BY MARIE HYDARA
Bisimilahi Rahmane Raheemee, Alhamulilahi, Rabialaamena (In the name of Allah , The Beneficent , The Merciful, All praises and thanks to Allah)
Today marks the 10th Anniversary of the unwarranted and illegitimate killing of a most loved and loving husband, a very good brother, a supporting and loyal friend, a daring and fearless journalist, an excellent mentor, doting granddad and best of all the greatest dad ever.
In the last decade Africa has seen the hunt, butchering and murder of her finest and the culprits in most of these cases families are still waiting for justice. Before, journalists were killed whilst reporting at atrocities, unrest and at uprisings; unfortunately now Africa has seen most of them getting killed meticulously by enemies of Press Freedom and Free Expression. Enabling them to continue abuse of office, corruption and in an attempt to instill fear of God into other journalists and young aspiring Journalists and or putting them off from this noble profession.
When we woke up on Friday 17th December least did we think or knew that this day would mark the disruption and displacement that would be the order of our days and years to come. A nervous shock to the system that we can never ever recover from.
We can say we had good times, we can even say we had great times but since 16th December 2004. We have never had the peace to make it last without the memories of that horrendous day or its aftermath opening the flood gates.
From the 17th of December 2004, a home was changed to a house, a sense of security, peace and tranquility left broken, when home doesn’t feel like home anymore. When dreams, hopes and aspirations are snatched and killed with the very source of our existence. In an instance all was lost forever.
When people said “sorry for your loss, know it’s hard but time is a healer”, I totally disagree, for after 10 years, the scars are still present and it seems Time cannot begin to heal all this horror, dismay and disgust. Nothing can erase the pain and shock, it hurts and won’t stop hurting, this, we will have to carry for the rest of our lives.
Exactly ten years ago today, when our dearest Pa was cowardly snatched away, leaving us in distraught and lost, our only comfort was knowing that he stood and died for his ideals.
We thank the Almighty for guidance to see us through this horrible ordeal, another thing that picked us up most was the love and support and prayers. The Solidarity, (will and determination) which was shown when Journalists took to the street of Banjul was like nothing anyone‘s ever seen. Your quest for answers into this unconscionable act was moving to say the least. We recognized familiar faces, colleagues, friends, family members and well-wishers all coming out to show their support. In that dark place we were, you lifted a lamp to lead the way, making us realize that we were not alone in this.
However with every passing year, as hopes of ever getting these monstrous culprits and cohorts off the Streets are dashed away, the numbers of faces we thought would stand up for Deyda gets smaller too. But we thank Almighty for the very few God fearing who after 10 painful years are still behind us some to their own detriment. Some of you have been harassed, intimidated and forced into exile just for defending his name. We cannot thank you enough, and are in debt to you all. When people are scared to be associated with the name DEYDA HYDARA, or are so scared that they feel the need to lie, hide, deny and even abuse others for whatever reason or for whoever.
All Deyda wanted was to be a journalist as he proudly said on the day he was killed “Journalism is my life” (The point 16th December 2004), and an exceptional one he was, he single handed took it upon himself to be a reformer and an advocate for the voiceless, constructively and ethically reported the basic needs and cries of the masses, ranging from agriculture, education and health care. Reflecting on issues where the state, Government bodies, politicians, enablers and facilitators of government fell short of the required standards of a democratically- elected government for and by the people. In an attempt to hold them to account, even suggested ways to improve and be able to get to the heart of the problems with policies the people were struggling with or decisions which didn’t favor the masses. Along the way he generated so many enemies, made some people very uneasy, he was never bothered and he never gave in to any threat, intimidation and was happy to be gunned down at any time. As he reported, following ongoing attacks on media houses and journalists” maybe we are crazy but some of us would be proud to be gunned down or simply be killed for fighting for Press Freedom and Free Expression”(THE Point 17th August 2004)
No matter how hard and unconscionable this is , we thank Allah and take solace in the fact that he had served his purpose in life as his mission (though cut short by ignorant who have no respect for humanity, Democracy, Justice and Free Expression) was a well lived life.
When did we get to be so evil?
When did we become so in humane?
When did our motherland became filled with so much filth?
How did we get here?
How did we get to become so heartless?
When, a dad, husband, uncle, granddad, friend was butchered in cold blood and left for death in a ditch, some people thought it justified enough to celebrate his demise.
This is what our smiling coast is reduced to, filled with animals where smiles have been washed off by the blood of patriots, where we find the need to bring about so much pain, hatred and suffering irrespective of how many families and people get ruined in the process.
Totally different and unfamiliar to the neighborhood and community spirits of the Bathurst our great grandfathers knew and were afforded.
What happen to the communities who supported each other or went out of their way to help each other, from living together, sharing and exchange of interests, alternate school runs and shopping trips even school meetings and enlisting children (yours and your neighbours?)
Where the less privileged kids were taken in for a better prospect in life.
When different tribes will share a home and be living in harmony peace and tranquility like was enjoyed by our grandparents.
What have we got to leave our kids for tomorrow?
Other than transformation of peace for havoc,
Tranquility for unrest
Living as animals with no heart or mind to think for ourselves
People with no morals,
People with no self-respect for themselves or human decency,
People who gag, conspire, plot, gang, against your own people, torture or even kill
How can one be so heartless to look into the eyes of your victims yet go ahead as planned thinking you are untouchable?
All for what, power, money, greed, status and mere concession which never last.
The African Charter to which the Gambia is a signatory has afforded all member states to enjoy the liberties like all human beings. Africans States are to adhere to the Charter but it seems not all do.
We in cooperated in the Charter terms like
Free from anti colonialism and anti neo colonialism,
Intimidation from the West (all intimidation is done by her own people)
Freedom from torture, (yet her people are tortured)
Freedom of Association (people are deprived from joining social groups of their choice)
Freedom of Speech (if this existed, Africa would be a better place today)
The aforementioned (are a few Articles) that have been embedded in the preambles of The African Charter. But it seems that the liberties (if afforded, are only afforded to some people, yet the masses are still denied these and persecuted regularly even tortured and receiving degrading treatment thereby engaging the very Articles proscribed to be afforded to all citizens in all member state.
The Gambia Government has engaged and breached these articles and or exempted some from manifesting their beliefs as was stipulated in the African Charter.
They have failed on so many levels where Deyda is concerned, and are liable for the criminal wrong doing of her citizens and in this investigation fell far short of the standards of any recognized Rule of Law , Democracy or Freedom and Justice that is a fundamental Right to be enjoyed by everyone.
All the Government has done into this matter was to close all doors and avenues, and deny us of Justice into this matter .From the word go, they showed no interest or humanity.
He was assassinated with 3 gun shots, which were heard by the police who were right there but claimed to take the shots to be fireworks. Which is hard to follow as fireworks were prohibited,
He was left for death or to ascertain that he was dead, (how much evil can be a man’s heart)
Demonstration to condemn the killing was limited to journalist only, unlike in Mali and Senegal where turnout was greater, because of that.
We are still after 10 horrid years waiting for an autopsy report, which we are entitled to as it was signed for by a family member. The so called investigation was a sham to say the least, which depicted the victim as causing his own dead, it was repugnant vilifying the victim.
The lists goes on and on, whether by intention or default the Gambia Government has failed in protecting her own and denying us justice. Also letting loose these demons behind this dastardly act to go on killing more. Confidence in the system is lacking, which is paramount to any given society.
When we embarked on our quest 10 years ago, we were only a family lost with utter devastation missing the main piece of a puzzle.
Our dearest Pa was shot 3 times in cold blood
We had no soldiers
We had no guns
We were voiceless
All we had was each other and a lot of faces we thought we could rely on, today when people are scared to be associated with just the name DEYDA HYDARA,
When some people avoid us like the plague,
And some are so scared, they have to lie, hide and deny knowing or even sitting in the same class or chairing a meeting with Deyda.
We thank the Almighty for the very few but loyal God fearing full of integrity, who since 10 years ago have been rallying around us.
You got us here today with steadfastness, you Press, Fight and Push to get us through
You gave us a voice to be heard, a radio and even TV where our calls for justice echo on and on…
Today when some of you are tortured, harassed, intimidated, imprisoned and even forced into exile just for defending DEYDA.
We cannot begin to thank you enough for the solidarity, and moral support shown.
You got Deyda the recognition with endless nominations, A MEMOIR, Living mirror (thanks to uncle DA Jawo and Ahmed Alota for their dedication and determination) they went through a lot of hurdles, had doors shut to their faces by people scared to speak, about the man Deyda was. Again we thanked the very few who were loyal enough to give an account of the man they knew, loved and respected.
A FILM, (we thank with utmost gratitude Article 19 (Free Expression), All other Human Rights Organizations and especially Fatou Jagne Senghore, for her passion, efforts and diligence in making this a success. We also thank Uncle D A Jawo, Tonton Ndiagga Syla and The Senegalese Media for their contribution and all African Journalists and everyone who have contributed one way or another to making this film possible.
The lifetime achievement awards, The Hero of African Journalism Awards,
You call him Hero, Martyr, a champion,
What could be greater than having DEYDA HYDARA written on a plaque in NORMANDY, France a few feet from where President Charles de Gaulle was laid to rest and next to the world war veterans?
No greater joy than this which could be said to be all down to You, You and You, (my uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters of the pen)
In our eyes you are the Heroes and the Martyrs who struggle day in day out to get us here.
We appreciate all your efforts and with profound admiration and appreciation, we salute you all who have used your papers, medium and platforms especially the few on the grounds (who work under extremely hostile climate) and all on line Newspapers in the diaspora. We also thank our nearest and dearest for the prayers and support shown.
Thank you all so very much for keeping DEYDA HYDARA alive in our hearts.
We miss and will always love you. If we had to choose all over again we would be honoured to choose you, for you took the ultimate sacrifice and died for your ideals. Though still in distraught, you have done us proud.
Happy 23rd Anniversary to the Point Newspaper,
It seems like yesterday when you were established, you brought so much joy to Pa his wish was to make you the voice of the voiceless and the oppressed.
We thank uncle Pap Saine, publishers, friends staffs who are bending over backwards to keep his dream alive. May the Almighty reward you all. Thank you, Thank you and Thank you!
I know, you don’t like to hear it and it doesn’t feel like it but please forgive me, and allow me …..
Happy Birthday Aja Mariam Hydara, we pray that you live a long and healthy life to see these rank and files brought to book. Yours is the hardest, as the emptiness is vast and you feel you can never feel normal again; Pa ‘s left huge shoes to fill as he was like no other in all he did and was (A dad, A journalist, a husband a friend and colleague) for he always went out of his way to help and always put the welfare of others before his own) but Alhamdulilah, (Thanks to Allah) for it’s tough but you doing a great job for all we wanted was an extra time with him; as always with grace and dignity you keep us sane. Thank you for putting your pain last and soothing ours.
Finally, on the 10th anniversary of our beloved and dearest Pa, we reinforce our calls to the International Communities, Human Rights, Amnesty International , Article 19, UN, EU,ECOWAS, AU, CPJ ,IFJ, NUJ , MLDI and All specialist Journalists NGOs, RSF, AFP, TAEF, WAJA, GPU, International Penn, Open Society, and all Organizations, Activists, Journalists and all those who believe in Freedom, Justice Free Expression and Press Freedom to join us (after 10 horrid years) to renew our calls for Justice not only for DEYDA HYDARA’s murder but for all African Journalists whose families are enduring the pain and despair of waiting for answers.