By Gainako Online News
One Fatu Camara of Foni Sintet, has revealed how her rights were violated during former President Yahya Jammeh’s Dictatorship. In an exclusive interview with Gainako, 65-year-old Fatu, explained how she was forced to drink a toxic concoction known locally as “Kubejareh” which has affected her health for over a decade now. Fatou says she hasn’t been able to do anything for herself and has been bed ridden since her encounter with Witch Hunters ordered to purge the Foni of witches.
In 2009 numerous residents of Foni Sintet were arbitrarily arrested under bizarre accusations of being witches. According to testimonies by victims at the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), individuals captured in Foni were taken to Kanilai, the home village of former President Jammeh, where they were arbitrarily arrested, tortured, sexually assaulted and forced to endure extreme humiliation.
Accused of Witchcraft, Abducted and Abused
“I was accused of being a witch and arrested, upon our arrival [to Kanilai] we were giving a concoction after which I fell unconscious and couldn’t move. We were taken away on a Monday at around 5pm and kept against our will for 3 days there. I was eventually released on Wednesday evening” said Fatu.
According to Fatu, she was stripped off all her clothes and forced to take a shower by a young man who could be her grandson. This was extremely dehumanising and humiliating considering the large number of people present while they were abused.
Mrs Camara has five children and unfortunately lost her husband at a very early stage. “Jammeh abused us with his power. How can someone accuse a person of being a witch? God will judge them for violating my right as a woman, for sexually harassing me. At one point one of those ordering us to strip threatened to kill me while at the bathroom if I refused to comply with their dehumanising orders.”
Turning her attention to the TRRC she explained how she testified at the TRRC hearing in Sibanor and went for treatment after that. While she was away for treatment she was notified that the TRRC brought food supply to her residence as Victim Support.
Crying for Justice
Crying her heart out she explained how she and other victims “really suffered from the witch hunters. They made us go through unimaginable humiliation and distress while we were held hostage. I don’t know for other victims but I will never, ever forgive Yahya Jammeh for what he did to me. I pray to God that he stands to face the consequences of his crimes against all victims especially us the women”.
“I said during my testimony and will say it over and over again things like such should not happen again #Never Again let this be the first and last time such things happen in the Gambia. I want the government to help us to ensure that these unimaginable human rights violations never repeat themself” she said.
It must be noted that even though the Gambia’s Sexual Offences Act 2003 criminalizes all forms of sexual violence, exploitation and harassment there is a need to ensure that such laws are enforced. According to a report published by the International Center for Transitional Justice after series of workshops with female victims, they are calling for the “full truth about the 2009 witch hunt” and to clear their names, reaffirm their dignity and let the whole world know they are not witches”.