BosNewsLife Africa Service
BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (BosNewsLife)– A Christian missionary couple from Britain remained behind bars in The Gambia Saturday, December 20, and was due in court on Christmas Eve, for allegedly undermining the government of autocratic President Yahya Jammeh.
David Fulton, 60, and his wife Fiona Fulton, 46, lived in Serre Kunda, a town close to the capital Banjul, where they were detained November 29 and moved to seperate prisons, friends said.
They were reportedly charged with „sedition”, or inciting rebellion against the government, a crime that carries up to 25 years of imprisonment.
Police and prosecutors of the African nation said the couple wrote letters to individuals and organizations abroad to “bring into hatred or contempt, to excite disaffection against the President of the Republic and the government of The Gambia.”
Both have denied the charges, but were so far unable to pay the high bail of about $187,000 each, for obtaining temporary freedom, fellow Christians said. The couple, who lived in The Gambia for nine years after first visiting the country as tourists, were paraded on national television earlier this month, before the official charges were announced.
Their friend, Jim Rae, told reporters that the couple’s next court appearance, initially scheduled for this week, had been postponed until December 24, or Christmas Eve.
He said Fiona Fulton had originally been detained at police headquarters in Banjul with the couple’s two-year-old adopted daughter, but had since been moved to another prison. The child is being cared for by associates of the couple’s Bible study group, Christians said.
David Fulton is reportedly being held in a different jail, where he is either refusing to eat or unable to eat. Ray said he did not understand the reactions of Gambian authorities. “There is always a sense of irony in Dave’s letters and stuff like that, but it is not satirical…It’s terrible now. I just don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s so unpredictable,” he told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). “Hopefully he will be sent home to regroup, to rethink.”
Pastor Martin Speed of Westhoughton Pentecostal Church in the town of Bolton, England, with which the couple has links, shares Ray’s suprise over the detentions. “The work [David Fulton] is doing is not political. He’s sharing his Christian faith with people,” he told The Times newspaper. “There does seem to be a growing difficulty of Christians in the country of The Gambia.” a mainly Muslim nation, he added.
About 90 percent of its 1.7 million people are Muslims, according to several estimates.
Fulton helped establish a Gambian branch of the Christian organization Prison Fellowship International. A newsletter published by the Fellowship said David Fulton had fallen foul of The Gambia’s government in the past.
He was “arrested and banned from the prison system” after an inmate complained that he was trying to convert detainees. The Fellowship newsletter reported that Fulton became a Christian while in prison in Britain. “I robbed security cars all over England,” it quoted him as saying.
Fulton also served in the British army before becoming a missionary and moving to The Gambia with his wife and their two children who now live in England. After being banned from The Gambia’s prison system, he became a military chaplain, a role observers said may have put him on collision course with the unpredictable president.
President Jammeh is reportedly prone to outlandish claims and bouts of paranoia that see alleged plotters thrown in jail. In recent years the eccentric 43-year old retired colonel claimed to have a secret cure for AIDS – his prescription is a green herbal paste and a diet of bananas. Jammeh has visited the sick and dying waving his hands over their heads and chanting, rather than supplying anti-retrovirals.
A United Nations official who questioned the the president’s ‘cure’ was thrown out of the country.
Jammeh led a military coup in 1994 that overthrew the president and banned political activity. He won three widely criticized multiparty elections since then.
Advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said recently there was “absolute intolerance of any form of criticism” in The Gambia, with death threats, surveillance and arbitrary night-time arrests the daily lot of journalists “who do not sing the government’s praises”.
Many Gambians reportedly privately disapprove of his autocratic rule, which has seen political opponents and journalists imprisoned without charge, but say Jammeh has done much to improve schools, hospitals and roads.
Advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC), which closely follows the case of the detained missionaries, urged its supporters to “pray for the quick release of the Fultons and the dropping of all charges against them” and that “David Fulton will get the nutrition he needs.” US-based ICC also asked in a newsletter to “pray for the salvation of the Gambian people.”
I have no sympathy for this group of ‘missionaries’ – the worst type of self-righteous do-no-gooders are pentecostal groups. I have seen the way they try to destroy family life in the name of religion in The Gambia. Most of the people who are attracted to these missionaries are poor people but looking for an improvement in standards of living that attaching themselves to a ‘white’ group might give them.
I have lived in The Gambia, on and off, since 1969 and I have noticed how these ‘misionaries’ have become more aggressive in the villages. They do not seem grasp that Islam is a way of life that governs and guides a muslim for 24 hours a day.
If the Fultons want to save someone there is plenty of scope in UK with all the child abuse and cruelty that has been highlighted recently – what about a missionary on a housing estate in Dewsbury. Let them come back to UK and stop meddling in the lives of people they will never understand.
Dear Tony Jeary,
While we have no official reaction on your comment from the missionaries, they may argue that they do not want to destroy family life in the name of religion. They don’t have a religion, as that’s more about rituals, priests, and Christianity in general. The couple claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and want to spread the Gospel that everyone who accepts Him as Lord and Savior becomes a new person, and obtains eternal Life. That’s more than religion, or bags of rice, medicines or anything else can provide. Missionaries are however also involved in aid programs, saying they want to show Christ’s love in practical deeds as well. Religious missionaries may have made mistakes, but that doesn’t mean all of them were wrong to travel to The Gambia and support people in need, supporters of the couple would say.
BosNewsLife News Center
this is the time for internation organisation to know what this so called president is doint in thE GAMBIA,every body in the Gambia are scare of this Government.no one will against them even if they are not right,i fear for mr and mrs fulton life,bcause this president is a real murderer.we need uk to action to remove this so called president who has been killing his own people and journalist,every one is scare of him,Gambian people are nice people but the problem is the PRESIDENT,
As the Gambia is a mainly Muslim country and obviously wants to remain such, why should Christians want to upset the balance there. White people who go uninvited to African countries should accept what is likely to happen to them. Being a tourist is one thing but attempting to convert the local population is another and quite frankly is wrong. Muslims have their own religion and this should be honoured. I wonder how British people would feel if their schools and other institutions were visited by the local Mullahs, with an attempt to sway them away from Christianity. If Gambia has a political problem then the Gambians and the African people as a whole should be left to sort it out for themselves. The British and other post colonial powers should keep well away and let African people govern themselves. If they need help and guidance, there is plenty out there in post colonial Malaya and Singapore which are fine examples of self governing countries. I hope I have not given an over simplistic view of things. I also hope that Gambia does not end up like Zimbabwe!
I am going to remember the Fultons in my prayers until I hear that they are safe.
Indeed I agree we should pray for the Fultons, the Gambia and President Jammeh.
God almighty changed St Paul from being a persecutor of the true faith to a disciple of the Loard Jeus Christ. I hear that many Muslims have dreams from God showing them the truth. Lets pray for the safety of all, and that God’s love will be seen.
Extracts from email sent by the Fultons and entered as evidence for the prosecution in Court in Banjul
“It would be seem that as a Christian I am no longer allowed to tell a Muslim in the armed forces that they are going to hell and that Christian through faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and heaven.
“ I believe it is quite clear that there is a growing extremist element in the army and indeed in the country, I suggest that we arm the Muslims with sticks and the Christians with machine guns and let them fight.”
“Hell in The Gambia what is going on in this country was real bad, real bad. Never before have Fiona and I felt such a presence of evil and we are shocked to find opposition within the Christian community.
“This country is sinking fast into a morass of Islam, many people are safe and standing for Christ, but they are the minority”.
They should serve time and be deported – and leave the little ‘trophy’ girl in Gambia.
This has nothing to do with the President – it’s Islam – maybe Allah is telling them something
Dear Tony Jeary,
We have no way of knowing whether your quotes are really those of the Fultons. Even if they were, however, it seems strange that people are sentenced for expressing an opinion. That Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and heaven is what the Bible says, so perhaps not surprisingly perhaps that Christians share that view. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife
“I suggest that we arm the Muslims with sticks and the Christians with machine guns and let them fight.” – where in your book does it advocate such behavior, even in England such sentiments would cause a flutter with the authorities.
Many Gambians who met him found him to be objectionable, overbearing and self-righteous and that I know, directly from soldiers who met him at Fajara Barracks.
He has no future in the Gambia – why not suggest he turns his talents closer to home in UK – or maybe martyrdoom an objective.
Dear Tony Jeary,
There is no way of knowing independently whether this was ever said in private e-mails. All we know for certain is that Fiona Fulton was involved in helping terminal-ill patients, and that David Fulton wanted with anyone to share the love of Christ who the Bible says is The Way, The Truth and The Life (John 14:6, New Testament). Even if unflattering comments were said in these e-mails, it seems to me that is no reason in a normal functioning democracy to send someone to prison and hard labor. They were not involved in terrorism. However the missionaries were apparently in a desperate situation amid pressure from authorities, even before the latest incident, so perhaps those comments were influenced by that. As you quoted yourself also: “This country is sinking fast into a morass of Islam, many people are safe and standing for Christ, but they are the minority”. Looking to the record on human rights of the Islamic President Yahya Jammeh that seems a very truth statement indeed. Many people have been detained for criticizing him, according to several independent right groups. You may find that normal, many readers may call that dictatorship.
Also read: http://bosnewslife.com/4828-breaking-news-the-gambia-sentences-british-missionaries-to-hard-labor-prison-2
Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife
We are continuously trying to depose Mugabe and no one talks about getting rid of these others “dictator” eg (Yahya Jammeh) that are in Africa, who seized power, was not even voted for. Who are impoverishing their people they kill anyone that try to talk out against them, they keep all the wealth and money that for the people, for themselves. The system that’s in place in Africa is to impoverish the people so that they starve, without aid the people would not exist. The Continent is rice with the world’s resources and who is benefiting, not them.. Those leader should be ashamed of themselves, and stop letting there people starve. What good are they for their people? “What is his secret cure for AIDS – his prescription is a green herbal paste and a diet of bananas” is he trying to kill even more people?
I see what M Walker says – but all is not as simple as he believes.
President Jammeh has stood for election twice – and his majority has increased. Observers say it was free and fair. With regard to his treatment for AIDS – we have herbal and organic treatments for many illnesses – cancer etc so why not AIDS. The patients are not forced to go for his treatment and they can leave when they wish. Other more traditional treatments are available and the British Government has a medical research centre at Fajara.
The reasons for corruption are numerous and not confined to Africa if we are to believe to news stories coming from America and as for killing people – where did the example come from. Read our colonial history.
Enter Gambia News in Google and from the page select Daily Observer newspaper there you will see the full detail of the exploites of this terrible couple. The details are supplied by the Daily Observer and the Mail on Sunday (UK). That should be enough evidence even for you.
would it be possible to translate your website into spanish because i have difficulties of speaking to english. I would like to read more of what you are writing .
I read with interest the comment about ‘the couple claim to have a relationship with Jesus Christ’.
Mrs Fulton obviously decided to spread the love by engaging in an extra-marital relationship with a Gambian soldier. So the child was not adopted after all then!
Dear Sarah Evans,
I don’t know whether Mrs. Fulton had “obviously” an extra-marital affair. Apparently you are better informed on that issue. What I do know however that the Bible says Jesus died, and more importantly, rose up from the death for all sinners, including those having an extra-marital affair. When Jesus met a woman who had many affairs, He told those demanding a death sentence for her: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7, New International Version). As far as we know this couple are evangelical missionaries, providing aid as well as hope to many people there…
Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife
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