Blood oozing profusely from Sheriff Minteh’s Pelvis-says Halifa Sallah in an open letter to Jammeh!
Letter From Halifa Sallah To President Jammeh
Blood oozing profusely from Sheriff Minteh’s Pelvis

Mr. President, as my eyes gazed at the ruins of a community in France known as Oradour-Sur-Glane, which was burnt by the blind forces of Nazi repression, my heart could not but speak the language of torment and outrage while I wondered how human beings with flesh and blood could pursue women and children to a church and set it ablaze and reduce their bodies to ashes.

On the wall of the centre established for the remembrance of the atrocities one could read the indictment of the Nazi forces. Indeed a system which could plague the minds of military personnel with the logic of perpetrating senseless violence, bordering insanity, against unarmed and defenseless women and children, can be said to have very little concern or respect for human life. Such a system neither sought to inculcate in those government agents contempt for brutality or impunity nor armed them with the capacity to reason and act in accordance with the spirit of brotherhood towards their fellow human being.

Mr. President, as we pass the ghost houses of the Allioti and Binet families, the horrors committed by a bygone generation, extracted from the diary of a legendary child named Anne Frank, which were captured in black and white on the walls of the memorial centre, became starkly real. This confirms that history never goes to sleep and is forever ready to bear witness to events which humanity cannot erase from the minds of the living.

History did speak to us through the burnt walls of the church, on which the names of villagers who died during the 1914 to 1918 war remained engraved. This must have been done in remembrance of them. Little did these innocent villagers know that on 10 June 1944, 2000 Nazi forces would descend on the village to plunder everything they had, set their village on fire and massacre it‘s 642 inhabitants including 193 children. “Even the children were not spared,” lamented the writings on the wall

Finally, the most outrageous part of our rapprochement with a sad page in French history was reached when we came face to face with the statue of a wailing mother burning to death with her baby in her arms. As we stared at this mother in anguish wailing forever in the wilderness of time calling for redress of historical injustices and prevent future ones, my mind also strayed to that bloody Wednesday of 10th May, when Sheriff Minteh lay in anguish expectedly asking what he had done to be visited by raw death at the age of 20. My wounded conscience was only consoled when I heard the unequivocal whisper from the voices from the wall counselling: “Mais l’espoir nous fait vivre” (Hope will make us live) Indeed! Indeed! When tragedy strikes, hope must be kept alive! Hope must be kept alive! I hope the Minteh Family will keep hope alive.

Mr. President, the death of Sheriff Minteh and the subsequent turbulence which gripped Serrekunda Central, on 10th May 2007, confirmed that events of disturbing ramifications are beginning to unfold. This requires your immediate attention. This event came about a day after I attended a symposium organized by the Council of Students of the University of Limoges in commemoration of the national day set to focus on the atrocities of slavery. Little did I know that while I was expounding on the subject of Africa’s predicament in the 21st Century, I would receive news of death and civil strife in The Gambia, on the 9 and 10 of May respectively, just after the symposium where I made a passionate defence of the need for African governments to create the environment for the total civil, political, economic, social and cultural emancipation of our peoples which had been fettered by slavery and colonialism.

I made it abundantly clear that the objectives of studying African history is not merely to provide evidence that people of African descent have made contributions to the intellectual treasury of human kind and have built civilizations comparable to or more advanced than those that existed elsewhere, nor is it designed to  simply expose the oppression and exploitation which impoverished the continent and her people during the slave trade and colonial period, On the contrary, the understanding of the past should be linked to the appreciation of the task to reconstruct an Africa that can guarantee liberty and prosperity to the people. I emphasized that African Governments which subject their people to the same conditions of oppression and exploitation as had existed under slavery and colonialism can never have the moral authority to call for redress of historical injustices.

Mr. President the task of your Government is to ensure that the people in the Gambia enjoy optimum liberty, dignity and prosperity. Hence, it is absolutely necessary for your government to institute a Coroner’s Inquest to establish the cause of death of Sheriff Minteh.I have gathered from Foroyaa that the death certificate indicates that, Sheriff died of cardiac respiratory arrest due to massive severe hemorrhage in the pelvis.. rectum of pelvic viscera due to deep stab wound. Sheriff is reported to have claimed that he was stabbed twice; On the other hand, the office of the Inspector General of Police informed the public that the incident which happened at London Corner, Serrekunda between the hours of 19.00 hours to 20.00 hours on Wednesday May 9 2007 was due to the fact that the Divisional Security Task Force was responding to a tip off that some groups of youths at a particular Street in London Corner Serekunda were smoking Canabis Sativa or Jamba.

The youths were also accused by the Office of the Inspector General of Police of robbery and provoking passers by.  According to the police, upon arrival at the scene, 12 people were arrested with bundles of suspected cannabis; that other group members started running, that it is during their pursuit that one of the suspects Sheriff Minteh, the deceased, fell on an iron sustaining injuries on his groin, that Sheriff Minteh was rushed to Serrekunda Health Centre and later to Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital were he was pronounced dead. Mr. President, Sheriff has not only lost his life but is also accused of criminal activity when he can no longer defend himself. This is precisely why it is necessary to hold a coroner’s inquest to establish the circumstances of his death.

It is also important to release all those arrested in connection with the protest against his death. What is needed under such circumstances is for justice to be seen to be done and avoid inflaming the situation by relying on repressive measures. You should come to terms with the fact that in the absence of a strong parliamentary opposition to criticize excesses and put up measures to restrain your government, you are duty bound to exercise self restraint. You should remember that the authority that you and your national assembly members now exercise is derived from the people. It is therefore necessary to utilize progressive and community oriented measures to promote positive values among the youth instead of stigmatizing and alienating them as common criminals.

Even though I am no longer a National Assembly Member for the constituency, if your government does not know how to implement it‘s community policing policies, my Centre for Social Science, Research Civic Awareness and Community Initiatives would be willing to start community programmes in London Corner to restore the sense of dignity and worth of the youth, under it’s community initiatives programmes. Community programmes instead of militarism is the avenue to combat youth problems which are mainly by products of failed or non existing socioeconomic policies.

Mr. President, history is now confronting you with the task you sought from the electorate: The people have a right to liberty, dignity and prosperity. If you provide guarantees for the people to enjoy such rights you can be said to have fulfilled your mandate. If you fail to guarantee such rights you can be said to have betrayed your mandate. The choice is yours. History is waiting to pass it’s judgment. Posterity shall bear witness to the verdict.

Halifa Sallah

Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2007 (Archive on Wednesday, May 30, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI

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