EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: A one-time Kudang Military Camp Commander during the April 10 and 11 2000 student demonstration in the country said they have ordered for a group of soldiers who were in charge of some detained students to cease beating when some students complaint of being beaten.
Major Wassa Camara said he had no prior knowledge of students being beaten by the officers on 11th April but confirmed that he came to know of their beating during one of his periodic visits.
Earlier in his testimony before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) Wednesday morning, Major Camara admitted to have ordered the arrest and detention of students during the protest but denied that there was no torture mated on them.
“After the operation on April 11th, there were group of soldiers who were in charge of students who were kept at the girls’ dormitory. Students were complaining that they were beaten. So we advised those in charge not to beat anybody,” Major Camara told the truth-seeking commission.
The April 10 and 11 2000 nationwide student demonstration was 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.
Major Camara told the Commission that in Bansang, he saw a police officer beating one of the students and he ordered him stop immediately. “On arrival at the station, I met Lieutenant Baldeh there from Basse military post with some troops. I asked him why he was there and he said he came to check but I told him that that place was my area of responsibility,” he added.
He said he then told Lieutenant Baldeh that since he (Lieutenant Baldeh) was already there, it is better for him (Major Camara) to proceed to Janjanbureh, adding that before he left, he decided to patrol the area.
“I met first class CID officer Darboe from Brikamaba police station who informed me that there were causalities at Brikamaba police station with one of the students killed,” Major Camara noted.
He said when he arrived in Brikamaba with his men, he found that people were arrested and brought to the station. “I and Baldeh ordered for the arrest of people because we were of the belief that if they are left on the streets, the situation will be aggravate.”
He alleged that Lieutenant Samba Baldeh’s men were the one who tortured the civilians.