By Kebba Jeffang
Ex-Military officers who survived the brutal incident of November 11 1994, have gathered to commemorate and recount their experiences of the massacre, and called for swift justice for their cause for both the survivors and fallen comrades.
The affected soldiers and relatives of those slain said they will be keenly following proceedings of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC). The ‘Victims’ Center’ where they held the press briefing, vowed to monitor all TRRC proceedings and express willingness to take direct legal action at the Courts, if the justice mechanism is seen less instrumental in any of the cases.
“The 1994 incident was sad. It was a grievance between the junta and junior soldiers. It is like when you fight till you have a Government and those at the helm, renege on their promises,” Corporal Abdoulie Jallow, the head of the November 11 victims recalled.
“I was shot but thank God that I survived…..My experience in prison was tough,” Corporal Jallow narrated.
Corporal Jallow was enlisted in the Army in 1984, and belongs to the fourth intake of the Army.
On Basirou Barrow’s wife account:
Sunkary Yabo, was 25 years of age when her husband who was 35 at the time, went out and never returned. Sunkary said her eyes have been operated several times in the past 24 years, due to cries over the circumstance in which she lost her young husband.
“Basiru left for work and never returned. He left the house at night for duties. I could not try to pursue his case at the time, because I was afraid to do so.” Yabo is now 51. She and Barrow are blessed with three siblings with the youngest son serving as Secretary at the Victims’ Center. She expressed optimism that the TRRC will bring justice for them because they have competent people for this Commission.
Abdoulie Darboe recalled the fateful day of November 11 1994, when soldiers were paraded to shoot them on the count of three. He described the day as the most serious crime committed in Gambia’s history.
“On November 11, we were arrested, detained, tortured and sentenced wrongfully, without any proper judicial system. We need to be heard. We cried but still there is no answer to our call,’’ he told this reporter.
Darboe said some of the perpetrators of the incident are still serving in the Army, rendering them (the victims) valueless in society; that there is nowhere they can go. Darboe said he was arrested together with the late Lieutenant Basirou Barrow, late Lt. Faal alias ‘Dot’ and others by the military junta, for no reason.
According to Corporal Abdoulie Jallow, the list of soldiers who disappeared that night up to date, include Lt. Basirou Barrow, Lt. G. Saye, Lt. A. Faal, Lt. A. Manneh, Officer Cadet Sillah, 2Lt. B. Jammeh, Lt. B. Minteh, Lt. A. Bah, Lt. LF Jammeh, Lt. S. Jadama, 2Lt. M. Gaye, Major M. Kanteh, 2Lt. L. Kombo, Captain E. Kambi, Captain A. Kanteh, Col. B Jatta, Lt. Col L Jarra.