By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
A victim who testified at the Gambia’s Truth Commission’s public hearings has returned his first reparations payment of D19,000 on 22nd July 2021. Just last week Friday the 16th of July 2021, Yusupha Mbye visited the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) headquarters at Dunes Hotel to return his first reparations payment cheque but was convinced to keep it after Vice-Chair Ms Adelaide Sosseh intervened. However, in a turn of events, Yusupha finally decided to return his first reparations cheque and submitted a letter to the Commission, reproduced below.
Yusupha was shot on his spinal cord by Security Forces on April 10, 2000, and has been wheelchair-bound since the unfortunate incident. This is detailed further in his letter.
Last Friday Vice-Chair Ms Sosseh clarified that the Reparations payment was only symbolic and that the Commission’s Reparations Policy means that victims who benefited from Interim Reparations will only be afforded a maximum of D100,000. Ms Sosseh also chairs the Commission’s Reparations Committee and further clarified that Yusupha is set to receive the maximum D100,000 with the first payment of D19,000 paid by the Commission while the remaining D81,000 is to be paid by the Government.
She explained that Yusupha had travelled to Turkey where he received physiotherapy support to help him improve his mobility. She also noted that a significant amount of funds has been spent on Yusupha and the other three victims on their trip to Turkey. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic Yusupha could not be operated on as planned.
According to Ms Sosseh, the hospital was converted to a Covid-19 treatment centre and was not back to normal operations until Yusupha had to return to the Gambia before the conclusion of the TRRC’s mandate. However, she assured Yusupha that his “unique medical condition” will not be abandoned. It is anticipated that his situation will be addressed by the “Independent Body” identified to implement the TRRC’s Recommendations.
Below is the letter from Yuspha Mbye which he submitted to the TRRC when returning his D19,000 Cheque on 22nd July 2021.
“My Issues and Needs Concerning Reparations”
“My name is Yusupha Mbye. I was born on the 24th October 1982 in Banjul. I was a Grade 10 student at Pipeline Comprehensive School (now called Daddy Jobe Upper Basic School), when the events of April 10/11 erupted and I sustained gunshot wounds. I testified before the TRRC on 18 September 2019. Since April 10/11, I have been wheelchair-bound and suffering from severe pain and unable to urinate normally.”
“Kindly allow me to first of all express my sincere satisfaction and gratitude to you, as the Chair and through you, to all the Commissioners as well as the staffs of the Commission for the excellent job done to unearth the truth of the human rights violations committed under the brutal regime of Dictator Yahya Jammeh. Even though I was a direct victim, the public hearings of the Commission have provided me more information and a better understanding of the circumstances that led to my own injuries and violations. I have now come to realise and appreciate the extent and depth of the atrocities committed on April 10/11 for which I still continue to suffer.”
“Having noted the above, I wish to react to the issue of reparations to victims. Let me state that more than anything, reparations are the most potent means through which victims could find total closure and solace after knowing the truth of what happened to them. While prosecutions focus on perpetrators, reparations on the other hand, provide victims an opportunity to repair their lives by restoring them to their previous state, or close to it, as best as possible.”
“In cases like mine, no amount or kind of reparations can indeed restore my rights and dignity in full. I have come to recognise and accept the fact that I have been permanently disadvantaged, incapacitated and disempowered by the events of April 10/11. After having lost the opportunity to complete my education, and now permanently wheelchair-bound, I have been pushed into a permanent position of disability that I would forever remain at the mercy of other human beings to help me to even take care of my personal hygiene. By this reality alone, my privacy and dignity have become severely compromised, if not violated consistently.”
“In light of the above, I look towards reparations only as a mitigating measure to enable me to manage to live with some modicum of ease, privacy and dignity. For that matter, I do not wish to be given a one-time payment of any amount of money. Rather I require services to be provided to me for the rest of my life in order to avoid being plunged into a deeper state of destitution, sickness and poverty. In this regard, I wish to bring to the attention of the State, which is the perpetrator in my case, like many others, to take its full obligation to provide me the means to enjoy a decent and reasonable state of health and dignity.”
“The services I would therefore require are as follows:
- Hire of a permanent nurse for my upkeep
- Continuous provision of urine bags
- Continuous provision of catheter bags
- Provision of electric wheelchair with continuous replacement when necessary
- Continuous access to physiotherapy services
- Continuous access to general healthcare
- Continuous provision of means of transportation
- Provision of a permanent and monthly monetary allowance subjected to adjustment in line with prevailing economic circumstances, and to be lodged in a bank account to take care of my feeding, accommodation, clothing, and general upkeep
These are basic services that I would need in order to live a decent life with minimal strain and infringement on my dignity and privacy. I wish to therefore submit these to the Commission for urgent consideration.”
“Yours Sincerely, Yusupha Mbye”