Journalists in the Gambia have threatened to embark on a hunger strike as they push for the release of some of their colleagues arrested by the police.
Four journalists are among over hundred people arrested during a mass protest to demand for the resignation of President Adama Barrow.
Police had to fire tear gas to disperse the protesters resulting in a clash and forcing the police to effect arrests.
The president of the Gambian Press Union, Sheriff Bojang Jr told his colleagues that police have now “granted access to our detained colleagues.”
Bojang said they would be demanding the release of their colleagues and should that fail, journalists will embark on a hunger strike.
Rights group condemnation
Meanwhile Amnesty international has warned the Gambia government of fuelling tension in the country.
Amnesty International’s Acting Deputy Regional Director for West and Central, Marta Colomer said in a statement that Sunday’s “crackdown on protesters had alarming echoes of Gambia’s brutal past.
There have been some significant improvements in the country’s human rights record since President Adama Barrow came to power, but the use of excessive force by security forces to disperse protesters risks fuelling tensions and steering Gambia back to dark days of repression.”
Marta Colomer said despite government’s denial that there was no fatalities at the protest, authorities in the Gambia must investigate allegations of human right violations and must face justice.
“Last night, media quoted medical officials reporting that three people were killed, and many others injured with broken legs in clashes which broke out, with security forces using tear gas to disperse protesters.
The authorities claimed that there are no fatalities. They now must promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate the allegations and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible,” Marta Colomer said.
Demand for release of journalists
Amnesty International also condemned the assaults on Journalists and the closing down of radio stations demanding that all the journalists arrested be released unconditionally.
“No one should face arrest simply for exercising their human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all those detained for exercising their right to peaceful protest. We also call on them to reopen the radio stations which they closed and release the journalists detained. Any attack on media freedom should end.”
Amnesty International also reminded the President of his promise to improve the human rights conditions in the Gambia to ensure that Journalists are free to do their work without intimidation.
“President Adama Barrow must not forget his significant promises to improve the Gambia’s human rights situation. He must ensure that journalists are able to carry out their work without fear of reprisal and immediately lift the ban imposed on civil society organizations.”
President Barrow has come under pressure to resign after refusing to honour a promise to only stay in power for three years.
He has now launched his own political party to enable him seek re-election in the upcoming presidential election.