It was a week of surprises, cheers, laughs, smiles, hugs, kisses, tears of sadness and tears of joy; all in one hell of a family reunion. Prisoners who had languished in dreary prison cells for years were finally set loose from the dungeon of death, Mile 2 Prison, to a waiting crowd of family and curious onlookers. For those condemned to death, or on life sentences, it is like the miracle at Mile 2. But, this is still the Gambia, where justice and the rule of law are foreign concepts, and Yahya Jammeh is renowned more for his double-dealing and duplicitous nature than for the honor of character. The relentless efforts of foreign governments, national and international institutions and organizations, Gambian online media and civil society organizations and many others, combined to make Yahya Jammeh miserable, isolated and desperate to the point of relenting on the political prisoner release condition imposed by the European Union.

Finally, the incarcerated prisoners whose physical movements were restricted are released from detention, but this is not the end; it is only the beginning of their freedom. It was not surprising that every one of the released prisoners paraded before the Gambian people, extended gratitude to Yahya Jammeh, and some signaled readiness to return to work with him. What clearly came out was the visible faces of anguish of a broken people; the emaciated, too weak to savor the moment, how old they looked, and how desperate some were to throw themselves back into the demonic grip of an unforgiving megalomaniac; Yahya Jammeh.

But the dramatic prisoner release happened because of growing pressure condemning Yahya Jammeh’s unilateralism and primitive styles, which most of the rest of African nations scorn at as caveman. It was evident from the very beginning that the released prisoners had critical decisions about their future to make; to stay and work for the regime in order to prolong its choke-hold on the Gambia and Gambians, to stay in the Gambia and pretend to live a peaceful life, or leave Gambia to avoid further victimization and be a free man once again. In the end, some will be compelled to return into Yahya Jammeh’s circle of orbit by economic circumstances, and in so doing, submit themselves to Yahya Jammeh’s dangerous political machinations. For those who choose this path, to prove their undying loyalty to Yahya Jammeh, one thing is certain, you have not seen the end of Mile 2, just yet; in fact, part of your destinies are still residing in the hell-hole of Mile 2 Prison.. And to those who choose to leave, it is not all that easy outside than inside. You will be compelled by your terrible Mile 2 prison experiences to be an advocate for those you left behind; those who wake up to the terrifying clang of cold steel doors, those that wake up in dark, dingy concrete fortified coffin cells, and the listless, whose fixed gaze on the distant blue horizon encapsulate the vicissitude of a regime on the verge of breaking the Gambia apart into a thousand little pieces. Staying silent is not optional, unless you don’t care about those you left behind. You experienced the horrors of incarceration, Gambians, therefore, hope that your time behind bars has taught you a lesson in compassion.

Finally, to those that choose to stay, even if you are not hired by the regime, the least Gambians expect is to not, in any way, shape or form, do anything to prolong the regime’s grip on power. But the prisoner release is not complete yet as long as Amadou Sanneh, a member of the leading opposition party, the United Democratic Party and two United States citizens, Alhaji Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe, who were abducted back in May 2013, remain in prison. In addition, the fates of others abducted; some since back in 2005, Chief Ebrima Manneh, Kanjiba Kanyi and nearly twenty others is still being questioned. Are they alive? Are they dead? Where are they? The released prisoners who decide to stay and perhaps work for Yahya Jammeh to drag Gambia in the mud, particularly, Lang Tombong Tamba, Ngor Secka and other former military or NIA agents, with a history of torturing Gambians, and directly or indirectly being linked to their deaths, Gambians await to see if you will relapse into your former old selves; instilling fear, terrorizing citizens, causing the tortures of many citizens and non-citizens,, and even be tangentially linked to the deaths of others. Gambians invested too much to secure your freedom and some died trying do just that, now don’t throw their sacrifices by turning yourselves into lapdogs for Yahya Jammeh. You are obliged by the sad fate of your fellow countrymen and women, to help restore Gambia’s lost dignity and save your fellow countrymen and women from the brutal Mile 2 Prison life. Everyone has an option to leave the country and join the struggle to help lift Gambians out of its misery. For as long as Yahya Jammeh remains, no one is yet free. Some have tortured for Yahya Jammeh, helped kill for Yahya Jammeh and worked as slave laborers on Yahya Jammeh’s farms. The only thing you have not done, is wipe his ass clean. One day soon you may do just that, if you don’t make a wise decision about what you want to do with your life, after life in Mile 2 Prison.

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