The Alieu I taught and the Alieu I know is not a danger to anyone; nothing in this world will make me think for a moment that his continued detention can be justified under the circumstance.
By Demba Kandeh
The events of 30th December 2014 in The Gambia continue to have unprecedented effects on the lives and livelihood of many people including the innocent. The government of President Yahya Jammeh survived what seemed a well-planned coup with the help of Gambian dissidents based abroad. This is not the first, second, third or even fourth time Jammeh has survived a coup since coming to power some two decades ago through a “bloodless” coup.
Post coup rights abuses have being a regular part of all previous attempts to oust the soldier turned civilian president. For instance, following a failed coup in 2006, five detainees on treason charges reportedly escaped while being transported to a countryside prison facility. According to a statement issued by the Inspector General of Police the suspects escaped when the vehicle transporting them crashed. No traces of the said crash were found by reporters and local police, leading to reports that the said people were simply executed without due process. So human rights abuses following failed coups are no more news but what is disturbing is the turn of events following the last failed coup (on 30th December 2014).
The arrest and continued detention of family members of alleged coupists is a cause for concern. And there is nothing more disturbing than the illegal detention of women and children. Local media reports confirmed by rights groups say that up to 30 people remained in detention without charge following the failed coup, in violation of the country’s constitution, which stipulates that detainees should be charged or released within 72 hours.
Among the detainees are a thirteen year old Yusupha Lowe and Alieu Badara Lowe son and brother, respectively of Baboucar ‘Bai’ Lowe, Warrant Officer of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) who is said to be among the putschists. As I write this piece, Yusupha and Alieu have remained in detention for 35 days and counting. Their continued detention is a clear manifestation of not only the unjust nature of government but the unreasonableness of tyranny. No sensible government will expect any serious danger from people like these two or at least from a thirteen year old.
This is all the more disturbing for me because I happened to teach Alieu Badara Lowe at Nusrat Senior Secondary School some few years ago. I cannot still believe that the future of a determined, hard working, intelligent, smart and respectful young boy is put in danger by the same government that is supposed to nurture it.
While in school, Alieu maintained a healthy relationship with all his fellow students retained respect for all teachers. In class he appeared shy but will never fail to contribute meaningfully where and when necessary. For me, he was not just a student but was like a brother. As a young teacher, I insisted on my students calling me by my first name but most of them including Alieu kept to the more formal way (referring to me by my family name preceded by Mr). So the Alieu I taught and the Alieu I know is not a danger to anyone; nothing in this world will make me think for a moment that his continued detention can be justified under the circumstance. Thus the continued detention of Alieu Badara Lowe sickens me.
Therefore justice system in Banjul must do all it can to either charge or release all the detainees not least the duo. Special efforts should be made to hasten the immediate release of the Lowe brothers to enable them resume their schooling. All relevant authorities should work towards a speedy dispensation of justice for all irrespective of the crime(s) they have (allegedly) committed.