Gambia – justice is needed for 2005 massacre of migrants

Watch – ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’ Director of Photography, Jason Florio

Gambia – justice for 2005 massacre: July 22nd, 2020 – Today marks 15 years since Gambian security forces, on the orders of then-President Yahya Jammeh, killed over 50 West African migrants.

In July 2005, 56 West African migrants, including 44 Ghanaians were murdered in The Gambia en route to Europe. The unarmed migrants were killed by the ‘Junglers’, a death squad reporting directly to Yahya Jammeh, Gambia’s dictator at the time. Evidence has since emerged that Yahya Jammeh gave the orders to kill them. The families of the victims are still seeking justice. At the time of release of this documentary, Yahya Jammeh is in exile in Equatorial Guinea – ANEKED – watch the documentary, ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’

Isaac Mensah, James Town beach, Accra, Ghana © Jason Florio. Isaac is the son of one of 44 murdered Ghanian migrants, by Gambian security forces, in The Gambia, in 2005.
Isaac Mensah, James Town beach, Accra, Ghana. The son of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians killed by Gambian security forces in July 2005 © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’

‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’

Martin Kyere, Ghana – the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre by Gambian security forces . Image © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio

Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, is the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre in The Gambia of the West African migrants.

“When one of the soldiers used his cutlass to cut off Adamo’s shoulder and the blood is flowing all over the place…I think we realized then, that the soldiers wanted to kill us all.”

After their capture, the migrants were badly beaten and then split into two groups and handed over to the Junglers, Jammeh’s hit squad. Over one week, the Junglers summarily executed the group. Martin managed to slip the rope from his wrist and escape into the bush, undercover of the night, minutes before the executions began of the group he was with. He spent 4 days walking in the Gambian bush avoiding coming into contact with anyone until he was able to cross the border to safety in southern Senegal. 

“I jumped From the pickup and into the forest. I heard the soldiers shouting at me, but I did not look back. I  ran harder…I tripped on something in the forest that brought me down and gunshots passed over me and around me. But, it was dark so I lay still and waited until it was safe to move again. I could hear behind me ‘Oh God save us, Oh God save us’, and gunshots”. Martin told us that he knew then that his friends were being killed. 

Martin is now part of a campaign to bring Jammeh2Justice, for himself and the families of all of those whose loved ones were executed in The Gambia and Senegal in July 2005.

Ghanaian Sarah Boadu, holds a portrait of her father, Richmond Boadu, who was one of the the migrants killed by Gambian security forces in July 2005. Image © Jason Florio
Ghanaian, Sarah Boadu, holds a portrait of her father, Richmond Boadu, who was one of the the migrants killed by Gambian security forces. Image © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

“A credible international investigation is needed if we’re ever going to get to the bottom of the 2005 massacre of West African migrants and create the conditions to bring those responsible to justice,” said Emeline Escafit, legal adviser at TRIAL International. “Until now, information has come out in dribs and drabs, year after year, from different sources.” Human Rights Watch

The family of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians migrants who were attempting to travel to Europe by sea in 2005, captured and massacred by Gambian security forces. Image ©Jason Florio/helen Jones-florio #Portraits4PositiveChange
The family of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians migrants who were attempting to travel to Europe by sea in 2005. They were apprehended by Gambian security forces then massacred by members of President Jammeh’s hit squad, ‘The Junglers’ on his orders. “We will not rest until we have my father’s body to bury and Jammeh is brought to justice.” Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

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Press: El Pais – ‘Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa’s Silent Dictatorship’

PRESS: El Pais - 'Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa's Silent Dictatorship'. Images by Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
‘Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa’s Silent Dictatorship’. Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

Press: El Pais – Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa’s Silent Dictatorship

– Three years after the fall of the Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, pressured by the street after losing at the polls, a commission (Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations – TRRC) brings to light the terrible crimes committed for two decades, supported by its apparatus of repression, the collusion of justice and the outside inaction – Read the full feature El Pais / words by José Naranjo Noble

Victims of Jammeh - portraits by Jason Florio, The Gambia
Portrait © Jason Florio – 13year old Bintu Tunkara looks at a photograph of the father who she never got to meet, on her mother’s phone. Image © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

The images are from the on-going multimedia series

by Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

PRESS: El Pais - 'Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa's Silent Dictatorship'. Images by Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
Press: El Pais – ‘Gambia, The Hidden Horrors of Africa’s Silent Dictatorship’. Read more about the featured images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

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Photographer/filmmaker, Jason Florio filming inside the notorious Mile 2 Prison, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio
Photographer/filmmaker, Jason Florio, at work – Mile 2 Prison, The Gambia. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

To all professionals in the film, television, theatre, entertainment, and arts world, join the challenge to post a photo of you in your job. Just a picture, no description. The goal is to flood social media with our profession. Copy the text and post a pic #SaveTheArts


Current Location: July 2020 – coming out of Lockdown London, UK

Assignment queries and image licensing – Contact here

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