By Mustapha Jallow
30 August is set aside to mark the International Day of the Disappeared.
In this regard, Foroyaa is publishing a list of enforced disappearances in The Gambia, a list which is by no means exhaustive.
It has been a decade since some were arrested by the state security agents and nothing has been heard from them since then.
On 29 August, 2016, when this reporter made enquiries about their husbands, uncles, fathers, brothers, or sisters, they said nothing has changed and they are still affected by the absence of their loved ones.
They all appealed to the authorities to secure the release of their loved ones as it has been a long period since they have not seen or heard from them.
LIEUTENANT EBOU LOWE, a former Military officer of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) and a resident of Serekunda, has disappeared for more than 10 years now since his arrest in 2006. No one in his family or his friends has ever seen him or knows his whereabouts.
Relatives had made several attempts to enquire from Mile Two Prison and other sister security outfits but to no avail.
Chief Ebrima Manneh, former State House Senior Reporter and Crime Watch Columnist of the Daily Observer Newspaper and a native of Lamin, was abducted at his workplace in Bakau by state security agents on 7 July 2006.
His disappearance has clocked 10 years now. His father said he had approached high ranking security and government officials and religious leaders to come to his aid and talk to President Jammeh to send a team of investigators to investigate the disappearance of his son but that this was without success.
“Up till now we do not know his whereabouts and the authorities who employed him didn’t give any information about Chief Manneh,” say family members.
Two US citizens of Gambian descent, ALHAGIE MAMUT CEESAY and EBOU JOBE, also disappeared after their abduction on Saturday, 22 June 2013 in Brusubi, while on holiday in The Gambia.
The families of the two US citizens are dissatisfied with the lack of progress as they are yet to trace their whereabouts or to secure their immediate release and it’s been 3 years now since their abduction.
A former US Charge d’Affaires said at a press conference in 2014 that, “As far as I know, they were picked up and disappeared and we have asked the Gambia Government to investigate.”
He disclosed that they have even offered the services of the FBI to help in locating these two US citizens.
- LAMIN KANYI (ALIAS KANYIBA KANYI), a native of Jarra who was residing in Bonto village in Kombo East of the West Coast Region (WCR) and a former staff of the Christian Children Fund, (now Child Fund The Gambia), was abducted on 18th September 2006 by men in plain clothes believed to be security agents, including a police officer in uniform in the presence of his family.
Expressing their agony, one of the uncles said they don’t know whether Kanyiba is still alive or not. “Both his father and brother had passed away and he (Kanyiba) has not witnessed any of the burials or 40 Days charity as he was abducted by the state agents and nobody knows if he has also passed away or not. His father died because he has been under stress due to the abduction of his son,’’ he lamented.
Mr. Lamin Tunkara, also a native of Kinteh-Kunda Marong Kunda in the Central Baddibu District of the North Bank Region (NBR), was arrested on 21st July, 2005, by a combined team, comprising the CID (police), NIA agents and plain clothes officers, behind Albert Market in Banjul. He has disappeared for more than 11 years and his whereabouts is still unknown.
Family members say he was last seen being held at Kairaba Police Station and that since then they have no clue of where the agents have taken him to.
Three close friends, ALHAGIE MOMODOU LAMIN NYASSI, ex-Chief of Foni Kansala District, NDONGO MBOOB and ALHAGIE BUBACARR SANYANG, District Coordinator of APRC in Foni Kansala, all natives of Bwiam in the West Coast Region, were abducted by men in plain clothes including senior police officers in 2006 and since then there has been no sign of them, according to family members and friends.
Their desperate family members say they have made frantic efforts to seek help from both General Saul Badjie and Asobi Bojang (the mother of the President) but all were unsuccessful.
‘‘None of them are back at home, this sometimes gives you a mental problem of thinking everyday about your missing loved one for 10 years, nothing is clear,” said one of the relatives.
A native of Dobong village, in the Foni Kansala District, JASARJA KUJABI, has disappeared since Wednesday, 27 July, 2005, after his house was ransacked by men claiming to be NIA agents who came in a numberless Nissan jeep with tinted glasses and whisked him away alongside Haruna Jammeh, a native of Kanilai on the same evening. Their situation is still unknown after 11 years now.
Mrs. Masireh Jammeh, alias Marcie, a former employee at the State House in Banjul and a native of Kanilai, was reported missing since 15 July 2005, more than 11 years ago.
In commemoration of International Day of the Disappeared, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, has called on governments to urgently address the humanitarian issue of missing people: those who disappeared during armed conflict or other situations of violence, natural disasters or migration. In The Gambia, there is no armed conflict or other situations of violence yet there are cases of enforced disappearances.