EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: A serving police officer of The Gambia Police Force, Monday testified before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), where she explained how she immediately lost her child when she delivered due to the activities of the April 10 and 11 2000 students demonstration.
Explaining events leading to the death of her son, Awa Sanneh-Bittaye said she was at the Kotu police station when the April 10 and 11 protest occurred. She said the demonstration met her at the police station at around 9am, where she, together with Ensa Badjie and Mengah Ceesay were hit with stones by student demonstrators, resulting to injuries.
She said she was 4 to 5 months pregnant when the stones hit her at the right side of her rib cage. “I was feeling a lot of pain, but I couldn’t stop because I need to run for my life. I was with that pain until October when I gave birth and lost my child. I could remember my stomach was continuously paining from morning.”
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.
Despite the firing of live ammunition on the protesters after government buildings had been damaged, no one was ever held accountable for any crime. Exile former President Yahya Jammeh’s government suppressed any form commemoration of the event. The government of Adama Barrow has since coming into power promised to investigate the shooting.
Mrs Sanneh-Bittaye said she to report the matter to the doctor who told her that they will try and save the child, but it was unfortunate that she lost the child. She said that even was a sad moment of her because that was her first child.
“It was hard because that was my first child. You know for a woman when you are married the one thing you look out for is to get a child. The one thing that would have been best for me was to hold that child in my hands. After they told me he had died, there was nothing I could do, so I just returned home.”
Mrs Bittaye said she felt bad for the students and she was so angry given the negative behaviour they demonstrated, but she prayed that such incident never repeats itself again.