Friday, May 29, 2009

Gambia 'witches' forced to drink foul potion

This, from the May 20 New York Times: "Witch Hunts and Foul Potions Heighten Fear of Leader in Gambia."

Under the bizarre rule of dictator Jammeh, squadrons arrested Gambians (mostly elderly, witnesses reported) suspected of witchcraft, took them away on buses, and fed them a strange liquid. The article reads,

"To the accompaniment of drums, and directed by men in red tunics bedecked with mirrors and cowrie shells, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Gambians were taken from their villages and driven by bus to secret locations. There they were forced to drink a foul-smelling concoction that made them hallucinate, gave them severe stomach pains, induced some to try digging a hole in a tiled floor, made others try climbing up a wall and in some cases killed them, according to the villagers themselves and Amnesty International."

The drink made some unconscious, and one man interviewed for the article shakes his head uncontrollably from side to side and has done so since the torture. Amnesty International says that six people have died from the unidentified drink.

This story ran on page A6 of the New York Times...the news about witchcraft persecutions is getting more attention lately, as it should. This is a shameful human rights issue that needs to be addressed.

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