April 10th and 11th 2000 Victims Statement on 2023 Commemoration
Yesterday and today marked 23 years since April 10th and 11th 2000, when we were shot, maimed and tortured by State Security Officials who swore to protect us. All we wanted was to make our voices heard for our colleagues who were killed and raped by the same Security Officials who are supposed to protect us. As school-going children back then, we expected the Government of the day to hear us and do the needful, instead the unthinkable happened, and the Government turned against us and meted out violence against us. Since then, those of us who survived the massacre and family members of the deceased continue to live with physical disabilities, psychosocial trauma and very little support from the Government.
Our dreams to become Doctors, Lawyers and even the leaders of this country were dashed away, starting with our dreams to complete our education. Many of us have not been able to complete our studies due to physical disabilities suffered on that fateful day and some of us are even confined to wheelchairs and crutches for the rest of our lives. While our bodies continue to deteriorate, we call on the Government to PRIORITISE OUR MEDICAL TREATMENT to alleviate our daily suffering.
Taking note of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) Report and Recommendations, we would like to thank them and the government for funding our upkeep to access medical treatment donated by the Turkish Ambassador. However, we must note some of the deficiencies which highlight that enough has not been done. Many of us flown to Turkey did not return with improvements and some of us continue to deteriorate because the government has neglected us since then. We thank all Institutions and Individuals who have supported our medical treatment. We note that victims cannot continue to wait for Bills to be passed in Parliament to access medical treatment.
In this regard, we call on the government to dedicate the finance it has recovered from the sales of former President Jammeh’s assets including over D1 Billion of assets sold from the Janneh Commission and the recently sold $2.65 million US Potomac Mansion. This will go a long way to pay off all Reparations Payments and invest in urgently needed medical equipment in The Gambia which can improve the condition of victims and Gambians. This will ensure more people can access medical treatment in the country instead of abroad.
Mr President, we the victims cannot write this letter without directing our disappointment that since you met us in Senegal back in 2017 and promised to alleviate our suffering and that you were also a victim you have had only one meeting with the victims for less than an hour. Mr President, we call on your government to steadfastly and diligently act on the TRRC Recommendations. Mr President if your government had committed adequate funds for Reparations there would not even be a conversation about requiring a Reparations Act or Commission to pay off the remaining reparations. A Reparations Act is needed but not to finish the work of the TRRC such as paying reparations which it already started. Every victim was given a slip of what they received from the TRRC and the outstanding payments from the Government. Sadly, Mr President, the issue is not the lack of funds but rather the failure to prioritize the plight of the victims. Simply allocating a reasonable sum from the proceeds of the sale of the former president’s assets would have gone a long way.
Mr President, we the victims have taken note of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statement released on Twitter yesterday. Although your government has accepted all the TRRC recommendation relating to the April 10th and 11th 2000 Victims, however, we are disappointed to inform you that nothing significant has been implemented.
Mr President, for sustainability there are some recommendations which require little funds to implement especially if implemented with victim-led organisations and civil society organisations in the Gambia such as;
- To declare April 10th and 11th April a school holiday or to memorialise this tragic day to ensure it never happens again. The longer this continues then many Gambians will grow up forgetting about this tragic day which will derail the Never Again objective.
- The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and Tertiary Education to meet student bodies annually to discuss issues of concern to them and setting up official channels of communication to deal with student complaints in a timely and effective manner.
The behaviour of ACU today reminds of the jammeh era.Its time to disband the ACU. We can’t have thug like behavior from law enforcement who are paid by our tax payers funds to protect us in accordance with the law. @Gambia_MOJ @BarrowPresident @gambia_gpn pic.twitter.com/3yQqVvPVig
— Salieu Taal (@salieutaal) April 6, 2023
Mr President the urgency of these recommendations cannot be overstated. We take note of a recent incident of Police still detaining and transporting students to unknown locations. Mr President, we implore upon you to instruct your government to act on the TRRC Recommendations and re-enforce the Never Again mantra before it’s too late.
This can include a proper rebranding of the Arch 22 to be stripped off the current murals it displays and replaced with more appropriate murals, decorations and other artefacts which can be inaugurated by your government.
Mr President, we are aware that the MoJ has dispatched letters to the various Security Institutions to dismiss the adversely mentioned persons it is not clear to us if the adversely mentioned security personnel are still working in the system. We call on the Government to provide accurate and timely information on the persons who have been suspended and when their suspension was affected.
It’s quite unfortunate that the government has resorted to passing a Bill to ban adversely mentioned persons instead of taking the legal process or tabling the TRRC Report and Recommendations for debate in Parliament.
Finally, Mr President, we wish to remind you that the former Government enacted an Indemnity Act to absolve all April 10th and 11th 2000 Perpetrators. We call on your government to repeal this draconian act and to repeal sections of the Public Order Act not in line with Democratic norms and values.
We cannot conclude without remembering the names of the deceased as documented in the TRRC Report
- Reginald Carrol of 7 Grant Street, Banjul, 2. Omar Barrow Red Cross Volunteer of Latrikunda German, 3. Momodou Lamin Chune of Serekunda, 4. Lamin A Bojang of Jambur, 5. Perrera Calisco of New Jeswang, 6. Karamo Barrow of Ebo Town, 7. Momodou Lamin Njie of Ebo Town, 8. Mansally Wuyeh of Talllinding Kunjang, 9. Burama Badjie (10 year old boy) of Tallingding, 10. An unidentified corpse in the mortuary, 11. Amadou Ablie Sajaw (3 year old boy), 12. Ousman Sembene (3-year-old boy shot in the head), 13. Ousman Sabally of Kerewan Samba Sire, 14. Sainey Nyabally of Dasilameh Village (12-year-old boy), 15. Bamba Jobarteh (Armitage student tortured and detained at Janjangbureh Prisons and died shortly thereafter).
In addition, another 20 people were maimed and seriously injured. Some of us who are still alive and with the fortitude to persist after 23 years have come together to sign this statement on behalf of the deceased.
Signed by April 10th and 11th Victims
Yusupha Mbye, Abdou Karim Jammeh, Abdoulie Bojang (Father of Lamin A Bojang), Sainey Senghore, Oumie Jagne, Sainabou Camara, Musa Kanaji, Bakary Njie and Fatou Barrow (Daughter of Omar Barrow a Red Cross Volunteer).