Article 19 West Africa Directress says Gambia must release opposition detainees to end spiral of violence

Article 19 West Africa Directress says Gambia must release opposition detainees to end spiral of violence

Fatou Jagne Senghore, the directress of Article 19 West Africa has said the death of another Gambian opposition member Ebrima Solo Krummah is a ‘tragedy,’ as the West African nation heads to polls in December in an election already marred by violence and persecution of opposition supporters.

The rights campaigner said the deaths in state custody of at least two opposition officials Solo Krummah last week and Solo Sandeng in April must be urgently investigated.

Krummah, a native of Sandu Darsilameh was the UDP deputy chairman for Sandu Constituency and Darsilameh village party head. He was arrested and detained at the Mile II Central Prison along with dozens of other opposition members since on May 9, 2016 and currently under trial for merely showing solidarity with jailed party leaders Ousainou Darboe and other members who were arrested in April.

After falling austerely ill while in custody, he was admitted at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital on August 8, 2016 and reportedly had a surgery on Friday August 19, 2016. He died in the early hours the following day after the surgery.

His family and the UDP said they were not aware of any medical condition with him and were not informed of hospital admission. Their consent was not received to conduct surgery as well, they said.

According to Jagne, it is socking that both political activists from the opposition UDP who peacefully protested have been brutally deprived of their freedoms and ultimately their lives.

“The Gambian government must be compelled to immediately release Ousainou Darboe and all the political detainees and put an end to this spiral of violence that will lead to further tensions ahead of an already compromised presidential election” she said.

Opposition supporters in April and May were met with excessive force by security forces loyal to Jammeh during peaceful protests and earlier this months, attacks were mounted on properties belonging to President Yahya Jammeh including a fuel depot, a gas station and his ruling APRC party headquarters.

Meanwhile, UDP party lawyers are acting to determine the exact cause of death and demanding that Mr Kurumah’s body be returned to the family for proper burial.

The party called on all Gambians and by extension the broader international community to hold The Gambia government accountable for its wanton and criminal endangering of the lives of opposition detainees who they said are being unjustly held as prisoners of conscience.

The Gambia has since April been under a political turmoil following the arrest of a group of opposition members who were protesting in demand for electoral reforms. They were arrested and one of them Ebrima Solo Sandeng died in state custody following severe torture he went in the hands of the disreputable state agents. His death sparked anger in the opposition and most Gambians prompting the UDP party leader Ousainou Darboe, his executive members and others to stage a peaceful protest demanding his release ‘dead or alive.’ They were rounded up by police and detained, charged, put on trial and finally convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment, which they are currently serving at the State central prison of Mile II.

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