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Glasgow journalists to hold vigil for Gambian colleagues

17 July 2009

Journalists in Glasgow are planning to hold a vigil to support seven colleagues in Gambia who are standing trial on charges of sedition. The event will happen at lunchtime on Monday 20 July to coincide with a court hearing in the West African country.

The seven journalists were arrested after producing articles critical of the president – they include three leaders of the Gambia Press Union (GPU).

The Glasgow gathering coincides with a citywide holiday and is being supported by Alieu Ceesay, a Gambian journalist who lives locally and is seeking asylum in the UK.

Organisers hope to keep the vigil going between 8am and 4pm – roughly the hours the Gambian court will sit. They will meet by the Donald Dewar statue on Buchanan Street. Supporters are welcome anytime and NUJ activists are planning to attend between noon and 2pm.

The NUJ has already supported a protest at the Gambian High Commission in London and set up a legal defence fund for the defendants.

Those on trial are, from the GPU, Emil Touray, general secretary, Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, vice president, and Pa Modou Faal, treasurer; Pap Saine, publisher, and Ebrima Sawaneh, editor, of The Point newspaper; Sam Sarr, editor, and Abubcarr Saidykhan, reporter, at the Foroyaa newspaper.

They were arrested in June following the publication of a statement by the GPU critical of the Gambian head of state, President Yahia Jammeh. The seven have already appeared in court several times and spent some days in the notorius Mile Two prison.

They are currently on bail of 400,000 dalassi (€10,800).

Next Tuesday, 21 July 21, there will be another protest out side the Gambian High Commission on Kensington Court in London to highlight the case of journalist Ebrima Manneh, who has not been seen since 2006.

James Doherty, NUJ president, plans to attend the Glasgow vigil. He said:

"Gambian journalists have been threatened, imprisoned, beaten and murdered and this latest draconian action – charging our colleagues with sedition – proves the government's contempt for press freedom.
"In Glasgow and London, we will offer the hand of friendship to exiled Gambian journalists here in the UK, as we all demonstrate our support for their colleagues facing imprisonment for daring to do their jobs."

The NUJ and the GPU are sister unions in the International Federation of Journalists.

Tags: , gambia, glasgow, trials, press freedom, journalists detained, journalists arrested, journalists prosecuted, gpu, ifj, solidarity