By: Kebba Ansu Manneh
Abdou Karim Jammeh, AKJ, is a survivor of the April 10-11, 2000, student protests in The Gambia, when 12-14 students were shot and killed by the country’s security forces, and many became traumatized and maimed for life.
The protests were by members of the defunct Gambia Students Union, GAMSU.
AKJ calls for the international community’s intervention to help bring justice and closure to the victims of human rights violations under the former president, Yahya Jammeh.
AKJ spoke in an exclusive interview with TAT, where he accused the government of President Adama Barrow of “neglecting the concerns of the victims, who are dying one after the other while promoting the welfare of perpetrators by appointing them to high government offices.”
“Just yesterday, we lost Sukai Dahaba; we’ve lost Lang Marong, Hon. Fabakary Kolley, and the list is just going up, but still, victims and their families have no closure.”
President Barrow has so far failed to prosecute perpetrators of crimes under Yahya Jammeh, with some accomplices of the former president now serving as directors, heads of Institutions, ministers, and ambassadors of the government in Banjul.
Yet these were people against whom the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) made adverse findings, as captured even in the subsequent Government White paper, according to AKJ.
“We (victims) are calling for the intervention of the International community to come to our aid and help us to attain justice and closure in our cases.
“The fact is that the Gambia government of President Adama Barrow has regrettably failed to bring closure for the victims of the former regime.
“And, it is time for the international community, especially the International Criminal Court (ICC), to come to our aid.”
He added: “Since the publication of the Government White paper, we haven’t seen any tangible steps taken by the Barrow Administration to bring the perpetrators to book.”
“Rather, we are seeing them promoting perpetrators to higher government positions. Perpetrators have been rewarded with top government positions, including ministers, ambassadors, and directors, while the victims continue to search for closure and justice to no avail.”
President Barrow’s administration continues to sidestep the recommendations of the TRRC, and most victims have yet to receive any meaningful help from the government.
The victims’ needs include adequate medical treatment, education sponsorship for victims or members of victims’ families, and so on, according to AKJ.
“Many victims are struggling with various diseases; some of the victims who lost their husbands are presently finding life very difficult; for people like Yusupha Ngum (a victim of the students’ shooting) among others, their situations are terrible.”
He added: “Now we are saying enough is enough. Since the government of President Barrow cannot solve our matter for seven years, we are appealing to the international community, especially ICC, to help us.”
AKJ, in the interview, pointed out that “the pain, tears, and blood of the victims” contributed to making possible the change that swept away the former regime and paved the way for the coming of the Barrow Administration.
“Unfortunately, this new government has abandoned the victims, who are now dying one after the other,” AKJ declared.