by Alhagie Jobe
Samsudeen Sarr, Gambia’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations has finally confirmed that he is indeed acting in the name of the Gambia’s Mission to the United Nations in defending the brutal regime of President Yahya Jammeh.
Sarr who endorsed the killing of the peaceful protesters in April in The Gambia during the start of the ongoing peaceful protests, recently attacked and rubbished the comments by Adama Dieng, UN Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide against President Jammeh’s threats against the Mandinkas.
Sarr is now at war with Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico in USA who earlier called for the released of Mrs. Fanta Darbo Jawara, a Gambian American currently in detention in The Gambia on a political case.
Confirming that his actions are in the name of the Gambia’s mission in New York, Mr Sarr in an open letter on his Facebook page addressed to Governor Bill Richardson, started by saying: ‘It is with utmost concern that I write to you on behalf of the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of the Gambia at the United Nations’.
Below is the full text of the message from Mr Sarr to Governor Richardson:
OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON OF NEW MEXICO OVER HIS REMARKS ABOUT HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT YAHYA A. J. J. JAMMEH OF THE GAMBIA
Dear Governor Richardson,
It is with utmost concern that I write to you on behalf of the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of the Gambia at the United Nations registering my betrayal of trust in your judgment over the manner you handled an international political issue concerning the government and head of state of my country.
Whereas I have in the past fifteen years or so followed your international diplomatic ventures with approbation especially when it comes to negotiating with foreign governments for the release of Americans imprisoned or held hostage in various countries, you have in this particular case resorted in an approach totally uncharacteristic of who you were that brought you commendable successes. I however am afraid to say that the information you based your condemnation of the Gambian president and his government, published on Yahoo website about the mother, Mrs. Fanta Darbo Jawara, a Gambian American currently in detention in the Gambia, was at best flawed and at worst totally deceptive.
In fact, almost every issue in your statement against the Gambian president is a familiar talking point fabricated and spread around by enemies of the people of the Gambia and fed to any gullible recipient willing to swallow and regurgitate it to help in their campaign to destabilize the country. All that about his long stay in power, his ill treatment of prisoners, his poor governance record compared to that of the previous government he overthrew in 1994, his position on the LGBT, his declaration of the country as an Islamic state and even your recommendations in your conclusion to sanction his government, freeze his assets in the US and impose travel ban on members of his government now sound like broken record accessible on his enemies’ websites and aired on their internet radios. They are all living in the USA and Europe and don’t reflect the realities in the country.
But before elaborating on the facts, I would first want to tell you this Governor: Great people whose ideas are fruitful and are firmly committed to their convictions often face such roadblocks intended to sabotage their missions.
You must be familiar with what that means Governor. Let’s say that with the hard work you did as governor of New Mexico, it must have felt unfair when the ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reported in April 2010 that you were one of the 11 worst governors in the US because of various ethics issues throughout your tenure in office. What about as Secretary of Energy in Bill Clinton’s government? I am talking about how the Republican Senators once called for your resignation in the nuclear espionage scandal when you named Wen Ho Lee an employee at the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a suspect who might have given nuclear secrets to the Chinese government but in which Lee was eventually cleared of all charges and won a settlement against the federal government for the false accusation. Or on your position regarding the LGBT when you strongly opposed same sex marriage in the US, a view characterized by many people as totally homophobic, especially following your appearance in the Don Imus show where you used an anti-gay slur in the Spanish language. You see, bringing this up is to merely prove an important point that when brought to the spotlight we all have spots that do not necessarily have to define who we are in totality. The bottom line is that we are all imperfect and therefore should refrain from demanding perfection on others.
Anyway in this particular case about the Gambia, I would have hoped that the Governor Bill Richardson I used to know and admire as the conscientious negotiator who regardless of even when accused of violating American foreign policy would stand on his principles and risk everything will adopt his usual approach of solving such crisis and not to be hauling condemnation to a government and leader he least knows about.
In 1994 you indeed spent five days in North Korea, trying to negotiate the release of two U. S. Army helicopter pilots shot down in that country. You couldn’t get one of the captured pilots released, but at least came back home with the remains of the one killed; obviously embracing the usual hostile approach against North Korea and its leadership at that time in the way your counterparts did without action would not just have been a betrayal of your core values but would have gained you nothing other than the heartbreak of not acting on the dictates of your conscience and principles. The North Korean government was and still is viewed as an evil pariah; nevertheless, you stood by your principles and reach out to negotiate with Kim.
In 1995 as well, you successfully negotiated with Saddam Hussein and secured the release of two U. S. oil workers who wandered over the Iraq-Kuwait border while your peers showed little confidence or support in your initiative; in similar gesture in 1996 you brought home an American woman, Eliadah “Lia” McCord who was being held on a life sentence in Bangladesh for carrying heroin in the country; in that same year 1996 you again successfully negotiated with the North Korean government for the release of a troubled 26-year-old American, Evan Hunziker, who swam across the Yalu River into that country. Mr. Hunziker unfortunately committed suicide later. Similar successful mission you took included your trip to Zaire in 1997 but most notable in Africa was your journey to Sudan in September 2006 where you again prevailed on President Omar al-Bashir to release an arrested New Mexico journalist and two aides from Chad accused of entering that country without visas to report on atrocities being committed in Darfur. That’s the Bill Richardson I am talking about.
I believe that in all those negotiations, your successes were rooted in an open-mind attitude, not allowing your sense of judgment to be overridden or corrupted by peer pressure, lobbyists or selfish motivation.
For all I used to know, you had never believed in imposing American values on foreign countries or governments in the way some politicians do in the US that in many respect have over recent times created more enemies for this country than friends. It is certainly an unacceptable tendency often worsened when pressures or threats such as sanctions, travel bans, arrests and seizure of private assets are used to intimidate leaders and their governments to live against their principles and values and adopt yours.
Hence when I read your remarks against President Jammeh that I believe were not your original ideas but information spoon-fed to you, I started wondering whether or not this is the negotiator I used to know.
It is quite natural for any one even the most hardhearted person to feel the sympathy you felt when a mother whose story is narrated in the way Mrs. Fanta Darbo Jawara’s plight in the Gambia was put across to you by the enemies of that government. These are political charlatans just like the late Iraqi dissident Ahmed Chalabi and his group who because of their selfish political ambitions, would stop at nothing to achieve what they want even if it requires destroying an entire country and its civilization. George Bush fell for them and it looks like you are falling for them in the case of Gambia.
They don’t want to see Mrs. Fanta Darbo Jawara released from detention in the Gambia; all they want instead is to use her situation to gain political support from people who don’t know or understand the political dynamics in The Gambia. You probably would have taken your normal approach with the possibility of gaining her freedom if you were tasked to use your negotiating powers as you often did in the past.
But to demand and get you to denounce President Jammeh as a foreign leader holding one American-Gambian in custody for merely “being in the wrong place at the wrong time” when you know you have handled situations more complicated than that, shows a troubling deviation from your orthodox style.
However, you expressed your frustration over President Yahya Jammeh being in power for twenty-two years after overthrowing the previous government in a “country once being the oldest and most successful democracies in Africa”.
What you were not informed in that narrative is that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government of President Sir Dawda Jawara that he overthrew in 1994 was in power for over thirty years doing nothing progressive in the country other than serving the interest of our former colonial masters and in the process stagnated the progress of the country beyond any excusable definition? I am indeed saying that in 1994 after over thirty years of that so-called democratic government in power, the Gambia still lacked adequate schools, hospitals, TV station, paved roads or highways, a good airport or seaport and not a single junior college much more a university.
Power was virtually concentrated in the hands of a few whose family members and close associates succeeded each other in ill-governing the country. Presidential elections were organized every five years but rigged every time in favor of the incumbent because of the absence of an independent electoral commission to conduct them freely and fairly.
The security forces entrusted with the defense of the country suffered the worst abuse in the hands of that government. Members of the establishment and the elite forbade their offspring or children to enlist in the armed or security forces because of the job’s low classed standing in the society. Soldiers were treated like third class citizens and when deployed abroad for peacekeeping missions and get killed were refused the right to be buried at home. When the soldiers complained and protested in 1990 and 1991 about the incessant abuse especially the denial of their dead colleagues home burial, the government contracted foreign military officers to come and take charge of the command and control of the armed forces. Thanks to President Jammeh the whole nightmare was brought to a stop on July 22nd 1994 when in a peaceful military takeover, he turned the historic tides of the nation for the better.
Frankly speaking Mr. Richardson, President Jammeh’s ascension to power in the Gambia happens to be the most appreciated occurrence in that country; he indeed rescued the country from the hands of political maniacs and transformed it into what the people really wanted and understood. In the two decades he ruled the Gambia, he has with great success modernized the country from a hopeless neocolonial backward nation into a genuinely independent one with immeasurable development successes.
He has built enough schools for every child with free education for all, hospitals for every sick person, highways of modern structures and a university that provides affordable education for even the poorest student in the country. For the first time the country got a national TV station and boasts of having an excellent seaport and airport upgraded into admirable international model.
On President Jammeh’s watch, the armed and security forces have now been reorganized into decent work forces with everybody, irrespective of economic, social or any family background eager to join and serve in it. Gambian military and police officers now take pride in serving their government in peacekeeping missions all over the world with the assurance that no one will ever be killed in action and refused burial in their home country. As a matter of fact, all soldiers buried abroad on the orders of the previous PPP government had their remains recovered and brought back home on President Jammeh’s directive and funding. And most important of all, he has placed the command and control of the armed and security forces in the hands of the Gambian officers and never again in the hands of foreigners.
Governor Richardson, I am sure you never got this version of the Gambia’s history when the liars fed you with the garbage that the previous government was more democratic and progressive than that of President Jammeh’s. Trust me, it is all about hating a man bringing new sustainable ideas that work but disfavor the weak, lazy, crooked and of course those allergic to the real independence the county now enjoys. They want to “make the Gambia great again” by bringing back the old system in a country already way ahead most in Africa. Foreigners will never dictate our policies again in a world where dependency takes you nowhere.
And for your information, President Jammeh’s LGBT position is a reflection of the position held by the majority of the Gambian people including members of the opposition parties.
His declaration of the country as an Islamic state where religious, racial and ethnic tolerance is the cornerstone of the concept should be praised and emulated by every peace-loving leader but not condemned. It’s a country where Christians and Muslims intermarry and live happily together despite the population being over 90% Muslims. Sundays and Fridays are holidays observed by Christians and Muslims respectively.
And it is agreed that Gambia’s gender policy is one of the best in Africa. Women are empowered equally like men. It is a wonderful country Governor Richardson.
In the case of Mrs. Fanta Darbo Jawara, it looks like you don’t even know that she is an adopted daughter of the main opposition political party leader of the country called Mr. Ousainou Darbo who is in the center of the ongoing political issue in the country. In a video footage on social media one could clearly hear Mr. Ousainou Darbo, the United Democratic Party (UDP), explaining before going out to lead their unauthorized and doomed demonstration on April 16, 2016 that his daughter living in the USA was supposed to depart back to her family in Maryland, but he personally insisted for her to delay and join the protest. To therefore say that the woman was an innocent bystander arrested in a demonstration he had had no idea about, shows the extent these people could go to spread misinformation and deception.
It was also another misinformation that the April 16, demonstration was triggered by the mysterious death of a young opposition leader arrested by the police two days before. For a better understanding of what is happening in the Gambia, I will refer you to the numerous articles I published in two online newspapers-The Gambia Inquirer and Gambiaoneradio.com- and in my Facebook page “Samsudeen Sart” where everything you need to know is highlighted. From there you could read how the enemies of the Gambia are doing everything they can to destroy a very peaceful and perfectly-governed nation in Africa; you will read how in 2014 these very people sponsored an armed attack in the Gambia to overthrow the government but were defeated; how they tried to sponsor a mass uprising in the form of civil disobedience on April 14 & 16, 2016 that failed miserably; how they are using social media and internet radios encouraging Gambians to assassinate their president; and how they hate him because of his ethnic background as a Jola.
But I will tell this about President Jammeh. He is a true believer who will yield to no threats or bullying; yet he is far the most reasonable person to negotiate with, far easier than with any leader you have ever met in the international community. If you had contacted Reverend Jesse Jackson before going on the attack, he probably would have enlightened you about how easy he found it to help secure the release of two Gambian Americans once imprisoned for live in the country after being found guilty of participation in treasonous activities.
In 2014, His Excellency President Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh literally emptied the Gambian prisons in an amnesty he extended to over three hundred prisoners locked up in the two main prisons in the Country-Mile Two and Janjanburi Prisons.
What you could have done Governor Richardson to better help Fanta Darbo Jawara gain her freedom and come back home to his family was perhaps to do what you have always done in the past by casting all forms of judgment against leaders involved in these kinds of situations and reach for a humanitarian negotiation.
Happy Father’s day!
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia at the United Nations Organisation
New York City