A civil society organization calling itself “Team Gomsa Bopa” has held a press conference on Monday denouncing the arrest and detention of Killa Ace and 36 others at Mile 2. The 37 are charged in connection to the July 24th protest in Serrekunda over the death of Ousman Darboe.
A Gambian civil society activist, Madi Jobarteh, said the arrest and incarceration of 37 young people in Mile 2 is synonymous to the rights violations people have experienced under former leader Yahya Jammeh.
Currently, a Gambia rap sensation Killa Ace and 36 others youths are in detention at the State Central Prison.
Their charges are in connection to the burning of the compound of the head of the police Anti-Crime Unit, Gorgi Mboob and ransacking of the Bakoteh police station.
A spontaneous protest erupted in Serrekunda on July 24th over the death of a Sierra Leonean national Ousman Darboe who was reportedly tortured by the police.
Darboe is an asthmatic patient who died 3 days after his release. His friends and activists said he died of torture. After the protest, both the police and the Interior Ministry claimed they will thoroughly investigate the death of Darboe.
The police claimed last week that a postmortem was done on Darboe’s remains before he was handed to his family for burial.
Madi said the state is yet to present any credible information in public space about the investigation they claimed to be doing and instead arrested the young people.
“Fellow Gambians, I want us all to realise that what has happened in this case is a typical malpractice we saw happening all the time under the Dictatorship. The system continues until today unabated and this is unacceptable. Therefore, I wish to call on all Gambians to demand that the State, especially our law enforcement and justice delivery systems respect and abide by the rule of law to protect human rights and safeguard the peace and stability of this country,” said Jobarteh.
“We must not allow the police to destroy the lives and future of our youth by imposing trumped up charges against them. I do not support and will never encourage arson, looting, vandalism and riot in any way and for any reason. However, I will not also stand by to watch the lives of young citizens being damaged by the State just like that. We expect the Gambia Government to respect and protect our lives, property and liberty.”
The arrested 37 youths return to Kanifing Magistrate Court on Tuesday, September 3. Among their charges are willful damage and arson which is a capital offence carrying a punishment of life sentence.
The members of Team Gomsa Bopa, a group Killa serves as President said he is being unfairly targeted because of his activism against “police brutality”. Two people, Kebba Secka and Ousman Darboe, have died in recent months whose death were blamed on the police.
Killa has released a new song talking about police violence in which he specifically mentioned Gorgi Mboob, the head of the police Anti-Crime Unit.