Monday, December 21, 2009

Presenters, Politicians, Journalists Others Decries Low Turn out

As Gambia Remembers Slain Journalist

As Symposium marking the 5th Anniversary of the Assassination of Deyda Hydara, organised by the Gambia Press Union (GPU) at the TANGO Hall, Kanifing, also predominantly dominated by media personnel by 95 percent as stated by various speakers.
Omar Jallow alias OJ of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) said that “we should celebrate the life of Deyda’s achievements but not how many years he live” as OJ says “Some people have lived for hundred years, some with millions of dollars but they are not remember but for Deyda he is still alive and speaking to us his death is forgotten.”
He stressed that it is a shame that 95 percent of the attendants are from the press.
“IT is a shame on us, government, politicians, civil society activities, NGO’s for failing to turn out in large numbers.”
As he puts it, none of the said above can do its work s, implement its projects without passing the press. “Where are our allies, government, civil society organisations, and individuals,” he said, adding that most of whom without the press their institutions are worthless. He repeated by shouting loudly.
He said that “if Gambia claims to be democratic, there cannot be any democracy without a free press. We fought for independence and sent colonial masters parking saying that we want freedom, but today some of us are freer in European cities or America than in Africa. “It is a Shame”, “a shame”.
Proprietor of Gambia News and Report Magazine, Swaebou Conateh laments that the Gambia Radio and Television Services speaks with one voice and others from the private press cannot have access to it. The television and the radio, Conateh said are for all of us,” he argued.
Veteran Journalist Conateh position that for the print media “we need to unite for the sake of development, we are very much divided and some of us are informers.”
Stick to the ethics of the profession; he told hall full of journalists to leave the hall thinking about their situations and to be like other journalists in other parts of the world. “Freedom of expression is important, that is what Deyda stood for and today he is a shining example for all Gambian Journalists to follow suit, journalism is free, we should be free,” he stressed.
Madam Amie Bojang -Sissoho, Programme Officer , The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices affecting The Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP) stressed that unless the pubic realise that the media is working in their interest, we will continue to see situations where the public distance themselves from media grievances. “Unless and until we realise that what we are doing is not for others but with our concerns people will continue to censor themselves and that is why there are many rumors spreading in the country because there is no freedom of the press.
“If public officers think that what they are doing is for them then they are not at their concerns,” she said.
Mr. Ba Trawally Journalist/ Researcher stated that freedom is the base of everything that we are talking about. He said that democracy; rule of law, good governance is all derived from the word freedom. “I am not addressing you, I am addressing the nation,” he argued.
The Doyen of Gambian Journalism Trawally said that freedom is not given on a silver plate; it should be demanded, fought for and exercised.
He went on to mention that “we have Freedom of Expression, Association, Assembly etc are all clearly stipulated in our Gambian Constitution and we need to exercise them accordingly”. He concluded.
Bijou Peters veteran journalist, adding her voice said that the culture of silence must be stopped in the Gambian society noting that culture of silence is the order of the day in today’s Gambia where everyone is not ready to speak out.
According to her, in today’s Gambia if a journalist is harassed, attacked or detained many are not willing to speak out, saying that “ we must raised our voices if a journalist is attack, arrest etc in the country.”
Madam peters stated that she is very sad since the death of Deyda that she don’t read anything on the newspapers that the government is not happy but for Hydara he will be ever remembered for his famous column “GOOD MORNING MR. PRESIDEN” which she added addresses issues concerning the government and its people.
Mr. Madi Njie Chairman of The Network Human Rights Journalists–Gambia (NHRJ), Alieu Darboe of Daily Newspaper, Assan Sallah Daily Observer/President of Young Journalist Association (YJAG), Alieu Bah among others all spoke at length at the symposium.

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