Rights groups are calling on Gambia's government to release 33 activists who were detained more than a week ago after demonstrating against sand mining in their village.

Omar Bah, chair of Gambia Youth for Unity, said Monday that unethical mining is taking place in the coastal Kartong village. He said the government must release activists who took to the streets on Nov. 22 to protect their land.

Amnesty International said that 33 of 40 people arrested were later charged with conspiracy, among other charges, and have been denied bail.

The group said a blanket crackdown on protesters is not acceptable, and criminal charges should only be brought if there is clear evidence.

President Yahya Jammeh's rule since 1994 has been marred by accusations of rights violations.