Kebba Jeffang and Aja Musu Bah Daffeh
The family and friends of the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng who died in state custody while being detained for his role in the peaceful protest demanding for electoral reform April last year, launched a foundation on 14th April with the objective of remembering and continuing his advocacy legacy.Mr. Sandeng was the newly elected national organizing secretary for the United Democratic Party at the time of the incident, the position he held for less than 3 weeks after the UDP congress in Basse last year.
Fatima Sandeng, the daughter of the late Solo, said Solo Sandeng Foundation is a non- profit and non partisan institution that will propagate the core values of Solo Sandeng who was brutally killed while in the custody of the National Intelligence Agency under Yahya Jammeh on the 14 of April, 2016 after leading a peaceful and non-violent protest that sought for electoral reform and the end of impunity against citizens of the Gambia.
“The Solo Sandeng Foundation advocates for a just and free world, dialogue, advocacy and volunteerism. The slogan is ‘change for freedom’ which is the official logo of the Foundation. Our mission is to shed light on the life and legacy of Solo Sandeng while the freedom and democracy that he lived and died for are ensured through dialogue, advocacy and volunteerism. Our vision is to ensure a “just, equal and free world”
She said the Foundation’s key values are justice, freedom, equality, rights and responsibilities which according to her is important considering the violations on the rights of people in The Gambia for the past 22 years. But she emphasized that rights go with responsibilities.
Ms. Sandeng said the Foundation envisages providing advocacy on freedoms, human rights values and provides legal aid for the victims of freedom fighters in the country without any discrimination.
Abdourahman Touray, the executive member of the Foundation said the dictatorship that has shackled the country for so long has been confined with the dust of history, saying “we are the masters of our own destiny and we are free at last.” He said to dislodge the dictator, a lot of sacrifices and hard work was necessary.
“One year ago Solo Sandeng led a group of patriotic Gambians to protest against the injustices of the Jammeh regime. Prior to leading this protest Solo met with me in Dakar where he was seeking support from diaspora Gambians for the protest he was planning. When I raised the high personal risk that he was taking in leading this protest his response to me was if losing my life will set Gambia free then I am ready to sacrifice my life. Less than 72 hours later Solo Sandeng would be dead and The Gambia will be on the recoverable path to freedom. Since then close to 40 people would suffer torture and imprisonment in a brave fight against dictatorship,” he said.
He made reference to the death of Solo Kuruma, Lang Marong and Ebrima Janko Ceesay. He said it is in this light that it was suggested to Solo’s daughter and son that a Foundation should be established to commemorate the great memory of Solo Sandeng. He said this will also ensure that the ideals for which he fought for shall forever be part of the country. He said setting up this Foundation is the beginning of the process to honour such heroes or heroines.
Muhammed Sandeng, son of the late Solo Sandeng said the Foundation named after his father represents all Gambians particularly those who got arrested along Solo such as Nogoi Njie, Fatoumatta Jawara and other victims of April 16, 2016.
He urged the Gambian people to exercise their responsibilities noting that “our votes are a section of our voices that come periodically every 5 years and then we have our actual voices that represent us day by day that we can use even after election. He added, “The only retention of our votes is our actual voices that we keep and we can keep using whenever, every day.”
Kebba Jeffang and Aja Musu Bah Daffeh