On the third anniversary of the heinous Mile Two Prison executions, Gambians solemnly remember one of the most the tragic days in the Gambia’s history. The oldest inmate, Lamin Darboe, had his death sentence commuted to a life in prison years earlier by former President Dawda K Jawara. The youngest, Buba Yarboe of Busumbala village, suffered severe mental illness and was totally incapable of making rational decisions, much less have the capacity to understand his surroundings.
And beautiful Tabara Samba, the only female in the group, with little children at home, tried and sentenced for murder in an apparent manslaughter case, was first gang raped by her captors and her breasts cut off in human sacrifice rituals. This is not a preamble of the opening chapter of an Agatha Christie crime novel; it is real, and it happened in the Gambia. What all three individuals had in common was their cruel, mind-numbing execution at Mile Two Prisons on orders of Yahya Jammeh; an act of brutality so unimaginable, it left an entire nation numbed by utter disbelief. On that fateful August night two years ago, when nine inmates were led out of their concrete-walled and steel door cells and executed in cold blood with willful disregard for human life, the Gambia descended further into new depths of mindless barbarity. But this time around, Yahya Jammeh’s fate will not be determined by primitive superstitions and devil worship, which have hitherto dictated the way he ruled the Gambia with bewildering ignorance.
Moving forward, his life will rests in the hands of the Gambian people. For the first time in twenty years, Gambians both at home and abroad, cry out their deadly rage with a determination never before seen in two decades of tyranny and political madness.
For the past twenty years, Yahya Jammeh has ruled the Gambia with an extraordinary cruelty and mean-spiritedness, in the process, turning himself into an object of hate and scorn, but it is his vexing detachment from reality that has locked him into a perpetual state of delusion and illusions of grandiosity. Today, the relationship between Yahya Jammeh and Gambians is a marriage that has never worked well; consequently the time for it to end came and went with each extraordinary abuse of power, which has included the frequent murders of fellow citizens. But the recent execution of as much as twenty-six helpless prisoners is the straw that broke the camel’s back and sealed Yahya Jammeh’s fate for the rest of time. The executions in Mile two Prisons of so many innocent Gambian prisoners is more than anyone can imagine, and if Yahya Jammeh thinks this egregious act of violence will be unremembered a year from now, he is underestimating Gambian’s resolve to keep the memory of the executed alive. More baffling still, while the regime admitted to the execution of nine inmates, the real number executions on Yahya Jammeh’s orders could be as many as twenty-six people, and unless the regime can produce evidence to the contrary, Gambians and the international community will continue to assume that twenty-six; not nine inmates were executed. This case is similar to the Ghanaians’ massacre a decade ago when the regime admitted to eight murders instead of the real number of forty-four executed according to eye witnesses. But to make matters even worst, rumors are rife of the use of the victims body parts in ritual human sacrifice and devil worship.
The fact is, Yahya Jammeh’s extreme dependence on primitive African belief systems, make the rumors not all that far-fetched. If the ritual sacrifice rumors are revealed to be true, it will further aggravate the Gambian people and animate an even more violent outrage among Gambians and the international community. Two years after the execution of as much as twenty-six Gambians and Senegalese; lost in the conversation is the issue of burial of the dead. So far, families of the executed have not received the bodies of their loved ones in order to give them decent burials according to local customs and Islamic tradition. The relatives of the dead are urged to never give up demanding the remains of the dead relative in order give them the decent burials they deserve.
In the same vein, the Gambian public is urged to support the quest by family members to retrieve the dead bodies of their relatives from Yahya Jammeh, no matter how long it takes. In the same vein, the Senegalese community in Gambia should also demand the surrender of the remains of Tabara Samba and Gibbi Bah for repatriation to their villages in Senegal for burial. This effort should be supported by the Senegalese government, yet is remains a mystery why President Macky Sall has still not demanded the return of the remains of his citizens to accord them the proper burials according to their Islamic religion and African traditions. Yahya Jammeh has no authority under any law to continue to detain the remains of his victims executed under a false pretext. Family members of the nine executed have the rights to demand the return of their dead relatives without letting the irrational fear of Yahya Jammeh force them to abandon their obligation to their deceased relatives.
This week, Gambians across the globe will express outrage with remembrances and radio programs that bring back to life that sad day two years ago. While the Senegalese violently demonstrated the execution of their compatriots, the stark contrast in Gambia, where even the media appeared timid to report the executions, was so glaring. But it was the tepid protest letter by the group of six political parties that many found so aggravating and incredulous. And more puzzling still, the group of six’s letter to Yahya Jammeh, arguing the legal basis for the executions, was completely misguided, out of line and irrelevant to the situation. The illegality of the executions is an established fact; besides Yahya Jammeh does not respond to the Gambia’s Constitution or simple common sense. Time and again, he has shown his unwillingness to respect the Constitution and the laws of the land, and the scores of letters from politicians over the years have been ignored with reckless for the laws of the land. The time for the politicians to overcome their fears of Yahya Jammeh is now, and what Gambians expect from Ousainou Darboe and the politicians is to call the country out in a massive show dislike for the regime. Today, hundreds, if not thousands of Diaspora Gambians are ready and willing to join nationwide anti-regime demonstrations seeking the forced removal of Yahya Jammeh. We can no longer afford to be held back by fear, and besides, if such blatant acts of violence, such as the Mile Two Prison execution of nine known and probable 26 inmates do not embolden our collective resolve; it will mean the acceptance of the devaluation of Gambian life. Enough Gambians and non-Gambians have been killed already. It’s time to force change. Meanwhile, let us remember the nine to twenty prisoners Yahya Jammeh has executed.