By Modou S. Joof
The Young Journalists of The Gambia (YJAG) on Tuesday “condemned in totality” the physical assault on journalist Kebba Jeffang by militants of the UDP, GMC and NRP.
It has also called for a media boycott of events of the three political parties and strongly urges their leaders to issue a public apology.
At the end of what they called “a joint press conference” leaders of United Democratic Party (UDP), National Reconciliation Party (NRP) and the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) watched their supporters violently assault the Foroyaa newspaper reporter.
Front Page International (FPI) understands the event held at the UDP Bureau in Manjai Kunda was in fact a political rally and not a press conference. The three parties had their supporters fill a small room beyond capacity. Journalists had to sit on the floor.
Some party militants claim Mr. Jeffang, also a Treasurer of YJAG, may have insulted Darboe. YJAG said in a statement that the allegation is not true.
“Their conduct is unacceptable, illegal and irresponsible,” YJAG secretary general, Sulayman Ceesay said. “We expect any responsible leader to condemn such an act.”
However, Ceesay said none of the three leaders advice their supporters to stop the harassment of the reporter during the so-called press and did not intervened either when he was assaulted after the event.
Party of bullies
According to YJAG, this is evidence that the UDP is now becoming “a party of bullies” and have started cracking down on the media.
It said attacking media personnel is a threat to the state because such an attack seeks to suppress freedom of expression, which is the foundation of democracy.
“We condemn this action in the strongest possible terms and such action should not be accepted in our new Gambia,” the journalists’ body said on March 7, 2017.
It added: “We want to register our profound disappointment and unhappiness [with] the action of these UDP supporters and call on the authorities to take appropriate action [to] bring these culprits to justice without any delay.
“It is [an] unacceptable conduct and it is a criminal act.
“If action is not taken as soon as possible, we are urging all young journalists to boycott all activities of the UDP, NRP and GMC tactical alliance until they are ready to take action.
“We equally demand a public apology from the leaders of these three parties on the action of their supporters, most especially the UDP.
“We call on all Gambians and local, regional and international human rights organizations to stand up to demand justice for Kebba Jeffang and to protect a free press in The Gambia.
“We cannot and must not tolerate any attack against the media by anybody.”