A witch-hunt in the truest sense of the word

It's not everyday that we here in the Amnesty press office come across bizarre stories, but today is definitely one of those days.

As highlighted on BBC News Online today, we've discovered that there is a witch-hunt in Gambia, which is likely to spread across the country.

According to eyewitnesses and victims, up to 1,000 people suspected of being witches have been kidnapped by witch hunters, taken to secret detentions and stripped, beaten and forced to drink poisonous liquids.

This may sound like the stuff of fantasy, but sadly it’s a very real situation for hundreds of people in Gambia.  And Gambian officials are endorsing this as witch hunters are being accompanied by police officers, army, national intellingence officials and even the President’s bodyguards. Reports suggest that this campaign began shortly after the death of the President’s aunt.  It’s reported that the President believes witchcraft was used in her death.

One eyewitness described how he and 300 others, were taken by gunpoint to the President’s farm.  There people were forced to strip, were then beaten and given ‘dirty water’ to drink. Scores of people immediately became violently ill and they were left there unassisted. They were then beaten and forced to sign a confession that they were witches.

It seems as though very little about this can be said within Gambia. One journalist there had reported on this situation and he’s since been imprisoned, under charges of sedition and spying. 

Needless to say, Amnesty’s going to be closely monitoring the situation in the Gambia and will call on the government to put an end to this.

Til the next time

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