti-LGBTQ discrimination. I had a problem with my family. They found out that I am gay and they were about to form together and beat me up to death. My father was to call the neighborhood to come tog...
Gay Gambia shared Nigeria and Uganda Gay Support's post.
PLEASE CARE & SHARE: Hello, I Am Gambian refugee. I had a problem with my family. They found out that I am gay. My father was to call the neighborhood to come together and beat us to death because being a homosexual is punishable by death and am a disgrace to our family. That's why…
PLEASE CARE & SHARE: Hello, I Am Gambian refugee. I had a problem with my family. They found out that I am gay. My father was to call the neighborhood to come together and beat us to death because being a homosexual is punishable by death and am a disgrace to our family. That's why I don't deserve to live. [ 160 more words ] www.gaygambia.com/2018/07/28/support-gambian-gay-refugee/...
PLEASE CARE & SHARE: Hello, I Am Gambian refugee. I had a problem with my family. They found out that I am gay. My father was to call the neighborhood to come together and beat us to death because being a homosexual is punishable by death and am a disgrace to our family. That's why…
Alieu Bah has caused controversy yet again after he said that Gambian gay men and lesbian women should not be discriminated against, but respected.
In a Facebook post, the outspoken activist wrote: “When will the day come when Muslims will realise lesbians, gays, transgender, bisexual, queer and asexual are a part of our community and we need to appreciate every human as they come. Your prophet (blessings and peace be upon his mention) was the most tolerant of all humans –remember that.”
Some Facebook users were not impressed with his post.
One King Saul commented: “I believe this boy is mentally unstable.”
Another Facebook user, Ansu Sanyang exclaimed that Alieu is trying to stir trouble to seek political asylum in a Western country.
“Please, let’s not mind him or give him that opportunity,” he said.
For Balcko Jambak, he labelled the famous activist as a vagabond saying: “ In every African country, you see these vagabonds, tools for the destruction of Africa's cultures, norms and values being sponsored by the devil.”
However, there were a handful of people that jumped to Alieu’s defence.
Bruce K Mendes posted: “Why not leave the youth man alone! He has the right to express his views. We live in a world where everybody has the right to live and be free.” ...
Hello, I Am Gambian refugee. I had a problem with my family. They found out that I am gay. My father was to call the neighborhood to come together and beat us to death because being a homosexual is punishable by death and am a disgrace to our family. That's why I don't deserve to live.
Senegal is not much safer. 2 months I shared an apartment where I could sleep and cook. Our land lord evicted me when he became aware of my LGBTQ status. I became homeless.
The first donations I would get i will wanna try to get a new place. It's really difficult here in Senegal. I have been facing discrimination, homeless and lack of food as I have been in the street for 2 weeks and am getting sick because of the cold and also i need medical attention and i didn't get.
I really need an immediate help because I don't eat for 2 days. The ones who supposed to help me failed to understand that I can't go back home because they think that it's only those who have problem with the government really can't go back home. I explain to them that I have been banned by my family and community and been threatened to get killed.
Hello, I Am Gambian refugee. I came to Senegal to seek asylum. I had to flee the Gambia due to anti-LGBTQ discrimination. I had a problem with my family. They found out that I am gay and they were about to form together and beat me up to death. My father was to call the neighborhood to come tog...
A Nigerian gay man, Kenny Brandmuse, recently sealed the deal with his white boyfriend in a simple wedding ceremony. He took to the social media platform to share the news with his friends. Here are more details on the story.
Condemnation of the Gambia government intentions to totally bulldoze the Monkey Park
We condemn the complete destruction of the Monkey Park as intended by the President of The Gambia. Under the authority and management of Green-Up Gambia, an action and awareness campaign organization on contemporary environmental issues in The Gambia, I wish to convey our total disappointment in the government of The Gambia and particularly the Office of the President in relation to a letter sent to the Ministry of Lands & Regional government dated the 18th April, 2018 requesting for the de-reservation of the Monkey Park for the construction of a five star hotel, Presidential Villas and an ultra-modern shopping mall yet requesting it to be "urgent & in-confidence".
As an organization that stood against the construction of the OIC conference center in the Park, reclaimed part of the destroyed area and replanted it, we wish to show our disappointment and dissatisfaction in the government of The Gambia as they beyond all indications have no regard for our environment and the people of The Gambia. The over-exploitation of our resources, destruction of nature and environmental pollution by Chinese Aid and Chinese factories has to be put into consideration and the plight of the citizenry should be prioritize.
Mr President and government, I wish to remind you that the Bijilo Forest Park & Nature Trail (Monkey Park) was established in 1951. The species rich, fenced woodland was gazetted in 1952 and covers an area of 51.3 hectares (126 acres / about half a square km), and is on the Atlantic Ocean beach at the southern end of the Senegambia area of Kololi. It has a total length of 1,500 meters parallel to the coast and width of 350 meters, and the soils are deep and well drained. The protected nature reserve is comprised primarily of a closed canopy forest with a significant number of rhun palms, and with a relatively thin strip of herbaceous dune vegetation.
Between 1951 to 1956 the only land management activity implemented was the clearing of fire lines along the boundaries on both sides of the fence. In 1977 the park was re-surveyed by the Department of Forestry and again in 1982, this was followed by an inventory of the park. A nature trail was created by the Gambian-German Forestry Project in 1991, when the area was made open to the public, and now receives about 23,000 visitors a year.
The rainforest is home to various invertebrates, reptiles and mammalian species. Among the primates are troops of Green Vervet Monkeys, Western Red Colobus Monkeys, Senegal Bushbabies (Gulagos), Callithrix Monkey, Campbell's Mona Monkey and Patas. Other mammal species includes the Sun Squirrel, African Civet, Genets, Mongoose, Brush Tailed Porcupine and some rodents. Among the reptiles here are Agama, Rainbow and Monitor Lizards etc.
Bijilo Forest Park (Monkey Park) is rich in birdlife and offers excellent and amazing opportunities for birdwatching in The Gambia. Over 133 bird species have been recorded here with various hornbills, pheasants, cuckoos, sunbirds, starlings, weavers, waxbills, eagles and hawks, etc. Some of the recorded species are the Black-necked Weaver, Red-billed Hornbill, Greater Honeyguide, Green-backed Eremomela etc.
With all the above benefits, the myopic minded politicians have chosen to destroy the forest without any tangible reason if not for their selfish interest and greed. In October, 2016, The government of The Gambia under the leadership of former President Yahya Jammeh began the destruction of the site to build an Islamic Conference Center. We put up a fight against it and your government pledge to protect our environment but today your leadership is set and willing to destroy nature. Do not allow to be on the wrong side of history. We wish to vehemently condemn the intended activities in the Park in the strongest terms possible. We will never relent in your efforts to improve the Gambia's environment and will never succumb to the environmental catastrophic acts of your government.
The lives you are set to kill and the plants to be destroyed are members of our society and if man claims dominion on earth, it becomes a divine responsibility to protect all life forms. We disagree with your quest to destroy nature and we request for a re-think Mr. President.
In conclusion, you promise transparency and accountability yet you intend to destroy the park urgently and in-confidence. We are ready to challenge this intended act to the best of our ability for care for nature is a concern for all citizens. We humbly urge you to reconsider the calamitous decision as it is not in the interest of the nation. There are many places you can build your Presidential Villas, five star hotels and shopping malls. The destruction of the Park will not only be a sabotage to our environmental laws but also dishonorable of our nation at the level of international conventions on environment (UNCBD, UNFCCC, UNCD etc).
We urge all Gambians to condemn this intended acts of the government.
Relief as Gambia’s new president says homosexuality “not an issue”
In the wake of former President Jammeh’s virulently homophobic rule, Gambia’s new leader appears far less concerned about the so-called “threat” of homosexuality.
This week, President Adama Barrow spoke for the first time on the issue of LGBT rights. According to The Point, he said that that homosexuality is not an issue in Gambia.
He is also reported to have pointed out that the country has far more pressing issues to focus on, such as the economy.
Barrow was voted into office late last year, unseating Jammeh, who only recently gave up power and went into exile after protracted negotiations and the threat of military action by neighbouring countries.
Jammeh’s fall was welcomed by LGBT Gambians. A despot for more than two decades, he not only advocated violence against LGBT people but also promoted the view that homosexuality is being pushed onto Africa by the West.
He threatened to execute gay people by having their heads cut off and is believed to have supported the arrest, detention and torture of a number of people on suspicion of homosexuality by the country’s National Intelligence Agency.
While Barrow has so-far espoused a far more democratic and human rights based approach than his predecessor, his views on homosexuality have never been publicly expressed, until now.
His reported comments do not quite suggest that he is planning to decriminalise homosexuality, but they do indicate that under his rule the country may ease off on the active state persecution of LGBT people.
Homosexuality is illegal in The Gambia under British colonial era laws and those found guilty of “unnatural offences” face up to 14 years in prison. In October 2014, Jammeh signed a law creating the crime of “aggravated homosexuality”, which carries punishment of up to life in prison. ...
Let's bring Yahya Jammeh to the International Criminal Court...
I think that's a good place for him to go after his presidencyof the Gambia. I'm sure the proof is there to confirm the rumors of the things he has been doing the last 20 years... Once people start talking freely it's just a matter of time. ...
Gambia: Jammeh accused of preparing for a coup, Macky on alert
Will Yaya Jammeh prepare for a coup in the Gambia after his crushing defeat? In any case, the conviction of Sidi Sanneh, former Gambian Foreign Minister and ex-ambassador of The Gambia in Senegal, exiled in the United States.
"Since he accepted the results of last Thursday's presidential election, lost with 40% of votes against Barrow's 43%, Yaya Jammeh is under pressure from the army, his trusted men and activists who Led him to confiscate power in the Gambia again, as he had done in 1994. General Saul Badgie and Brigadier General Umpa Mendy were stationed at the State House, Borra Colley and Musa Savage Are stationed at Kanilai (the fief of Yaya Jammeh). All felt betrayed by Jammeh when he conceded defeat, "notes Sanneh.
According to the Gambian diplomat, Jammeh plans to evacuate his wife Zainab Suma Jammeh, his son Muhammed Jammeh and his sister to the United States on Sunday evening, by commercial flight, to better run the plan concocted to retain the reins of the Gambian power .
Macky Sall brings together his security council
In any case, the State of Senegal has made arrangements to fly to the rescue of its nationals in Gambian territory in case of disturbances. According to sources, the head of state presided over an exceptional security council on Friday (the security councils normally take place every Monday at the palace). All the patrons of the country's security services (army, gendarmerie, police, fire brigade, etc.) and their ministers (Minister of the Armed Forces, Minister of the Interior ...) took part in this meeting .
Instructions have been given, according to our informants, on how to behave in case of trouble in The Gambia. That is to say, Macky Sall, even if he refrains from any interference in the Gambian affairs, is closely watching developments in The Gambia.
Yaya Jammeh préparerait-il un coup d'Etat en Gambie après sa cuisante défaite ? C'est en tout cas, la conviction de Sidi Sanneh, ancien ministre Gambien des Affaires étrangères et ex-ambassadeur de la Gambie au Sénégal, exilé aux Etats-Unis.
NBS Television [VIDEO]: Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh calling opposition candidate Adama Barrow to concede defeat after 22 years of rule: “I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Adama for his victory. It’s a clear victory. I wish him all the best and I wish all Gambians the best. As a true Muslim who believes in the almighty Allah I will never question Allah’s decision. You Gambians have decided” (Credit: Israel Laryea) #NBSUpdates ...
Gambia: Breaking News: Breaking News: Gambian Real Estate Developer Defeats Longtime Dictator Jammeh In Gambia’s Presidential Elections Gambian longtime dictator has lost the country’s December, 1st 2016 Presidential elections to a Adama Barrow, a Real Estate businessman, who was backed by seven opp...
Gambia: Breaking News: Gambia Gov’t Switch Off Gamtel’s International Lines Gateway Ahead Of Thursday’s Polls The Gambian government has switched off its telecommunication gateway from the outside world ahead of Thursday’s Presidential elections. Gamtel’s the nation’s main telecommunication company…
SaharaReporters recently interviewed Gambian activist Banka Manneh who has been one of the leading voices of opposition to Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh. Mr. Manneh was recently convicted in a US court for attempting to overthrow the brutal regime of Yahya Jammeh. The following are excerpts from our interview with Mr. Manneh:
SR: I understand that you have been convicted by a court in the United States for violating the Neutrality Act regarding some action you took related to the Gambia. Can you describe the events around what the US court convicted you of doing?
BM: Yes I was convicted, along with 3 other individuals, of violating the Neutrality Act, a 1794 law that forbids US citizens from attempting to overthrow regimes that are “friends” with the United States – meaning; technically not at war with the US. I was also convicted of weapons related charges. These charges stemmed from an action we took back on December 30, 2014 to dislodge what is by now considered by the international community as one of the most “brutal regimes” in the world – a regime led by Dictator Yahya Jammeh.
After many years of killings, disappearances, torture, and humiliation perpetrated against innocents Gambians –with total impunity—and after having made numerous efforts to get help from the international community to end these atrocities to no avail, we took it upon ourselves to stop the needless bloodshed and abuse. The event failed and lead to the demise of Captain Njaga Jagne, Alagie Jaja Nyass, and Colonel Lamin Sanneh. In the months that followed, several of us were rounded up by the FBI in the United States and charged, we all pleaded guilty to the charges and I was sentenced to 6 months in Federal prison.
SR: Coup plots of course exist in Africa today however not with the frequency seen during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Can you tell us why you felt the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh needed to be removed in a coup?
BM: As I alluded to above, the kind of human rights abuses witnessed in The Gambia in last 22 years is unlike anywhere in Africa. There is absolutely no freedom of speech, expression, or assembly allowed in the country. The opposition and anyone deemed an enemy is under constant surveillance and threat. The country has only one semi-independent newspaper (it belongs to an opposition party) and any journalist critical of the regime is either dead or in exile. Since coming to power in a military coup in 1994, Yahya Jammeh has effectively transformed this once peaceful tiny country into a “concrete jungle” – killings, disappearances without trace, illegal firings, torture, rape of young girls and wives of perceived opponents, and humiliation of elders and religious leaders have all become common place. He has proudly brandished his dictatorial credentials in public, constantly making public threats of killing his opponents and brazenly carrying them out. The number of people killed by Jammeh and his henchmen is now uncountable, not to mention the number of the disappeared. So many civil servants have been fired, it is now become a fashion statement in the Gambia not to decorate your office for you never know when you will be picked from there, tortured, and fired – even losing years of their retirement pay, without any reason whatsoever given to the victim. We have dealt with many cases of young girls who Jammeh hired as Protocol officers only to find out that they were hired to serve as sex slaves for him. We have been able to rescue some of them but many are still stuck in the State House (the presidential palace) with no ability to escape. All forms of protests are crushed mercilessly - dozens of students were gunned down at close range during a demonstration in 2000. Their grievances were the regime’s refusal to investigate the rape of a schoolgirl and the death in the hands of fire service officers of another student. Opposition party leaders are routinely arrested and held without cause while some of their members are killed, tortured, or disappeared. Witch hunts are carried out to arrest people accused of being witches, most of whom end up being tortured, raped, and humiliated – some have died during these incidents. Even the Gay and Lesbian community is not spared – raids were carried out on several occasions to “wipe out these vermin” (Jammeh’s words) from The Gambia. Many of these innocent LGBT community members were also tortured severely and humiliated. Jammeh recently ordered the arrest and torture of the opposition United Democratic Party members who were only holding a peaceful protest leading to the death of the youth leader of the party, Solo Sandeng. As if that is not criminal enough, Jammeh has since illegally incarcerated almost the entire leadership of the party including the party leader, Ousainou Darbo. His latest act is the one sending chills in the spines of the world community – he has recently publicly threatened to kill all Mandinkas (the largest ethnic group in the country) because according to him, these people are ungrateful, wicked, and foreigners. This has already led officials of the UN and newspapers around the world – including New Times of Rwanda to raise the alarm demanding the international community to act before it’s too late. As long as this list goes, it still doesn’t do justice to the outrageous number of crimes committed by Yahya and his regime. It is against this backdrop that The Gambia’s case should be situated.
SR: Yahya Jammeh is considered one of the world's worst dictators. Describe what it is like to live as a Gambian under his regime and why you think the international community has taken so little action against him?
BM: Amnesty International summed it up best in one of its yearly country reports: The Gambia Fear Rules was the headline. Gambians having been living under an absolute state of fear for the past 22 years. This is due to the harassment, abuse, and brutality visited on them during this period – and it is unfortunately still going on unabated – and with total impunity.
The citizens have been making pleas and have mounted series of efforts for many years to the International community with some success but unfortunately the real push to deal with the core of the problem – impunity; has not yielded much success. I have my humble-self worked with individuals and civil society groups to raise the alarm in the international community by holding meetings with key officials and also organizing protests in Washington, London, Brussels, and Dakar in an effort to get concrete action from the White House, Number 10, EU, and ECOWAS. Gambia’s strategic geopolitical importance is highly underestimated in the international community, its mineral wealth hasn’t made much headline news in the world, the gravity of the country’s human rights disaster is only now beginning to be fully exposed, and its problems are competing for attention with war on terror, Syria, Iraq, and other trouble spots. Finally, lack of political will at UN, ECOWAS, U.S and AU. EU is the only one that has made significant and concrete moves in the last few years – cutting of funding, shifting of direct aid from the government, and most recently the parliament voting to impose asset freeze and travel ban.
SR: This year is supposedly going to be a presidential election. Can you narrate key political developments over the past year, which you think will impact this election?
BM: This year’s election will be like all others in terms of the lack of level playing field because of the bad practices of the regime – so Jammeh’s victory is already a forgone conclusion. However, some major recent events have already delegitimized the process before it even starts and the evidence for the first time is out in the open for all to see. On April 14, the youth leader of the largest opposition party, United Democratic Party (UDP), by the name Solo Sandeng led a peace protest in Serekunda, the largest city in the country, demanding electoral reform. The regime, true to form, responded with its usual callous brutality – the peaceful protesters were all rounded up, taken to the notorious Mile 2 Prison, and tortured, leading to Solo’s death. Upon getting this bad news, the leader of the party, Ousainou Darbo and some senior leaders of the party, launched a peaceful protest demanding for the release of Solo and others “dead or alive.” They too were rounded up, taken to Mile 2 and have since been held without bail, under very horrible conditions. So the election will be held this year with effectively the largest opposition missing in the fray. The international community has already taken note of this and the UN, ECOWAS, and regional leaders have all since sent delegations to the country demanding the release of these detainees and a full investigation into the killing of Solo. These efforts as usual have failed to yield any results – Jammeh will have none of it, even telling the UN Secretary General and Amnesty International to “go to hell.” How this case will impact the election in of itself we don’t know, and since one new and one old political party have declared their intention to participate, in addition to the rest of the existing parties, except Gambia Moral Congress, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. One thing is certain though – no matter what happens, the Solo Sandeng incident has already fully exposed everything wrong with the election process in The Gambia.
SR: What do you believe needs to happen in the Gambia in order to provoke a change in leadership from a Yahya Jammeh-led regime, to one which is more tolerant of political opposition?
BM: What has essentially happened in most countries in the world is what has to happen in The Gambia – the people’s uprising. The international community only has few tools in its toolbox – key among which are sanctions, travel bans, assets freezes, and cutting of aid. Dictator Jammeh has proven that even though these measures will hurt, they will not be enough to bring about the change that Gambians are yearning for – change in leadership. So it is important that Gambians muster the courage to do as the Burkinabes did – take to the streets in large numbers, thereby giving the international community more leverage in pushing for a major change in leadership. Jammeh understands the potential that such a move holds, and that is why he wastes no time in trying to crush it in his usual signature brutal fashion. But he has succeeded so far only because we have not seen the kind of mass uprising that helped in pushing out other leaders like him. The Gambians therefore don’t have much choice but to bite the bullet and go on the streets in very large numbers. It is also important that Gambian dissidents, civil society groups, and political parties meet and discuss a transitional government that will be tasked to draw up and implement the roadmap for a future Gambia. This too has to happen now so as to give the international community a better alternative to Jammeh. Without that, many will find change a very risky undertaking that has the potential to create chaos and further worsening of the situation.
SR: What is next for you following your six-month prison confinement in the US? Will you remain a political opponent to Yahya Jammeh? Do you worry the US could send you back to Gambia for breaking a US law?
BM: This is the just the beginning of my journey. I will use the time in prison to reflect and make a full assessment of our efforts over the years with a view to come up with improvements. I will also reflect more on how to achieve the Gambia of our dreams. So this may turn out to be a good thing, in that, it will allow me time and space to chart the future. I know the US will never send me, or anyone for that matter, back to a country where he/she will be tortured and killed by an evil regime like we have in The Gambia. As far as my prosecution, the US is a country of laws, and any time laws are broken, it is bound to act. It is within that context I view the whole court case, so I have absolutely no bitter feelings towards my adopted country. In fact, if anything, the case has helped strengthen by faith in the justice system – my rights were fully protected and I have throughout the process been treated with the utmost amount of respect – more than I deserved. It has also ironically served as an inspiration for me to fight harder so that we can begin to see such respect for principles of democracy and rule of law in The Gambia. ...
SaharaReporters recently interviewed Gambian activist Banka Manneh who has been one of the leading voices of opposition to Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh. Mr. Manneh was recently convicted in a US court for attempting to overthrow the brutal regime of Yahya Jammeh. The following are excerpts from our...
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When his brother eventually passed, Luswata set out to find out what AIDS really meant and along this journey decided he would chip in his two cents to better the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS a well as help curb the killer virus.
Three men charged with sedition in the Gambia were tortured in jail and made to sign false testimonies, their lawyer said Tuesday, after they allegedly said the president disliked the country's majority ethnic group. President Yahya Jammeh is regularly accused of sanctioning human rights abuses
Samsudeen Phatey: As foolish as banning music and dancing during Ramadan sounds, it is concerning. Christians, pagans and non-fasting Muslims are not a minority, they're Gambians. The last time I checked, they are paying their fair share of taxes too. Equality and social justice dictates that we stand up and fight against the marginalization of any group of Gambians, the rule of law gives us the same rights to liberty in our nation and the same freedoms to choose what religion we wish to practice freely.
So if a Catholic brother has a communion, a Methodist sister has a wedding, an Anglican father father has an installation ceremony or a Baptist has a confirmation and it happens to coincide with the Ramadan, they cannot celebrate and have music and dance?
We are a secular nation and they have a right to sing, dance, play music and celebrate. The same way others choose to be Muslims and fast, is the same way others choose to belong to their religion of practice. If you're Muslim and you're fasting, you definitely will not sing and dance. If you're Muslim and you choose to play music and dance, that is your choice and that is up to you and God to settle in the hereafter. But as far as I am concerned, this is no laughing matter and we should all be outraged at such disgusting side laws that violate our constitutional provisions.
We cannot have freedom for one group of our nation. That is no freedom at all. That is apathetic. Freedom is when every Gambian and non-Gambian living in our country has their rights respected, guaranteed and secured - whether you be Muslim or Christian, Jew or Hindu, Buddhist or Atheist. ...
The Orlando massacre in a gay nightclub has brought Islamic fundamentalism under the world’s microscope. Ismail Badjie, however, holds a different view. In this unconventional sermon, he says the force that drives such atrocities is more powerful than human affiliations.
#WTF: Gambia bans music, drumming and dancing in Ramadan The Gambia has banned music, dancing and drumming during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, on pain of being arrested - and people are complying, police said.
Ordinary citizens in the small west African country - whose president declared it an Islamic state in December - are being urged to report anyone seen engaging in the activities to authorities, a spokesman said on Monday.
"People are complying with the police order banning drumming and dancing during the month of Ramadan and so far no one has been arrested by the police for violating it," police spokesperson Lamin Njie told the AFP news agency.
A police statement published last week warned that "all ceremonies, festivities and programmes that involve drumming, music and dance during the day or at night are prohibited".
"All those engaged in the practice are therefore warned to desist from such acts otherwise they will be eventually apprehended and face the full force of the law without compromise," it said.
Gambia: An Islamic state
President Yahya Jammeh announced in December that the Gambia had become an Islamic state, but stressed that the rights of the Christian minority would be respected and that women would not be held to a dress code.
A few weeks later it emerged that female civil servants had been ordered to cover their hair at work, according to a leaked government memo, although the presidency subsequently announced the measure had been dropped.
A former British colony, the Gambia has a population of nearly two million, 90 percent of whom are Muslim. Of the remainder, eight percent are Christian and two percent are defined as having indigenous beliefs.
Jammeh, 50, a military officer and former wrestler has ruled the country with an iron fist since he seized power in a coup in 1994.
Critics regularly accuse him of making unilateral decisions and controversial statements, notably about other countries, migrants and homosexuality.
The next presidential election in the Gambia, for which Jammeh is a candidate, is scheduled in December.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation announced in April that its next summit will be held in the Gambia, although a date has not yet been fixed.
During the holy month of Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. ...
Sad news from Orlando, Florida (USA) #Muslim Omar Saddiqui Mateen was the gunman who opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing at least 50 people, two law enforcement officials told CNN.The 29-year-old suspect was known to the FBI, the officials said -- one of hundreds of people on the agency's radar suspected of being #ISIS sympathizers. ...
President #Jammeh in #Gambia has made a plan to #exterminate his political opponents. There is an alleged list containing the names of 300 people in Gambia that are to be wiped out. The dictator wants these people to be simply #liquidated or #killed. In Gambia opposing the government may tantamount to death.
Threats against opposition and mandinkas
This was confirmed in a speech at a political meeting held by President Jammeh in Talinding, Gambia on June 3rd, where he took his dictatorial role to a new level. He declared ethnic cleansing to the country’s largest tribe, the mandinkas. A thing like that has never happened in The Gambia.
This time there will be no arrests by the police, he assured the crowd. Now it is the military, security forces and NIA (National Intelligence Agency) who would step in and would be instructed to shoot, torture, rape and abuse political opponents who are from the mandinka tribe. None of his opponents, be it in Gambia or in the diaspora, will go free. A massive international death threat there also. This is a classic dictator style we can quickly summarize, but not to underestimate. Since the first murder of his own finance minister, Koro Ceesay, in 1995, the list of those killed, disappeared or arrested have been awfully long. His going out public with such a threat to free speech and opposition politicians, is new, quite unique and very scary.
This has naturally led to great unrest and concern among all Gambians regardless of tribe. One hears constantly that Rwanda is mentioned and people are very anxious. We already know that families who have politically active family members do not have jobs, are arrested and receive threats. While this was announced, there was an assassination attempt on the life of one of the December 30th 2014 statehouse attackers at his home in exile in Dakar, Senegal. This is a clear indication of the president’s intentions.
Gambians perish in the Mediterranean
The week before: More than 700 refugees / migrants perish by drowning on the way from Libya to Europe. It is not clear how many are Gambians, but people are pointing at an estimated number of deaths of over one hundred and that is just within three days. Over the past five years there has been a marked increase in the repression of Jammeh. Meanwhile, there has been an increase in number of people who leave the country and take what is called the “back way” through Libya and the Mediterranean. There are many families in Gambia that are waiting for signs of life from their loved ones who have escaped. This number continues to increase by the days.
Amnesty International writes constantly new reports, so no one in the AU (African Union), Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States), the EU and the UN can say that they do not know what’s going on. This is thoroughly documented and informed.
EU has gone through reports including the one from Amnesty International and came up with a resolution in May 2016 in which they criticize the regime in Gambia hard and gave room for each country in the EU to impose its own sanctions. ...
According to the Embassy of the United States of America in Gambia the government of the Gambia has unexpectedly withdrawn police protection which resulted in the embassy closing all non-essential services from Thursday June 9 until further notice. The Embassy has not elaborated on what must have triggered such a drastic action from the regime of Yahya Jammeh. The Embassy however indicated in the press release that it will continue to closely monitor the situation and will keep the general public informed as events unfold. ...
A Swedish man today leave the Gambia after he was fine 450 thousand GMD..the man was arrested after he was catch with a gambian boy at his guest house on the 10 Nov 2015.. When police storm the place in fajara..after introgation at the police office it was known that a third party was involved.. But he was not present during the arrested.. Police arrested the Swedish and the Gambian boy,then on 18 Jan 2016 a final was decided at court.. Both man's are fine 450 thousand GMD or to serve 15 years in jail with hard Labour.. Then the Swedish citizen pay the fine and was ask to leave the country in next 24 hours.. While our Gambian start to serve his terms in prison.. And the other boy was never seen or heard again in Gambia, according to close source the boy is now we're to be found.. Plz let's join hands to help our brother.. Serving his terms in prison.. ...
Just noticed this visitor's post from Feb 4th, 2016. I can't seem to find any more details on this post; Does anyone have more information about this matter?
A Swedish and 2 other Gambian are found guilty of doing homosexual acts and both 3 were sentence to 5 years of imprisonment. But the Swedish national was ask to pay a fined of 350 000 GMD and ban from the Gambia..
Both the 2 Gambian will serve their terms in prison.. One of whom is believed to be a minor..
According to Police Stg Camara this all come to notice when police storm the house of the Swedish at fajara and found having doing homosexual acts with this 2 boys.
Both 2 three were arrest and take to the police.. After introgation at the station it was discover that 4 people were involved on the homosexual acts.. The Swedish and 3 other Gambian national.. But the third boy was not around that day when the arrest was made..
Stg Camara said they later storm the home of the third boy but was not seen after searching the compound..
Both the 3 other involved were sentence to jail terms.. Camara also said such acts is forbidden by the law, and anyone found doing it will face the law..
(Jollofnews) Members of the European parliament Thursday called on member state to consider imposing a travel ban or other targeted sanctions on officials responsible for serious human rights abuses in the Gambia. The parliamentarians also called on the European Union and its member states to cons...
Accused Gambian gays tell of torture, inhumane prison
FatuRadio reported yesterday the details of how the regime of Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh last year began putting into action his longtime threats of violence against LGBTI people. Below are modestly edited excerpts from the FatuRadio article in which three Gambian citizens tell of the torture and inhumane confinement they endured after their arrests on homosexuality charges last November. Each of them has now been released.
FatuRadio is run by Fatou Camara, Jammeh’s former press secretary, who fled to the U.S. in 2013 after Gambian authorities accused her of seeking to undermine the government.
… In November of last year, Gambian authorities conducted raids all over the country and arrested everyone suspected of being a homosexual. Mr. Alieu Sarr, who was convicted for aggravated homosexuality and sent to prison in November of 2014 alongside Mr. Morr Sowe and Mr. M.L. Bittaye for being gay, was released last week and we have information that he has fled the Gambia and is currently working on obtaining political asylum in neighboring Senegal.
He expressed his sincere gratitude to the media for applying and maintaining pressure on the government until their subsequent release. …
The three of them were badly tortured during their detention at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). The notorious torture team called the Junglers usually paid them visits at around 2am, and forced confessions out of them. They were also forced to identify other homosexuals in the community.
During some of their torture sessions, the Junglers took off their clothes, held their hands and legs, and beat them up. No one could hear them screaming, not that it would have made any difference. The Junglers would tell them to speak up or they would kill them and no one would know because they do that all the time.
Mr. Borry Bojang — the former NIA operative who is currently himself in detention at the NIA for his alleged involvement in the December 30th attempted coup — was especially cruel to them during their incarceration, saying to them that the President hates them and that he wanted to use them to set an example. Mr. Seedy Camara, an NIA operative, made them kneel down on stones. …
Their phones, emails and other social media accounts were closely scrutinized and monitored. They were tortured for a little over a week between the 9th and the 17th of November 2014. This was when their captors said they had everything that they wanted, and they were going to be transferred to Mile 2 Prison.
On the statement of confessions fabricated by the NIA, they claimed that Mr. Sarr engaged in a homosexual act with one Mr. Dodou Bobb when he was about 10 years old. Sarr denied knowing anyone by that name. They also claimed he (Sarr) has had similar affairs with Mr. Modou Boy Jallow, a Gambian fish seller, and Mr. Sereign Mboob, a Senegalese national based in Holland, whose numbers they found in Mr. Sarr’s phone — again, all made up by the NIA.
Mr. Sarr was also forced into confessing to passing information to Ms. Fatou Camara of Fatu Radio Networks, even after finding no evidence of such in his email communications or other social media accounts.
Eight days after being detained at the National Intelligence Agency, the men were moved to the Mile 2 Central Prisons in the outskirts of Banjul. They were met by the operations manager of the Prisons, Mr. M.L. Sowe, who told them that as homosexuals, they should be sent directly to the maximum security wing. … They were kept in confinement in the notorious Mile 2 Prison without conviction, instead of the temporary holding cells of the Remand Wing to await the outcomes of their trials.
While in prison, they were kept under the most inhumane conditions. They slept, ate and used the toilet in the same space. Their cells were dark and infested with roaches and mosquitoes. They were given chamber pots to use as toilets. They were not allowed outside for two months and the only time they saw sunlight during that period was when they come out to empty their chamber pots in the morning, at 8 a.m., for only 5 minutes per day. They even had to negotiate with their jailers at times for this “privilege.”
The Gambia (Map courtesy of Wikipedia) Map of The Gambia in West Africa (Map courtesy of Wikipedia)
Mr. Sarr was later admitted to the hospital under the constant watchful eyes of two armed soldiers and two prison officers. He was admitted once for three weeks and the second time for two months. His relatives and friends had to pay bribes to these officers in order to visit him in the hospital. He was denied medication because the hospital did not have any, and no one was allowed to obtain it for him from any other source. After intervention by his lawyers, he was able to have access to his medication.
Conditions at Mile 2 Prison are deplorable. The food is barely fit for human consumption. The shortage of medication and the presence of inmates with tuberculosis and other communicable diseases pose serious health risks to the rest of the prison population. There are also untreated mentally challenged individuals languishing in the prison.
The men’s trials were always held in chambers because, according to sources, there was no evidence and the state did not want the media to pick up the story, especially the international media.
Mr. Alieu Sarr and Mr. Momar Sowe were later acquitted and released, but Mr. Modou Lamin Bittaye still has an ongoing court case. He remains out on bail.
The family of Mr. Kemo Sanneh, a 17-year-old teenager who was arrested alongside these three, was able to scrape together 50,000 Gambian Dalasi (about US $1,261) to pay off the two NIA operatives, Mr. Seedy Camara and Mr. Alasana Baldeh, to secure his release. The young man was released with another young woman, who was subsequently arrested again. This young woman was said to have been subjected to severe torture and she was covered in blood during one of those sessions. The NIA operatives asked her to take off her clothes so they could see where she was bleeding. ...
To paraphrase the 18th century sage Samuel Johnson, Islamism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. One might cite any number of examples, but none is quite so striking as the latest ploy by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who has declared his hitherto secular country an “Islamic Republic.”
After decades as a weirdly mystical president—and a blood-curdling homophobe who threatened last fall to slit the throats of gays—Jammeh made his big announcement on Dec. 12, and life in The Gambia (also called, simply, Gambia) has gotten uglier ever since.
The 1996 constitution of this little country of fewer than 2 million people, with its capital on the sea and most of its land sandwiched inside Senegal, would remain unchanged. And Jammeh declared that this “Islamic state” would be a tolerant one.
In a widely televised broadcast, Jammeh said there would be no restrictions on dress and that Christians and followers of other faiths, who make up around 10 percent of the population, “would be given their due respect.” But that didn’t last long.
In January, an executive order, leaked to pro-opposition newspapers, said that an “executive directive has been issued that all female staff within the government ministries, departments and agencies are no longer allowed to expose their hair during official working hours.”
“Female staff are urged to use head tie and neatly wrap their hair,” it added, without giving reasons for the order. “All are strictly advised to adhere to this new directive.” Persecution of homosexuals had come as a sort of prelude to this latest move. In recent years they have been the target of new discriminatory legislation, arbitrary detention, and mistreatment in The Gambia. After an “aggravated homosexuality” law was passed in October 2014, imposing a life sentence for several offenses, dozens of LGBT people fled the country. “The new law treats consensual, private sexual activity between adults of the same sex—which should not be a crime—in the same way as rape and incest,” Steve Cockburn, deputy regional director for West and Central Africa at Amnesty International, said at the time.
“The vague and imprecise provisions of this law could be used to arrest and detain anyone who is believed to be gay or lesbian, and contributes to the already severe climate of hostility and fear for LGBTI people in the country,” said Cockburn. Jammeh has never hidden his dislike for gay people. The Gambian leader was recently quoted as saying animals are more godly than gays and that if the West wants gays so much, “they should just put planes at the airport” and he “will be happy for them to leave.”
“I have the largest number of pigs and cattle, and I have never seen a male pig climbing on top of another male pig or a male cattle climbing on top of another male cattle,” Gambia’s leading Freedom Newspaper quoted him as saying during the state opening of the country’s parliament on March 31. “I will rather die than to allow it [homosexuality] to happen in Gambia. If they want to perpetrate it, we will be merciless.” Following Jammeh’s declaration of Islamic statehood, the country’s Supreme Islamic Council (GSIC), a group of scholars, went around the country stirring up popular support for the development. The president said legislation to enforce his declaration would soon be introduced into parliament and the national flag would be changed to reflect the country’s new status. The national broadcaster has already taken to referring to The Gambia as the “Islamic Republic.”
Jammeh has painted critics of his regime as neo-colonialists, and in the last 2½ years has withdrawn The Gambia from the British Commonwealth, saying Britain did nothing for Gambia in 300 years of colonialism, except “to tell us how to sing ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and ‘God Save the Queen.’” Jammeh also scrapped English as an official language. One senior Gambian official, while on a visit to Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, in December, told The Daily Beast that the government was considering plans to put the issue of full Sharia implementation to a referendum.
“We are likely going to let the people decide on this,” he said. “It is what the government is seriously looking at.” Jammeh’s Islamist ploy is almost certainly aimed at winning the support of Arab Gulf states, particularly Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain, whose cash the president is thought to covet. Support from the West, meanwhile, has dwindled, with international bodies, especially the European Union, withholding aid because of human-rights abuses.
Last June, Jammeh expelled the EU’s top diplomat to Banjul, Agnes Guillard, without giving any explanation, although the action came six months after the EU blocked some $11 million in aid to The Gambia because of its anti-gay laws. Since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1994, Jammeh has ruthlessly repressed all forms of dissent while seeking to rule The Gambia through what can only be called mysticism, even claiming to cure a number of ailments, including obesity and erectile dysfunction.
In 2007, Jammeh claimed to have invented his own herbal cure for HIV—but it could only be taken on a Thursday, and his treatment required that patients give up conventional retrovirals. A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) released in September 2015 said Gambian security forces frequently arrest people without charge, often detaining them secretly for months and even years. Political detainees, critics of the president or the government, perceived supporters of the opposition, and those allegedly implicated in coup attempts are often subjected to torture and other ill treatment. In one incident, dozens of people were arrested and allegedly tortured after a coup attempt in December 2014.
As recently as Saturday an opposition activist, Solo Sandeng, died in detention shortly after his arrest for participating in a peaceful protest, according to Amnesty International, which called for an inquiry into the death. Sandeng was the National Organizing Secretary of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) and was detained during a march calling for electoral reforms on Thursday, ahead of national elections in December.
Another activist from the opposition, Fatoumata Jawara, who was detained with Sandeng on the same day, is believed to have serious injuries, Amnesty said. Several senior opposition leaders were arrested on Saturday after taking to the streets along with hundreds of their supporters, demanding answers from the authorities. Witnesses said protesters were swiftly rounded up by Gambia’s security force, which fired tear gas at the crowd.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement Sunday saying it “condemns the Government of The Gambia’s severe response to recent peaceful protests. “The tragic death in detention of Solo Sandeng must leave no space for impunity. The authorities must conduct an immediate, thorough and independent investigation,” said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International West Africa researcher. “Gambia must uphold the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, especially in advance of the elections. All of the peaceful protestors arrested by the authorities should be immediately and unconditionally released. Any who are injured must receive urgent medical treatment.” The Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA), a paramilitary group known as the “Jungulers,” and armed units of the Gambian Police Force have been implicated frequently in the country’s abuses, according to the HRW 2015 report. “When [Jammeh] wants to torture you, he uses the Jungulers team to torture you,” a former Junguler told HRW. “Or if he wants to arrest you secretly, he uses this Jungulers team. Or when he wants to kill you without anyone finding out, they will just kill you and throw you [away].” In one bizarre incident after the president’s aunt fell ill, security forces rounded up more than 1,000 villagers on suspicion of witchcraft and force-fed them hallucinogenics. Groups of Jungulers and government-hired sorcerers then systematically raped the female detainees during subsequent “witch trials,” according to HRW.
Press freedom is almost nonexistent in The Gambia. Government oppression of the media is seen as a deliberate attempt to prevent negative information about the country from reaching the outside world. Dozens of journalists have fled The Gambia under Jammeh’s rule.
“The president believes he has the backing of the Muslims in the country,” a Gambian journalist working in one of the country’s leading newspapers told The Daily Beast privately. “He doesn’t give a damn about the non-Muslims. They can’t even help him win an election.”
Sadly, some of The Gambia’s leading Muslims see Jammeh’s recent proclamations as appropriate for a country where about 90 percent of the citizens practice Islam.
On Jan. 6, officials of the GSIC and the Banjul Muslim Elders visited the State House to express their “appreciation and support” for the declaration that The Gambia is an Islamic republic. Muhammad Lamin Touray, president of the GSIC and imam of State House Mosque, was quoted saying, “The Gambia Muslim community views the move as Allah’s additional bounty to the country and the people.”
“Jammeh doesn’t even know the meaning of ‘Islamic state’ and how a country can take up that status,” the journalist said. “He just got up one morning and took the decision, and he may not have consulted with his cabinet.” Indeed, Jammeh may not have consulted widely at all before making his December pronouncement. When members of the GSIC visited State House on Jan. 5, Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy urged them to carry out research into the exact requirements of an Islamic Republic, suggesting he, too, may be uncomfortable with the manner in which Jammeh made the declaration.
Many in the formerly secular nation see the president’s actions as aimed at attracting voters while he prepares to seek a fifth term in office in the next presidential election, scheduled for December this year. “He knows the forthcoming election will be a difficult one for him,” said another of the country’s leading journalists, who asked not to be named for fear of government retaliation. “Muslims in Gambia are so passionate about their faith, and by invoking Islam in his rule, Jammeh wins over his people.” ...
Alagie Jammeh first came to the United States from his native Republic of the Gambia in 2011 to attend UCSB. He had been awarded a Gambian state-funded scholarship to complete a degree in global studies. At first things went well. His grades were good, he made friends, and his family seemed proud of his success. Suddenly everything changed. Around Thanksgiving he received a phone call from Gambia telling him his scholarship was immediately revoked and that he was to return home to apologize. Apologize for what? For posting a Facebook status in support of a gay friend. Now he is afraid he will not be able to stay in school, afraid he will lose his visa, afraid he will be deported, and, most importantly, afraid he will be forced to return to Gambia, where gay people and their supporters face intense persecution.
The post that caused all his troubles read: “No one should be denied their fundamental human rights because of their sexuality.” Jammeh wrote this because a gay friend had invited him to attend San Francisco’s Pride celebrations. His studies prevented him from going, so instead he decided to use social media to show his support. It was important to Jammeh to declare this because since coming to the United States, his views about gay people had changed substantially: “They’re not different.”
In Jammeh’s home country, to be gay is a serious crime. Even to vocalize support for gay rights is forbidden. Homosexual activity is currently punishable by life in prison and, in some cases, by death.
Even though his own family taught him to respect all people, at the same time he absorbed cultural ideas that were taught in Gambian schools, including that homosexuals are “evil.” But he never knew openly gay people until he came to this country. “When I got here,” he said, “I got helped by gay people. They gave me a ride. They talked to me. We went to the bar together. You know, we had fun.”
Commenting on the controversial post, Jammeh said, “I was just doing what I believe is right.” Essentially, Jammeh believes that homophobic laws are part of a culture that denies human rights to everyone: “All I’m saying is treat people equally.”
As a youngster growing up in his home village, he always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. After receiving top marks at the best high school in Gambia, Jammeh is the first person in his family to go to college. His dream was to return to Gambia, practice law, help his mother, and serve as an example to his 17 siblings that they, too, can follow their dreams. His goal has always been for other Gambian young people to hear about his path to education and say, “If he could do it, I could do it, too.” Now he wonders what would happen to him if he were forced to return. “I love my country,” he said, but he also believes that to return now would be dangerous.
In the meantime, he has found a temporary family within the Gaucho community: the university administrators who are helping in any way they can and his friends who have come together in support. Jammeh started a GoFundMe page to pay for his tuition, which has already raised over $10,000 in 10 days. But it’s the supportive messages he has received that are keeping him going. “I don’t want people to see me as a hero for this or for anything,” he said, “because I’m not.” ...
Gambia: Breaking News: Defiant Yahya Jammeh Ups Anti-Gay Rhetoric, Wants West To Take Gambian Gays! Gambia – Gambia’s president Yahya Jammeh on Thursday took his anti-gay rhetoric to a new height after calling on Western leaders to ferry all gays out of Gambia and resettle them on their land.Mr Jamm...
After outwardly supporting LGBTQ rights, Alagie Jahmeh, an international student at UC Santa Barbara, could face life imprisonment or death if he returns to his home country, Gambia. In an interview with KCSB reporter, Jordan Petrich, Jammeh discusses his current situation and what others can do to help. ...
Alagie Jammeh became homeless, & had his life flipped upside down over pro-LGBT views.Alagie Jammeh became homeless, & had his life flipped upside down over pro-LGBT views. Support Alagie! ► www.gofundme.com/zzc9s24 Giving A Homeless M... ...
The three Gambians charged with engaging in homosexual acts yesterday applied for bail at the High Court in Banjul before Justice Abi. The accused persons Alieu Sarr, Momarr Sowe and Modou Lamin Bittaye are facing multiple charges of unnatural offences and conspiracy. Counsel L.S. Camara, S. Jahateh and Gaye Coker represented Alieu Sarr and Momarr Sowe, while BS Touray represented Modou Lamin Bittaye. [ 898 more words. ]
When I saw the headlines on a suspected Gambian gay man allegedly tortured to near death, I was filled with rage, embarrassment and disgust, that the government of the Gambia had finally practicalized their threats to homosexuals. International media reported that he feared he was going to die as he was reportedly seen rushed to the hospital, suffering from internal bleeding. [ 1421 more words. ]
Three Gambians alleged to have been engaged in homosexual acts in the country and diverse places yesterday appeared at the High Court in Banjul before Justice Abi. The three suspects - Alieu Sarr, Momarr Sowe and Modou Lamin Bittaye - were charged with six counts of unnatural offences and conspiracy, which they all denied. Counsel LS Camara, S. Jahateh and Coker represented Alieu Sarr and Momarr Sowe, while BS Touray represented Modou Lamin Bittaye. [ 467 more words. ]
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. [ 227 more words. ]
As 2015 begins, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, takes a closer look at a few of the many countries where the fight for equality is making progress, as well as those where the fundamental rights of LGBT people are increasingly under attack. Troubling developments: The Gambia In 2014 President Yahya Jammeh took The Gambia’s criminalization of same-sex relations a step further, signing into… [ 743 more words. ]
A man arrested on homosexuality charges in the Gambia has apparently been tortured and now has been locked in a heavily guarded hospital room where he expects to die, according to an eyewitness and a second source. In a harrowing account first published by BuzzFeed and then by Gambia's online Freedom Newspaper of the Gambia, an eyewitness described the perilous condition of detainee Alieu Sarr. [ 637 more words. ]
More than a dozen LGBT advocacy groups on Friday called upon the Obama administration ban Gambian officials responsible for human rights abuses from entering the U.S. The Human Rights Campaign, the Council for Global Equality, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights First, GLAAD, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Global Justice Institute with the Metropolitan Community Churches, the National Center for Transgender Equality, Out and Equal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in a… [ 825 more words. ]
“He has cotton in his nose and he is coughing blood and saying, ‘I know I’m going to die,’” the witness told BuzzFeed News. A man who was arrested in the Gambia was transferred on Monday from a prison to a hospital bearing signs of torture, an eyewitness told BuzzFeed News by phone. On Tuesday, he was transferred to an isolated part of the prison, a move that human rights activists fear my be a prelude to his murder. [ 659 more words. ]
Update: Man in #Gambia, arrested in Oct. for being gay, still at hospital in Banjul, but moved to private wing & guarded by armed security. January 27, 2015 by Abu Rihanna Camara Update: man in #Gambia, arrested in Oct. for being gay, still at hospital in Banjul, but moved to private wing & guarded…
President Barack Obama is facing pressure to take further action against the Gambia for the West African nation’s recently enacted anti-LGBT law. In a letter to Obama dated Jan. 23, fourteen LGBT-rights organizations urged that Obama’s State Department demand the Gambian government provide more information on the health and safety of individuals who have been detained on the basis of their sexual orientation. [ 562 more words. ]