Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Shocking witchhunts in Gambia

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Amnesty International have today released news of what seems to be a government-sponsored witchhunt in Gambia. They say as many as 1,000 people accused of being witches have been rounded-up in villages by witchdoctors and taken to detention camps. Once there "they are forced to drink unknown substances that cause them to hallucinate and behave erratically. Many are then forced to confess to being a witch. In some cases, they are also severely beaten, almost to the point of death." Amnesty say that at least two people are known to have died from drinking the substance.

The witchdoctors seem to be operating under government orders. They have been visiting villages along with members of Gambian President
Yahya Jammeh’s personal guard, and were invited into the country after the death of Jammeh's aunt earlier this year, which he believes was brought about by witchcraft.

Amnesty are also calling for the release of
Halifa Sallah, a prominent government opponent who was arrested after writing about the witch doctors in an opposition newspaper.