Hobgoblin Journal

The Hobgoblin 7 (Online) 2005-6

Deyda Hydara - Radical Gambian Journalist

Gambian Journalists in Exile Present Petition.

By George Shaw

A new Gambian organisation (Gambia Press Union,Uk Branch) has taken the initiative to organise an official picket over the unexplained killing of Deyda Hydara.

Some six Gambian journalists walked across Whitehall Friday Feb 18th 2005 to present a petition to Tony Blair in protest at the continuous killing of journalists and repression against Press critics of head of state Yayha Jammeh’s regime. Amongst supporters was the UK’s representative of the GPU (Deputy Chairman) and friends of Gambian journalists.The backdrop to events leading up to the filing of Friday’s petition a series of violence and killings of critics of the regime controlled by the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction. Killings of journalists culminated in the recent slaying of Deydra Hydra on the 16th December 2004. So far there has been little significant progress in the enquiries except for the arrest of Lebanese Wali Mahmoud Hakim though this is treated with scepticism by some which say whilst he was pro-government he was the unlikely culprit.Opinion held by some sources are that the culprits probably emanated from a gang of political young thugs known as the “Green Boys” who helped out in the coup to bring president Jammeh into power through APRC ruling political party. These elements from the former June 22nd Movement have re-emerged again to stifle any critics of repressive laws being enacted to curtail freedom of information and free press.

Tactics of these people are akin to that of the Haitian “Tonton Macouts” who supported Duvalier. Victims have also extended to lawyers, student demonstrators UDP militants, Gambian soldiers, and the firebombing of FMI Radio Station.Deputy Chairman of the Gambian Press Union itself under attack from Jammeh’s regime advocates the main priority is for the Gambian dissidents to facilitate flow of information to enable/empower people to debate and question the issues of the day. He asserts that if opinions were not developed from below, repression and tyranny would surely win. Main point is arm the people to network politically through Radio Free Gambia as an example amongst others, developing consciousness to strive for a vision of a civil society and effectively to defeat repression. Open confrontation would at the current stage merely exacerbate the political situation. Accordingly a lively network of communications is being developed through various mediums to push the dialogue of the people right along the extent of the Gambian River enabling them to propagandise via their own indigenous channels.

Much of these events have been over shadowed by what has happened in Zambia and the various regional firefights in the Congo. Certainly there has been an indecent silence from the British Labour Party and the official labour movement regarding the suppression of their fellow trades unionist in the Gambian Republic. It is high time that the good work done by Reporters Sans Frontiers of whom Deydra Hydara was a correspondent is vindicated and the Gambian is put on a wider focus. Gambia Press Union; gpu@qanet.gm