By Alhagie Jobe

The Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide has described the ‘inflammatory rhetoric’ by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh targeting the largest ethnic group in the country, the Mandinka ethnic group as ‘public stigmatization, dehumanization and threats against the Mandinka ethnic group’.

 

President Yahya Jammeh at a political rally in the town of Tallinding on June 3, threatened to eliminate the Mandinka ethnic group and allegedly referred to them as “enemies, foreigners” and threatened to kill them one by one and place them “where even  flies cannot see them”.

 

In a statement condemning what he called ‘inflammatory rhetoric’, Adama Dieng said public statements of this nature by a national leader are irresponsible and extremely dangerous.

 

“Public statements of this nature by a national leader are irresponsible and extremely dangerous. They can contribute to dividing populations, feed suspicion and serve to incite violence against communities, based solely on their identity” Dieng noted in the statement.

 

The statement added: “The Special Adviser was particularly appalled by President Jammeh’s vitriolic rhetoric as history has shown that hate speech that constitutes incitement to violence can be both a warning sign and a powerful trigger for atrocity crimes.  “We have seen, in Rwanda, Bosnia – and more recently in the Middle East – how incitement to violence has led to mass killings along identity lines,” the Special Adviser stated.

 

Dieng reminded President Jammeh that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is prohibited under international human rights law as well as under national legislation.

 

States have the primary responsibility to protect their populations. In 2005, all Heads of State and Government acknowledged the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as well as their incitement.

 

In this respect, Dieng urged the President of the Gambia to fulfill the above responsibility and ensure that the rights of all populations of the Gambia are respected, irrespective of ethnicity or political affiliation.