Gambia’s police have charged a university lecturer and political analyst with inciting violence, security sources confirmed.
Dr. Ismaila Ceesay was arrested for criticizing President Adama Barrow, saying he lacked focused and that despite the presence of West African troops, Gambia risks long-term security problems under Barrow.
“If calling a spade a spade will get you questioned and detained in this new Gambia, I think the Barrow Administration should start building more detention centers. This is a direct attack on academic freedom and all the freedoms we fought for in this country,” said university lecturer and activist, Sait Matty Jaw.
Activists are calling for Ceesay’s immediate release. A handful of university students have camped outside the police bureau in the capital, Banjul, where he is detained.
Rights campaigner Njundu Drammeh said human rights violation is a greater security threat, warning security agencies not to act with impunity.
“He is a citizen with a constitutionally guaranteed right to speak his mind or profess an opinion on any national matter he wishes to speak on or write about. You don’t silence opinion by shackling it or arresting people for speaking up. You counter opinion with an opinion and allow the public to be the arbiter,” Drammeh said.
“It is time we all knew that there is no greater threat to ‘national security’ than the violations of the rights of people. Yahya Jammeh was booted out because of his poor human rights records, the fear he injected in all of us, the undignifying and unedifying treatment he meted out on those he claimed to love.”
Dr. Ceesay was behind the university protest that demanded Jammeh to step aside after he refused to cede power. His arrest and subsequent charge is now being described as a betrayal to the foundation of the New Gambia.
Gambia’s police have often charged the government opponents with inciting violence to silence them during Jammeh’s iron-fist rule. It has been a method of intimidating critics and forcing them into silence.
The practice continues despite Jammeh’s ouster. Since new President Adama Barrow’s coming to power, the police have arrested several opposition supporters for allegedly inciting violence.