Tag Archives: Portraits4PositiveChange

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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Portrait of rape survivor, Gambian, Toufah Jallow - raising a fist - sitting in her family home, The Gambia. Black and white Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

International Women’s Day, 2021

International Women’s Day 2021 – in honor, and respect, of strong women, around the world.

Released today, on #IWD2021 ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’.

In this 25-minute documentary, The Toufah Foundation offers an analysis of the Gambian Truth Commission’s (TRRC) proceedings in regard to sexual and gender-based violence. Using footage from the hearings, Toufah Jallow questions the predominant attitude towards women stories, who most of the time remain unacknowledged or doubted. Parallels are made with other contexts where powerful men raped young women in total impunity for many years, such as Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and El Chapo, the Mexican drug lord.

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

Header Image: survivor of rape (by ex-President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh), and human rights activist, Gambian, Fatou ‘Toufah’ Jallow – raising a fist in solidarity, and strength for all women. Image ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio, from the ongoing series ‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’

#Portraits4PositiveChange

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CURRENT LOCATION: MARCH, 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’

President Adama Barrow of The Gambia arriving back to home crowds of well wishes estimated in the hundreds of thousands.© Jason Florio

On this day: Jan 26, 2017 – President Adama Barrow returns home to The Gambia, West Africa

On this day Jan 26th, 2017

A triumphant, and momentous day for The Gambia, West Africa. Ten’s of thousands of euphoric Gambians lined the streets for miles – and miles! (an estimated over 100,000 Gambians flocked the main road) – to welcome home their new president, Adama Barrow. Due to potential security risks, Barrow had briefly exiled himself to neighbouring Senegal, where he was inaugurated at the Gambian Embassy, Dakar.

President Adama Barrow of The Republic of The Gambia, arrives back into the country after his self-imposed exile in Senegal © jason_florio-9706
President Adama Barrow, returns home from exile, to The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

#GambiaHasDecided

On December 1st, 2016, the Gambian people voted out their autocratic President Yahya Jammeh, after 22 years in power, and elected Adama Barrow as their new president. Jammeh conceded defeat, but a week later announced that he was annulling the election results and would not step down. A grassroots movement #GambiaHasDecided emerged in reaction.

Activists initially set up billboards with the slogan #GambiaHasDecided. The billboards were torn down by Jammeh loyalists. Not to be intimidated, the activists around the country turned to spray painting the slogan.

Gambian’s new president Adama Barrow, who was sworn into power in Dakar due to security concerns arrives back to Gambia, marking the first democratic transfer of power since 1965. Image ©Jason Florio

100's of 1000's of people welcome back their new President, Adama Barrow, of the Republic of The Gambia © Jason Florio
100’s of 1000’s of people welcome back their new President, Adama Barrow, of the Republic of The Gambia © Jason Florio

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

Gambia's new president, Adama Barrow, at Banjul Airport, The Gambia, after being sworn in in Dakar, Senegal, for security reasons ©Jason Florio
Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow, reception at Banjul Airport, The Gambia – returning from exile in Dakar, Senegal, where, for security reasons, he was sworn into office ©Jason Florio

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100's of 1000's of people welcome back their new President, Adama Barrow, of the Republic of The Gambia © Jason Florio
100’s of 1000’s of people welcome back their new President, Adama Barrow, of the Republic of The Gambia © Jason Florio

On this day: Jan 26, 2017 – President Adama Barrow returns home to The Gambia, West Africa

VIMEO: President, Adama Barrow, arrives back to The Gambia to a rapturous reception, Banjul Airport. iPhone footage ©Jason Florio

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CURRENT LOCATION: JANUARY-FEBRUARY, 2021

 THE GAMBIA, WEST AFRICA

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