Gambian journalists will on Wednesday celebrate the World Freedom Day, the first for them since the defeat of longtime iron-fist ruler, Yahya Jammeh.
Gambia has just emerged from 22 years of dictatorship that had a huge impact on its media landscape, leaving the small nation at the bottom of world press freedom rankings.
Gambia Press Union secretary general, Saikou Jammeh, said they are proud to be associated with a day that honors journalists, some of whom died in their line of work.
“We at the GPU are very proud to be associated with this day. We commemorate it because it is a day in which we reflect and pay tribute and also remember those colleagues of ours who has been with us and one way or the other could no longer be with us,” he said.
Dissent under Gambia’s strongman Yahya Jammeh was intolerable and journalists who have stood up to him were either exiled or killed.
From 1994 to 2006, Jammeh has exiled at least 200 journalists, some of whom are the best, a research Doha Centre for Journalists has found.
The founder of a Gambian daily newspaper The Point, Deyda Hydara, has been shot dead and until today, his killers are at large.
Another Gambian journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh has also disappeared since 2006 and until today, his whereabouts are not known.
Though the government of President Adama Barrow that dethroned Jammeh has promised accountability for the past crimes but no one has so far being tried and convicted.
Saikou said journalists all over the world continue to face the risk of being arrested, tortured and even killed.
He said the GPU has taken ownership of the press freedom day because of the contributions the founding fathers of the Union played in the processes that led to the declaration of May 3rd as World Press Freedom day at the United Nations.
GPU has been articulating reforms agenda for the media since Jammeh was sent packing.
It will hold a procession to the office of country’s communication minister, Demba Jawo to hand him their media reform agenda.
Jammeh said their “position paper” which will be handed to Jawo entails the reforms that the GPU will want to collaborate with the government to conducts in the new Gambia.