Hundreds gathered on Monday for a march in the streets of Serrekunda to remember 14 students gunned down by Yahya Jammeh regime while protesting against the suspicious death in custody of a student. The two-day event, which plunged the country into deep shock, remain as one of the saddest days in Gambian history.
“I am saddened by the fact that this massacre took place in Gambia,” Youth and Sport Minister Henry Gomez told this reporter.
He said that justice will be done under President Adama Barrow’s transition government. “I pray to God that Yahya Jammeh will be punished for his crimes.”
Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo agreed, and gave assurance that the new regime will address the rising demands for justice.
The events that unfolded on those fateful days (April 10-11, 2000) have never been remembered under Gambia’s long time ruler. The massacre that left 14 dead, and many seriously wounded, has shaken up the country with a devastating reality about Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorial regime. Victims’ families were even denied the right to hold ceremony remembering their loved ones. For over two decades, former President turned a deaf ear to their persistent calls for justice.
Yusupha Mbye said his life has been a nightmare since the sad events. He has been confined to a wheelchair. He called on the authorities to make sure that the Indemnity Act that was endorsed by Parliament is repealed. “We’ve already launched a campaign against what appears to be a subterfuge used by the Jammeh regime to absolve security forces from any wrongdoing.”
Campaigner Saul Mbenga, who is one of the initiators of the march, vowed to put an end to this situation. “Anyone linked with the massacre will be dealt with accordingly,” he warned.
European Head of Delegation Attila LAJOS, who spoke to this reporter, said the issue of transitional justice is going to be a long-lasting process. “It is not going to finish in a year,” he said.
Ambassador Lajos outlined the important role civil society groups have to play in the current political dispensation. “This is not something only the government can do. This is something that needs the entire nation to get together, and work it out. This is a very difficult process.”
He okayed Gambia government stance to follow the path taken by South Africa to deal with the issue of transitional justice.
The tiny West African nation is confronted with trying times as the quest for justice continues to resonate louder. The coming days will help to see how authorities will be able to deal with the dilemma of delivering justice and promoting reconciliation.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN