Coerced, and tortured

I have been busy lately moving hundreds of servers, storage units and security apparatus to our newly built server room. I have been lobbying for this relocation for the past four years and finally got one built this year. The new room is spacious and very well ventilated. The late nights calls I have been getting because of production issues associated with the old server room's ventilation should be a thing of the past.

As with any complicated move, I am still working on the kinks that are associated with it and thus the lull in postings.

Browsing through the Point today, a story on the court martial of Captain Yahya Darbo caught my eye. I wish I can say I told you so, but the abuse and indignity suffered by the victims will make your blood boil. This was what I wrote in march when these guys were paraded on national television and forced (in my opinion) to make confessions:

The Daily Observer ( here and here) has a run down of confessionals that the "alleged" coup plotters in the Gambia made. Yep thats right "alleged". For all we know these people could've been tortured or threaten with torture to make those statements. Their confessionals in my opinion lend credence to my suspicion. All roads in this convoluted affair leads to Ndure Cham. Everyone keep harking back to what he told them. And since he is not around to refute them and the government is hellbent on punishing someone, they parade these people on television to narrate some scheme that they were supposedly part of...confessions

And this is the confession Captain Yahya Darbo made on television:

Explaining his knowledge about the March 22 foiled coup d’etat, Captain Yahya Darboe, adjutant at the Yundum Barracks recalled that “it was around 6:45 or 7:00, I was at the Farafenni Barracks working there as the 2IC. When I watched a football match on Saturday, I came back. My CO told me that the C.D.S called and said he will come to the Barracks Monday; first parade (8:00 a:am). He said I should use my vehicle and we go there on Monday 8:00 a am. On Sunday, I reported to work normally. I closed from work and then went home.”

Capt Darboe then said that it was on Tuesday, “Around 9:00 a am or 10: 00 a am, I saw Capt Wassa Camara, who entered my office. I said welcome and he said thank you. He pulled out D800 all in notes and then gave it to me. He said the C.D.S said let me give you this. I said for what? He said don’t mind. The C.D.S said he will talk to you later. I took it and then we start having breakfast together. And the he left. I was there until around 11:00 a am, when my wife called and said she could not cook, because she was sick. So I took permission from my CO, Major Bah and then I left home.”

“I was there till around 2:00 p m or 4:00 p m, when Capt Camara called to say I am going to have lunch with you today. I said OK. You are welcome. I am almost ready. Around 2:30 p m, he came and we had the lunch together. After the lunch, we left one soldier at my backyard. He said lets see. We went in front of my house and he said didn’t C.D.S called you still. I said not yet. I am not yet called,” he added.

According to him, it was after sometimes, when Capt Camara asked him about SoS Edward Singhatey’s residence. “I said of course, he is staying at Cape Point. He said no, you are lost. He said that man is not staying at Cape Point now. I said I don’t know. He said they said he is living at Brusubi, here. I said Brusubi is in Phase 1 and 2. I said I am in Phase 2, but I do not know whether he is in Phase 1. I do not know. He said they said he is staying around here. I said OK, the only place he might stay and I point to my right direction. I said there is a compound there that has electricity 24hrs and you have private guards’ there- Uncle Sam or so. I said somebody said to me the last time he is staying there, but I do not know. May be he is the one staying there. He said OK, I will find out.”

YMS Darboe, as he is fondly called, said both of them returned to drink Attaya (China green tea), before Capt Camara parted with him. He recollected: “I was there up till around 4: p m, when Capt Camara called me and said C.D.S said you meet him at the Brusubi main junction at 5:30 p m. I said did he say that? He said he said it. I said OK, no problem. I think it was around 4:45 p m, when I departed my house and went to where he said I should meet. I was there around 4:55 p m sitting but no body was coming.

Nobody came, and then I decided to buy a scratch card from a nearby shop. Then I loaded by mobile and called Capt Camara, because I do not have the C.D.S number. I told him I am here up till around 5:00 p m and this man is not here still. I said can you tell him that I am still waiting and he said I will call. I do not know whether he called or not. After some 20mins or so, there was nobody coming. I called Capt Camara again. I said please call C.D.S; tell him I am still waiting. He said OK, I will call. Then nobody appeared again. Just around 20mins or 30mins, I called Camara again. I said please, tell him that I am going. He can call me and I will call him back. He said he (Col Cham) said is just around there and he will soon be with you. I said Ok.”

“Immediately that call, a vehicle came. I was even expecting a Gaf vehicle as I was looking around. Then he (Col Cham) came out, after I trying to look somewhere. I saw him and I said sir, I am here. He said ah haa, come. I came and then he said jump in. Then I got in the vehicle and he said where is your home located. I said the other direction, if you lead left towards Brufut,” Darboe narrated.

He then further explained: “We went to the main junction, where you have Gamjuice “tabler” (billboard) that goes to my house straight. He said Ok, no need for you to go to your home. I said you wanted to see me? He said yes. He said don’t you know what is happening today. I said what is happening today. He said we are going to take this country today. I asked, are the NIA informed about this? He said yes. The reason why I asked this is because I have a lot of friends in the NIA. He said yeh, they are aware of this. I said OK.”

And this is what he is saying in court now:

Capt. Yahya Darboe, one of the alleged coup plotters currently on court martial, yesterday testified in the Voir Dire to determine the voluntariness of his earlier statement.

In his testimony, Capt. Yaya Darboe told the general court martial that he was arrested on 21st March 2006 at home and taken directly to the Mile 2 central prison. He said at mile 2 he was taken to the confidence room where he was stripped of his clothes and searched, before being taken to the security wing where he was confined to a cell alone.

He further narrated that at around midnight on 22nd March, 2006, he was removed from Mile 2 and taken to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) office in Banjul. He said on the way to the NIA offices, he was handcuff and placed on a black pickup vehicle where officers wearing black military uniform started insulting and slapping him.

Capt. Darboe added that at the NIA office he was handed to someone who called himself Hell Manager. This officer, he continued, announced to him that he had come to hell fire. He adduced that at the NIA office he was subjected to severe torture, apparently with a view to extracting what pleases them.

Capt. Darboe informed the court martial that his statement was not obtained voluntarily but under severe torture...The Point

For the sake of disclosure, I know Captain Darbo. We lived in closed proximity in Fagikunda in the late eighties to early nineties. Graduated from high school in the same year and infact study at the same library for our exams. He is a little bit older than me, but hang out with my older cousin and thus I interacted with him a lot during this period. He is personally affable and very good natured.

I didn't believe he was making that statement out of his own volition then and now my suspicion that torture was visited upon him and the other alleged coup plotters has been confirmed. Torture doesn't get the truth out of the victim. Most of what you get out of a tortured victim is what he/she thought you want to hear. My heart go out to Yahya and all those tortured victims of Yahya Jammeh's gulag.

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