By Mustapha Jarju
Natives of Foni in the West Coast Region of the Gambia have expressed their anger over the alleged killings meted on innocent civilians within the Foni by the Senegalese forces, since the change of government in 2017,
They said the governing is doing less in addressing the concerns of the people of the Foni, the latest of which was the killing of one Yankuba Jarju, a Gambian allegedly shot by the Senegalese soldiers in the Foni border.
In an exclusive interview conducted by The Voice Newspaper with regards to some of the security threats faced by the people of Foni most especially those living along the border villages, they expressed the challenges they are facing in hands of the Senegalese forces.
Fatou BS Badjie a native of Jakoi Bintang in Foni Bintang District, who is the chairperson of the Girls in the Frontline Organization asked why, is it that it is only Foni community that continues to suffer and be victimized at the hands of the Senegalese forces. She said what has happened recently in Foni is sad, and why did the Senegalese soldiers shoot the young boy who is from Foni, “it is a call for action.”
He said on Haruna Jatta incident nothing happened, and the Foninkas continue to be refugees in their own country, which is very painful to them.
“How can a force from another country shoot your citizen? The issue just went down like that because it has been days now since the incident occurred. We haven’t heard anything from the government,” she has rhetorically.
She called the government to take action and pleaded “let this be the last incident in Foni, the killings in Foni are a serious threat to our people”
BS Badjie said “the future of the children in Foni is at threat as they are traumatized by the continuous security threats they are going through.
She wants the Gambia government, most especially the security chiefs to take action on this issue, saying “we deserve equal rights like other citizens in the country because nothing is decentralized when it comes to development we are being marginalised, we have being set aside”, she claimed.
Lamin Sanneh a native of Foni Jarrol said it is important to know the reality behind the incidents that continuously happening in Foni and the government should take leadership steps to engage the Senegalese government on the reason why the Senegalese soldiers continue to victimize the Foni residents.
“The presence of the Senegalese soldiers in Foni areas is because of the hypocrisy of our people and it is taking us backward because when ‘Babili Mansa’ was living people danced and welcomed the Senegalese forces in Foni, even the Foni-born citizens. But something is wrong somewhere which needs to be addressed with honesty,” he stressed.
Mr. Sanneh added that “people use all kinds of names against the people of Foni since the change of government, some were calling them rebels, while others blame them for not changing their political choice. In this country we are not following the truth and politics has spoilt everyone, sorry to say but even the journalists mixed professionalism with politics.”
Sanneh further called on the national assembly members in Foni and FARD organization not to politicalize issues in Foni but to stand for what is right.
Foni is the home of the former Gambian president Yahya AJJ Jammeh and also a border area to the southern Casamance region of Casamance. The area continues to be affected by the forces of conflict between the MFDC movement and the Senegalese forces which internally displaced thousands of residents within the Foni, the last clash between the rebels and the Senegalese forces happened in January 2022.