Prisoners in The Gambia are on hunger strike—protesting against the prison’s poor living condition, lack of proper sanitation, health attention, good food, among others, the Freedom Newspaper can report. The hunger strike started on Thursday, and the prisoners want the world to be aware of their plight, as a good number of inmates have died in the recent past in The Gambia due to hunger, and malnutrition related illnesses. The most recent case involved a Dutch National, who was confined to a “one man cell” infested with mosquitoes—resulting to his untimely death.
“The prisoners refused to eat poorly cooked food served to them by the Prison guards, on the grounds that unless their plight is met they will not eat any food. They are demanding decent dwelling, balanced diet, access to medical attention, and visit passes to be extended to their families, said a source familiar with the story.
The entire Mile Two prison population are taking part on the hunger strike. An eighty three year old man is among the protesters, said our source. The prisoners are openly complaining about the inhumane, and degrading conditions they have been exposed to by Gambia’s prison authorities. The prisoners said the food at Mile Two is bad, and that they are being treated like animals.
The prisoners are also appealing to the International Red Cross Society, and other human rights Organizations around the world to come to their aid. International news Organizations such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the voice of America Radio, CNN, and other news site are being urged to focus their coverage to the plight of the Mile Two prisoners, said a source concerned about the prisoner’s plight.
They also want to see an improvement to their living conditions. Prisoners suffering from health related issues have been denied access to medical treatment, balanced diet, and proper sanitary conditions.
The death of the Dutch National was caused as a result of neglect, as prison officials refused to accord him medical treatment when he complained about a recent illness. The prisoner was confined to a “one man cell” without access to good food, and medical attention, sources said.
“There is no fan in that prison, and the place is too hot. Prisoners are dumped in one place without good food, proper sanitation, and medical attention. What’s happening at Mile Two is unacceptable,” said our source.
The Mile Two hunger strike has spread across the entire prison population. An eighty three year old prisoner is also taking part on the strike, said our source. The prisoners are calling on the Minister of Interior, Justice, and other relevant authorities in Jammeh’s Government to visit the Mile Two and assess their plight, said a source familiar with the story.
Prison officials reacted to the prisoners hunger strike with a retribution. The only television set that was meant to serve as entertainment outlet for the prisoners had been taken away, sources said. The prison guards have also stopped serving food to the prisoners, as another way punishing them.
“The environment is charged within the Mile Two prisons. There is a bad blood between the prisoners, and the prison authorities. The situation could degenerate into a full riots if not handled with care. The prisoners had reached to a point that they are saying enough is enough!,” said our source.
About seven inmates are currently suffering from the dreadful malnutrition disease locally called here “ Beriberi.” The prisoners had developed swollen face, and body. The disease is indiscriminately killing Gambian prisoners. Many a time prisoners will die due to Beriberi.
Prison officials have confirmed the hunger strike. They said the strike had been ongoing since on Thursday. ” The prisoners said they have no alternative but to embark on a hunger strike. The prison command is aware of the situatution,” said a source close to the prison command in Banjul.