Last week, Gambian armed forces forcefully dissolved a peaceful demonstration calling for electoral reforms and arbitrarily arrested 25 activists. The demonstration was organized by a youth group associated with the United Democratic Party (UDP), one of the few democratic political organizations allowed to operate in the Gambia. According to news reports, three of the UDP members arrested were beaten, tortured, and killed while in custody. Additionally, this past weekend, UDP’s entire executive leadership was arrested while conducting peaceful demonstrations demanding an official explanation for the deaths of its fellow party members and the fate of its remaining activists in custody.
“In 1994, 29-year-old Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh rose to power through a military coup. He came to be seen by many Gambians as a potential redeemer of the many grievances they had against the ancien régime. Unfortunately, contrary to what they had hoped for, Jammeh quickly seized complete power and imposed his own ever more ruthless brand of authoritarianism,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “The international community must exert pressure on the Gambia’s authoritarian regime and demand a thorough investigation of the extrajudicial executions of political opponents. Jammeh’s regime needs to stop its brutal crackdown on civil society and immediately release all political prisoners,” he added.
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.