Gambia’s truth-seeking Commission; TRRC this week heard some terrific testimonies from survivors on how they were manhandled by military personnel in the April 10 and 11, 2000 incident in The Gambia that led to the killing of 14 people by Gambian police officers and soldiers during a student protest.
The testimony of Njie Manneh, a then grade nine student at Brikamaba Junior secondary school in Central River Region on Thursday explained how he received burns on his leg from a bullet that first landed on a wall and later fell on his leg. He said the bullet was fired by members of The Gambia armed force.
The nationwide April 10 and 11 student protests were called following two separate incidents – the beating to death of secondary school student Ebrima Barry by firefighters, and the rape of a 13-year-old girl by a uniformed police officer – and the lack of investigation of both of those incidents.
Mr. Manneh told the Commission in his Thursday testimony that one of his friends at the time Ousman Sabally was the one who told him about the planned student demonstrations, following the killing of Ebrima Barry, a student and the rapping of Binta Manneh, while she was attending an inter-school athletic competition at the stadium in Bakau.
He said Ousman, who was one of the leading organisers of the protests was shot by the military personnel who confronted the students at the time. “Ousman eventually died moments after he was shot,” he said.
Despite firing live ammunition into the students during the protest after government buildings had been damaged, no charges have been brought against those involved, and the then president Yahya Jammeh government suppressed commemoration of the event. Adama Barrow’s government has since promised to investigate the shooting.
Mr. Manneh said the military personnel who were brought to contain the demonstrating students came from Kudang, Basse and Farafenni barracks, saying they were alerted by the then Brikamaba junior secondary school principal.
He said was arrested after returning to school some two weeks after the demonstration and taken to the Janjanbureh prison, where he was detained for fourteen days before being subsequently released to be allowed to return to school to sit his grade nine examination.