9 March 2008

Gambia: Freedom Newspaper Readers in the Gambia React to Government's Move to Block the Paper!!!

......Freedom Newspaper Is Our University- says A Central Bank Insider

The recent move taken by GAMTEL, the country's main telecommunication company to block the main IP address of the US based Freedom Newspaper, has attracted a huge outcry in The Gambia. Freedom Newspaper fans are voicing their concerns and opposition to the Government's move. They described the internet censorship as an affront to democracy and press freedom. The concerned Freedom Newspaper readers said the Freedom Newspaper was their major source of news. The readers said they lacked faith into the pro-Government Newspaper the Daily Observer, which they say is hell bent on burying the truth about current political happenings in the country. Now that the Freedom Newspaper has been blocked by the Government, the readers said they have no means of accessing the true Gambian story. " It's only the Freedom Newspaper, which is reporting the news accurately. The Observer is a disservice to this country. The paper has been turned into gutter press. Your paper's hits is ten times more than that of the Daily Observer. The Freedom Newspaper contributed to the sharp decline of the Daily Observer circulation. People here no longer reads the Daily Observer. It's a garbage. It's only meant for the dummies and unpatriotic. No meaningful Gambian wants to read that paper calls the Daily Observer. We are very angry over Government's move to block Freedom." said Lamin Taal.

Mr. Taal said the Freedom Newspaper was widely loved in The Gambia. " Lawyers, teachers, decision makers, diplomats, gender activists, Human Rights Activists and the common man in the streets read the Freedom Newspaper. This is the only paper, which reports what we want to hear." said Taal.

An official of the Central Bank of The Gambia, who browses the Freedom Newspaper on a daily basis, in an email to the Freedom Newspaper said "Dear Editor, kindly help readers in the Gambia to know what is the problem with Freedomnewspaper. It is four days now i can't access the online paper. I hope the devils have not block it again. Please help us to know something now because Freedom Newspaper is our university in the Gambia. Thanks."

The leading popular online Newspaper, has been absent in the newsstand for the past couple of days. Readers in The Gambia , said they cannot access the Freedom Newspaper, even though the site is up and running. The Government through their new business partners-Spectrum Group, have decided to block the site due what they call as the paper's critical editorial stance. The move followed a lead story, published by the Freedom Newspaper, in which the paper reported that GAMTEL, was on the brink of total bankruptcy.

Many people who have been following the news on the Freedom Newspaper in The Gambia, have seen news black out in the past two weeks when accessing the website has turned a major problem. The site, which has been a real source of accurate news for the populace has been taken off the net by the Government. This situation has bothered a lot of fans. They viewed the Government's move as another attempt to deny Gambians the right to the website of the choice.

Samboujeng Manga, a teacher at Essau said it has been a news black out for him. "The Freedom Newspaper for me is the best news outlet because their reporters say what is happening and we always see the reality. When the paper talks about the President's claim of killing an enemy with his magical powers, we see it. All the stories about the State House is seen live. We are so proud of this paper, the government should leave them alone." Samboujeng says angrily.

Other people believe that those who irked into the site sometime ago causes a lot of ill feelings among people by capturing and detaining them have brought in some people to see that it is difficult to open or to cut it off the news stand totally. Two or three people have confirmed that they have not had access to it in the past few weeks. People around Sukuta have confirmed that it has not worked for them too.

The fact remains that the authorities are very afraid of them seeing things about them exposed constructively but in a very hard way with analogies to get people to understand better, situations in their country. If such is taken off the news stand then they are denying them the freedom of speech or the freedom to access news in their own home country.

Some Secretaries of States who accessed the Freedom Newspaper are not happy about the latest development. These concerned Secretaries of state hide in the offices to read Freedom. They also have private laptops ay home, which they used to access the paper.

One would believe that the government is looking closely at the paper for the fact that many people who read the Freedom Newspaper have always do it in hiding. People got arrested when caught reading the Freedom Newspaper in The Gambia. The Government considered the paper as a "hate paper." bent on undermining the Government.

No one in The Gambia would read it in the open. The government believe that the paper is well read, the easiest thing to do in such an instance is to take it off the air to satisfy their conscience. But this would not last for long as it would let others find another way out. Many people read the paper in close doors during office hours. They have been deprived of their breakfast and dinner at work. The Freedom Newspaper is a household name in The Gambia, but Jammeh cannot stand the paper. He fears the paper to death. The paper has been banned in The Gambia.

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