|FAJ President & Secretary General NUSOJ, Omar Faruk Osman|
To the Gambia Press Union on the occasion of holding its Congress in Banjul, The Gambia
Distinguished guest, Delegates, Friends, Brothers & Sisters,
I bring fraternal greetings from the Federation of African Journalists on the occasion of holding your congress as an independent and democratic journalist organization. I wish you all the success in this congress and more victories in the future.
It is indeed a great pleasure and honour for the Federation of African Journalists to send a solidarity message to the national Congress of our great member, the Gambia Press Union. We are extremely happy that the GPU is holding its congress.
On behalf of FAJ and thousands of African journalists we salute the Gambia Press Union and its member journalists for their heroism and continuing struggle for press freedom, for better working conditions, for social justice, for democracy and for social progress.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank GPU for its important role in the struggle of African journalists. On behalf of the Steering Committee of FAJ, I also wish to acknowledge the active participation of GPU in carrying out the programs and policies of FAJ in general and in expanding and strengthening the work of the FAJ in West Africa in particular.
You are gathered here today in this important congress of your union which brings together all working journalists in the Gambia. GPU has been known for giving journalists a voice. And we desperately need to sustain that voice. This union effectively maintained its consistency and position to defend Gambian journalists, to improve their pay and conditions, and to promote press freedom.
We note that the current environment you operate in as journalists and media practitioners has been weighed down with difficult and daunting challenges, especially to your freedom and safety.
The constant harassment, intimidation and repression against journalists in the Gambia have become well known. But in the face of these clear and present dangers, you have soldiered on with uncommon courage to ensure that Gambian citizens get the necessary information they need to make informed decisions while also contributing to challenging the forces that are against social justice and democratic governance.
We salute the commendable and devoted courage that you demonstrate by your unending enthusiasm for journalistic duty. Clearly, you have defeated those who think that through oppression and other attacks on your persons, equipments and media houses they can achieve individual and generalized brutal suppression. We are with you in this struggle and will continue to condemn and denounce all forms of attacks on journalists, other media persons and outlets in the Gambia.
Let me inform you that we have been working very closely with the leadership of GPU and also the West African Journalists Association (WAJA) to carry out a campaign to protect the safety of journalists. Specifically, we are currently reaching out to the African Union (AU) and the various sub-regional blocs to achieve policy frameworks that provide for and promote safety, protection and justice for victim journalists.
Since FAJ was established in 2008, we have stood against oppression and exploitation of journalists. Today, all kinds of threats and pressures as well as brutal murders against African journalists continue to happen with total impunity. We unite our voice with the voice of all
victimised African journalists, including Gambian colleagues.
Brothers and sisters,
You are critical for your people’s struggle and for your country. You provide a significant chance to build your nation and to strengthen and give power to your people, without oppression and exploitation.
We must continue to work together, indeed strengthen our working together, to help ourselves and to stake our claims forcefully and with all the strength at our collective disposal, full in the knowledge that freedom, democracy and social progress can only arise and endure as the fruits of tenacious struggle that mobilizes the people and places them squarely in the driving seat of their destiny.
We trust and appreciate the role and the big struggles of GPU. I wish you fruitful deliberations and hope that a stronger GPU emerges out of this congress.
- Read by Louise Thomasi, IFJ Africa Office at the Gambia Press Union Triennial Congress June 24-26, 2011, on behalf of FAJ