By Bob Touray
Remember, Adama Barrow once said all these security institutions are under him, which is false.
This is the story of Alagie Touray, a Gambian based in Sweden who has been allegedly maltreated by the security at the Banjul International Airport.
I came to the Gambia with my whole family on a vaccation on the 10th of December 2019 to the 23rd of January 2019. Our tickets were bought in January of 2019 long before the inception of the “3 Years Jotna” Movement. I was in the Gambia for almost seven weeks. During that seven weeks I was engaged in many activities concerning the United Democratic Party (UDP), which is the party I belong to. I was also active in the grassroot level of the “All Baddibu UDP Group.”
During my stay in the Gambia, I had no contacts or encounter with any security officers, agents or institutions. My vaccation was a family one, a wonderful vaccation for me and my family which ended badly because the government is paraniod of its own citizens.
It all turned to the worst when I was about to leave the country with my family at Banjul International Airport. It is my own government and its so-called sycophants that were behind my unlawful arrest and detention. We made the usual check-in and then went through Immigration to collect our boarding cards. This was around 20:00pm local time. We made it through the Immigration control and our boarding cards issued to us, and was about to board the aircraft, when an Immigration Officer demanded my passport back. I was told that there was a “system alarm” which I accepted as I am a law abiding citizen, allowing authorities to do their job. It never across my mind in the first instance that there was a bad intention or faul play on the way in the actions of the Immigration Officers.
It was when I was taken to the office of the PIU which is in the same premises as the immigration office then I realized the gravity of the situation. Well, in the office of the PIU, I met an old man and a relatively young woman who told me that they need to make ” VERIFICATION” as my name Alhagi Touray from Stockholm is being confused with another Alhagi Touray from Stocholm as well. In conducting that verification, I therefore cannot travel with my family, and I have two options either to allow my wife and kids to travel to Sweden or they stay with me. Taking into consideration that my kids have to attend school in Sweden, and my wife had to go to work, I decided for the first option which is allowing my wife to travel with the kids to Sweden. It was one of the most painful and difficult moments of my life. To be forcefully and unwillingly separated from my wife and kids on bogus grounds. I hugged my wife and kids and say to them I love you all. You can imagine how that moment felt. But only for those with empathy and respect for human rights.
From the PIU office, I was escorted to a very unhygienic room which is used by the immigration officers as a kitchen, dining room and office at the same time. It was here that I sent my first message to the outside world including some social media platforms. I was again escorted from that room to the Airport Police. This was around 22:00pm. The Airport Police Station is like 100 meters from the immigration main building. A very poorly furnished Police Station without computer or desk at the reception, but instead what the Police have is a TV hanging on the wall, which is constantly on. There is also a picture of Adama Barrow hanging up looking down on to the Police officers. I wondered, and asked myself why the Police need a picture of Adama Barrow in the Police Station. What does that tells?
In the Airport Police Station, I was charged with associating with an illegal movement which is not allow under Gambian law according to the bogus charges. I ofcourse deny the charges as would any concious Gambian. The Police then asked me to make a statement which I declined without the present of a lawyer. The charges were so absurd it will be thrown out in any competent court of law. The charges will never hold water. With that deadlock with the Police, I was ripped off my belongings including my mobile phone and put into a stinking concrete cell. This cell was vividly not been sweeped or clean for months. Adjacent to the cell a rest room and the only water in that rest room is a tap water on the wall which is used to clean oneself. It seems the Gambia Police doesn’t know or do not care that even arrestees and detainees have rights. Some of the officers were polite, and greeted me nicely while some seems not to notice my presence. No food was delivered to me by the Police while I was under their custody. It was my lovely family that came to the Airport Police Station with food which I ate and gave the rest of the food to the Police officers in the station.
Just round 2AM a gentleman came into the Police station and presented himself, (name withhold) and said he his from the State Intelligence Service (SIS). I asked who he is? The SIS agent said he saw my name in the social media. Whether true or not I am not sure. The agent asked if I am OK and whether I was treated well? I assured him that I am well and fine. He further told me that in the morning I will meet with his superior for further questioning.
At round 9am I was called from my cell to meet som CID officers. I entered to an office which was very disorganised, and again here you have a TV which was on and hanging on the wall. Three CID officers tried to question me because it was from an interrogation. The whole atmosphere was so unprofessional I refused to give any statement to the CID officers. It was here I was asked about my political affiliation. I was adamant when asked which political party I support. I said I belong to the United Democratic Party, and that was the last time I was asked such a question. By declining to give a statement the whole questioning ended in a chat with the officers instead of interrogating. That was when I understood that the whole is a joke and a waste of time and energy.
The CID officers then decided to drive me at the Anti Crime Unit at Bijilo. Before driving to the Anti Crime Unit I had the opportunity to talk to one of the CID agents. For integrity reason I decline to disclose here what was said to me or the identity of the officers, but your guess is as good as mine. Not every service personell condone what is taking place in the country,far from it. Some are scared because there is no opportunity in our country and that clearly leads to fear of loosing the only employment. The CID officers that drove me to the Anti Crime Unit did clearly stated in their discussion that they did not have their salaries and it was 27th of January. The also complain of not been paid over time by the state. In another word a modern slavery in our public service and to an extend even in the private service. Who is doing something about this? Absolutely no one.
Well, at the Anti Crime Unit, I joined 137 illegal government detainees in a cell from the 3 years jotna movement. I had the privilege to meet two prominent individuals with the highest impeccable character and integrity. These two people were Lawyer Yankuba Darboe and the chairman of the 3 years jotna movement. The spirit in the relatively small cell with 138 detainees, all from 3 years jotna movement was of determination and patriotism. They all believe that their course is a right course.
At the Anti Crime Unit, I was charged with completely new charges. This time with the same charges as the 3 years jotna movement members. Remember, my file and charges from the Airport Police Station were nowhere to be found when I arrived at the Anti Crime Unit. My file came but it couldn’t be found. Contrary to the charges at the Airport Police Station, the Anti Crime Unit decided to charged me with arson, instigating violence and joining an illegal movement. I was never at the protest at Sting Corner that very day of 26th January. I was busy at home the whole day preparing to return to Stocholm, Sweden with my family. I deny all charges at the Anti Crime Unit, and decline to make any statement without a legal representative.
The Anti Crime Unit couldn’t do much hence, I was brought back to the cell where the 3 years jotna movement was held. On monday evening of 28th January I was called to meet with the senior officers at the Anti Crime Unit. I was questioned about the 3years jotna movement. I decline again to make any statement that will later incriminate me as I am not a member of the 3 years jotna movement. The senior office convince me that I speak to them, so that they can have something to convince their suprior that I am innocent and that the whole thing was a mistaking identity. Bringing in legal adviser might take the case to court and would drag the whole thing unnecessarily according to the senior Anti Crime Unit. I was assured the statement I am suppose to make is onlycmeant to convince some other senior ranks of the Anti Crime Unit of my innocent.
After agreeing to give my statement I was unconditional release by the Anti Crime Unit. The only reason given to me after subjecting me with inhuman treament, and abusing my fundermental rights, I was told it was a mistaking identity. Which is far from true.
I was not been subjected to toture and I did not see anyone been subjected to toture.
MY ARREST AND SUBSEQUENT DENTION,TOGETHER WITH OTHER INNOCENT GAMBIANS WAS ILLEGAL AND A BREACH OF OUR FUNDERMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS.
A GOVERNMENT IS SUPPOSE TO PROTECT ALL ITS CITZENS, EVEN THOSE WHO DISAGREE WITH THE GOVERNMENT.
THE TRUTH SHALL SOME DAY SET OUR NATION FREE.
Thank you all.
Alhagi Touray Sweden-stockholm