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MFWA opposes Jermaine Jackson's visit to the Gambia

(MFWA/IFEX) - May 20, 2010 - The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is calling on Jermaine Jackson, an American singer, leader of the renowned Jackson Five and senior brother of the late revered Michael Jackson, to call off his intended trip to the Gambia to perform on the occasion of President Yahya Jammeh's birthday.

The Gambian leader has invited the American musician to perform in the country to a special audience of 4000 people on May 31, 2010, at his home village of Kanilai as part of activities to mark his birthday. Jermaine Jackson is also billed to speak about Michael Jackson and the family's acclaimed musical career.

The MFWA calls on the renowned musician to halt his planned trip to the Gambia in protest against Jammeh's reign of terror on the people of the Gambia and his complete disregard for law and order, freedom of expression, and the fundamental human rights of the Gambian people.

The 16-year rule of President Jammeh has witnessed several extra-judicial killings, abductions, torture, unlawful arrests and detentions. Although the Gambian constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, there have been numerous instances of police and security forces arbitrarily arresting and detaining citizens without charge or trial. The Gambia under Jammeh has become a cemetery of rights; a sordid paradise of fear.

This impending visit and performance by Jackson will not only constitute an endorsement of Jammeh's tyrannical rule, but also an indictment on the glorious reputation and good name of the Jacksons.

President Jammeh has over the years adopted ways of exploiting the great works of Alex Haley (of ROOTS fame), to confuse unsuspecting African-Americans, and to gain good but undeserved international publicity, especially in the U.S. MFWA therefore calls on Mr. Jackson to be mindful of Jammeh's ploy to use him for publicity as part of his tactics to cover up his gross human rights violations.

The names of Michael, Jermaine and the entire Jackson family are too precious to be dragged in the ignominy and disgrace that Jammeh represents for the people of the Gambia and Africa. It is the responsibility of all good people to protect the name of good leaders, in whatever field they may be, from abuse for the sake of publicity and exploitation by tyrants like President Jammeh.

The MFWA is urging both local and international media, freedom of expression and human rights organizations and advocates to join in this campaign to prevail on Jackson to call off his intended trip to the Gambia.

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