Monday, June 17, 2024

Father recounts tragic death of son in April 10 student massacre

- Advertisement -

By: Dawda Baldeh

64-year-old Abdoulie H Bojang, a Security Operations Chief residing at Talinding at the time of April 10, 2000, student demonstration which turned out fatal, claiming fourteen (14) innocent lives, has recounted how his son was killed while he was away.

- Advertisement -

Today, April 10, 2023, marks 23 years since the incident occurred where at least 14 students who were demanding justice for their fellow students were killed.

“I was 400km away on a trek to Basse on security inspection at The Standard Bank facilities. On our way back around Kafuta, we saw some burning tyres. I tuned into the radio and heard a report that some students were killed. The conservation with my wife in the vehicle stopped.

“When we arrived home between 7-8 p.m., we saw people standing around our house talking to each other and constantly looking at us. I could not do anything because I was confused. I picked up my motorcycle and ride to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital to check what happened.

“After arriving at the hospital everywhere was busy, doctors hauling and yelling, and wounded students and parents were crying. I was told that I couldn’t see my son that night and I was completely out of my senses, but I have to comply. I went home and broke the news to my wife and the family,” he explained.

- Advertisement -

Mr Bojang added that after being told to go home, he knew it would not be good. “The following day I returned to the hospital around 8:30 a.m. where I met one Dr. Ceesay who took me to the accident and emergency room.

“I was told my son was shot and they have tried everything to save him, but he died. I was badly out of my senses, and I cried bitterly,” he said.

Mr. Bojang told The Fatu Network that he was later handed his late son’s school ID card and other materials. He recalled that late Lamin was having an exam on that very day.

“Lamin A. Bojang was a very smart and intelligent and promising student. This day will remain in my mind and heart until I died. Lamin’s death has left the entire family in a very devastating situation,” he narrated with tears in his eyes.

- Advertisement -

Over 23 years he said they are still waiting for justice, adding that some victims have died, other survivors have been paralyzed, and some of their parents who have been waiting to see justice being served have also died.

What happened after the incident?

After the tragic incident, the government under the leadership of former President Yahya Jammeh set a commission of inquiry probing the April 10th and 11th students’ demonstration to investigate and hold to account the security officials responsible. However, for Mr. Bojang, the commission’s purpose was not something they ended up seeing.

“We were called to testify at the commission which was set to investigate the security officials responsible but it was very unfortunate that the former President Yahya Jammeh over TV said he has indemnified those soldiers involved. That is to say, there was no justice for the victims,” the grieved father recounted.

According to him, hopes faded after the former president openly indemnified the soldiers whom they believed mated the gross human rights violations on the students.

The Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) Testimonies and Bojang’s View

Like hundreds of others who are direct victims or indirectly victimized, Bojang also appeared at the public hearing of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) to give testimonies on the tragic incident that claimed the life of his beloved son Lamin A. Bojang, a then 18-year-old grade 11 student attending Nusrat Senior Secondary School.

“Several things were highlighted at the TRRC particularly the manner the security forces handled crowds leading to gross human rights violations.

“I don’t know how others may see this but to disperse peaceful demonstrators with force is wrong. The way the security forces handled the kids on April 10 and 11 was wrong,” he added.

Mr. Bojang called on the government to act and implement the recommendations they have accepted from the TRRC to avoid reoccurrences of such tragic incidents.

“The best thing is for the government to implement the recommendations because the victims have waited far too long for justice. We have heard confessions during the TRRC but on the side of the students, it seems no one is willing to take responsibility. But from the narratives, you can easily pick up the security officials who acted otherwise,” he said.

For many people like Mr. Bojang, the loss is irreplaceable but getting justice is highly needed. He urged the government to speed up the process to ensure justice is served.

“It is very unfair for the victims to continue waiting for justice. You cannot impose reconciliation on people without justice. It cannot work and people are tired,” Bojang emphasized.

He described April 10 and 11 as a black day in his life and the family, saying the late Lamin A. Bojang was a very dedicated student whom he was hoping so much for.
He noted that from Latrikunda primary school to Nusrat Senior Secondary, the late Lamin was always in between 1st and 3rd position in the class.

Many parents and survivors like Abdoulie are eagerly waiting for justice as the long wait continues for two decades.

Popular Posts