By:Kebba AF Touray
‘Operation 3 years Jotna’, yesterday held a press conference, to update the media on recent arrests of its members.
Members wore T-Shirts with wordings # Never Again and drop all charges against #Senegambia 15. They also displayed placards with messages such as ‘free our people’, ‘people’s voice must be heard’, ‘no more dictatorship’, among others.
Salieu Taal, Co-founder of #Gambia Has Decided, said the operation comprises 15 Gambians, who set out on the 10th May 20, 2019 to protest against the subject matter, but were arrested prior to reaching their desired location and charged with unlawful assembly, prohibition of conduct conducive to a breach of peace and conspiracy to commit offences contrary to the Public Order Act and the Criminal Code respectively.
“This action by the Police is an affront to our democracy, rule of law yet this issue has not received the attention it merits, in a county that is trying to reposition itself as capital of human rights in Africa”, he said.
Isatou Susoho, said they formed ‘Operation 3 Years “Jotna”’, after they heard that Fatoumata Jallow Tambang and other Coalition Partners will increase Barrow’s 3 years transition to 5 years. This was sad news to them and they thus decided to go out and protest against that decision.
“We decided to go for a permit, but unfortunately they said it should be 72 hours before they could give us the permit. So, we cannot wait for that, they said they will give us the permit on Friday 10th May 2019. Then we decided that we will go out and stage a peaceful protest”, she said.
She added: “Our PRO ( Aji Suwana Jana) advised us to be disciplined and peaceful and ensure that we don’t cause any damage. We accepted and on the following morning we met at the Kairaba on Friday at 9:00 am.”
She said “We were about to enter Senegambia Beach Hotel, but some said we should wait for our colleagues. As we were there, a police officer called Kambi, came and told us to go to Senegambia Police to peacefully discuss the matter”.
She continued, “At the police station, we explained our matter to Commissioner Kinteh and he asked us whether we have a permit. We replied no, so Kinteh said then we cannot hold the protest. We agreed to go and take group pictures and disperse and during that process, Kinteh told us that we should not go home, because he has an order from the top that we should be arrested”.
Yusupha B Keita, Deputy Secretary, reiterated similar comments and further narrated that at the Kairaba Police Station, the Police wanted to divide them into two groups, to which they insisted, on the ground that if they are guilty of anything they should be together. He said they were later divided into two groups, the females were taken to Kairaba Police Station, while the males were taken to the Kanifing Police Station.
“While we were there, our statements were taken and we were put behind bars. We were there till around 5:00 pm and we were granted bail and since then we have been reporting to the police on daily basis”, he said.