April 10th - A Forgotten History - Foroyaa Editorial – 11th April 2008

April 10th - A Forgotten History - Foroyaa Editorial – 11th April 2008

Exactly 8 years ago, unarmed students of The Gambia rose up as one to demonstrate against the death of one of their colleagues, Ebrima Barry, while in the custody of Fire Service officers. The security forces overreacted and the consequence was the death of more than a dozen students, all but one from gun shot wounds. Some of the injured are still in dire need of medical help. The president of the then Gambia Students Union (Gamsu), Omar Joof, went into exile for fear of prosecution. Alagi Nyabally, who later served Gamsu as a president, recently fled the country for fear of prosecution after repeated arrests and detention. 

Soon after Mr. Ousman Sabally, a teacher filed a suit in the High Court for damages for injuries he sustained when he was purportedly assaulted by security forces at his school; the regime rushed a Bill to grant immunity to the security forces in the April 10 events. But the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

This meant that the case of Mr. Sabally should have continued, but after a stumbling start following the Supreme Court decision, no one hears about it again.

It now forms part of the forgotten history – brushed under the carpet.

Newspapers don’t scribble about it, radio stations don’t whisper about it. Let us hope that we don’t forget an important lesson drawn from the events – whoever is entrusted with power is morally obliged to treat the concerns of the people with urgency and seriousness. Delays can sometimes spell disaster.

A prompt and just decision on the case of the death of Ebrima Barry would have averted April 10