A short documentary about the 56 West African migrants forcibly disappeared and killed in 2005 in Gambia by security forces on orders of ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh. The film follows Isaac Mensah, one of the victim’s sons, who shares the family’s account of how his father’s death/disappearance continues to take an emotional toll on the family; and his journey to more answers.
‘I Cannot Bury My Father‘ reflects on the need for a wider public conversation around migration, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and the issue of ensuring accountability.
#NeverAgainGambia – Remembering Deyda Hydara, June 9, 1946 – December 16, 2004, The Gambia. Hydara was gunned down by assailants, whilst in his car, as he was returning from work, in 2004. He was a journalist and co-founder of The Point newspaper and an advocate of press freedom. Hydara was also a fierce critic of the government of President Yahya Jammeh, who was openly hostile to Gambian journalists and the media.
The TRRC is an independent Gambian institution mandated to conduct research and investigations into human rights violations committed under the presidency of Yahya Jammeh. The Commission further aims to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered under the past regime by making recommendations to government and citizens aimed at ensuring the crimes of the past never recur in The Gambia. TRRC
The TRRC is currently hearing the testimonies of the victims of the 2009 witch hunts when over 1000 elders were abducted on the orders of then-President Yahya Jammeh. Paramilitary troops accompanied by ‘magicians’ from Guinea went from village to village as part of a nationwide hunt for witches. The alleged witches were made to drink ‘Kubehjaro’, a hallucinogenic substance, and then forced to confess to witchcraft. A number of people died during the ordeal, due to drinking the liquid and as a result of severe beatings, and several deaths followed due to health complications, such as kidney failure.
I met with Jason Florio in The Gambia in 2018 along with his creative, business and actual life partner, Helen Jones-Florio. It was a serendipitous meeting, well for me at least, as I was in West Africa involved in the recording of a political short documentary. We sat in a restaurant one evening by a beach close to the couples’ Gambian home discussing how Jason came to make his transition from the non-stop vibe of commercial photographic work in New York, to what at face value seemed an altogether slower pace of life on a continent four thousand miles from Manhattan.Neale James/Breath Pictures
Talking about his work in The Gambia, West Africa, as a photojournalist “The newspapers, and journalists, had a very hard time, under 22 years of Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorial rule. Journalists were gunned down…Deyda Hydara, was a very famous journalist who owned The Point newspaper, he was assassinated back in 2004. Chief Ebrima Manneh, another journalist that was ‘disappeared’… never to reappear. Journalists were tortured…” Jason Florio
Podcast Jason Florio To quote from his website biography, Jason Florio’s focus has been on ‘under-reported stories about people living on the margins of society and human rights.’ His work has been recognised with a number of awards, including The Magnum Photography Award 2017 for his raw pictorial stories on migration. It’s little wonder that photographs of his reside in a number of public and private collections and his solo and joint exhibitions worldwide have been greeted by awe, enthusiasm, and celebration. Neale James/Breathe Pictures