Witches On Trial

Gambian Witch Trials

At this distance in history it’s possible to look at Western witch trials as an interesting curiosity. Tragically, witch trials – and more commonly extra-judicial killings – are still an every day danger for many people in the 21st century.

One of the nastiest examples can be found in Gambia, where the president, Yahya Jammeh, has sparked witch crazes.

Jammeh, who has claimed he can cure HIV with herbal remedies, (but only on Thursdays) is not a very nice man. Under his rule Gambia has had a terrible human rights record, with critics of his regime disappearing and dying in alarming numbers.

In March 2009, Yamweh set off a witch craze according to Amnesty International. The president thought the death of an aunt was caused by witches and “witch doctors” with government backing rounded up as many as 1,000 Gambians on suspicion of taking part in the sorcery. Many have been tortured, detained for long periods, and at least two people have been killed.

While not strictly witch trials – President Yamweh doesn’t seem very keen on trials – these horrifying events are evidence that hysteria and ignorance are always with us.

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