Team ‘Gom Sa Bopa’ activist group has called on the Inspector General of Police as well as the Minister of Interior to resign following the protests in Brikama and Serrekunda.
The activists group on Monday, 29th July 2019 held a press conference focusing on the civil unrest, the deaths of a University student and a Serekunda Market vendor as well as #OccupyBAC protest respectively.
The activist group wants the immediate resignation of the Minister of Interior and Inspector General of Police for failing to protect the lives of people in their jurisdiction.
Ali Cham alias Killa Ace, the President “Team Gom Sa Bopa”, said there is no justification for a police officer to initiate brutal physical force against any suspect in their custody. He put forward that the police are duty-bound to care for every single person held in their custody.
“We believed that beating suspects in custody would have ended with the fall of former president Yahya Jammeh’s regime and not a continuation of events”, he said.
Cham said: “It must be recalled that the Interior Minister pronounced at the president’s rally in Brikama that “hot water will be sprayed on rude protestors,”.
Yusef Taylor, also a member of the Team Gom Sa Bopa said the Gambia is going through a critical period of reform under President Adama Barrow, whom he said has planned to usher in democratic change through his NDP 2018-2022.
“Unfortunately the wind of change which blew fresh air of confidence in the new Gambian dream is quickly dissipating after the death of two young people in July (2019) allegedly by members of the security services”, he said.
He added this has eroded the public’s confidence in the security services and President Adama Barrow’s Government.
On protest, not Riots
Team Gom Sa Bopa wishes to put it on record that “we condemn the vandalism and riots which took place in various place last week”, Yusef said, adding that the destruction of properties is a regrettable disturbance to those affected and means that funds which could have been used for development will have to be spent on correcting.
“We call on the general public especially the youths to show unity in condemning all violence, riots and vandalism”, he appealed.
“We are compelled to highlight that the IGP’s refusal to grant protesters permit combined with the actions of PIU Officers who fired tear gas on peaceful protestors is a volatile combination”, he noted, adding this combination can turn a peaceful protest into riots.
“We demand for the government to respect people’s right to assemble and protest peacefully”, he said.
Taylor submitted that the police must be capable of securing peaceful protests and not antagonize peaceful protesters by firing tears gas to disperse them forcefully.
Team Gom Sa Bopa, therefore, called on the Gambia Government to implement Amnesty International’s recommendation immediately. The deaths of Kebba Secka of the University of The Gambia and Ousman Darboe, a vendor of the Serrekunda Market, which he said highlights that if the status quo remains unchanged more lives could be lost.
Their other demands include;
Collaborate with civil society to immediately implement meaningful security sector reforms to restore confidence in the security sector.
Warn all security personnel to identify themselves before effecting arrests. Arresting civilians without identification is a practice that must stop immediately. Security personnel must desist from unlawful arrests, torture and brutal treatment of people.
Caution all security personnel to follow due process and to respect detainee rights such as providing them with legal representation, informing family members and loved ones of their arrest and desist from detaining people beyond the 72 hours period.
Repeal all sections of the public order act which infringe on people’s rights to protect as detailed in Amnesty International’s demands.
Effect the temporal closure of the Anti Crime Unit (ACU) whose members were pictured in plain clothes, masks, armed with AK47s and other weapons pending appropriate reforms. Reforms are also needed urgently for the police intervention unit as any more loss of lives will escalate already heightened tensions.