The Gambia Press Union on Sunday, 23 December 2018, held a symposium in commemoration of the 14th anniversary of the assassination of Deyda Hydara, co-owner of The Point newspaper.
The theme for this year’s anniversary was: ‘Safety of Journalists: National Response to End Crimes against Journalists’ and it was held at Djembe Beach Hotel.
The ceremony, held in collaboration with the Hydara Family, attracted more than 200 participants from across the media, government, civil society, diplomatic corps, and the business community.
The late Deyda Hydara, president of the GPU from 1988 to 1998, was killed in a drive-by-shooting on the 16 December 2004 and his murderers are still unknown.
Saikou Jammeh, secretary general of GPU, said Mr Hydara paid the highest prize in the struggle that the press in the media had faced and is still facing since the attainment of independence.
“The GPU is aware that even after the change of government, journalists continue to face attacks from the police and politicians,” he said.
GPU President Sheriff Bojang Jnr said the late Hydara fought for perfection, for respect of ethical standards, for the sanctity and ethos of journalism just as the recently launched Media Council of The Gambia envisages.
Pap Saine, a veteran journalist who co-established The Point with Deyda Hydara, said his former colleague contributed a lot to the development of the media in The Gambia by promoting press freedom.
“Deyda encouraged many youths to adore the profession of journalism in the country,” he said.
Mr Saine recalled that Mr Hydara was killed two days after the draconian media law was enacted in parliament.
“He was killed for two reasons: because of his famous column ‘Good Morning Mr President’, and because he fought tooth and nail against the Media Commission Act by mobilising his colleagues, media chiefs to say ‘no’ to the act,” Mr Saine.
The veteran journalist appealed to the government, through the Ministry of Justice, for the culprits of Deyda Hydara to be brought to face justice.
Baba Hydara, the eldest son of the late Deyda Hydara, also appealed to the government to scrap all draconian media laws, saying that it was an insult to see the same bill that his father fought against in the statute books now.
Delivering a statement on behalf of the chairperson of the Constitutional Review Commission, Sainey MK Marenah said the late Deyda Hydara, who he referred to as indefatigable, was a man who was as charming as he was fierce and firmed in his beliefs as a journalist.
“He was a man whose quiet but punching demeanour revealed the essence of true journalists,” said Mr Marenah who is the head of communication at CRC.
He said Deyda focused on substance, loved his country and above all believed in transparent government and the public’s right to know how they are being governed.
Representing the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dr Henry Carol said the Hydara family will be fully compensated by the Gambia government accordingly as entailed in the ECOWAS court judgment.
Madi Jobarteh, representative of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, said the 14th anniversary of the assassination of the Deyda is a manifestation that Deyda has won and he continues to be of benefit and service to the society.
“Because of him we are seeing the achievements registered in the freedom of the media and free expression in The Gambia,” he said.