The Gambia Witch Doctor Gambit

Rather than waste time wringing its hands over whether the US tortured the man (?) that murdered Daniel Pearl, I wish the international community would turn its attention to the witch hunts in Gambia. No, really, witches. According to Reuters India in Up to 1,000 detained in Gambia witch hunt

Witch doctors and security forces in Gambia have detained up to 1,000 people on suspicion of being witches, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. Police in the African country dismissed the reports as lies.

Victims have been held in secret detention camps for up to five days and forced to drink hallucinogenic substances which have killed at least two people through kidney failure, the London-based human rights organization said in a statement.


Around 300 men and women were forced on to buses at gunpoint and taken to President Yahya Jammeh’s home area of Kanilai, Amnesty quoted the witness as saying.

“Once there, they were stripped and forced to drink ‘dirty water’ from herbs and were also bathed with these dirty herbs. A lot of these people who were forced to drink these poisonous herbs developed instant diarrhoea and vomiting whilst they lay helpless,” the witness added.

Gambia’s inspector general of police, Essa Badjie, rejected the reports as lies.

And here comes the motivation for those lies

“I think they are neglecting what is happening in Afghanistan. They are lying,” he told Reuters by telephone.

“Tell them they are lying. See what is happening in Palestine and Iraq… The Gambia is a peaceful country,” he said.

If I get Badjie’s drift, because of troubles in Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq, we have to divert attention to a place that, frankly, most Geography majors have never heard of. Quite right. I think maybe the IG has been sampling the hallucinogenic “dirty water”.

Amnesty said eyewitnesses and victims said the people seeking witches, themselves known as witch doctors, had come from nearby Guinea, but were accompanied on their raids by Gambian police and army and national intelligence agents, along with members of Jammeh’s personal guard, known as “green boys.”

The “green boys” are apparently a violent group.

Green Boys

Green Boys

According to the Washington Post article on the same subject

In 2007, Jammeh declared he had discovered a cure for AIDS and began treating patients inside the presidential palace, using herbs and incantations. His dictatorial regime has cracked down harshly on critics, especially the press.

According to this article in the Gambia Echo Online Newspaper

I couldn’t and never would understand how a 21st Century Head of state can claim to have supernatural knowledge empowering him to be hearing voices from the Quran that revealed the secrets of the cure for Aids, cancer, diabetics and the like.

As I learn more and more about Gambia and its witch doctors, it’s comforting to know that The Gambia has the same vote at the US in the United Nations.

Which Doctor?

Which Doctor?

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