Never Again March – Full Statement By The Chairman Of Tango, John Charles Njie
Fellow Gambians and Friends of The Gambia, we are elated and humbled to gather here this morning as one people, under one banner, declaring that NEVER AGAIN must we suffer the affliction meted out on us during 22yrs of misrule and tyranny, engineered by a son of this soil and enabled by a system set in motion.
Through our collective resolve, we the people rose up, made a valued decision, and voted out the perpetrator in chief in the hope that the system set in motion will be uprooted and replaced by one with the interest of the citizenry as its driving force. But alas that dream is yet to be realized. Let me be quick to add that all hope is not lost, if we decided before, we can always decide again.
Barely 3 years ago a truth-seeking process ( TRRC) was initiated by the Executive arm of government and passed into law by the Legislative arm of government. The TRRC is close to the completion of its task after several extensions, it is critical to ensure the overarching goals of establishing the truth, healing, and reparation for the victims is achieved. It is our patriotic duty to support and accompany the process to its logical conclusion as a country to ensure NeverAgain is not merely an empty slogan.
At this point, it is apt to acknowledge the hard work and sacrifice of the entire team at the TRRC. Thank you for your service to the nation. We salute and honor you for this great service. As we patiently await the final report be assured we are with and understand your challenges and constraints. We believe in your integrity and commitment to deliver a report worthy of commendation.
As Civil Society, we decided in May this year to design a road map highlighting how we plan to engage all stakeholders to make certain that this process does not face an untimely death. This Solidarity March, therefore, is an integral part of our rules of engagement, in reigniting public awareness and support for the Truth Reconciliation Reparations process. The purpose of the March is three-pronged:
1. To stand in solidarity with victims of human rights violations and their family members.
2. To remind our government of their sacred obligation to ensure that the baby born of the TRRC is not aborted but nurtured to full maturity.
3. For us as the people of this great nation, to acknowledge that gross human rights violations have been meted out upon our fellow human beings but not only that but more importantly to commit ourselves, to NEVER AGAIN allow this in The Smiling Coast.
To you the Victims of 22yrs of brutality,
We the people, deem it a part of responsible citizenship to empathize with our sisters and brothers whose rights were grossly violated right before us. We first want to extend our heartfelt apology for not speaking out and acting sooner. Indeed we have no excuse, we could have done better. So please find it in your hearts to forgive
motherland Gambia and her children for abandoning you during your most trying moments.
In repentance, we gather to pledge to you that NEVER AGAIN will we let you bear your pain or suffer alone. We come to stand with and by you, we gather to bring comfort and hope that together better days are ahead for us all. We are here to say NEVER AGAIN will we remain silent concerning your plight. We have also come to say well done, ‘ jambarr ngen’, in spite of all you have been through, you are stronger today than ever. Remain united, stay strong, be bold and courageous, keep focus, because one day soon this storm will blow over.
To our Government,
You whom we address as Excellencies, Honourables, Lordships, and Worships, execute your duties in a manner consistent with your titles. Serve us the people, the reason you occupy such high offices, with integrity and respect in the preservation of our humanity and dignity. Decide and Commit that NEVER AGAIN will you allow your offices to be used to serve personal interests above that of the nation. Commit to the Rule of Law and respect for human rights of those who voted you into the office and whose taxes support your survival.
To the Executive, Mr. President, and your Cabinet, you initiated this whole process, please demonstrate leadership, for, by your actions or inactions we will judge you. Recommit yourselves and the government to guarantee that the work of the TRRC is not in vain. In response to TANGO’s letter submitting the post TRRC roadmap and calling for the government’s commitment to implement the TRRC recommendations, your letter dated 10th August 2021stated, “While anticipating an enhanced partnership with TANGO, His Excellency wishes to allay all fears, whether genuine or perceived, and to assure all that the Government is firmly committed to the TRRC and to the whole transitional justice process”.
This is assuring but will be more reassuring if your actions are consistent with your words. So we humbly submit that we expect to see swift, transparent, and just implementation of the recommendations that will be submitted.
It would be helpful to include in the budget estimates for 2022, funds for reparations for victims and their families. It will not hurt to cut from other budget lines and prioritize this. It will be unfortunate if you sacrifice the welfare of victims on the altar of political expediency.
To our National Assembly, hold the Executive accountable in ensuring support for this process. Ask the difficult questions, summon, if you have to, those found wanting for not protecting the integrity of the process. Serve the interest of the greater good.
For us the people,
After hearing all the horrific experiences of our fellow human beings, beyond the denial and many questions as per the authenticity of the testimonies, let us shoulder the responsibility and accept that this dark episode is indeed an integral part of our national reality. But we have sailed through the storm and are more resolved now more than ever before. Fellow Gambians we must go back to our Gambianess, the reason why we are known as the smiling coast. To the good old days when we will ‘sutura’ our neighbor that did not have ‘depance’, care for the children of others like our own, watch out for each other all in the spirit of our “Gambianess“. Our hospitality, our warmth, and our openness to non-nationals were key features in our DNA.
We today invite every perpetrator to join us on this journey, for indeed you can today say, NEVER AGAIN will I be used to harm my fellow human. Here today and now, we must invoke the NEVER AGAIN spirit from the walls of the TRRC to take up residency in our hearts and minds. May we today receive the NEVER AGAIN vaccine in our vein to be a part of our national DNA. Let us dedicate our energies to collectively say NEVER AGAIN will we allow a drop of Innocent blood to be shed on our soil, NEVER AGAIN will we condone self-perpetuating rule that gives birth to dictatorship, NEVER AGAIN will we allow our daughters, sisters, and mothers to be rape and dehumanized, NEVER AGAIN will we allow our brothers and children perpetrate evil against their own people.
THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR KIND ATTENTION
DELIVERED BY: JOHN CHARLES NJIE, CHAIRMAN TANGO