Alieu Sarr is believed to be one of these men shown in a Gambian TV report on the arrest of three men on suspicion of homosexuality
A Gambian man arrested in a crackdown on the country’s LGBT community says he is close to death following alleged torture by national intelligence agents.
According to Gambia’s Freedom Newspaper, Alieu Sarr is suffering from body pain and fatigue and is coughing up blood. He has been hospitalised under armed guard in the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul.
BuzzFeed News also reports that activists are further concerned about Sarr’s safety after he was moved to a private ward in the hospital where enemies of President Yahya Jammeh are reputed to have been murdered.
An emotional witness who saw Sarr at the hospital told the site: “He has cotton in his nose and he is coughing blood and saying, ‘I know I’m going to die.’”
The witness added: “I feel sorry for the guy. I don’t know if he’s going to make it.”
Sarr is believed to be among a group of people suspected of being gay or lesbian who were arrested and allegedly tortured in the crackdown that started in November last year.
In December, the Gambian media broadcast footage of three men arrested on charges of homosexuality. One of them is believed to be Sarr. (Watch below.)
Amnesty International has condemned the arrests and said the victims had been tortured and ill-treated to force them to confess their so called “crimes” and to reveal information about other individuals perceived to be gay or lesbian.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, also expressed alarm at the attacks against the LGBT community, calling on the county to put in place “an immediate moratorium on arrests” on the basis of its anti-gay laws.
In October 2014, President Jammeh approved a law that created the crime of “aggravated homosexuality”, which carries punishment of up to life in prison. Homosexuality was already illegal in The Gambia under British colonial era laws and those found guilty of “unnatural offences” face up to 14 years in prison.
Jammeh has repeatedly attacked LGBT people as “vermin”, most recently asserting that the “evil empire of homosexuals will also go down the dirty drain and garbage of hell…” He has even threatened to decapitate gays and lesbians.