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 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
President Yahya Jammeh ruled The Gambia with an iron fist fortwenty 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.
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.
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.
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
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
The images are from the on-going multimedia series
The tiny West African republic, The Gambia, is a popular winter-sun holiday destination for Europeans. However, most tourists have little idea of the dark and shattered underbelly of ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa’, as the Gambia is fondly called. From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia as his fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition with brutality. His personal hit squad 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.
In October 2018 the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) launched in The Gambia – a televised commission investigating the human rights violations under the 22-year dictatorial rule of President Yahya Jammeh. The TRRC, suspended over the past couple of months due to COVID19, resumed on Monday 8th June 2020, hearing testimonies from the victims and survivors of Jammeh’s rule, along with those of the alleged perpetrators. It is a long, and extremely painful process for many, to finally have their voices heard, but also to see and hear the voices of those who are implicated in meting out shocking tortures, killings, and human rights abuses, and about what happened to their loved ones.
For over three years, we have been collaborating closely with the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, and the TRRC; and have created permanent and mobile exhibitions of the portraits and testimonies. The exhibitions have now become part of Victims Centre and TRRC outreach work around the country, to bring the stories of victims to the people, to create dialogue and discussion around human rights and justice in this fledgling democracy – in hopes of opening eyes and winning hearts and minds. And, we will continue making the portraits and filming testimonies once flights to Gambia resume after the lockdown.