Now is the time for TRUTH, RECONCILIATION and REPARATIONS to allow us move on to build a #NewGambia and no amount of prosecution can remove the SCARS that have been scripted in our hearts by the 22 years of terror by the AFPRC/APRC regimes and to the Gambian people.
Vice President H.E. Lawyer Ousainou A.N. M Darboe and former Agriculture Minister Omar A. Jallow have set the ball rolling by saying they have FORGIVEN which is very assuring and I suggest we replicate this statement as Gambians.
REVENGE or witch hunting wouldn’t do us any good but rather widen the already divided population base on political, enthinicity or regional lines. We need to help victims and their families get to know the truth about what happened to loved ones and be given the opportunity to meet the perpetrators of such CRIMES to hear from them and be encouraged to forgive and move on with their lives. It would not be easy to just let go after losing a father, sister, wife, daughter, brother, uncle, neighbor or any single person, but I know we have the heart to forgive for the Bible said “To error is human, but to forgive is divine”.
Prosecuting the perpetrators of serious crimes are always welcome, but with experience especially in this part of our world it does more harm to the victims and their families than good. Experience has shown us that those prosecuted at the ICC and condemned to prison, the jails they spend their sentences are close to our five star hotels in this our part of the world. When their victims and families continue to live in abject poverty and the torture of seeing the perpetrators of their scars spend the rest of their lives in luxury jails.
The way forward would be for the government to get hold of all the looted monies and assets of Jammeh and his cronies of first class criminals and allocate 25% of the recovered funds to help victims and their families rebuild their lives by sending their kids to school and putting food on the table. A JAMMEH VICTIMS TRUST FUND must be created to register all the victims and there after manage the funds for distribution and must be transparent by releasing quarterly reports to the public.
As Jammeh and his cronies can’t never evade prosecution and justice in this world and the hear after, because they have two to face which they can’t escape.
- The torture of living with a GUILTY CONSCIENCE for the rest of their lives knowing the kind of crimes they have meted against innocent people.
- The judgment on the day of reckoning in the presence of their lord and the victims they meted such grave crimes against.
Some may really want to see Jammeh and his cronies hang but we must always remember Jammeh alone didn’t wrong Gambians but we have so many people who have acted in one way or the other in making such CRIMES happen over the past 22 years.
Gambia is not the first country to set up a Truth and Reconciliation commission because countries like South Africa, Rwanda and Ghana have done so in the past and I think there is a lot we can learn from the experiences of such countries. South Africa, Rwanda and Ghana have gone through more serious and painful abuses but despite all that these countries were able to seek the truth, reconcile and move on and today they are an example to every developing nation in terms of how they have progressed since that dark episode of their countries histories. That is not to say that victims of the Jammeh autocratic regime and their families should not seek justice but seeking an alternative that would unite the already divided nation is also paramount. Those who perpetuated the crimes must be ready to speak the truth and their involvement in such atrocities, show remorse and seek forgiveness from such victims, their families and Gambians in general and whilst those who were victims, their families and Gambians need to be encouraged to forgive and move on to the greater interest of Gambians.
Our current government also needs to work on compensating the victims and their families, spearhead a security service reform, educating of our security services to know their roles in a democratic society and never to engage in such barbaric acts towards their fellow citizens just to serve the interest of few persons. I am totally in support of the #NeverAgainMovement and the Victim’s centre which I think government needs to support fully both financially and morally for these people have endured worst experiences of their life and need every support available to enable them get over the nightmares of the past 22 years, Yes! They can’t forget but I think with the right support and encouragement they would be able to forgive.
We must get rid of those who participated in crimes from the system as a mark of respect for the victims and that’s the least they deserve from our government to show that we feel their pain, rehabilitate the perpetrators of such crimes so they can peacefully fit into society again.
I implore on every Gambian to stand in SOLIDARITY with victims and their families to say #NeverAgain and give full support to the TRRC in the process of their work by giving honest accounts of what we truly know but not to just give false accounts just because we want to incriminate an innocent person/s.
In whatever we do “Let JUSTICE guide our actions” as stated in our national anthem which is our national prayer.
We have a nation and people to build. God bless The Gambia!
By Dabakh Malick