14 June 2011

Coalition for Change - The Gambia: Setting the Record Straight

To the Gambian media at home and abroad

The Executive Committee of the Coalition for Change Gambia (CCG) commends the online media for bringing news to Gambian Diaspora. We however take issue with the recent relentless characterization of CCG as a “clandestine and subversive organization.” This characterization is reckless and does not represent what CCG stands for, and we therefore reject these labels. We are not an armed movement seeking change through violent means. We don’t have armed militia lurking in the bushes. We don’t have guns hidden somewhere ready to use. Our only weapons are our mouths and our pens; two weapons we by law have a right to use to inform and educate Gambians about the untenable situation in which our country finds itself. We rely on the power of The Gambian people to bring about change and restore dignity in their lives.
Further, it seems some media to a degree relied heavily on innuendo and speculations to drive home points that have no grounding on fact. The CCG is under no illusion how such embellishment could inadvertently assail the judgment of reasonable people, and we encourage all media practitioners to take the moral high ground and desist from employing language that can sow seeds of panic and skepticism about CCG.

While we acknowledge the selfless dedication the media has contributed to the cause of liberating our motherland from the jaws of tyranny and corruption, we ask that media practitioners refrain from creating a cloud of distrust over their efforts by persistently engaging in unnecessary and baffling mischaracterizations of CCG. To build a level of credibility and prestige in the media enterprise, it is imperative that any story that makes it in the pages of the newspaper and the airwaves of their radios, are supported by irrefutable evidence. This means avoiding the dissemination of information that is the creative genius of the figment of their fertile imaginations.
The CCG is not unlike any other civil society organization trying to restore democracy in The Gambia, and it is neither a surprise nor a coincidence that nearly all these Gambian civil society organizations have “democracy” embedded in their names to articulate their primary goals.
The main objective of CCG is the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in The Gambia; our motivation derives from the sixteen years of servitude to which fellow Gambians have been subjected; our determination is grounded on our civic responsibility and our patriotic duty to legally dissent, and our aspiration is pegged on the eradication of the fear that has paralyzed Gambians into total submissions.
CCG calls on all Gambians, especially the youth to come forward and help rescue our country from the vicissitude of tyranny and oppression, so their little brothers and sisters and their future sons and daughters will not be reduced to slavery or driven out into exile by the hand of another future dictatorship. Gambians have been afraid for far too long, and the time has come to break this intellectually debilitating and mentally corrosive fear of state power and Yahya Jammeh. With this in mind, CCG was formed to bring like-minded Gambians with a desire and the commitment to help rescue our country from yoke of physical and mental bondage. In two paragraphs below, we present a summary of CCG’s hopes and aspirations for our country, and some of our demands outlining what the regime needs to do to respect the civil and human rights of every Gambian.
“The Coalition for Change -The Gambia (CCG), a civil, human and political rights organization, which brings together a cross-section of the Gambian community at home and abroad, has been launched. The group is a non-partisan organization established to challenge the dictatorship and restore basic freedoms in The Gambia through nonviolent action. The Coalition's formation is necessitated by the repressive political environment in which Gambians find themselves. Virtually all avenues of orderly political change have been shut by a despot determined to cling on to power by any means necessary.”
“To accomplish this, the group will be providing an alternative voice - Radio Free Gambia - which is to go on air by mid-July. Together with the FM Station, CCG will continue utilizing social media to further spread our messages and to garner public support.
CCG has been calling on the regime to immediately:
· Repeal laws that unduly restrict freedom of expression
· Ensure equal access to public media for all political establishments
· Organize a referendum on instituting Presidential term limits
· Free all political prisoners
· End arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture and murders
· Investigate all mysterious deaths and disappearances
· Respect freedom of assembly and association
CCG also continues its call for all groups and individuals from every sector of the community, in The Gambia and abroad, to join us in the struggle to restore democracy and the rule of law.” Visit our website at:http://www.changegambia.org

Furthermore, in a recent radio interview/interrogation relentless attempts were made to cajole information about CCG out of individuals who possess no such knowledge about CCG. Additionally, allegations were made to the effect that CCG’s had abandoned Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh in his moment of crisis. To begin with, neither Ndey Tapha-Sosseh nor Mathew K Jallow confirmed nor denied Dr. Janneh’s membership of CCG, but we are nonetheless proud that someone like him is challenging the last sixteen years of tyranny in our country. CCG Executive members enthusiastically align themselves with Dr. Janneh’s position regarding the abysmal human rights record and the disappearance of citizens in our country, and are committed to do everything in our power to mitigate the suffering of any Gambian who becomes a victim of this regime, regardless of their position in our society, and that includes Dr. Janneh.
Secondly, the question of CCG’s legitimacy was raised, and we want to make it categorically clear that the organization is a bone-fide civil society organization, and any queries regarding where it was founded is mute and does not merit belaboring further. As to the issue of the composition of our executive, we will continue to respect their desire for anonymity, for the same reason, all the media are protecting the identities of their information sources in Banjul. The theory of not knowing what will happen to them if they openly operate as champions of liberty is the driving rationale. It boils down to the hostility of the regime towards dissenting voices, and the danger dissension poses to the wellbeing of Gambians. CCG believes you will agree that none of the civil society organizations founded abroad will be permitted to freely operate as champions of Human Rights in The Gambia, moreover, it might interest Gambians to know that CCG may not be the only organization protecting the anonymity of their home-bound members, nor will it be the last.
For as long as Yahya Jammeh still remains in power, we will never enjoy the freedom to operate openly as civil rights organization free to protect our fellow citizens from the overreach of this barbaric regime.
Finally, while it is correct that CCG should be held accountable to Gambians; our overriding calculation is the protection of our membership from the mean-spiritedness of a calculating megalomania. This position is absolutely non- negotiable, come what may.
Lastly, CCG thanks all of Gambia’s media for the efforts and sacrifice they make in the dissemination of information to the Gambian Diaspora community and for their steadfast stand against the tyrannical regime that has held our country hostage for the past sixteen years. Thank you.
Signed June 13, 2011
Ndey Tapha-Sosseh
Secretary General
Mathew K Jallow
CCG Chair (U.S)

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