EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: 61-year-old Fatou Camara said she was forced to drink former President Yahya Jammeh’s prepared concoction in his 2009 witch-hunting exercise and asked to admit to being a witch but she refused because she was not one.
Testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission –TRRC- in its public hearing on the 2009 exercise in Sibanorr on Tuesday, Mrs Camara earlier before the arrival of the witch-doctors in her community of Sintet, she was called on phone and told that the witch-hunters were coming and their purpose was to hunt witches and wizards and to give them concoction to drink.
Mr Jammeh’s 2009 witch-hunting exercise which abducted and subject more than 1000 people to inhumane treatment was widely criticised by international health agencies, including WHO for using unscientific concoction on people that led to the death of many.
The exercise which was administered by Mr Jammeh himself, forced people suspected of being witches and wizards, to drink a portion that will render them unconscious and admit to witchcraft.
“The day the witch hunters came to our village was the same day of my in-law’s naming ceremony,” the old woman said. “I heard the sound of a drums in the village and all of a sudden, I saw people entering into our home and they asked me to come with them. They were wearing red cloths and they came with a group of green boys and some military personnel.”
Mrs Camara said when she asked them men where they were going to take her if she follow them, she was told that they are taking her to Kanilai to be given something.
She said apart from her, many others were arrested too and were driven in a bus to Kanilai, where they were forced to drink the concoction, saying the witch-hunters will purposefully enter in home and break doors if people hide themselves in their houses; taking example of her co-wife, who she said had ran out of fear to save herself but was captured.
Answering questions by the Commission’s Counsel Mariam Singateh, the witness said they were served with lunch shortly after their arrival in Kanilai and they were forced to eat by reminding them about the danger of the concoction when drunk on a hungry belly.
She said after they were given the concoction to drink, many of them, including herself had seriously implications, with some of them vomiting and some hallucinating. “In fact some were affected with inability to walk. It took me days before I regain consciousness after drinking the concoction,” she said.
Mrs Camara said they were forced to admit being witches and wizards and we were threatened to be given a most dangerous concoction to drink again if we don’t confess. She said she refused to admit and was given what they referred to as the ‘dangerous’ concoction to drink.
Story written by Isatou S Tamba