EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia’s truth-seeking commission, Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), Monday resume its public hearing after barely a month-long break.
Resuming from its break in July, the Commission continue to hear tales of suffering from victims of the April 10 and 11, 2000 incident in the country that led to the killing of 14 people by Gambian police officers and soldiers during a nationwide student protest.
During the break, officials of the Commission went on public consultation with Gambians both at home and abroad who were directly or indirectly victimised during the 22-year rule of Gambia’s former president Jammeh.
In the Monday hearing, Yusupha Mbye, a former student of Bakoteh, and Pipeline Comprehensive schools shared memories of his ordeals as a result of the demonstrations.
Mr. Mbye said he had no prior knowledge to the students protest, saying he came to know about the plan when he met other students who asked if he and his friends had heard of the demonstration to which they replied in the negative.
The April 10 and 11 students’ protest followed 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 – both of which were not investigated.
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.
Mr. Mbaye informed the Commission that he joined some of his school mates who, he understood were on way to join a meeting with the then Chief of Defence Staff, Babucarr Jatta, after the demonstrations had already started and some students already killed.
According to him, they went to meet Babucarr Jatta at the Paramilitary complex gate to find out what caused the killing of some of their fellow students, but he later disappeared after a brief discussion with the students.
Mbaye some moments after Mr. Jatta’s departure, paramilitary officers who were standing nearby start shooting at them and while he was trying to run for his life, he was eventually shot on his back.
He said he sustained injuries after the shooting and endured severe pain during his hospitalization, adding that he only realised he was shot moments after he was taken to hospital.
He said former president Jammeh and his one-time speaker of the National Assembly Fatoumatta Jumpa-Ceesay both visited him and other students at the then Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH) in Banjul which, he said he never appreciated as there was no need to shoot at students who were peacefully demonstrating.