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Senegal’s revolutionary icon Omar Blondin Diop deserves justice

9 14 22

On May 11, 1973, Senegalese revolutionary activist Omar Blondin Diop was declared dead in a prison on Gorée Island, off the coast of the Senegalese capital, Dakar. His life and tragic death have remained a potent symbol of the revolutionary struggle in Senegal.

Today, his image is featuring prominently in anti-government and anti-neocolonialism protests. On March 2, 2021, just hours before Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko’s arrest, the Front for an Anti-Imperialist Popular and Pan-African Revolution (FRAPP), a major youth-led protest organisation, held a press conference to call for mobilisation against the “project to liquidate [opposition] activists” in Senegal. Diop’s portrait stood prominently behind the speakers at the presser.

In the following days, thousands of youths took to the streets of Dakar to challenge the increasing authoritarianism of President Macky Sall and his suspected collusion with Senegal’s former colonial ruler, France. Many of them espouse the revolutionary values Diop stood for – anti-imperialism, anti-racism and pan-Africanism.

Forty-eight years after his death under suspicious circumstances, Diop is upheld as a “martyr of neocolonialism” and of the Senegalese state’s repressive practices, long covered up by the official state narrative presenting the country as an island of stability and democracy in a continent ravaged by war and dictatorship. This resurgent veneration of the revolutionary youth activist is not only a reflection of the dynamics in the Senegalese streets but also an indication that it is time for his case to be reopened and justice to be served.

Omar Blondin Diop in Dakar shortly after being deported from France, 1970 [Courtesy of the Diop family]Despite his untimely death at just 26, Diop still managed to have an accomplished political life. As a teenager, he moved to France where he finished high school and enrolled to study philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure, a prestigious teachers’ college. In 1968, he was a founding member of the March 22 movement, which carried out a prolonged........

© Al Jazeera

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