A former Nursing Student who was enrolled at the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Banjul has claimed to be an eye witness to live bullets being removed from the students who were shot dead by Gambia’s security forces. The Nursing student who was at the time doing his clinical experience work at the RVTH now called Edward Small Hospital Narrated a detail story of what he witnessed at the hospital contrary to what Gambians were told by the administration on using rubber bullets against the student demonstrators.
Below is the story of the Nursing student:
I was a student nurse at the School of Nursing & Midwifery in Banjul doing my clinical work experience at the RVT; now call Edward Small Hospital when the student massacre started in 2000. I was posted at the accident and Emergency Unit (A& E) before the killing spree started. The entire student Nurses were called back to the school to attend an emergency meeting regarding the student demonstration. The Principal and other tutors told the students not to join the demonstration. We responded that we were students and needed to stand by our fellow students. The Nursing students were very angry but the school gates were locked and no one was allowed to leave.
Our principal Francis Njie reminded the students that we are professionals and need to be out to help people but not join the student demonstration. All the Nursing students later decided to go out of the school but by then many State House guards were out with their guns thinking that we will join the demonstration. The guards started threatening the students not to move or else something will happen to us. The guards were informed that the nursing students were going to help at the hospital.
When I arrived at the hospital, students started arriving with gunshot wounds some on their chest, head, abdomen, legs, backs and shoulders. I was one of those assigned to take the names of students, their addresses, and the school they attend while the doctors attained to the wounded students. There was immediate shortage of doctors due to the number of students wounded. There was immediate chaos within the hospital. Some students arrived at the hospital dead and we could not take their information.
One of the students called Karamo Barrow was bleeding furiously while I attained to him. He later died in my arms while I was trying to obtain information from him. He only managed to whisper his name to me which I was able to capture. This student was turning blue quickly as blood oozes profusely from his chest and back. I tried to stop the bleeding by applying lots of gauche and bandages but it was too late for him as he could not wait for anymore operations. I could not help it but cry profusely because it was so sad to watch so many young boys killed. I keep wondering why kill students who were not even armed apart from their uniforms.
The situation was so chaotic and devastating the Nurses and Doctors who were not on duties were called to help the situation. Everyone was so scared that the situation will go out of that even the Doctors had to place small radios at the theatre listening to what the Jammeh regime was lying about using rubber bullets while the doctors were removing live bullet from students’ bodies on the operating table. The Doctor at the theatre was so angry about the false claims of using rubber bullets he even asked a rhetorical question to everyone in the theatre saying how can they lie to the people about this tragedy? While the doctor was busy removing three live bullets from one student’s chest, abdomen and back two soldiers arrived with their guns and walk straight into the theatre looking for a soldier they thought had some wounds and was brought to the hospital for operation. As a student myself upon seeing the soldiers, I lost my temper and screamed at the soldiers to leave the room. Other Nursing students grabbed me and calm me down and said to be careful before they shoot us in the theatre. I could sense the terror in my classmates and everyone in the room. The person in charge of the theatre at this point told the soldiers to leave as that was not a place for guns. Before leaving the theater the soldiers threatened to deal with me when I step outside of the theater.
To add insults to injury I later found out that one Lamin A Bojang (RIP) a brilliant student whose parents I personally knew and lived with was also killed in the shooting. The family of Lamin Bojang like many others was devastated for the lost of their young ones. No one could comprehend what had happened and why in the world would soldiers open fire on innocent students. I kept having nightmares after this incident and for several months I could not sleep.
In narrating this story I am well aware of my obligations and oath I have taken as a medical student to keep confidential information. However, the more I think about this tragedy the more I am convinced that Gambians need to come out and tell the real story of what happened on that dark day in our history. It is also my obligation to help heal the wounds of this massacre in our history. Only Allah knows exactly who was responsible but it is safe to bet that Gambian uniform men open fired and killed unarm innocent students in the Gambia on April 10 & 11 2000. It is a day that no conscious Gambian must forget. We owe it to our brothers, our country and our student victims to come out and tell the story as we witnessed it. The question that will forever remain in my mind is where are the real bullets that were removed from the students that could be used to one day proof that in fact the Jammeh government was lying when they claimed to have used rubber bullets to disperse the students. I hope that Edward Francis Small Hospital management will account for the bullets that were removed from the bodies of the students.
May the souls of the killed students rest in peace and may Allah comfort their parents and render them justice someone. We will always remember these maître students who die defending their freedom of expression. Rest in peace brothers… Rest in peace… we will always remember you…
Former Nursing Student (SRN) Class of 2000
School of Nursing Banjul The Gambia