When one looks at the rising number of Covid-19 positive cases in Sudan, listens to the circulated videos from the Sudanese Minister of Health, then one must conclude that, over 175 Gambian students living in an unimaginable conditions are all potential carriers of the Coronavirus.

It’s very disheartening to hear the announcement made my Alhagie Modou Joof on the National TV that all Gambians will be evacuated in countries considered as hotspots within 48 hours and still know for the fact as a former executive of the union that, students in Sudan -who are left to die on their own- will be the last on the Government’s list.

These students are bonafide Gambian citizens whose parents are paying taxes without default and as such, they do not deserve to be given a blind eye. Doesn’t it echo to the Gambian authorities? “to prove man’s brotherhood”

These students will be working with Government as if they are asking for a favour but rather asking for their constitutional rights. We are forced to question if the values embodied in our National Anthem have no corresponding reflection in our lives as Gambians.

I visited some Gambians on Sunday the 3rd of May 2020 in Khartoum, and spent the night with them, I looked at the degree of danger they are expose to, I can’t be in silence anymore.

I spent the whole night observing and talking to some of these students and it hurts me to see people having no hopes to be rescued by their own Government, which is the continuation of the systematic discrimination of the Gambian Government towards the assumed second class citizens of the Gambia who are referred to as ARABIC students. The mind boggling thing of all is in Khartoum, Sudan, there are Gambian Christians and Muslims, girls and boys studying Medicine, Nursing, Law, Economics, Islamic sciences, Education, Sharia, Administration Engineering and so on, but all are treated the same as if the previous administrations and the current one have no hope in anyone studying in the Arabic language regardless of one’s specialty.

If any of these students happen to be a victim of this pandemic out of negligence and ignoring of their voices by our own Ministry of Higher Education, we shall hold authorities accountable for the degligency to our last breath. It is unacceptable and we would not relent to expose such discriminatory practices of the elite Ministry. #justice-for-all-or-for-none

Today, students from Sudan are in the front line of the socioeconomic development of the Gambia like any other Gambian graduating overseas, the likes Dr.Basiru Gai in health, justice Omar Secka in Judiciary, but who can forget the former minister of Higher Education Dr. Abubakar Senghore to mention just a few, thus they are in Education both Basic and Higher Education, Diplomatic core etc…, but the attitudes of the Ministry of Higher Education towards the Gambian students in Sudan is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated under our watch.

Let’s say all of them are Madrasa students -which is not the case-, does it mean whenever a group of Gambians decide to study in Islamic schools they must be deprived from their rights by their own Government whose primary responsibility is to guard and protect their constitutional rights?

As a final year Law student, when I look at article 26 (3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 which states “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their Children.”

It is further mentioned in the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam Adopted and Issued at the Nineteenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Cairo on 5 August 1990,

ARTICLE 9

(a) The seeking of knowledge is an obligation and provision of education is the duty of the society and the State. The State shall ensure the availability of ways and means to acquire education and shall guarantee its diversity in the interest of the society so as to enable man to be acquainted with the religion of Islam and uncover the secrets of the Universe for the benefit of mankind.

(b) Every human being has a right to receive both religious and worldly education from the various institutions of teaching, education and guidance, including the family, the lower school grades, the University, the media, etc., and in such an integrated and balanced manner that would develop human personality, strengthen man’s faith in Allah and promote man’s respect to and defence of both rights and obligations. And Gambia is one of the signitaries to the aforementioned declarations but why are we discriminating against our own sons and daughters, with the clear knowledge that it’s a violation of their basic fundamental Human Rights?

And for the records I’m speaking as a Human Right and a social justice activist and a Student as well in Sudan, not on behalf of The Gambian Student’s union in Sudan (GAMSUS).

How comes the Government of The Gambia both former and the current be sending thousands of dollars from taxpayers money to other Gambians in other countries with better conditions, but the Government needs to be BEGGED for 365 days to send $300 only for these students whose conditions are no secret to even the apparent blind Government of the Gambia? How do you have a Gambian in Morocco receiving in between $1200 to $900 with respect and to just send $300 to those Sudan after months of literally begging, emails and letters to the ministry can prove that. This is injustice at the highest form by the Government against it’s own citizens.

The student leadership continued months ago since the pandemic began, sending uncountable notifications about the conditions of The Gambian students and frequent demands for their stipends to the authorities but nothing has been done! #Justice-for-all-or-for-none

I’m looking forward to hearing the voice of the student’s leadership to continue demanding the financial support for these students in Khartoum during these difficult and critical moments in human history or to the total evacuation of all Gambian nationals who are kept in Khartoum for educational purposes but no longer doing that for the past two months.

If we can sit and watch our fellow countrymen and women suffer without doing anything to support, our patriotism and loyalty to the land we claim to be from MUST be questioned.

Thanks to everyone for the support!

Our voice can go beyond our imaginations but we can’t realise that until we speak.

The writer, Ibrahima S. Ceesay, is Khartoum based activist, pan-Africanist and a final year Law student in Sudan.