A major civil society forum organized by the International Civil Society Forum on Gambia launched on Thursday October 1st, bringing together activists from the Gambian diaspora and international human rights organizations. The day-long forum aims to discuss and rally support against human rights abuses, corruption, and repression of the media in the Gambia. The forum was organized in parallel to the United Nations heads of state summit in New York City.
According to the Forum Charperson, Dr. Amadou Janneh, the forum's website has been blocked the President Jammeh's regime. Despite this, and President Jammeh's constant attempts to disrupt peaceful assembly addressing his regime, the forum brought together numerous activists, opposition leaders, analysts, and journalists.
During the forum’s opening remarks the Conference Moderator, Mrs. Soffie Ceesay, said that the days events and Civil Society Forum on Gambia “hope to chart a course for a Gambia without Yahya Jammeh.” Mrs. Ceesay told forum attendees that the Gambian diaspora and international organizations must put pressure on the Gambian regime and international governments to force democratic change in the Gambia.
Mr. Omar Amadou Jallow, a leading member of political opposition to President Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorship, also addressed forum attendees saying that opponents to President Jammeh and the Gambian diaspora “are to represent those people in that open prison we call Gambia today.”
Also in attendance were representatives from international human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and the Open Society Institute.
Plenary sessions have been organized on Human Rights, Democracy and Governance, Corruption and Impunity, and Regional Security.
Yahya Jammeh appointed himself as head of state in the Gambia in 1994 after he lead a coup against the former government. He has lead one of the most malignant and repressive regimes in the world known for the routine torture of dissenters, press censorship and intimidation, and forcing disappearances of Gambian citizens. President Jammeh has reportedly holed himself up in his presidential compound since an attempted coup against him in December 2014.