Abdoulie Darboe, survivor of the November 11 military massacre, said some of the perpetrators of the crime are still in the army.
A group of former military officers who have survived the first allege mass execution under former strongman Yahya Jammeh has hold their first press conference to recount their stories.
The soldiers whose colleagues were murdered on November 11, 1994 have gathered at the Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations to call for justice for their fallen comrades.
“The 1994 incident was so sad. It was a grievance between the junta and the junior soldiers. It is like when you fight till you have a government afterwards the promise they had with junior members, they refuse to fulfill that promise,” Corpral Abdoulie Jallow recalled.
He explained that well before the 1995 coup, the juntas promised that they will help the junior soldiers by building an estate for them just behind the Yundum barracks.
However, after six months and the promise wasn’t met, the junta decided at a meeting to say if any one feels to live the normal way they can and those who feels bad about it can leave the army.
“That was when Sanna Sabally started firing the rounds in the air. By then he was the Vice-Chairman. That’s how 11/11 came. Nobody knows what was going on. You wake up in the morning, they arrest you. You go to your room or compound they pick you and this was when soldiers started running.
“…I was taken to the cell and charged with treason at the Court Martial and eventually sentenced to a nine year imprisonment with hard labour. I had already spent six months in detention. My experience in the prisons was so tough,” Corporal Jallow who is the founder of Gambia National Army’s Medic Department said.
According to him, his compliance to orders at Mile 2 paid off after as he was treated with respect and discipline. With his medical background, Jallow was recognized by the prisons authorities to provide health care to prisoners and also sign them off for referrals to Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital.
“They nominated me as the first class prisoner and I was given a right to go to any place such as the gardens, escort the prisoners to labour, to treat people out of dormitory to Banjul when they fall sick. So later on they gave me 100 percent trust and I gave them the same. That was the time I started snatching my documents from their offices such as warrant cards and discharge letter,” he said.
Jallow is now seeking his unpaid benefits from the Gambia government as he believes that his service was never terminated.
“They didn’t give me any dismissal letter. When I came out I went to the PMO to process my money and I could not get it. I went to the army they didn’t get me anything,” he said.
He said all the responsible authorities like PMO and the army were afraid to speak to him or show him the right way he could have used to get his money.
Corporal Jallow was enlisted in the army in 1984, thus belonging to forth intake of the army.
Basirou Barrow’s wife gives account
Sunkary Yabo, was 25 years of age when her husband who was 35 at the time went out and mysteriously disappeared.
“Basiru left for work and he never returned again. He left the house at night for a night duty. I couldn’t try to pursue his case at the time because I was afraid to do so. The officers of the intelligence service had confronted me numerous times asking if I have any idea about my husband but I had always responded that I have no knowledge about him.
Yabo is now 51. She and Barrow were blessed with 3 siblings among whom the youngest son is currently serving as a staff at the Victims’ Center.
“They killed him. I could not do anything about it. I’m powerless. It was a very difficult experience for me with my children,” she said.
Soldier who survives 30 rounds of bullet
Abdoulie Darboe, also a survivor, described November 11 as the most serious crime committed in Gambia’s history and “that they should never forget or forgive”.
“November 11, soldiers were arrested, killed, detained, tortured and sentenced wrongfully without a proper judicial system. We need to be heard. We cried but still there is no answer to our call,” Darboe said.
He said some of the perpetrators of the incident are still serving in the army.
He said he was arrested together with the late lieutenant Basirou Barrow, late Lt. Faal, and others who were brutally killed by the military junta.
“We had a minor disagreement between us and they took that as a military coup started killing people wrongly, arresting people at their homes.
“The day we were arrested we were taken to Mile 2 at that very night. After some minutes, we were taken from Mile 2 to Fajara barracks where we were paraded and they started killing us,” said Darboe.
The affected soldiers and relatives of slain soldiers said they will be keenly following the proceedings of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).
The Victims’ Center where they held the press conference also vowed to monitor TRRC and reiterated its willingness to seek judicial justice for victims where necessary.