EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: Major Wassa Camara, former Commander of the Kudang Military Camp admitted to have ordered the arrest and detention of students’ during the April 2000 demonstration but denied the torture allegedly mated on them.
Scores of students in Brikamaba and Janjanbureh were rounded up for taking to the street in protest to the killing of a student by fire officers and rape on another by a uniform officer. The chaos eventually led to the killing of fourteen students by anti-protest police.
In his testimony before the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission on Wednesday, he said the arrest came after students were found in plan to burn the market [in Janjanbureh]. He said, the students had already burnt the police station before arrival of the soldiers on the ground.
Major Camara said his men were not allowed to carry weapons because they understood that the students in the protest were unarmed. However, up to three students were shot death in the areas these soldiers were deployed.
“I told the police that we are going to meet the students but they are disgruntled students who are unarmed and our duty was to settle down the situation”, he said.
He said his move was taken to remind the students that they were future leaders of the country and that, vandalising properties was not the right thing to do.
“We have realised that if the students are left like that anything could happen. So, the best-case scenario is to assemble them in one place. They were kept at the school”.
It is alleged that while students were being confined on the school ground, they were tortured by members of the armed force.