Manneh, a former student of Brikama Ba and one of April 10/11 victims Thursday
told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), how he used
local amulets to protect himself from arrest and harm, amid bullets that were
fired by armed security personnel on the ill-fated day of April 11, 2000.
Manneh, who appeared before TRRC chaired by Lamin Sise, told the commissioners that after the April 10th demo that took place around the Greater Banjul, they also discussed as students to stage a peaceful demo at their school in Brikama Ba.
“During the said April 10/11 demonstrations, I was in grade nine. I heard that a student called Ebrima Barry was manhandled by the personnel of The Gambia Fire and Rescue Service that led to his death. The student union at the time GAMSU made several meetings with government for justice be served, but they didn’t take it seriously. It was around the same period, when my own sister was raped at the independence stadium in Bakau during the annual inter school sport competition, where she represented Brikama Ba.”
Manneh recalled that at the time of demonstration, he was at home where he received a phone call from one Mr. Njie, who informed him that there were soldiers at the school, who came to arrest some students.
“I came that same day from my village and spent the night at Brikama Ba. The following day, I went to school where I met some soldiers and I asked them what was their mission and they said they were there to maintain peace and stability.”
At that juncture, he noted that as he wanted to enter the school premises, the soldiers insulted him during which one Ousman Sabally, a student asked the security to leave the school territory.
To this end, he added that some students wore uniforms with inscriptions “we need justice for Ebrima Barry”.
The witness maintained that he was one of the targets that were to be arrested, but they couldn’t because he was prepared by wearing amulets that saved him from arrest and harm of bullets.
“The following day being 11 April, 2000, we organized our peaceful demonstration and I was in the frontline. The soldiers came from Basse joined by some from Kudang Barracks. But they reacted badly by shooting students with rubber bullets, beating, firing teargas. We also reacted by throwing stones at them and in that process, when they realised that they can’t control the crowd, they call for reinforcement from Farafenni.”
He stated that after about an hour, reinforcement team arrived from Farafenni, who started shooting live bullets.
The witness indicated that as the soldiers started using live ammunitions, one Sabally, who was leading the students, informed him that he had been shot, which led to his death.
Manneh further informed the commission that Sainey Nyabally and Ebrima Sainey were also shot around their stomach that led to their deaths.
The witness explained that another student, Musa Kanaji was also shot at, but he (Manneh) acted as a shield by standing in between him (Musa) and the bullet and that’s what why bullet didn’t penetrate him.
As the demonstration came to an end, the witness said his body was swollen due to bullets that were fired at him but didn’t penetrate him.
“My father treated me for only one day, where I returned to the school two weeks later. I was later arrested by paramilitary officers from Kudang alongside some UDP militants, who were accused of playing part in the student demonstration. We were detained for two weeks and charged without reasons.”