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
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
Victims of Jammeh portraits by Jason Florio: Bintu – the 13-year-old daughter of Adama Conteh and Lamin Tunkara. Adama was 7 Months pregnant with Bintu and married less than a year when Lamin was murdered in July 2005. He was part of a group of more than 50 Ghanaians and other West African migrants bound for Europe killed by Gambian security forces, known as the Junglers, who accused the migrants of being mercenaries who wanted to overthrow President Yahya Jammeh.
“The West African migrants weren’t murdered by rogue elements, but by a paramilitary death squad taking orders from Gambia’s President Jammeh,” said Reed Brody, counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Jammeh’s subordinates then destroyed key evidence to prevent international investigators from learning the truth.” HRW.
Shortly before his murder, Lamin was arrested and moved from one police station to another. At each of the two stations, his wife was allowed, each day, to take him food. However, around a week into his detention, Lamin suddenly disappeared from the second police station. A heavily pregnant Adama went to every police station, and prison in the Gambia, looking for him – ‘no one knows him here’, she was repeatedly told. “I did not eat or wash for one week…my family was worried (for the health of her unborn child)”. She searched for Lamin for over a year – “he loved me, he took care of me…I could not believe the rumors that he was dead”. She even went to the feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters and was warned off – ‘go home if you do not want any trouble…stay and you will have trouble’.
Thirteen years later, Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre, returned to the Gambia for the first time since the killings to tell Adama what had happened to her husband, Lamin. It was only then that she, and Lamin’s father, fully accepted that Lamin was dead.
The portraits form part of a work-in-progress, along with filming testimonies of the victims and resisters of the former Jammeh regime that we meet. Follow @jasonflorio & @floriotravels for regular updates on this series.
Available for assignments & for image licensing – Contact here
19th January 2017: Wally Sanyang and his friends watching the inauguration on T.V. of their new president, Adama Barrow, who is in the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal. Meanwhile, ex-president, Yahya Jammeh, refuses to cede power and remains in the State House in the Gambian capital of Banjul. ECOWAS troops, from neighboring West African countries, enter the country to help prevent a coup by Gambian troops loyal to Jammeh
A Red Cross coordinator, two days after dictator, Yahya Jammeh, fled into exile, holding The Daily Observer, showing the front page depicting the news of Adama Barrow’s inauguration – which took place at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, in neighbouring Senegal, because the authorities felt the country was not secure enough for Barrow to return.
An incredible day in the history of The Gambia, West Africa – February 18th, 2017. A rapturous welcome, and a time of hope – after the 22-year dictatorial rule of Yayha Jammeh – as tens of thousands of Gambians, welcome home their new president, Adama Barrow who, when the ousted Jammeh refused to step down, for his own safety exiled himself to neighbouring Senegal.
Gambia Victims and Resisters – Joy Conker Sonko was targeted by a Yahya Jammeh supporting policewoman when she was 14 years old because her family was supporters of the government opposition UDP party. She was dragged from her family home, beaten, and her head smashed against a car and then detained in a cell, without arrest, for 4 days… see more of this work-in-progress at floriophoto.com.
From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia, West Africa, as his own personal fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition, with brutality.
His personal hit squad and intelligence agency carried out tortures, and assassinations with impunity – journalists were gunned down and disappeared, ministers were jailed, students shot in cold blood, and even his own brother and sister were murdered on his orders.
Gambia Victims and Resisters – Sankung Bilajo was one of over a thousand elders abducted on the orders of the former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh in 2009. Groups of Jammeh’s paramilitary troops along with his youth brigade, The Green Boys and ‘magicians’ from Guinea went from village to village as part of a nationwide hunt for witches. The alleged witches were held for up to five days in secret locations and made to drink ‘Kubehjaro’, a hallucinogenic substance, and then forced to confess to witchcraft. Some were also severely beaten and robbed by their captors… see more at: