Headline November 17 2019/ '' ' GAMBIAN'S* -WITCHES- GAUNTLETS ' '' : OOPS



PERSECUTIONS BASED ON ACCUSATIONS of witchcraft still occurs around the world -

A phenomenon that often goes unrecognized, according to the *Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network*, a nonprofit research and advocacy group.

In many cases in West Africa, said Leo Igwe, a Nigerian scholar with the network, accusers are trying to explain a misfortune, and come to blame a neighbor or family member they believe is possessed by evil.

These accusations frequently lead to torture, and those who survive can live the rest of their lives with a ''violent sense of disconnection from society.''

What distinguished the Gambian experience, he said, was that the former president, Mr. Jammeh, appeared to use witchcraft accusations, as a state tool and targeted people on a ''mega scale.''

MATTY SANYANG WAS A BABY naming ceremony when the soldiers arrived in Sintet, farming town not far from the West African coast, pulled her neighbors form their homes and announced that the president had made a decision :

The people of her village were witches, and they would need to be cured. Then, she said, the soldiers pushed into a truck, stripped her naked and forced her to say she was a witch.

''What they took,'' said Ms. Sanyang, a mother of four who lives in Sintet, ''was our dignity.''

Last week, a public national truth and reconciliation commission in Gambia began hearing testimony from citizens like Ms. Sanyang who say they were victims of what commission officials calling ''witch hunts'' ordered by Yahya Jammeh, the former president who ruled for 22 years before fleeing abroad in 2017 with his fleet of luxury cars.

The commission is designed to investigate atrocities perpetrated during his long reign.

As president, Mr. Jammeh jailed dissidents, ordered extrajudicial killings and forced AIDS patients to quit their medications and submit to an original herbal regimen of his own invention, according to human rights advocates..

He also branded some of his citizens as witches, a tactic his critics say was central to his effort to divide his country and consolidate power.

Now, for the first time, the people he accused are testifying before a nationally televised commission. On Monday, the witnesses included a former police superintendent who described how top police official went from one office to another at police headquarters, accused some colleagues of witchcraft and sent them off to an unknown location.

The hearings on the roundups will last at least three weeks. But as residents clamor to speak out, some are questioning whether their testimony will be enough to heal their divisions that Mr. Jammeh sowed.

Sintet, with its blue and yellow homes, sits 80 miles from the Gambian capital off a long road, past thick greenery and spired mosques.

Its resident come from many ethnic groups there are Jola, Mandinka and Fula people among them -and they were once united, many said, intermarrying and attending each other's weddings.

Now they are split between those who still support Mr. Jammeh and those who don't, often along ethnic lines. Some still believe that neighbors were witches, while others call the kidnappings and assaults a terrible crime.

The ordeal has also divided Gambians outside of Sintet. Some people refuse to visit the town, calling its residents sorcerers. Other Gambians call them killers, because several of Mr. Jammeh's admitted hot men are from the area.

Momodou Bah, 34, a former elected official from Mr. Jammeh's party, said the discord encouraged by the regime - and specifically by the accusations of witchcraft - ''will probably take us some two decades to mend.''

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Operational Research on Gambia and other African 4th world countries. The World Students Society thanks author Julie Turkewitz.

With respectful dedication to the Leaders, Grandparents, Students, Professors and Teachers of Gambia, and then the world.

See Ya all on The World Students Society - for every subject in the world- : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - the Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

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