Tag Archives: NeverAgainGambia

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST: 'Gambia-victims, and resisters' Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST: ‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’ by Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST: We are truly honoured to be on the CAP Prize shortlist – The Contemporary African Photography Prize – with our ongoing series, ‘Gambia-victims, and resisters

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

The Gambia, West Africa, is a popular winter-sun holiday destination, but many tourists are not aware of the recent dark history of ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa’ – as it is fondly known. From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled The Gambia as his fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition with brutality. His hit squad, the ‘Junglers’ and National Intelligence Agency carried out tortures, assassinations, and acts of sexual violence with impunity – journalists were gunned down and disappeared, students shot in cold blood, and even his cousins were murdered on his order.

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST: Ballo Kanteh, an ex-political prisoner shows the burns he suffered after melted plastic was dripped onto his skin by Jammeh's hit-squad, the Junglers. Kanteh spent 18-year detention at Mile 2 prison . Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST – (Left) Ballo Kanteh, an ex-political prisoner shows the burns he suffered after melted plastic was dripped onto his skin by Jammeh’s hit-squad, the Junglers. Kanteh spent 18-year detention at Mile 2 prison. For the first two years, he was held in solitary confinement in a pitch dark cell, which has permanently damaged his eyesight. (Right) Maximum security wing, Mile 2 Prison, The Gambia. Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST

Having worked and lived on and off in The Gambia since 1998, Helen Jones-Florio, my wife and collaborator, and I were personally aware of former President Yahya Jammeh’s control over society. It was not until Jammeh fled into exile in January 2017, after an astonishing election defeat, did the litany of violations under his regime start to come to light. The Gambia has been our second home and we felt it was our duty as documentarians to give face and voice to the victims, survivors, and their families. Despite hundreds of testimonies by both victims and perpetrators at the ongoing Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), many Jammeh loyalists are still in denial of the crimes, he and his cadre are now being accused of. Making it important to keep bringing the victims’ stories to public attention. 

#GambiaHasDecided

“I was taken downstairs. They covered my eyes and I felt an injection in my back, 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. They started to beat me with a piece of hard rubber, kicked me, punched me…I thought, I am now dead”. Pa Ousman Njie

CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021: PA Ousman Njie sitting in his taxi - April 14th 2016 and arrested by the former president, Yahya Jammeh’s, security forces. He was taken to the National Intelligence Agency and tortured. Image ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio
CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021 – (Right) Pa Ousman Njie was driving his taxi when he was innocently 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. He was taken to the National Intelligence Agency. (Left) Darkened streets, The Gambia. Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

Since 2017, we have photographed over one-hundred-and-twenty portraits, and sites of violations, and recorded video testimonies.

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.” Martin Kyere, sole survivor of the 2005 massacre in The Gambia of over 50 West African migrants

CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021:Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, is the sole survivor of the 2005 massacre in The Gambia of over 50 West African migrants, trying to get to Europe. . Images ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio
CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021 – (Left) Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, is the sole survivor of the 2005 massacre in The Gambia of over 50 West African migrants, trying to get to Europe. Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, is the sole survivor, in 2005, of the massacre of over 50 West African migrants, who were endeavouring to reach Europe. “When one of the soldiers used his cutlass to cut off Adamo’s his shoulder and the blood is flowing all over the place…I think we realized then, that the soldiers wanted to kill us all.” They were all killed on orders of President Yahya Jammeh, fearing that they were coup plotters. (Right) In 2005 over 50 West African migrants were killed by Gambian security forces. A number of bodies, hacked to pieces were found dumped in a forest near a beach popular with tourists.

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Our work aims to expose the wide-reaching forms and scale of abuse – to create a historical archive and to be used as a tool for advocacy and public awareness. Early in the project, we came to understand that many people who sat for the portraits found it cathartic, having previously not been able to openly tell their stories, and so our work took on additional and profound meaning and made it a collaborative process. Alagie Sonko, falsely imprisoned by the regime, said to us “I don’t care what you do with my picture or my story, but the fact you came and listened to me, that is enough”

CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021: Sunkary Yarboe, first wife of Lt Basiru Barrow, who was executed during November 11th 1994, alleged coup attempt. Twenty four years later, April 2019
CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST – (left) Sunkary Yarboe, first wife of Lt Basiru Barrow, who was executed during November 11th 1994, alleged coup attempt. Twenty four years later, April 2019, witness statements led forensic experts to search Yundum Barracks. Basiru’s remains were exhumed, from a mass unmarked grave. “I still do not have his body from the exhumation. I will feel very bad about that, forever. The pain is always there without a body, to bury. We are crying, there is no justice, the men who killed Basiru are still on the streets.” (Right) In 2019, witness testimonies at the Truth Reconciliation Reparations Commission revealed what happened in 1994 Basiru’s remains were exhumed from a mass unmarked grave in Yundum Barracks along with cables that were used to retrain them. Sunkary is still waiting for his remains to be released, so she can bury him. Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

Alagie Sonko, falsely imprisoned by the regime, during is interview, said to us “I don’t care what you do with my picture or my story, but the fact you came and listened to me, that is enough”.

CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021: Isatou Marong, widow of Sergeant Basiru Camera. On November 11th, 1994, Basiru, along with almost two dozen other soldiers, were tortured, and executed by fellow soldiers loyal to Yahya Jammeh, accused of an attempted coup . Images ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio
CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST – (Left) Isatou Marong, widow of Sergeant Basiru Camera. On November 11th, 1994, Basiru, along with almost two dozen other soldiers, were tortured, and executed by fellow soldiers loyal to the Junta, accused of attempting a coup. “I did not know what had happened to him. For years, I searched all over the Gambia, going from place to place. No answers, no clues… just rumours. I thought he was still alive, somewhere. I went to all the prisons in the country.” (Right) In 2019, witness testimonies at the Truth Reconciliation Reparations Commission revealed what happened in 1994 “That was the day I knew he was dead, that it is real, my husband is no more”. Basiru’s remains were exhumed, from a mass unmarked grave in Yundum Barracks along with cables that were used to retrain them. Isatou is still waiting for his remains to be released, so she can bury him

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST

CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021: Fatou 'Toufah' Jallow survivor of rape. ‘Toufah’. The rape ordeal perpetrated by the then-President, Yahya Jammeh. . Images ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio
CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021: (Left) Fatou ‘Toufah’ Jallow survivor of rape, an ordeal perpetrated by the then-President, Yahya Jammeh. (Right) Yahya Jammeh’s palace, Kanalai, The Gambia. Images ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio

 “The most powerful man in The Gambia, who am I for anybody to listen to, to believe me, and where do I say this, and when do I say it? What do I expect is going to happen? This did not happen…this did not happen…this did not happen…BUT, that is what happened on the night Yahya Jammeh raped me, and how he did it” Fatou ‘Toufah’ Jallow. Survivor of rape, human rights activist, filmmaker, and writer.

See more at CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLISTED – 25 PROJECTS

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CURRENT LOCATION: MAY, 2021

 THE GAMBIA, WEST AFRICA

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Martin Kyere, Ghana - the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre by Gambian security forces, ordered by President Yahya Jammeh . Image © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio 'Gambia-victims, and resisters' of a regime

Ghanaian, Martin Kyere – sole survivor of the 2005 massacre, The Gambia – testifies today at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission

Ghanaian, Martin Kyere – sole survivor of the 2005 massacre, in The Gambia, testifies live today at the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).

Interviewing Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, sole survivor of the 2005 massacre of migrants in the Gambia ©Jason Florio
Interviewing Martin Kyere, in Ghana, Image © Jason Florio

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

In July 2005, over 50 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. Martin was the only person to escape the massacre.

#Portraits4PositiveChange

After managing to slip the rope from his wrist, Martin said: “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 knew then that his friends were being killed. Taken from an interview with Martin, by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

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

Poster advertising the screening of 'I Cannot Bury My Father' short documentary at the African Film Festival, New York. Director of Photography - Jason Florio

Screening of ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’ short documentary at the African Film Festival, New York. Director of Photography – Jason Florio

Watch: ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’

Screening at the African Film Festival, NYC, 2021 – a short documentary about the 2005 massacre. Director of Photography – Jason Florio

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CURRENT LOCATION: MARCH, 2021

ABIDJAN & THE GAMBIA, WEST AFRICA

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Header Image: Martin Kyere, in Ghana ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio from their ongoing series, ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

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The Photoville FENCE - colour portrait of Gambian schoolgirl, Amie Lowe, from 'Gambia - victims, and resisters' ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

The Photoville FENCE, 2020: ‘The Gambia-victims, and resisters’

We are thrilled to be chosen for The Photoville FENCE, 2020, with ‘Gambia – victims and resisters– an ongoing multimedia body of work that began back in 2016. With the blessing of those we have photographed and filmed, our intention has always been to share their very personal and traumatic stories far and wide. Heartfelt thanks to the FENCE jurors and the Photoville team for helping us to achieve this.

The Photoville FENCE 2020 - Nana Jo Ndow holds a photograph of her father, Saul Ndow who was killed by Gambian security forces. 'Gambia - victims, and resisters' ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
The Photoville FENCE – Nana-Jo Ndow, daughter of Saul Ndow (whose photo she is holding), who, in 2013, was forcibly disappeared from Senegal, along with Mahawa Cham, former Gambian MP. Witness testimonies revealed that they had been abducted and taken over the border into The Gambia, where they were both killed by Jammeh’s hits quad ‘The Junglers‘ Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
#ThePhotovilleFENCE – ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

The Photoville FENCE is a year-round public photography project exhibited in major parks and downtowns across North America. Featuring over 90 photographers annually, the exhibition brings compelling visual stories into the public realm, and to a wide and diverse audience.

The 9th edition will be displayed in Atlanta, Brooklyn, Calgary, Denver, Durham, Houston, Metro (Fargo, W. Fargo and Moorhead), New Orleans, Sarasota, Seattle and Winchester!‘ Read/see more: The Photoville FENCE

The Photoville FENCE 2020 - Portrait of Sgt Basiru Camara and the remains of an exhumation in The Gambia. 'Gambia - victims, and resisters' ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
The Photoville FENCE – Sgt Basiru Camara, killed by Gambian security forces in 1994 and the remains of an exhumation, Yundum Barracks, The Gambia, in 2019. Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

President Yahya Jammeh ruled The Gambia with an iron fist for twenty two years after taking control of the country with a coup in July1994. With Jammeh’s exile after electoral defeat in 2016, a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) was set up to look into his regime’s abuses. The TRRC along with victims families and local media at Yundum army Barracks where the bodies of seven murdered soldiers were exhumed. The soldiers were murdered by soldiers loyal to Jammeh for being allegedly part of a counter coup in November 1994. Witnesses say eleven soldiers were buried at the barracks, so far only seven have been found. Along with the bone fragments, electrical cables were also found that were used to bind the victims hands. The only clothing found were underwear, corroborating witness testimonies that the men were stripped almost naked before being shot.

#ThePhotovilleFENCE
Gambia Portraits - Fatoumatta Sandeng, daughter of murdered activist, Solo Sandeng, whilst she was in exile in Dakar Senegal © Jason Florio
The Photoville FENCE – Fatoumatta Sandeng, daughter of murdered Gambian opposition leader, Solo Sandeng. She escaped into exile to Senegal after her father’s murder in 2016 – at the hands of Yahya Jammeh’s security forces – fearful that she would be targeted next ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
#Portraits4PositiveChange

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. 

With Jammeh’s 2016 election defeat, he went into exile after a standoff with regional forces, and the victims of his regime started to come forward.

So far, over 1000 victims and their families have registered with the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations to share their stories and help build international support to bring Jammeh to justice

Exhibiting at Photoville, NYC, 2013: Teamwork ‘River Gambia – 1044km source-sea African odyssey’ expedition – Image of Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

Please vote for us and a chance for our work to be chosen for the People’s Choice Winner of the 9th edition of the Photoville FENCE!!

Cast your vote for the People’s Choice Winner of the 9th edition of the Photoville FENCE! Help decide the artist who will receive a Leica camera package and a yearlong mentorship with the Photoville team. 

Individuals may cast one vote per day from now through January 2021. 

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Header image: Gambian student, Ami Lowe.

“I grew up not knowing the love of a father. I was only three years old when he disappeared, so I don’t remember him. I only know him through what people have told me, that he was a good man, and some say he was a hero.” Amie Lowe

17 year old Amie Lowe photographed in her late father’s room, left unchanged since he was killed in 2006. Amie’s father, Lt Ebou Lowe was disappeared and executed by members of the former president, Yahya Jammeh’s hit squad, ‘the Junglers’, after he was accused of being part of a coup attempt in 2006 to overthrow the dictatorial Jammeh regime. Image ©Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

View more portraits from this on-going, multimedia, series on Jason Florio’s website floriophoto.com

Victims of Jammeh - portraits by Jason Florio, The Gambia
‘Gambia – victims, and resisters‘ – Binta Tunkara looking at a photo of her late father on her phone. Bintu is the daughter of murdered Gambian, Lamin Tunkara. He was part of a group of 56 West African migrants who were murdered. Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
Watch: ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’ – short documentary about the murder of 56 West African migrants, in 2005, in The Gambia, by Yahya Jammeh’s security forces

CURRENT LOCATION: OCTOBER 2020 – THE GAMBIA, WEST AFRICA

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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’

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

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

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