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Gambia: religious & traditional values vs defenders of women’s bodily rights

Thursday 14 October 2010, by siawi2

Following the arrest, and the detention of the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP Dr. Isatou Touray, and her Assistant Amie Bojang Sissoho, families of the detainees are calling on the administration of President Yahya Jammeh to release the detainees in the interest of justice, fair-play, and national unity. They want the accused persons to be availed with the opportunity to interact with their loved ones. Muhammed Sissohor is the son of Amie Bojang Sissoho, Program Manager for The Gambia Committee Against Traditional Practices GAMCOTRAP. Mr. Sissohor is based in Vancouver Canada. The 23 year old Gambian national told the Freedom Radio in an Exclusive interview Wednesday that her mother’s arrest was “politically” motivated.

“ I think this case is politically motivated. I would say this anywhere. I think it is politically motivated. I am not only saying this because I am outside of The Gambia. Even if I am in The Gambia, I would say it. Whoever wants to come to me and ask me any question, I am man enough to stand to speak what I believe in. It is politically motivated. That is my point of view,” Mr. Sissoho, who is studying business management, and accounting in Canada said.

Mr. Sissoho said her Mama and Dr. Isatou Touray became a target for political persecution under the totalitarian administration of Gambia’s dictator Yahya Jammeh because of their anti female Genital Mutilation crusade. The two gender activists, he said, have been greeted with all kinds of opposition from the Government, including religious leaders, who perceived their work as anti cultural values.

“As you can see, what they are fighting for… they are fighting against Female Genital Mutilation. And as you may know, one of the Imams of the State House, who is Imam Abdoulie Fatty by name is a big rival of the two. He is in support of FGM. He said Islam supports FGM. I would ask Imam Fatty: to quote the verse, or “sura” which says that FGM is permissible by Islam? We all know that the Prophet Muhammed ( peace be upon him) said any act that is harmful to the human body is “haram” (shunned). You cannot tell me that FGM is permissible. We all know FGM is done or conducted. They use one blade to circumcise different kids, and end up killing them. People died because of excessive bleeding, and the blade is never sterilized. Everybody knows STD and HIV is transmitted through blood transfusion. This is just basic science,” Mr. Sissoho said.

Mr. Sissoho said Dr. Touray and Madam Sissoho are decent, and God fearing Gambians, who would not steal a dime from GAMCOTRAP. He said the accusations are politically motivated. He recalled how her Mama used to instill good moral values in them during their tender age.

“ I would tell you this story: When I was a young boy, my mother sent me to the store to buy a loaf of bread for her. When I came, I took the change and put it my pocket. She took a candle, and the liquid on the candle, and pour it on my hands till the whole candle burn out on me. She locked me in the room. I even didn’t go to school that day. And she told me next time don’t take what doesn’t belongs to you,” he explained.

That was not the end of Mr. Sissoho’s story. Hear him again: “If I am playing with my friends, and I take their soccer shoes home, she would tell me it is not yours return it. Be content with what you have. I am not here to defend my Mum. But anybody who knows my Mum would know what kind of person she is. If she doesn’t take her to give, you she wouldn’t take yours.

Anybody who knows Amie Bojang knows that about her. I am not asking for any favors. Let us have a free and fair trial. Let them present their evidence that shows that her, and Aunty Isatou took that money. I know Aunty Isatou personally, and I know my Mum personally. They are not those kind of people. They are people; if they don’t take theirs and give it to the poor, they wouldn’t take from other people.”

Dr. Touray, and Amie Bojang, he said, “have dedicated their entire life serving humanity. He said two wouldn’t ruined their personal sacrifices, and services to the nation for a mere 30,000 Euros.” He said accusations of financial impropriety directed against the ladies is not only absurd, but incomprehensible.

“ They have dedicated their whole life… Ever since, I was a kid, they have travelled all over The Gambia, all over the world to help other people; and fight for their cause. Today, after all what they worked for, they wouldn’t ruined all that for mere 30,000 Euros. That doesn’t make sense,” he posited.
A police panel constituted to investigate the GAMCOTRAP missing 30,000 Eros absolved Dr. Isatou Touray, and her co accused person Amie Sissoho from any misconduct, or financial impropriety. The President Yahya Jammeh was displeased with the outcome of the police report. He reacted angrily by instructing the Personnel Management Office, which oversees commissioned police officers to fire the entire panel. The Head of the police’s Crime Management, and four other top officials of the Force were sacked. Details of the police probe was reported by the Freedom Newspaper prior to the criminal case filed against Dr. Touray and Sissoho by the state
My Father Opted To Pay For The Money

Even though Amie Bojang Sissoho repeatedly denied stealing the said funds, her husband offered to pay the money. Although, Madam Sissoho respectfully declined the offer on the grounds that she was completely innocent.

“ They accused them of stealing money, and my Dad told my Mum that he will pay for the money. He will pay for the money, but my mother refused. She totally turn it down because she said what she doesn’t take she is not “gonna” pay for it. Let them do what they want to do,” he quoted her mother as saying.

Mr. Sissoho, who wouldn’t reveal his father’s source of living (profession) said his Dad is residing outside The Gambia. He told Freedom Radio that he is not comfortable discussing what his father does for a living.

Mr. Sissoho said he supports her mother’s move to refuse his Dad’s suggestion to settle the alleged stolen money. He says Madam Sissoho is innocent and shouldn’t pay a dime. He said what is happening in The Gambia, under Jammeh is unacceptable.

“ I don’t know what kind of brains that are ruling The Gambia, but we need a reality check. We totally need that,” adding that Gambians should break the culture of silence and speak out against the blatant injustices taking place in the country.

Mr. Sissoho said both Dr. Touray and Amie Sissoho had all the opportunities at their disposal to abscond from the country, but they decided to stay, and face the consequences. He said they haven’t done anything wrong.
“ I know my Mum. She is a lioness. No matter, who you are in this world, if she doesn’t do something wrong, she didn’t do it,” he said.

Mr. Sissoho said he is not convinced that the accused persons will receive fair trial in The Gambia—given the fact that the judiciary is being remote controlled by the status quo. He said the alleged offence is bailable, but the court had denied the accused persons bail.

Mr. Sissoho said he learnt about her mother’s arrest from the Freedom Newspaper. He said the Freedom Newspaper is doing a fantastic job. He said Freedom is practicing honest journalism by giving voice to the voiceless, as well as reporting issues with fairness without prejudice. He said he was surprised that the pro-Government Daily Observer Newspaper is ignoring such an important story. He said all newspapers should emulate the Freedom Newspaper. He said Freedom is fair, and balanced in its reportage of The Gambian story.

Posted on Thursday, October 14, 2010 (Archive on Friday, April 29, 2011)