Activists went to sleep appalled by President Yahya Jammeh’s sudden political u-turn rejecting The Gambia’s elections. They know their work was now cut out of them at a time they thought he would be somewhat easier.
For the activists, President Yahya Jammeh rejection of the West African nation’s election results was not a complete surprise and they know it may cause instability and repression. Rights violations would go unabated if Jammeh succeeds in subverting the will of the people.
This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone’s rights and for Gambian rights campaigners, there are so many who they need to stand up for.
Gambians were ready for change and voted Jammeh out. What followed was taking down of huge billboards of Jammeh, people freely speaking of what they would have avoided talking about, demystifying Mr. Jammeh and rejoicing the end of their “slavery.”
Rights groups joined forces to raise concerns with the U.S. government about the rise in human rights violations in the West African nation in May.
The rights groups “urged the U.S. government to announce sanctions against Gambian officials in order to send a clear message that continued human rights violations will place a severe strain on U.S.-Gambian relations.” These could include travel bans or sanctions available in International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which the U.S. government has used before in response to human rights abuses in Belarus, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and others.
If Jammeh succeeds in his bid to hold on to power, human rights violations will intensify.
The international community has nullified Jammeh’s rejection of the results, he is set to legally challenge the results in the Supreme Court and has been urged to step down.