- Amnesty International has accused the Gambian authorities of kidnapping 1,000 people and taking to secret detention centres on its presidential campaign to crack down on alleged witches in the West African state.
According to the rights organisation, the hostages have also been forced to drink a concoction which has reportedly killed two people recently while others have developed kidney problems resulting from its inatke.
The Amnesty International UK Director, Kate Allen, said the current attacks are part of the government’s witch-hunting campaign which has reportedly forced hundreds to flee to the neighbouring Senegal, saying that many of those abducted were elderly citizens.
Ms Kate Allen has urged the Gambian government to halt the campaign, investigate the attacks and bring those responsible to justice.
Local witnesses said the paramilitary police armed with guns and shovels surrounded the village and threatened the villagers that anyone who tries to escape will be killed. “They randomly identified over 300 men and women who were forced at gunpoint into waiting buses and ferried to the President's hometown,” they told Amnesty International.
The further said those detained were stripped and forced to drink dirty water from herbs and were also bathed with these dirty herb, saying after drinking the concoction they immediate had diarrhoea and vomiting whilst they lay helpless.
Earlier this month a prominent opposition figure Halifa Sallah, was arrested at his home following his visit to the victims of torture and abductions in one of the country’s remote villages. He is currently charged with spying and holding an illegal assembly by the Gambian court.
According to the organisation, the incidents have taken place in the Foni Kansala district, an area near to President Jammeh's farm of Kanilai. However, many people told Amnesty International that they feared the 'witch hunting' campaign will spread throughout the rest of the country.
Local reports have said that witchdoctors were invited to Gambia early in 2009, soon after the death of President Jammeh's aunt. The President reportedly believes that witchcraft was used in her death.
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