News coming from the Gambia concerning the conditions under which Modou Njie, Sarjo Jarju, Abdoulie Jobe and others charged in the failed coup of December 30 are very disturbing. To think that there is a place in this century where even animals, let alone human beings are being kept in such conditions can only be deemed a dream. If we didn’t know any better, we would have dismissed such information as propaganda.
The questions that beg for answers are: why does Yahya Jammeh think that Gambia deserve such inhumane treatment? What have the people of this once peaceful country done to deserve this? Why is the International Community ignoring such atrocities of Biblical proportions? Could the answer lie with our culture of silence? Has Yahya Jammeh finally succeeded in terrorizing Gambians to a point where crimes of such magnitude are seen as normal?
We hope that we will find answers to these urgent and vexing questions soon enough to address our current predicament. One that cannot wait, for every minute of every day is critical – someone is either dying or dead. But back to the Modou Njie and Co’s conditions.
The just recently released prisoners that Faturadio spoke to describe the deplorable conditions that Modou Njie lives under like this:
First, he is not allowed any visitors at all. This means that families, lawyers, friends, and doctors are not allowed to visit him under any circumstances. This contravenes so many local and International laws – every prisoner has a right to visits from especially lawyers, family members, and doctors. These sources have confirmed that he is currently sick but hasn’t been given medical checkup or medication since doctors are not allowed to visit him.
Second, he is held in solitary confinement 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He is essentially kept in a dark room all the time and not allowed to come out. According to the sources, this is also done to make him mentally unstable.
Third, both his hands and feet are in chains. As if that is not enough punishment, he is chained to a metal pole in his cell where he is kept in solitary confinement. The cell is too small to even stretch one’s legs. His hands were broken during his torture and the chains are aggravating the pains.
Fourth, because he is in chains, and chained to a metal in this dark room, not allowed to come out, he goes to the toilet in the same place where he is chained, using a small cup that the guards will put under him. Once he is done, the cup is left there, with him having no ability to dispose it off or cleaning himself. He is basically sitting on his own feces 24/7.
Fifth, the food in Mile 2 have been one of the subjects of UN Special Rapporteur’s report. The indictment of the food conditions leaves no doubt that meals in that place amount to nothing but poison. Many prisoners who can afford to, do avoid the food. But unfortunately for Modou Njie and colleagues, they don’t have a choice. This food is one source of his sickness according to the sources.
Sixth, to serve as a mental torture, these prisoners are all kept in black uniforms to remind them that they could be executed any day.
Modou Njie was alleged to been a member of the group that launched the failed December 30 coup. He was shot and wounded during their attempt to take over the State House. He has since been Court-martialed with Sarjo Jarju, Buba Bojang, Abdoulie Jobe and others in what was a secrete proceeding widely criticized by human rights groups and governments around the world as a sham. They were all given the death sentence and have since been languishing in Mile 2. Their families were hopeful during the just recent prisoner “pardon” by President Yaya Jammeh, but those hopes were dashed when it was soon realized that even other political prisoners like Amadou Sanneh were not going to be released.
The families of these prisoners, human rights groups, and activists are now pinning their hopes on the International Community to intervene on behalf of these prisoners to improve their conditions in prison and to make sure they are given a fair trial in a competent court of law.