Four Gambian victims of former President Yahya Jammeh are departing the country for Turkey for treatment on Monday. The four were given their tickets at a ceremony hosted by country’s Truth Commission on Friday.
Three of the victims, Abdou Karim Jammeh, Yusupha Mbaye and Oumie Jagne, were part of the students who were shot by security forces in 2000. They still live with severe health problems.
Fourteen people were killed during the protest and lot others, including Jammeh, Mbaye and Jagne, had to endured severe health implications.
The third victim, Nogoi Njie, was one of the people arrested on April 14, 2016. Njie was part of Gambians led by Ebrima Solo Sandeng who protested for ‘electoral reforms’ under the authoritarian Gambian leader.
They were arrested and allegedly tortured. Sandeng died and some of their colleagues were sick. After their release, five among the jailed opposition activists died, though their cause of death was not established, it was blamed on their alleged torture and incarceration.
The victims will be given three female escorts.
Turkey grants 25 free treatments to Gambians each year, Ismail Sefa Yuceer, the Turkish ambassador to the Gambia, has said. Yuceer first met with the victims in 2017.
“The victims have suffered a lot. They have sacrificed a lot— their lives and health— for this country… We consider a support like this to be very sacred,” said Ambassador Yuceer.
The air tickets were sponsored by individual Gambians and institutions. Papa Yusupha Njie of Unique Solutions donated 2 air tickets, Gambia Ports Authority donated 3 air tickets.
The Truth Commission provided 2 air tickets and US$31,500 allowance for the victims. Dr Baba Galleh Jallow, the executive secretary of the Commission, said the allowances to the victims will be paid from the $1 million government gave to the Commission.
The ceremony was attended by the chair of the Commission Dr Lamin Sise. Adelaide Sosseh, the head of the Victim Support Unit at the Commission, said “Turkey has more than demonstrated that it is willing to help…”
“We have just come from regional hearings on witch-hunting and victims do not just need psychosocial support, they are also complaining of hypertension and other forms of health complications,” added Sosseh.
The gesture by Turkey was welcomed by Baba Hydara, the board chair of the Victim Center.
“I want to thank Turkey for this. We will never forget it. This is the first time we have a support of this magnitude from a foreign mission in the country,” said Hydara.
“This is an opportunity we have been waiting for, for 19 years… We thank the partners immensely for the help…,” said Abdou Karim Jammeh.