Gambia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations has admitted to saying he will shoot to kill unarmed protesters who took part in rare protests in The Gambia if he was in charge of the security forces after an audio recording of him making the statement was released online. The diplomat maintains his decision remains unchanged with him still not ruling out the use of deadly forces in his master plan to suppress protests which he says were carried out by a “bunch of useless thugs.”
“If I was in charge of the military or police in a country where a bunch of useless thugs are paid to get to the streets to render the society ungovernable without their consideration of how many people could lose their lives, using deadly force will not be ruled out in my master plan,” he said.
The contentious diplomat admitted the audio recording saying the person who secretly recorded him in his office in New York should have released the two-hour conversation than the little leaked seconds in which he threatened to shoot and kill. Sarr has called the recording illegalbut sources within the Gambia’s UN mission said he was made aware by his administrative assistant that Sanna Sarr, the visitor who wanted answers about the death of protesters in his native Gambia had a recording device.
Sarr was a former commander in the Gambia’s army and received training from Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. Though saying his position on shoot to kill protesters and the political tension in the West African nation remains unchanged, in a contradiction to defend himself said he will not advocate the shooting of peaceful demonstrators under any given circumstances citing his knowledge of military law, the rules of engagements, and the Geneva Convention.
Former junta speaker Captain Ebou Jallow however said such rules of engagement that tell soldiers to shoot and kill anyone who is unarmed and urged his former colleague to resign.
UN should take immediate action
Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director of Vanguard Africa Movement and consultant who has worked closely with Gambian activists said Mr. Sarr is obviously unaware of the basic rights enshrined in his own country's constitution, which protects public assembly and association.
Smith believes Ambassador Sarr is clearly unfit to hold his current position and theUnited Nations should take immediate action against him, including revoking his diplomatic credentials. “There is no place in this world for the endorsement of murdering peaceful protesters, let alone from a country's top diplomat at the world's top human rights institution” Smith said.
On April 14th, members of the opposition United Democratic Party in The Gambia staged a peaceful protest in Westfield demanding justice and electoral reforms.They were immediately rounded up by police and a dozen arrested including Solo Sandeng, the youth leader who was allegedly tortured to death under state custody. His death prompted another demonstration on April 16th led by the party’s leaderOusainou Darboe and top executive members who were also arrested at the spot, detained at the state central prison of Mile II and currently undergoing trial.
Among the new electoral law is anyone who wants to register a political party or run as presidential candidate has to pay GMD500,000, amounting to US$11,870 or £8,240, which the opposition and critics says is simply aimed at undermining pluralism in the economically-stagnant country and way of weakening the effectiveness of the opposition. The government, however, said the law was necessary to ensure parties are well organized.
Gambians head to the polls in December 2016 in which current president Yahya Jammeh is seeking a fifth term.