Today is a national holiday in Gambia: Freedom Day. It marks the military coup that brought President Yahya Jammeh to power.
In a rather repetitious editorial Gambia’s Daily Observer tells Gambians this celebration is ‘a moral obligation’ and perhaps understantably chooses to concentrate on President Jammeh’s achievements. Understandably, because in July 2006 one of its journalists, Ebrima B. Manneh, was arrested at the newspapers’ offices. He hasn’t been since since. It appears his mistake was to attempt to re-publish a BBC article relating to an attempted coup in March that year that was critical of President Jammeh.
Many other Gambian journalists will spend Freedom Day in prison. Since 1994, at least thirty have been forced to leave the country, many have experienced human rights abuses including unlawful arrest and detention, torture, and unlawful killing.
Yet Ebrima Manneh hasn’t been forgotten. Instead he has become the focal point for a campaign to bring real freedom to Gambia that has united human rights campaigners and trade unionists.
And you can play a small, but important part: take part in Amnesty International’s campaign.