Jul 10, 2013, 12:29 PM
Assembly Member for Tallinding and an alleged victim of The Gambian exiled
former president Yahya Jammeh’s government has accused Mr Jammeh’s hit-squad,
the defunct National Intelligence Agency (NIA) of rape.
Testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Tuesday, Fatoumatta K. Jawara said former operation commander of the NIA, Sheikh Omar Jeng threatened her that if she refuse to talk to them, he will order his men to rape her, and he did exactly that.
Mrs Jawara, Nogoye Njie, Fatou Camara and several others were arrested and detained at the Mile 2 Central Prison for participating in an electoral reform demonstration on April 14, 2016.
She said some of the United Democratic Party (UDP) militants and she were at a meeting where they were arrested by the police.
“We don’t even know why we were arrested. Our chairman was arrested and Solo Sandeng called and told me that he was arrested because of us. So, we formed a group to go and see Solo, who was the Secretary General of the National Youth Wing of the United Democratic Party (UDP).”
On the Tujereng incident, Mrs Jawara said one of the charges leveled against them was unlawful, saying it was because of their meeting. She said while they were at the meeting, the military came and arrested a journalist, who she can only remember as one Sainey.
Apart from the Bato Kunku and Tujereng incidents, she indicated that she was not arrested again until April14th, 2016.
Mrs Jawara said at first she did not know the reason of their April 14, 2016 electoral reform demonstration arrest until when she met paramilitary officers around Westfield main junction with a huge crowd.
“My UDP party leaders were there. There was a mixture of both police and civilians. There was when I came to know the purpose of the gathering was for electoral reform,” she said.
She explained that during the demonstration, PIU officers were chasing and arresting them, saying she cannot remember how others were chased and arrested but two of the PIU officers chased and caught her.
She said she was thrown into a truck where she met an old man called Kalilu Saidykhan, who, she said, she heard saying he is not part of the demonstration and one of the officers slapped him.
She stated that she was in the truck with Falang Sonko, Fatou Camara, Nogoye Njie and others.
After the arrest, she maintained that they were taken to PIU headquarters, where they appeared before a panel.
“During the interrogation, the then Interior Minister, Ousman Sonko and the IGP Ousman Badjie were present. I was later sent to the female remand wing at Mile 2 Central Prison.”
According to her, that night they were taken to the Police Commissioner’s office, and during that period she could hear a man who was holding her from the back saying if a woman walks like a man, she will be paid like a man.
“I was able to recognise only the driver among them called Sheikh Tijan Camara.”
Mrs Jawara further told the Commission that they were later escorted to the NIA headquarters, where she, Fatou Camara and Lang Marong were interrogated by a lady called Fatou Sanneh, who asked her whether the UDP leader lawyer Ousainou Darboe was part of the demonstrators and who were their sponsors.
“As we were interrogated, a soldier came and asked whether we were complying, but the lady told him that we were not and he kicked all of us.”
She said the soldier grappled and blind folded her and took her into the torturing room, where she was stretched on a table with some holding her hands while others hold the legs and they poured water on her, beat her from the head down to the buttocks. “I was later pushed down and dragged to the interrogation room. There, they asked me to name those involved and whether lawyer Darboe was among us, but I told them he was not and they were tortured again.”
Still at the NIA, Mrs Jawara narrated that they were moved to another house and at first she thought they were going to kill her. She added that when they took her there, she recognized Sheikh Omar Jeng, the then NIA operation commander.
She said that night she was blind folded and Sheikh Omar Jeng told her that if she did not want to talk then he will make her sleep with all the men there and everyone was laughing at her. She said they later beat and raped her but she never noticed that during the process as she was unconscious.
“They took me into another room and where I met Fatou Camara lying down with injuries on her body. Nogoye was also brought with injuries on her body and she thought I was already dead. Nogoye told me that it was a doctor who picked me from where I was lying and took me to the NIA hospital, where I got conscious after three days.”
Mrs Jawara further explained that there were multiple injuries on her body that she was still healing. “There were wounds on by back and my buttocks and they still pain me. I was bleeding externally and urinating blood. Any time I sit for long, I will feel pain and they used to admit me at hospital sometime.”
The Tallinding lawmaker said they spent nine days at the hospital and during that period, one service officer, who she believed was called one James said they should be taken to Bamba-Dinka. “We were later taken to Bamba-Dinka. There, once you enter, you will not be able to hear anything. There were mattresses in the cells and a hole that is used as a toilet. The space was small and we were so close to the toilet.”
She said after Bamba-Dinka, they were taken to court and on two occasions, the court ruled that they should be detained at Mile 2 prison. “We were at Mile 2 by our own and there were some good prison officers who used to sympathize with us.”
Later at the prison, she indicated that 11 of them were moved to McCarthy, where they took them into a cell and gave them a chamber pot that they used when nature called and when it was full, they will empty it.