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President Yahya Jammeh gets "letter from the grave" on 21st year in power

In the past seven years, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice has issued three judgments against The Gambia for its failure to exercise due diligence in investigating allegations of torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. Although ECOWAS has the power to sanction any member state in violation of its statutory obligations, The Gambia currently faces no sanctions for its persistent non-compliance.

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh in a photo taken on 27 February 2014
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh in a photo taken on 27 February 2014

AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, FILE

This statement was originally published on mfwa.org on 22 July 2015.

Today, July 22, 2015, is President Yahya Jammeh's twenty-first anniversary in power. To mark this day, the numerous Gambians murdered under the Jammeh regime are crying out for justice in a joint letter to West Africa's King of Impunity. These victims, who are tired of waiting for justice, have expressed their suffering in the absence of accountability for The Gambia's violations of human rights, including freedom of expression and press freedom.

Please recognise their anguish by reading in their letter below.

The Union of Murdered Gambians
Central Cemetery of Victims of the Jammeh Regime
Banjul, The Gambia
July 22, 2015


President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia
Private Mail Bag
State House
Banjul, The Gambia


Dear President Yahya Jammeh, West Africa's King of Impunity:

You may not have known us. You may not know or remember our names. Yet you claimed us; we are the ones tortured, disappeared, and murdered by your regime. We may have seen another face at our time of death, but we know: it was you who was responsible.

We were human rights defenders, journalists, students, activists; innocents in all. Those of us whose bodies were returned to our families consider ourselves lucky; our loved ones have closure with respect to our end. The ones who died in disappearance suffer more, watching those they left behind hold onto a hope beyond hopes.

None of us can rest knowing your crimes against humanity have gone and continue to go unpunished.

Today, you happily celebrate your twenty-first anniversary as president of our country, while Gambians joylessly look back on two decades of violent abuses and repression under your rule. We've watched as you've shaken hands with the most powerful leader in the world and shrouded yourself with the veil of impunity. We saw the international community, including African Union bodies and even West Africa's own ECOWAS body, turn a blind eye to your abuses and incendiary rhetoric.

We heard the judgments of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, decided in favour of three of your countless victims. And our souls have wept as you continue to ignore these rulings and as ECOWAS allows you and your government to violate our memories with impunity.

You broke our bodies, you tried to break our spirits with your disregard for our inalienable dignity and rights. But we refuse to accept that our deaths were meaningless; for the sake of our brothers and sisters still speaking out against you and your regime, we believe in a just future.

We know your reign as West Africa's King of Impunity will not last forever. You will be held accountable and you will pay for your abuses against our words, our dignity, and finally, our lives and families. And on that day, we will finally be at peace.

We are waiting.

The Dead

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