Tag Archives: New Gambia

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'. 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

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Portraits of Gambian Journalists – World Press Freedom Day 2020

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World Press Freedom Day 2020 During Gambian dictator, Yahya Jammeh’s rule from 1994-2016 the Gambian press suffered mercilessly at his hands. Journalists were gunned down, disappeared, tortured, and threatened. Media houses shuttered and radio stations burned to the ground. But stalwart voices kept the flame alive, speaking truth to power. _ As part of our long-term documentation of ‘Gambia-Victims & Resisters’ of the Jammeh regime, here are some portraits of those who fell foul of regime, but kept fighting. _ 1.Lamin Fatty – Independent Newspaper, “I went through hell. It was horrible. I was electrocuted. They took me out of my cell to the backyard where they’d dig a hole, and buried me half way, and shoved a gun in my mouth and threaten to kill me”. – 2. Honorable Madi M.K Ceesay – journalist and National Assembly Member. “I was tortured twice by the Jammeh’s team with the use of wires, gun butts as well as using an electrical device…” – 3. Malick Mboob – Daily Observer, arrested in 2006 “I was beaten with sticks, military boots and they beat me mercilessly – and I was crying for help and bleeding profusely,” recalls Mboob “They eventually stopped beating me when I pretended I was dead.” – – 4. Mr Pa Modou Faal and six other journalists were arrested in 2009 by the former regime in connection to reaction press release issued by the Gambia Press Union about former President Yahya Jammeh’s remarks about the slain journalist Deyda Hydara- murdered by Jammeh’s hit squad in a drive-by shooting. – – 5. Pap Saine – The Point, In 2010, Saine was named a World Press Freedom Hero by the International Press Institute. Saine described the award as a morale-booster and "an inspiration for journalists who are fighting for freedom of the press and the interests of justice, democracy and human rights not only in the Gambia but in all of Africa". I 6. Threatening messages sent to Taranga Radio journalist , Alagie Ceesay. _ _ #Portraits4PositiveChange #worldpressfreedomday2020 #GambiaPressUnion #yahyajammeh #Jammeh2Justice #theGambia #AmnestyInternational #HumanRightsWatch #CPJ #committeetoprotectjournalists #deydahydara #westafricajournalist #reduxpictures #reduxreps

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Instagram: World Press Freedom Day – Portraits of Gambian Journalists ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

#Portraits4PositiveChange

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The Witch Hunts of 2009 – The Gambia. TRRC Digest Edition 10

‘TRRC Digest Edition 10 is out! The 10th session focused on the witch-hunt campaign ordered by Yahya Jammeh against mostly elderly men and women accused of witchcraft in The Gambia. Read the testimonies here ANEKED (African Network Against Extrajudicial Killings & Enforced Disappearances)

The Witch Hunts of 2009, The Gambia. TRRC Digest Edition 10. Dodou Sanyang stands beside the bed of his late mother. Image © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

“Green Boys and magicians came around the village, singing, drumming, and dancing, and targeted NRP (UDP) opposition party members” Doudou Sanyang

The Witch Hunts of 2009 – The Gambia. Dodou Sanyang, in the room of his recently deceased mother, Naa Joni Sonko. She was one of over a thousand elderly people abducted on the order of the former president, Yahya Jammeh. 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. Some died at the detention sites, and others like Sanyang’s mother suffered years of illness before dying. Many in Sanyang’s village believe the elderly there were not targeted for witchcraft, but because the village had been an opposition stronghold – Essau, Northbank Division, The Gambia.

The Gambia - a female victim of the 2009 witch huntsTRRC Digest Edition #10 - Portraits © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio, taken from the on-going 'Gambia - victims, and resisters'
The Witch Hunts of 2009, The Gambia – Portraits © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio, taken from the on-going ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ series
Portrait of Sankung Balajo - victims of President Yahya Jammeh's witch hunts, The Gambia, in 2009 © Jason Florio
The Witch Hunts of 2009, The Gambia – Sankung Balajo, one of over one thousand elders abducted on the orders of then-President, Yahya Jammeh.. © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

“I was kept for five days. When they forced me to take the medicine (‘Kubehjaro’ a hallucinogenic substance), I could no longer stand up… I fell down on the ground… ” Sankung Balajo

See more of the portraits, used in the past and present TRRC Digest Editions, taken from the ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ on-going multimedia series – a collaboration between Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Photography exhibition opening night at the National Centre for Arts and Culture, Banjul. Portraits ©Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio Gambia-victims, and resisters, Portraits to Remember
Opening night of ‘The Duty to Remember’ exhibition at the National Centre for Arts & Culture, Banjul, The Gambia. A collaboration with ANEKED. Portraits on display ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio. Exhibition Image ©Jason Florio

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