Gambian Justice Minister, Abubacar Tambedou, joined scores of protesters who took to the streets on Monday demanding justice for atrocities committed during the reign of former President Yahya Jammeh.
The over 150 young protesters marched in memory of over a dozen students who were killed in April 2000. Local media portals report that aside from the deaths, 30 other protesters were injured but have yet to get justice.
The deaths which were recorded over two days (April 10 and 11) 17 years ago were believed to have been on the orders of Yahya Jammeh. As part of the commemoration, a music concert was held after the march. A symposium and soccer game is also planned for April 11.
We need to know what really happened, we need to see who were responsible, we need to see how we can learn from it and how we can go forward.
Jammeh’s regime has repeatedly been accused of widespread torture and enforced disappearances during its 22-year rule. Most victims of the Jammeh-era atrocities have petitioned the Adama Barrow government to help them get closure on deaths and disappearances.
The Barrow government has announced the formation of a reconciliation body to look into rights abuses and to recommend appropriate compensation for victims.
Head of EU supports reconciliation efforts
The head of the European Union (EU) in Gambia, Attila Lagos, supported the government’s efforts to set up a truth and justice commission to investigate the abuses.
“When we talk about reconciliation and justice delivered to the people, this is what we are talking about. We need to know what really happened, we need to see who were responsible, we need to see how we can learn from it and how we can go forward,” Lajos is on record to have said.
Since Jammeh’s departure early this year, the new administration led by President Adama Barrow has taken steps to restore the rule of law and strengthen its judiciary. Barrow ordered the release of most political prisoners in the West African country.
Human rights activists have demanded that Jammeh is held accountable for alleged abuses, including torture and detention of opponents. He is currently on exile in Equatorial Guinea where he flew to after regional forces threatened to oust him on the back of contested polls late last year.
Photo Credit: @freejobe39