- December 17, 2014
Today, HRC delivered a petition with over 18,000 signatures to the White House that calls on the Administration to take action against Gambian President Yahya Jammeh as he continues to round up, torture, and oppress LGBT Gambians.
The petition, signed by HRC members around the United States, called for the U.S. government to restrict entry to the U.S. for President Jammeh and his associates, and to freeze any assets he may be holding here. “It is essential that the U.S. deliver a strong message that human rights violators are not welcome in our country., and that they will be held accountable for their crimes,” said Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global.
President Jammeh took power in a military coup in 1994. Since then he has ruled by fear, targeting human rights activists and civil society. Early this year he took The Gambia’s criminalization of same-sex relations a step further, signing into law a draconian measure further criminalizing being gay with the possibility of life imprisonment. His targeting of LGBT people is a cynical effort to burnish his anti-Western credentials and gain support for his repressive agenda. "We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively,” he reportedly said earlier this year.
After the law was passed, Jammeh’s security forces immediately began detaining individuals suspected of being LGBT, and forcing them, sometimes through torture, to name others. There are now some fifteen innocent people in prison, being held without access to lawyers or the outside world. The authorities are believed to have a list of some 200 more Gambians who have done nothing wrong, but are accused of being LGBT. They are being hunted down, right now.
By submitting these 18,000-plus signatures to the U.S. government, HRC’s members are sending a clear message -- we will not stand by as The Gambia persecutes its LGBT citizens. We call on the Obama administration to take concrete action to halt these, and other human rights abuses, being committed by President Jammeh and his authoritarian regime.