The situation in the coastal village of Kartong in the West Region of the Gambia is still tense two days after Gambia’s trigger happy security forces landed on the village with heavy weaponry to quell a peaceful protest against illegal sand mining.
In the ensuing clash with security forces, about 45 young people including women have been arrested and taken to different police stations. This morning, they were hurriedly rushed to Brikama Magistrates Court.
Fatu Radio is able to confirm from credible sources both within the Gambia and in the diaspora that all those brought before the presiding Magistrate have visible marks of sever torture. Some of the youths sustained injuries and were denied access to medical care.
The youths who were brought before the court said during the torture season, the torturers asked them to insult their own mothers. One prominent diaspora activist Mr Suntou Touray who is based in London, said the practice of asking victims to abuse and insult their own mothers is routine in Gambia used to break down the will and confidence of the victims.
Two defence lawyers in the persons of Lawyer Lamin J Darboe and Iddrissa Sissoho are now engaged to defend the Kartong youths in the court.
Kartong which lies about 50 km from the Gambian capital Banjul has been badly affected by sand mining activities on the coastlines. Gambia government’s own geology department in collaboration with the National Environment Agency in a joint impact assessment survey of coastal sand mining identified the practice as one of the biggest threat to the country’s environment.
The study also warned that coastal sand mining poses a dangerous threat to Gambia’s tourism industry which mainly relies on the long unspoilt sandy beaches to attract more holiday makers from mainly Western Europe.
Since the submission of the findings of the environment impact assessment report to the government in 1996, an embargo was placed on coastal sand mining. The sand mining activity was then shifted to inland but by year 2001, coastal sand mining started again this time in a more aggravated manner by a company named KGI which is owned and operated by Gambia’s brutal dictator, Yahya Jammeh. By this time, President Jammeh and his company had elbowed all of the local sand miners and brought in his own trucks painted green.
In addition to sand mining, President Jammeh also entered into secret contract deals with Australian and Chinese companies where they are involved in heavy mining of precious minerals which Gambians are to be informed of.
In addition to shipping tons and tons of coastal sand packed into containers to China and Australia, aggravated sand mining for construction also meant that new coastlines have to be encroached upon to meet the demand. This is how Kartong and other adjacent villages in the Kombos in Western Gambia became target of President Jammeh’s sand mining activities.
As a result of the mining, hectares of farms lands that the villagers rely on for peasant farming have been completely destroyed. Villagers have been disposed of their livelihood and their environment completely destroyed.
And sadly though the villagers are not only displaced, but the funds accrued from the mining activity is also pocketed by Gambia’s brutal dictator Yahya Jammeh who continue to shamelessly steal from his impoverished population with glee.
Below is the list of the people so far arrested and arraigned before the court:
Habib Touray, Pam Jarjou, Ousman Jatta, Solo Manneh Amadou Jarju, Modou Kuto Manneh, Jerreh Touray, Buba Jabang, Omar Jabang, Buba Bojang, Omar Manneh, lamin Jatta, Famara Jatta, Ousman Jabang, buba Manneh, Yama Jarju, Jerreh Manneh, Baba Ceesay, Abdoulie Touray, James Gibba, Malang Jaiteh, Lamin Jaiteh, Muhammed Jabang, Bakary Jammeh, Omar Jammeh, Abdou Jallow, Tutu Jaiteh female, bakary Badjie, Ebrima Badjie, Abdoulie Jaiteh Kebba Touray