HOPE

On the 12th anniversary of the cold, brutal, chilling and calculating killing of DEYDA HYDARA .We as a family continue to endure the devastation and anguish of impunity.

This anniversary comes with a glimpse of hope as we have seen the defeat of the Jammeh Regime which brought an end of his 22 years of brutality, though he seems to be grasping on straws  in an attempt to grip onto power. Which we hope this time round the International Community’s including Security Council would not allow him to get away. After a series of  failings on their part , which could be seen  as preferential treatment, or the lack of proper  safe guards,  or sanctions not  enough  to permanently curb impunity and end catalogue of human rights violation and even crimes against humanity in the Gambia.

In the last 22years Gambians have been killed back, front and centre, leaving the masses in poverty and starvation. We have seen hundreds of young Gambian youths going through the back way via the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe mostly as economic migrants, with devastating outcome as many have perished at sea. We were left, abandoned, and  forgotten  for a very long time. Our hopes were dashed away with every passing year, all we saw were endless fact finding missions, which findings were not even acknowledged by the Government. We have managed to bring down 22 years of dictatorship through a free and fair election which is the democratic process recognized by International law. The least we can expect  now is to ensure that principles of democracy  are  met,  The International Community being the body with the mechanisms in place to resolve such issues, should intervene since  Gambians have overwhelmingly spoken and our voices should be heard. Sanctions, findings and declaration to  non compliant States won’t work this time, as  the incumbent (Jammeh) has violated so many International human right norms. I believe we have past the  findings and negotiations stages. We rely on them  and reiterate that stop gaps won’t work  but  a more holistic approach to deal with this  should be introduced, to send  a clear message to other African heads of States or dictators who hate relinquishing of power , especially when defeated in a free and fair election.

This is unacceptable and  a disgrace and him staying put doesn’t tell well on the International Community .

The regime has put The Gambia in league with dictators like  Jean- Bedel  Bokassa (of  Eastern African Republic) , Idi  Amin Dada of Uganda  et al.  where catalogue of extra judicial killing , arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance bogus charges and false imprisonment of Journalists and human right defenders became routine. Which could be argued to be the reason  why the Gambian people had enough and wanted him out for good and voted for Adama Barrow.

We welcome the Victory of President Elect Barrow as victory and hope for all victims and their families. We pray that the new government under Barrow and The Coalition would be a Government for Justice, Democracy and Freedom. One that would also promote a free and vibrant press, willing to work with journalists in the development of our broken Nation and would repeal bills that were implemented only to  muzzle the press. As we have seen Jammeh’s down fall was part brought about by constant blackout of the press on the grounds, therefore the people had to depend on social media and online newspapers.

Another thing to be thankful for and which is most encouraging is The Magnitsky bill. While we gladly wait for its implementation, this might be the only redress that future victims and their families need. This could also be a step in the right direction in terms of curbing impunity for dictators and their cohorts who violate Human Rights. Although from a perspective of a victim’s family, the lack of faith and trust in the  International Community, United Nation  and African Union which was  further cemented by The Gambia Government’s continuous disregard of  calls, findings and condemnations. Thereby violating Her obligation without any sanctions for failure to compile.

Also having had first hand experience of  the Government’s flagrant disrespect of  the Ecowas Court’s decisions involving three Gambian Journalists (Manneh 2008, Saidykhan 2010 and Hydara 2014).Where The  Court  found   against  the Gambia Government, whether by intention or default the trail of  each of these cases have gone cold. This does not make the above Court very promising as an effective mechanism for means of acquiring justice. Lets hope the Magnitsky Bill when implemented will be exhausted where other means of seeking remedy fail. 

Though there still remain much more to be done, in regards to Justice not only  for DEYDA HYDARA,but for  all other victims from Koro Ceesay right down to Solo Sandeng and Solo Koroma. At the same time we do realize that The Gambia is greater than any one person or entity. The restore  of Democracy, Rule of law, Justice and  Press Freedom was what  Deyda stood and fought hard for. Therefore on this 12 th anniversary we reinforce our calls for the will of the Gambian people to be respected since they had made their choice and in great numbers, so after 22 years of condoning the violation meted to her people after all this time, you owe us that much. 

 In terms of our grief we feel like we are working through it with hope of getting closer to closure. For this we thank Allah and the few Gambians who have not denied knowing Deyda Hydara.  When a lot of people ran a mile at the mention of his name, we thank you all for your solidarity, and for rallying behind us. You all did  huge sacrifices for which only prayers, gratitude and  appreciation is sent your way. We continue to pray that all prayers would be answered and soon  you will all go back home and be rewarded as you are all heros of African Journalists.

We would like to commend you all for your continued support through these trying times. Especially CPJ for a their continuous support to Gambian journalists and their families over the years. We also  extend gratitude to GPU, Article 19, International Human Rights Organizations like Amnesty, RSF,PENN, IFJ, FAJ, AFP and Journalists NGOs and Open Society Foundations, Foroyaa Newspaper, Freedom Newspaper, Fatu Radio,Gainako, Maa Fanta, Kibaro, Kairo , TAEF, Senegalese Media and  The Sengalese Government and all online newspapers, Duga and all  Activists, Journalists and all who believe in Freedom , Democracy and Free Expression. Also to friends and families for their tremendous support, prayers and guidance in the last 12 horrid years.

Happy 25th anniversary to the point Newspaper. All Deyda wanted was a tool for giving a voice to the voiceless and the oppressed, a means of representing the masses. This has not been easy in the last 12 years due to the climate under which you worked but Alhamdulilah  and thanks to Uncle Pap Saine , Mr Philip and all of you special people who keep the flame burning.

To Pa

We know you are smiling down .It still feels like yesterday when you were cowardly snatched away but with this year brings hope and bitter sweet memories but our love and how much you are missed remains the same for you still are  my best man. May Allah grant you eternal peace in Jaanatul Firdus. 

To Aja Mariam Hydara

Ma , we will brace ourselves  and wish you a happy birthday (in person) this year which we have not been able to do in the last 12 years. It won’t be easy but we believe we all have something to look forward to and with a bit of  hope. Happy birthday to the strongest woman I know , though with pain and suffering, with Allah‘s help you  do it gracefully, you look after everyone else but you, thanks for trying to fill Pa’s shoes…. You are doing extremely great, but there is no one like Pa. May Allah grant you good health. Thank you for keeping us in place.

Written By  Marie Hydara

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