By Lamin Sanyang
The victims of Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh has officially launched the centre for victims of human rights violation at Kotu in the Kanifing Municipality.
Mr. Maila Touray, the Chairperson of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations said in his welcome remarks that the victims of human and civil rights violations committed by the Jammeh administration came together to form a support group that led to the creation of the said centre.
“The objectives of the centre is to provide a safe environment that will help victims of human rights violations and their families get truth, justice, and where applicable reparation,” Chairperson Maila Touray said.
He added: “To collaborate with government, national, and international agencies in providing other needed services for victims of human rights violations.”
Chairperson Touray went further to unveiled some of the objectives which includes constitutional reforms to ensure violations perpetrated on Gambians during the former dictator shall never happen again. He said the centre will serve as a resource centre for victims, and families of victims of human rights violations. The centre, he said will be the liaison between victims of human rights violations, and various arms of government during the transitional justice phase of national reconciliation.
“The centre will facilitate provision of counseling and medical services to victims of gender-based crimes, torture, rape, murder, wrongful imprisonment, and disappearances committed by the Jammeh government,” he asserted.
Touray said they have submitted demands made by the victims to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. He said they will want to be represented in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, saying they want their voices heard.
“We are asking justice for the victims,” he interjected.
However, he admitted that some of the victims are requesting for the prosecution of the former president while others are demanding for monetary compensation. He revealed their meeting with the committee for human rights violations against Hassan Habre, former president of Chad. He said the meeting with the said committee was fruitful.
Baba Hydara, son of Deyda Hydara, a murdered Gambian journalist and co-proprietor of The Point Newspaper spoke on behalf of the families of the victims. He explained the efforts they are making to ensure that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) works well. He said they want justice to take its course. He added that they would also want compensation as well.
“We are serious with this initiative. We want committed people in this fight,” Baba Hydara said.
Mr. Hydara expressed their commitment to work with the government in what he calls a long journey to truth and justice for the victims of the past 22 years of the Jammeh government, saying they are ready to walk to the court.
Ms. Aisha Jammeh, Assistant Secretary of the Centre launched the video of the gofundme account. She is the daughter of Haruna Jammeh who was a cousin of the former president Yahya Jammeh. She launched a video documentary that touches the lives of every Gambian and tells the story of every Gambian who lived under the 22 years of brutal dictatorship of the former tyrant Jammeh.
“If we were to call for this meeting six months back, many people sitting here today will not want to associate themselves with us. This is due to fear put in Gambians by the brutal regime of Yahya Jammeh,” Aisha Jammeh pointed out.
Aisha Jammeh said the centre was launch to share their mixed feelings and remember their departed love ones, giving solidarity to those who hopelessly continued to live in pain for the past 22 years with crying hearts. She expressed happiness for removing the undemocratic government and called for justice. She explained her feelings about the fallen heroes and sheroes who were unable to witnessed the end of tyranny in the country as she called on the names of Ousman Koro Ceesay, April 10th/11th victims, Deyda Hydara, Ebrima Chief Manneh, Solo Sandeng and Lamin Marong amongst others.
“The short video documentary we launch today is a clear testimony of the heinous and inhuman degradation by the former President Yahya Jammeh during his 22 years of leadership,” she disclosed.
She added: “The video undoubtedly and with no exaggeration tells the true story of Gambians under Yahya Jammeh and it will be used as evidence based advocacy tool for the centre in pursuit of justice for victims, survivors and their families.”
Aisha said the road to justice is difficult and expensive journey to trek which she said is the reason of opening a gofundme account to raise funds for their activities and called on every goodwill person to donate.
The meeting was moderated by Ms. Aminata Correa, Social and Media Secretary of the Centre. It was attended by high profile cabinet ministers, foreign diplomats and families of the victims amongst others.