Protesters March Against Deportation
Hundreds of demonstrators Thursday gathered in Westfield’s Youth Monument to protest against deportation of Gambians from the EU countries.
The protest was in response to what the protesters referred to as the regular deportation of Gambian migrants. In recent weeks, the migrants, many of them in Germany have been deported ‘in large numbers’, sparking concern and outrage in the country.
Wearing t-shirts and holding placards with anti-deportation messages, the protesters chanted ‘no to deportation’. Alieu Ceesay, a 27-year-old teacher said he was protesting out of anger over the treatment of the deportees.
“I was out there at the airport the other day when a flight loaded with deportees arrived. They all looked rejected and desperate because they arrived back with just plastic bags. For migrants who risked their lives and spent everything they ever owned just to go to Europe and help their families out of poverty, it was disheartening to see them being treated like this. They are not supposed to be treated like criminals”
Lamin Sarr alias Laus protested for the government to look out for its citizens. “What is happening to Gambian migrants wouldn’t happen to any other citizens from other countries in the sub-region. While other countries are looking at the interest of their citizens, our government seems to not care what’s happening to our brothers and sisters in Europe. I want to send a clear message to the authorities that they are either with the citizens or against them.”
The government has been under heavy criticism over the regular deportations. Anti-deportation activists accused the authorities of signing dodgy deals with the European Union for Gambians to be deported from EU-member countries, an accusation the government denied.
Ida Faal, a young protester has challenged the government to do more than just issuing press releases to convince Gambians that no such deal was signed.
“Gambians are not fools. These government people think we are stupid but we are not. We are tired of their lies and manipulation. All we’ve been hearing from them is that ‘there was no deal’. If there was no deal signed, why is the EU still deporting our people in large numbers and regularly? Something is dodgy somewhere and it’s the responsibility of our government to prove otherwise,” she said
The protest which was restricted to the small Youth Monument square by the police, was the first anti-deportation event so far this year. According to the organizers, more protests would be organized to mount pressure on the authorities. Among their demands was for the government to place a moratorium on deportations until the socio-economic needs on the ground for the deportees are taken care of.