Photos credit: Isseu Diouf Campbell
Senegalese New Yorkers rallied at the US Immigration Court on Varick Street on March 30, 2021 to show support to Senegalese activist Ousmane Tounkara.
Tounkara who responded to an FBI inquiry on March 9, 2021 and has not been seen since, was scheduled to appear in court that morning.
His supporters, waiving Senegalese flags and holding signs reading “Tounkara is not a terrorist,” waited patiently for his lawyer Craig Relles, to come out the courtroom.
“The US government is trying to remove Tounkara back to Senegal because he is not allowed to remain in the United States,” said Craig Relles. “So, it is our job to prove that he is eligible to remain in the United States because he would face danger if he were returned to Senegal. It is clear that he is a leader and that he is opposed to the Senegalese government.”
Relles is also urging community members to write letters of support detailing the dangers Tounkara would face back home in Senegal.
Ousmane Tounkara who has been very vocal about Senegalese politics, made threats to Senegalese leaders in a recent video discussing the protests amid the arrest of Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.
Even though, his supporters admit that he might have gone a bit far, they say Ousmane Tounkara is not a terrorist. They believe Tounkara got carried away, speaking passionately because he loves his country.
They also accuse the Senegalese government of reporting Tounkara to the American authorities.
Senegalese Consul General El Hadji Ndao declined to comment on the case.
For now, Tounkara’s passion has led him into the hands of immigration enforcement. Another Senegalese activist, Assane Diouf based in New Orleans, suffered the same fate in 2017. Diouf was arrested and deported to Senegal in August 2017.
Meanwhile, the Senegalese Association is offering to help any citizen wanting to write a support letter and Tounkara’s supporters are planning another rally in front of the Senegalese consulate on April 2nd, 2021 at 2 p.m.
Ousmane Tounkara’s next court date is April 27, 2021.