The Fatu Network is getting news that Journalist Alhagie Ceesay who was rushed from his prison cell to an emergency admittance at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul is now nowhere to be seen at least according to credible sources on the ground.
One of our credible sources who has been working with us on Ceesay situation has told The Fatu Network that the State is refusing anyone to have access to the journalist either directly or indirectly. One of the sources who saw Alhagie Ceesay on his hospital bed said the journalist was gravely ill. This was also confirmed by loved ones and his media colleagues who saw him few days ago.
But apparently even our sources within the security network have all declined to make a tacit comment about Alhagie’s situation. Interestingly, Journalist Alhagie Ceesay has not been seen since his release from hospital a few days ago.
The family is said to be seriously concerned about Alhagie’s situation and that they have solicited support to prevail on The Gambia Government to get him released. There are also concerns that his health condition might have deteriorated so badly that the prison authorities are not allowing anyone to have access to him.
When contacted for reaction, Jeffrey Smith, an international human rights consultant who has worked closely with Gambian activists said “That Alagie Ceesay remains arbitrarily detained after nine months is both a monumental injustice and entirely unsurprising. The Jammeh regime has proven itself over the course of more than two decades that it cares little for the basic human rights of Gambians, least of which journalists and perceived dissidents in the country”. Smith added that “In fact, today, April 10, is the anniversary of the year 2000 student massacre in which Gambian security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters, killing 14 youths. If the Gambian security apparatus brazenly guns down people in broad daylight, one can imagine the terror being inflicted on Alagie Ceesay behind prison walls”.
Alhagie’s case is a stark reminder of the brutal realities of life in this impoverished country of 1.8 million inhabitants, and journalists have undoubtedly taken the brunt of the madness – President Yahya Jammeh, it seems has truly made good on his promise that “They talk about rights, human rights, and freedom of the press, and say that this country is a hell for journalists. There are freedoms and responsibilities. The journalists are less than 1 percent of the population, and if anybody expects me to allow less than 1 percent of the population to destroy 99 percent of the population, you are in the wrong place.” The Gambia is branded by Human Rights and journalist rights groups as the worst country for journalists – none like it in Africa. Since his coming to power in a military coup in 1994, hundreds of journalists have fled, essentially wiping the entire country of any semblance of an independent press. Except for Foroyaa Newspaper whose journalists write under the shied of the opposition PDOIS political party, none other dares even highlight the cases of missing, killed, tortured, illegally detained, and disappeared Gambians in whose circumstance the government is suspected to have had a hand. The ones that fled are the lucky ones – renown journalist Deyda Hydara and journalist Ebrima Chief Manneh were not so lucky – the former was murdered in cold blood while the latter’s disappearance has still not been solved, Yahya Jammeh’s involvement in both crimes being pretty all but confirmed at this point.
The Fatu Network is monitoring the situation and will keep you all posted.