Siray Touray at Downing Street Protest on April 20th, 2016

By Siray Touray (women’s activist in U.K.)

As a young woman, I am outraged and saddened about the news that three Gambian women are part of the opposition UDP supporters detained and tortured by security forces. These defenceless women are bearing violent wounds.

protestersGambian security forces who get their direct command from President Yahya Jammeh have failed us countless of times.  Our taxes sustain them on the job so they provide us security or protect us from external and internal attacks. But they twist their noble mission and have since 1994 become stooges of one individual, Yahya Jammeh, as if he is more important than anyone else. Our security forces have been taught to hate anyone who opposes Jammeh. They have crossed the red-line several times but the brutal crushing of a peaceful protests on April 14th and 16 are a continuation of Jammeh’s entrenched ruthlessness.

As a woman, I have put myself in the shoes of the three opposition women activists: Ms Fatoumatta Jawara, Ms Nokoi Njie and Ms Fatou Camara. It is shocking to hear that these vulnerable women have been brutally tortured by a government whose leader swore to protect them. That is unbelievable to fathom, so to speak.  The torture meted out on them is only conducted to scare future protest, but also President Jammeh is a venting his anger against them since they are part of the very few women who dare to criticise President Jammeh’s tyranny in open political rallies.

President Jammeh’s NIA and other undercover officers have always monitored the speeches of all political activist especially strong women. As women, we want to see violence against us end.

The UDP should press the state to reveal with the help of Gambians and the international community on what types of torture was meted on the women to put them in a bad physical state for them not to be able to appear in court.

The physical and mental abuse of women under Gambian detention requires international outcry. This is the kind of reasons, many women take a back seat in the national affairs.

I condemn the barbarity against our fellow sisters and I am sad by the scars this torture will have on them. Sadly, the Gambia women’s bureau, Gamcotrap and other concerned agencies for women are all remaining silent on this horrible incident.

This is why, on the 20th of April 2016, I attended a mass demonstration organised by concern Gambians and the UDP members expressing my outrage at this tyrannical crackdown of protesters.

The three women alongside others all were unarmed, they were arrested without any resistance, yet why the violence?

It is cowards among men who abuse women and attempt to break down their will. We call on President Jammeh to step down. His government has lost legitimacy and the mandate to rule us. He fails the constitution and the rule of law. He appoints Judges who are frankly foreign mercenaries to execute his orders without regards to truth and legal principles.

If the stories are true that, one woman died under custody, this should send a clear message to the Gambian people that, enough is enough. Jammeh has to step down.

As we wait on the faith of Fatoumatta Jawara, Nokoi Njie and Fatou Camara, we hold our breath for a glimmer of good news in this sad solemn moment. Tyranny has no place in civilise society. Shame on your President Jammeh and your government.


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