All posts by jason florio

‘Portraits for Positive Change’ the Gambia. The story so far…

It’s been an incredibly momentous, emotional – and active – few months here in the Gambia, West Africa. Since we got back at the beginning of January, we’ve held two photographic exhibitions of the portraits from our on-going body of work, ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters of a regime

'Portraits for Positive Change' Kafo Bayo - arrested on April 14th, 2016 during a peaceful demonstration for electoral reform © Jason Florio
Former seaman, Masoner and political activist Kafo Bayo was arrested, tortured and jailed at Mile 2 prison after being arrested during the April 14th, 2016 protests for electoral reform in the Gambia – For three days, I did not know who I was, or where I was…my clothes were like, you know, a butchers shirt…covered in blood…KB ©Jason Florio

‘Portraits to Remember’
Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations – March 5th, 2019
With the kind support of the Goethe Institute

Ya Mammie Ceesay stands next to the portrait of herself, ‘Portraits to Remember’ exhibition, Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations ©Jason Florio
Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations – ‘Portraits to Remember’ Exhibition, the Gambia ©Jason Florio

‘Portraits for Positive Change’
British High Commissioners Residence, Banjul – May 21st, 2019
With the kind support of the British High Commission

‘Portraits for Positive Change’ – British High Commissioners Residence, Banjul, the Gambia ©Jason Florio


Photo Exhibit Documents Jammeh’s Reign of Terror
– The Chronicle

“What I learned from the interviews with victims is the range of abuses and atrocities that happened here during the 22 years of Jammeh. I have been coming to The Gambia for 20 years and I heard about things happening in the past but I had no idea about the range of abuses, including the use of forced medication, people forced to take HIV treatments. The tourists that came here had no idea about what was going on. Even I as a journalist who been here many times had no idea about what was really going on The Gambia,” Jason told The Chronicle.

Portraits for Positive Change’ – British High Commissioners Residence, Banjul, the Gambia © Jason Florio

Portraits for Positive Change’ – British High Commissioners Residence, Banjul, the Gambia © Jason Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Victim of rape and beatings by Gambian security forces, The Gambia - portrait by Jason Florio
Bintu was detained for five days, beaten and raped by three masked security officers at the Gambia Police Intervention Unit (PIU) HQ, after being arrested during a May 9th 2016 rally to demand the release of illegally detained protesters from previous rallies held on April 15th/16th, 2016. When asked if she would prefer that we keep her identity anonymous her adamant reply was “No, this was done to me, and I want justice…these men should be punished” From the series ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime’ ©Jason Florio

#NeverAgainGambia

23rd May 2019, the ‘Portraits for Positive Change’ exhibition was donated, by the British High Commission, to the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), to be used as a tool for advocacy and awareness during their outreach programs around The Gambia. The aim of which is to create a dialogue within communities, to help sensitise people on the plight of the victims – emphasising the importance of victims to come forward and engage in the TRRC process.

British High Commissioner, Sharon Wardle, and the TRRC’s Vice Chairperson, Adelaide Sosseh Gaye © Jason Florio

“Coming to terms with the legacy of the recent past provides the Gambian people an opportunity to reconcile and regain the hope and optimism for the future they so deserve” Sharon Wardle – British High Commissioner to The Gambia

‘Portraits for Positive Change’ – donated to the TRRC by the British High Commission. Images © Jason Florio

The truth will set you free…

The next step… which the portraits have already embarked on, is to take the exhibition further, into the international arena. First stop: the portraits were chosen by LensCulture Portrait Awards, in April.

The next step… which the portraits have already embarked on, is to take the exhibition further, into the international arena. First stop: the portraits were chosen by LensCulture Portrait Awards, in April

LensCulture Portrait Awards 2019 – Jason Florio Finalist

And, on May 27th-29th they will be digitally exhibited – on 10ftx10ft screens – at the Oslo Freedom Forum festival.

The Oslo Freedom Forum is a transformative annual conference where the world’s most engaging human rights advocates, artists, tech entrepreneurs, and world leaders meet to share their stories and brainstorm ways to expand freedom and unleash human potential across the globe.

Where to next…the story is not over, yet.

Jason Florio

Follow me on Instagram @jasonflorio / @floriotravels for regular updates

‘Portraits for Positive Change’ exhibition handover to the TRRC. L-R: https://photostellstories.org/about/Helen Jones-Florio, Essa Jallow, Communications Specialist TRRC, Jason Florio

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May 2019 – Currently working in The Gambia on:

Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime

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Portraits for Positive Change – The Gambia. Jason Florio

Portraits for Positive Change exhibition booklet – front cover © Jason Florio
Portraits for Positive Change exhibition booklet – front cover © Jason Florio

A sneak preview of the front cover of our next exhibition booklet Portraits for Positive Change‘. All images are taken from an on-going body of work, here in the Gambia, West Africa

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters of a regime

The booklet is to accompany the portraits – and video – of our second exhibition of this work, in the Gambia. More news about the exhibition, coming soon… Jason Florio Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Mr.Njie – in his taxi which was confiscated by the NIA for many months ©Jason Florio
Mr.Njie – in his taxi which was confiscated by the NIA for many months ©Jason Florio

I was taken downstairs (everyone knows that this is where the bad things happen at the NIA -National Intelligence Agency). They covered my eyes with something, and I felt 3-4 people push behind me, and I felt an injection in my back – you know…like a big staple gun – and then I felt something enter my system…burning me inside. I was screaming, shouting, calling to Allah for help. Then they took me to the beating grounds…” Mr. Njie

#GambiaHasDecided


Njie, a local taxi driver, was inadvertently caught up in a demonstration by the UDP opposition party on April 14th 2016 and arrested by the former president, Yahya Jammeh’s, security forces. Despite simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Njie was held, without charge for 3 months
Oh my god, Mile 2, it is like hell…no dignity, they treat you like donkeys, animals, even the smallest of boys…no respect” Mr.Njie

Portraits ©Jason Florio / Text ©Helen Jones-Florio

Print samples for 'Portraits for Positive Change' exhibition, the Gambia ©Jason Florio
Print samples for the new exhibition in the Gambia ©Jason Florio/Instagram

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May 2019 – Currently working in The Gambia on:

Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime

#Portraits4PositiveChange

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Cover shot ©Jason Florio for FD Persoonlijk Magazine

Editorial Cover shot © Jason Florio for FD Persoonlijk Magazine 'Environment & Climate - the resurrection of Han Stiphout'
Cover shot © Jason Florio for FD Persoonlijk Magazine ‘Environment & Climate – the resurrection of Han Stiphout’

Ten years ago Han Stiphout (64) had two castles in Limberg and a bid for his company of more €20 million. Just before the sale, he went bankrupt. Now he is picking up again and building recycling plants in The Gambia and Senegal words by Hella Hueck / FD Persoonlijk Magazine – all images © Jason Florio

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Available for assignments & for image licensing – Contact here

April 2019 – Currently working in The Gambia on:

Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime

#Portraits4PositiveChange

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Jason Florio – Vimeo

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Jason Florio – Finalist Portrait Awards 2019 LensCulture ‘The Gambia: Victims and Resisters’

Finalist Portrait Awards 2019 LensCulture ‘The Gambia: Victims and Resisters’ – Portraits © Jason Florio

The Gambia: Victims and Resisters

JASON FLORIO

Finalist 
Portrait Awards 2019 – LensCulture

Great news – my ongoing project in collaboration with Helen Jones-Florio , victims and resisters of the former Gambian regime under Yahya Jammeh, made the Finalists in the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2019. Big congratulations to all the other Winners, Jurors’ Picks, Finalists and thanks to LensCulture and the esteemed jurors.

Jason Florio – making #Portraits4PositiveChange, the Gambia – image, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Jason Florio meets Mustapha, who was shot in the back during peaceful student protests, in the Gambia, April 2000 – making #Portraits4PositiveChange, the Gambia – image © Helen Jones-Florio

The Gambia, West Africa is a popular winter-sun holiday destination for Europeans. But, most tourists know very little about the dark and shattered underbelly of ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa,’ as the Gambia is fondly called. From 1994 to 2017, President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia as his own fiefdom, crushing dissent and opposition with brutality… read more/LensCulture.

24-year-old, Amie, a kindergarten teacher was part of a peaceful protest in 2016 when she was picked up by members of the former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh’s, security forces. She was held incommunicado for 10 days at one of their detention sites. She was subjected to beatings with steel pipes and regularly doused in freezing water. One of her fellow protestors was subjected not only to the beatings but to gang rape by three masked police officers…

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Amie Bayo - portrait, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 'Gambia - Victims and Resisters of a Regime',
Amie Bayo – portrait © Jason Florio ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime


See more from this on-going series on Florio’s website

Watch the short documentary, about Gambia’s human rights defenders, made for Amnesty International, ‘We Never Gave Up – stories of courage in Gambia’

Available for assignments & for image licensing – Contact here

April 2019 – Currently working in The Gambia on:

Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime

#Portraits4PositiveChangefloriophoto.com

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