Journalists in Glasgow are today – Monday – holding a vigil to support seven colleagues in Gambia who are standing trial on charges of sedition.
Taking place to coincide with a court hearing in the West African country, the vigil is being staged at the Donald Dewar statue on the city's Buchanan Street, with anyone wishing to show solidarity invited to be there between noon and 2pm.
It has been organised by Grace Franklin, editor the Local News Glasgow, with the support of the National Union of Journalists.
Says Glasgow-based NUJ President, James Doherty: “Gambian journalists have been threatened, imprisoned, beaten and murdered and this latest draconian action – charging our colleagues with sedition – proves the government’s contempt for press freedom.”
The Gambian journalists were arrested after producing articles critical of the president. They include three leaders of the Gambia Press Union.
Added Doherty: “In Glasgow and London, we will offer the hand of friendship to exiled Gambian journalists here in the UK, as we all demonstrate our support for their colleagues facing imprisonment for daring to do their jobs.”
The NUJ and the GPU are sister unions in the International Federation of Journalists.
Update: Grace Franklin writes: “At least 30 people took time out of their Glasgow Fair holiday Monday to stand in solidarity with NUJ journalists in Glasgow on a vigil to support journalists in the Gambia facing sedition charges in that country.
“An asylum seeker from the Gambia, who knew these journalists, told me about them. I hadn't realised life was so harsh there. My immediate feeling was 'there but for the grace of God, go I.'
“When I realised their next major court hearing would fall on our Glasgow Fair holiday Monday, it seemed an obvious thing to do to raise awareness of their plight by holding a vigil at the Donald Dewar statue at the top of Buchanan Street.
“I was delighted by how many people dropped by and stayed for a while to talk about life in the Gambia. They came from all walks of life. Many of the vigil supporters wrote messages of encouragement and support on picture postcards which will be sent to the Gambian journalists in prison. The London NUJ headquarters has launched a legal fighting fund for the Gambian journalists whose crime appears to be they have been critical of the President. Some of the vigil visitors also left donations for that fund.”
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