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

It’s been an incredibly momentous, emotional – and active! – few months for us both, here in the Gambia. Since we arrived back on the West African coast in February 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, the Gambia © 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 shall 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, the Gambia. L-R: /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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Award-winning, photojournalist & filmmaker, Jason Florio, currently in the Gambia, West Africa – working on ‘Gambia-victims and resisters of a regime#Portraits4PositiveChange


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GoFundMe: Gambia-Victims and Resisters of a Regime – #Portraits4PositiveChange ©Jason Florio

Portrait of ex-Mile2 prisoner, Ballo Kanteh, the Gambia ©Jason Florio

Ballo Kanteh – an ex-political prisoner, he 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 the notorious 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 ©Jason Florio

GoFundMe: The Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime

– To face the past, victims, and resistors of the Jammeh regime come forward – #Portraits4PostiveChange

‘In a global political climate where authoritarian rule is on the rise  – where autocratic leaders crush dissent, and opposition, with brutality and little or no regard for human rights – it is essential to keep telling the stories of the victims of such regimes.

Your support will enable us to continue our work, to create an extensive body of portraits of the victims of the 22-year brutal dictatorship of the Yahya Jammeh’s regime, as a tool for positive change and advocacy…’Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio 

The wife and son of Harouna Jammeh, who was murdered along with his sister on the orders of his brother, former president Yahya Jammeh ©Jason Florio

The wife and son of Harouna Jammeh, who was murdered along with his sister on the orders of his brother, former president Yahya Jammeh. Harouna’s daughter, Ayeshah Jammeh, has since co-founded the ‘Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations‘ – Image ©Jason Florio 

Please check out our GoFundMe campaign to find out more and why this is so important… and help spread the word, by sharing on social media. We’ll thank everyone, individually. And, if you donate, we’ll send you a handmade postcard, once we get to the Gambia. 

GoFund Me #Portraits4PositiveChange Gambia

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November 2018

Available for assignments, worldwide

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The Gambia – The Victims and the Instigator. Portraits © Jason Florio

Ex-President of the Gambia - Yahya Jammeh, surrounded by his bodyguards, Roots Homecoming festival © Jason Florio

Ex-President of the Gambia – Yahya Jammeh, Roots Homecoming festival © Jason Florio

One man, many victims

The Gambia – Torture, Abuse, and Dissent

From 1994 -2017 Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia, West Africa as his own fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition with brutality. With Jammeh’s ouster and flight into exile, hundreds of Gambians now feel safe to come forward and speak freely about the crimes committed against them by his regime.

This portrait series is a work in progress…Jason Florio.

'Victims of Jammeh' The Gambia, West Africa - portraits by Jason Florio

‘Victims of Jammeh’ The Gambia, West Africa – portraits © Jason Florio– All rights reserved. 

 

Ex-political prisoner Ballo Kanteh shows the burns he suffered after melted plastic was dripped onto his skin by Jammeh’s notorious henchmen, the Junglers, at Mile 2 prison during his 18-year detention. For the first two years, he was held in solitary confinement in a pitch dark cell, which has permanently damaged his eyesight Jason Florio

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October 15th, 2018, sees the launch of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) – As a direct result of 22 years of authoritarian rule, human rights violations were widespread… read more on lawhubgambia.com

A prisoner shouts through the window from his cell, Mile 2 prison, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio – All rights reserved

A prisoner shouts through the window from his cell, Mile 2 prison, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio – All rights reserved.

Exclusive images from inside ousted ex-president, Yahya Jammeh’s, ‘my 5 Star Hotel’ (as he frequently called it) – the notorious Mile 2 Prison, Nov 2017.

A prisoner sits looking out of the window of his cell – Mile 2 Prison, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

A prisoner sits looking out of the window of his cell – Mile 2 Prison, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Gambia Victims Portraits Jason Florio

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Gambia Victims Portraits Jason Florio

Watch this space for more news, and images, from this ongoing portrait series. JF

 

Related: ‘We Never Gave Up – Stories of Courage in Gambia’ – a documentary for Amnesty International.

‘ICC: Victims of Atrocities Deserve Justice’ – interview footage of Ayeshah Jammeh (the Gambia) & Asmaou Diallo (Guinea) by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – for Human Rights Watch.

 

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October 2018

Currently: in the UK – available for assignments

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