The Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA) has condemned “inflammatory speeches” made at a Brikama rally organized by the Barrow Fans Club.
Several Gambians were outraged when presidential adviser Henry Gomez threatened protesters with bullet if they go out to protest against President Adama Barrow’s decision to stay in power beyond his 3-year transitional mandate.
Barrow came to power on the backing of 7 political parties and 3 independent candidates on promise that he will lead a 3-year transition and leave office. The President has since changed his mind.
A group of Gambians calling themselves 3 years Jotna are calling for mass protest for the President to resign after his transition.
Below is the statement by DUGA:
We, the Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA), express our utmost consternation at the inflammatory speeches given at the recent Barrow Fans Club rally in Brikama on June 15, 2019. Since taking office, Barrow and his government’s response to protests and plans to protest have exhibited this government’s propensity to silence dissent, than to strengthen our democratic rights that are enshrined in the Constitution of The Gambia.
We recall the incidents with Occupy Westfield and Dafa Dooy protests, when the state machinery and its enforcer, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), refused to issue permits to protest based on their unfounded fear that they may incite violence in their speeches. After a few days of delay tactics from the state and the principled defiance from the organizers, the permits were issued.
These two peaceful events came to pass without any violence or arrests. However, the whole world witnessed on social media how the brutish Police Intervention Unit (PIU), with guns drawn, interrupted and forcefully dispersed the legally gathered Occupy Westfield protest. It is quite telling that all the threats of bodily harm and intent to murder and kill have been one-sided, and have always come from the government officials, those entrusted with protecting the rights of Gambians. The whole world watched and listened in total dismay at the venomous political rhetoric, the barrage of threats, and intimidating remarks at President Barrow’s rallies, and he condoned all the statements made on his behalf with congratulatory handshakes and warm embraces.
We therefore pose the rhetorical questions: Does the Barrow administration and its fan clubs apply for permits subjected to the same rules and regulations set by the IGP’s office, or are public gatherings only allowed when praise-singing the President? Will the IGP deliver a statement to condemn the threats of bodily harm to Gambians who express their democratic right to protest? We have always maintained that the Barrow State machinery, a stark continuation of the Jammeh terror machinery, skillfully shrouded in “sheep’s clothing”, has been the greatest purveyor of violence against the Gambian masses. This is not a mere accusation, we can cite a few examples in Kanilai, Busumbala and Faraba Banta.
In our view and the recurring evidence, the Barrow administration poses the greatest threat to national security. The June 15, 2019, Barrow Fans Club rally proves our assertion beyond any shadow of a doubt. Following Barrow’s inauguration, we raised the alarm on the reckless and unbecoming behavior of the regime and its parasitic enablers during Jammeh, and post Jammeh, as a blatant threat to our national interest.
We categorically make our position clear, we take the side of our beloved Gambia for genuine national development, and will defend the rights of its citizens to exercise its constitutionally guaranteed rights. A proud democratic and tolerant future is possible but we must be willing to stand up, defend, and protect our rights.