April 2000 Survivor: “We Are Calling On the Government to Help Us Now”

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Transcribed By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT

Tuesday April 10th 2018 marked 18 years since the lives of 16 young innocent souls (including a Red Cross volunteer and an unknown youth) were taken by the Gambia’s Armed Forces. Who gave the order for live ammunition to be used on unarmed defenceless children? The paranoid Dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh prepared to hold on to power at all cost decided to unleash the full force of the Military on students. One activist describes the manner of the killings on the day. “Available post-mortems on 12 of the 16 students murdered by Police on April 10/11 2000 show 11 killed by “distant gunshots”, 1 shot to the head, 1 shot to the neck, 8 shot to the chest, 1 shot in the thigh. THIS WAS A SHOOT TO KILL POLICY PICKING OUT DISTANT TARGETS.”

As a presenter in the annual April 2000 Victims Radio Broadcast on Fatu Radio and Gainako, we spoke to Abdou Karim Jammeh, a survivor of this deadly massacre, who gave an account of what life has been like since the change in government. Many concerned citizens want to know when the new Government will expedite the urgent medical treatment that is so badly needed before even considering issues of justice and compensation for the April 2000 Victims and Survivors?

You can listen to the full interview and commemoration of the April 2000 Victims on the SoundCloud link

Abdou Karim “This day is a very, very important day and it’s a day of prayers, a day of mourning, a day of remembrance as well. To my little knowledge, April 10 and 11 happened when two of our student colleagues, the one was killed by the name of Ebrima Barry he was tortured by the Fire Services. And the second reason was our fellow student who was raped by two para-military officers at the independence stadium during the interschool’s days, so these are the two reason why we decided to go and demonstrate not to disturb the traffic or whatsoever. We were always going there to express our fundamental rights as citizens of the Gambia and as citizens concerned for that matter because of what had happened to our colleagues.”

Crying For Justice

AK “Our security officers did not play their role as what they should do. Instead of guiding us to where we should be going to deliver our message they came with their guns and batons beating us and then started firing at us and killed 14 of our colleague and leaving us, few of us in lifetime disability which we were not praying for. We were not yearning for. Our parents were not yearning for I can say. And 14 of our colleagues also parents are still in pain, thinking of their children. Wish they brought them up in order to be there to have a better future in life, all those students their lives has just been cut off like that. And since then we the victims or the survivors have been crying for justice, during the former dictator time we been calling for justice we been going to the press. But all goes in vain without no success because to them we are criminals we the enemies of state, according to him that’s what he used to say. The enemies of progress. We have been labelled as badly as they can, we been fighting for justice but to no avail.”

Filled With Hope

AK “When the changes happened we were filled with hope that you know at least changes has happened because the head of government today most of them are victims likes us. We’re victimised by the dictator this gave us the hope that our life is going to be changed for the better. Because we been suffering for 18 good years. But as you rightly said since 13 months back we had lots of promises from the new Government but we are still yet to see it definitely. Even the President promised one of our colleagues who was in Dakar. We were in Dakar with him but we left him there. He was promised by the President that when they came back to the Gambia he is going to do something for us but still now we are yet to see anything from the Government’s side.

We had another promise form the Turkey government, we do have a promise from the Turkey Government that they will help us to go to Turkey for our treatment. All that we need is to buy tickets for us to go to Turkey and have our treatment there and we definitely, we are really in need of treatment, we need treatment first, education then other things. But these people with the help of the Minister of Health and Mr Saul Mbenga, I have to say it, I’m going to say it, I don’t know whether he will like it or not. If somebody do good so we have to voice it out. With the help of the Minister of Youths and Sports and Mr Saul Mbenga they coordinated this without our knowledge. So they called on us and the Turkey embassy told us that I will help you people to Turkey but you people try to find a ticket and I will take you to Turkey to have a treatment there.”

Still Waiting…

AK “But the Government (sighs) still yet we are yet to receive anything from them. And we are calling on them at least to help us now. Because three of my colleagues, especially Yusupha, if I think of Yusupha I completely forget about myself. Definitely to be honest with you. Mobility, no it’s better for me, I can go many places with the support of a walking stick. But when I think of Yusupha I forget about myself. And he is a lion, he’s a brave somebody. Because some of the times when I get angry, he will tell me lets calm down nyu jappa si Yallah [lets keep the faith]. He is the one who used to give me courage most of the time. Because when I get angry I will call him boy what can we do. He will tell me boy Yallah bakh na bull worry [God is Good, don’t worry], nyu jappa si Yallah rek. So our day is coming and I believe that with these Chinese it gives us a very, very big hope, a higher hope that things are going to be better but still yet. Definitely.”

April 2000 Justice Activist –

“Available post mortems on 12 of the 16 students murdered by Police on April 10/11 2000 show 11 killed by “distant gunshots”, 1 shot to the head, 1 shot to the neck, 8 shot to the chest, 1 shot in the thigh. THIS WAS A SHOOT TO KILL POLICY PICKING OUT DISTANT TARGETS AND THE CITIZENS NOW WANT TO KNOW WHO GAVE THE ORDERS?”

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