On Tuesday evening I was invited to speak at an event organised by the Scottish Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia and the National Union of Journalists. It was a cultural AND political evening designed to show solidarity with Gambians here and elsewhere who are suffering because of their corrupt and heartless government.
I could list any number of human rights abuses but the focus was on Gambian legislation that imprisons journalists who speak out against the government. I might complain about the press in this country from time to time but freedom of speech and the freedom to report is the hallmark of a democratic nation. Not only can they be imprisoned simply for disagreeing, there is a history of journalists disappearing and never returning or being executed.
The news on the night was that the Gambian so-called Justice Minister has openly said that any Gambian living abroad who speak out against his government will be punished on their return. He referred to them as "evil" and said they tarnished the reputation of Gambia. I was speaking to an audience of many Gambians who have indeed spoken out since seeking refuge here. Of course they will speak out because they want to be able to go back, they want someone to do something to help their families still living there. Many are now living in fear of being returned by the UKBA but I don't see how they can justify that now that a top government minister has openly stated that they will suffer on their return.
For more information read this article by Austin Sheridan a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament who has been actively involved in the campaign. And consider joining the Scottish campaign yourself - sometimes, as my granny would say, we don't know we're born.