‘Ex-Interior minister ordered attack on April 10 victims’

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Assan Suwareh, a victim of April 10, 2000 students’ demonstration who testified through Skype before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) yesterday disclosed that the former minister of the Interior Ousman Badjie ordered paramilitaries to attack peaceful demonstrators at Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI).

He said he joined about 500 students who demonstrated for justice to be served to Ebrima Barry, who was tortured and a young girl who was raped by the security officers.

“As we marched towards Westfield, I saw paramilitaries who tried to stop the students and there was push-and-pull, and ended up with paramilitaries assaulting the students by beating and throwing teargas on them and the students paid back by throwing stones.”

On the occasion, witness said the then minister of the Interior Ousman Badjie spoke to the students and the paramilitaries, which escalated and he saw Badjie, who gestured to the paramilitaries to attack the students who were on the GTTI campus. He said he also saw Babouccar Vincent Jatta, the former CDS on the ground.

“The securities moved inside and some of the students were finding their way out for safety. As I was running to hide in the classroom, I hit a wall and that resulted to my scar on the upper eye. They beat both the female and male students mercilessly.”

He said that he was able to escape from the campus and the direction he was heading was full of students finding shelter in nearby compounds.

“We continued to the Jimpex Road and headed to ‘Ice Man’,” the witness said. He added that he saw a group of students at Mobile Traffic, which he joined to protest peacefully.

He stated that a teargas was fired at them inside Mobile Traffic and they reacted by stoning, saying he heard a gunshot and realised that a student had been shot in the hand.

“As I was running, I was shot in my stomach but no blood was out, so I thought it was another thing but not a bullet and I tried to force myself to run, but I couldn’t. I fell down and I could see students running to save their lives.”

He continued that after he fell, a man assisted him, while he saw a Red Cross ambulance pass by with likely dead bodies. He added that as he was picked by a vehicle and taken to Banjul, he saw very injured students inside with bullet wounds and bleedings.

“At the hospital in Banjul, I met many injured victims who suffered serious pain. I spent two to three weeks at hospital for treatment. The shot destroyed my kidney and my liver and I spend two months at the hospital before being taken to Egypt for an overseas medical treatment by the then government.”

Author: Pa Modou Cham