By Our Investigative Team
Samsudeen Sarr, Gambia’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the United Nations, has doubled down on his threats to murder unarmed peaceful protesters. Mr. Sarr, a former Colonel in the Gambian army, was responding to criticism after public outcry and criticism after an audio recording was released on social media of him threatening to “f**king open fire” (on unarmed protesters”) if he were in charge when a group of unarmed Gambians staged a peaceful protest march to call for electoral reforms. In the audio, Mr. Sarr’s arrogance, vulgarity and insensitivity can be clearly heard as he boastfully tried to justify the human rights abuses that UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, recently condemned in a statement.
In a rather lengthy rant posted on his Facebook page, Mr. Sarr began by touting his military background.
“I am not crazy with all my military training from across the world to advocate the shooting of peaceful demonstrators under any given circumstance for that matter. I have broadly studied military law, the rules of engagements and fully understand the implications of the Geneva Convention”
Rather than demonstrate respect for human rights and international law as a trained soldier or a diplomat would, Mr. Sarr went on a child-like tirade of insults about why his statements were recorded and the audio released. Interestingly though, at no point did he deny making the insensitive and callous statements or express remorse. Instead, he doubled down on his insults and insensitivity towards the peaceful protesters calling them “hooligans” and “a group of sponsored thugs”. He said he told the person who recorded him anyone staging a protest “should expect to die in the process by accident or incident”.
Reaffirming his statements that caused all the uproar in the first place, Mr Sarr went on “But my position was clear and will never change in that if I am in charge of any military or police operation in a country where a bunch of useless thugs are released in the streets … using deadly force will not be ruled out in my masterplan”
The Gambian number 2 at the UN went on “On a final note, my position on the so-called peaceful demonstration never changed since…the very day it happened on April 14 2016. He warned protesters to “… be ready to face or see anything in that uphill battle including the end of few to many lives, plus of course yours”. He said of the protesters “Now that the whole nasty scheme boomeranged in their satanic faces,…they should blame themselves for any casualty in the problem they have cooked and dished”
On April 14, 2016, the authoritarian regime of Yahya Jammeh assaulted and arrested the protesters. Reports soon emerged that those arrested had been severely tortured and at least one may have been killed. Women were allegedly raped by security forces as part of the torture and one, a nursing mother, was later allowed to nurse her 1-month old baby in jail after being initially denied. Many others, including opposition leader, Ousainou Darboe, were denied bail and currently standing trial since they were detained on April 16, 2016.
Samsudeen Sarr is himself a former victim of the brutal regime of Yahya Jammeh in The Gambia before he fled to the USA where he sought and obtained political asylum. He was a staunch critic of the dictatorship for two decades until last year when he claimed that all his past criticism of the regime, including a book he wrote, were lies he concocted to obtain political asylum. He was then pardoned by the Jammeh administration and appointed as Gambia’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN. Given that the government in The Gambia has been rather mute on the events of April 2016, some are now wondering whether Sam Sarr’s callous statements are not his cunning way of sabotaging the regime he serves. Reports have it Sarr went on to give the initial interview with the reckless remarks despite being warned by his secretary that he was being recorded. Going on to double down on the controversial statements that have caused such a huge international uproar has further raised eyebrows in the corridors of power in Banjul about Sarr’s true motives.