The Socialist International denounces in the strongest terms the violent repression in recent days by government security forces in Gambia, of demonstrators demanding electoral reform and the right to free speech, and the arrest today of Ousainou Darboe, leader of the SI member United Democratic Party (UDP) of Gambia, following the storming of his home, and the rounding up and detention of other party officials and supporters who had gathered there.
Before his arrest, Darboe had denounced the violent crackdown of demonstrators and declared that they would go to claim back those detained and demand the handover of party organisation secretary Ebrima Solo Sandeng amid reports that he had been tortured to death under detention for taking part in the demonstrations.
Darboe declared that the demonstrators had done nothing wrong and were simply exercising their constitutional right, adding that he, along with other members of the party, would demand the release of their detained comrades, including a number of women, who are reportedly seriously injured.
The Socialist International is profoundly concerned and strongly condemns the violence and grave human rights violations perpetrated by the government against the political opposition in Gambia and demands a total clarification of the fate of UDP organisation secretary Ebrima Solo Sandeng and others arrested with him, and the immediate release of UDP party leader Ousainou Darboe and his colleagues.
Our International calls on the relevant authorities in the African Union and the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights to act urgently to protect the rights of all those today under serious threat in Gambia. The Socialist International also calls on its member parties in government to make representations to the government of Gambia for the immediate release of Ousainou Darboe and all those under detention. We equally call on all members of the international community to remain alert and vigilant to developments in Gambia, where President Yahya Jammeh, a former military officer who originally seized power in a coup in 1994, is known for repressing the opposition.
The Socialist International will do its utmost to contribute to the realisation of the aspirations and goals of its member party and other democratic forces in Gambia for the development of a society with freedoms and rights and an effective democracy. Presidential elections scheduled for December this year must become, for the first time in the political history of the country, truly free and fair.
Ousainou Darboe, arrested leader of the UDP Gambia, at the offices of the SI in London at a recent meeting with the Secretary General of the SI
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