The leader of the United Democratic Party said Ebrima Solo Sandeng, a former youth leader of the party and an opposition activist who died in state custody in April 2016, values sacrifice over personal comfort.
Ousainou Darboe said their former youth leader credited for playing a major role in the ending of dictatorship in Gambia has conquered fear with a ‘moral rectitude of democracy’.
“He (Solo) was driven by the view that our nation deserves a government that was as good as the people that constitute the country… Solo has valued sacrifice over personal comfort, truth and justice over expediency and a free and democratic Gambia above everything else…,” Darboe said in a speech read of his behalf by UDP’s executive secretary Alagie Darboe.
Darboe was addressing a number of Gambian activists, executive members of UDP and party supporters at Westfield, the place where Solo was arrested on April 14.
He was pronounced dead on April 15 reportedly of shock but his party members said he was killed.
It was his death that took the opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and the entire UDP executive members to the streets on April 16, a procession that won them a 3-year jail term.
The activists and party members did a procession from the Mall of The Gambia to Westfield.
“Through his actions and deeds, Solo has bequeathed to generations of Gambians a legacy of sacrifice, honour courage and integrity that culminated in a peaceful termination of dictatorship and the dawn of democracy and rule of law,” Darboe added.
“Whenever history of this period is recounted any time in the future, it will be said that Ebrima Solo Sandeng and co stood up for democracy, the rule of law and confronted a merciless tyrant with the like-minded Gambians armed only with a banner and a megaphone and trigger series of events that culminated into the ending of dictatorship.”
Sandeng’s jailed colleague and son, Muhammed Sandeng, have led the procession.
Fatoumatta Jawara, a national assembly member and political prisoner under former leader Yahya Jammeh, has urged the Government to ensure justice for people subjected to human rights abuses under Jammeh.
“I will renew my plea to urge authorities to rename the Westfield monument Solo Sandeng monument as a show of his commitment and love for the country,” the lawmaker said.
Jawara was arrested with Sendeng and reportedly tortured and raped at the National Intelligence Agency.
“Our love for country is unquantifiable and if given the choice again, we will without hesitation repeatedly choose the same path…,” Jawara said.
Following Solo’s death, a number of people involved in the demonstration have died.
Lamin Marong, Ebrima Janko Ceesay, Solo Kurumah, Lamin Manjang, Kalilou Saidykhan and Femi Peters were among the jailed parties who died after they were released.
The death of the former convicts aroused suspicions that they might have suffered some health complications while in prison.
Many credited Sandeng for the downfall of the former dictator Jammeh.
“We need justice for Solo Sandeng and co,” activist chanted as they made a procession towards Westfield.
There are over 10 former intelligence officers currently standing trial for Sandeng’s death.
By Mustapha K Darboe
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