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Jammeh backed witch hunt claims more than 40 lives, devastates others

Feb 8, 2022, 11:17 AM | Article By: Ali Jaw

Among the gross atrocities and vices discovered to have been perpetrated and meted on the Gambian populace by the 22-year Jammeh regime was a false witch hunt exercise backed and fully spearheaded by the despotic Jammeh rule.

After 39 sittings which covered 43 witnesses on this matter, the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) found and revealed the loss of more than 40 lives and the permanent and life-long traumatisation of many others.

“Yahya Jammeh had a strong belief in superstition and supernatural activities. He used the powers of the state to carry out a state sponsored witch hunting exercise which he believed would purge the country of witches and wizards.”

“The witch hunting exercise started in Kanilai (after the death of Jammeh’s aunt which he attributed to witchcraft) and Sintet in 2008 and it was expanded to government institutions and surrounding villages in the Kombos in 2009,” the report states.

“The witch hunters carried out the exercise with the assistance of the APRC militia group, the green boys and girls, armed police and military officers. They wielded considerable power and authority in the different locations they visited which was demonstrated by compelling the compliance of local government authorities, security forces, villagers and victims.”

“The victims were generally elderly, however, there was a rare case of a pregnant woman and a student. Victims were forcefully detained for several days and forced to drink bitter or unpleasant herbal concoctions believed to have been made from “Kubejara” a local hallucinogenic plant which is poisonous and very harmful to the body.”

The hunting exercises were carried out in Sintet, Foni, Bafuloto, Makumbaya, Jamburr, Essau, Barra and even at the headquarters of the Gambia Armed Forces, NIA, GPF, Banjul Fire Brigade and the Abuko abattoir.”

From the evidence gathered, TRRC states: “Former President Yahya Jammeh, Solo Bojang, the security forces, witch hunters and Green Boys are all individually and collectively responsible for ordering the persecution, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, inhumane and degrading and sexual gender-based violence treatment of hundreds of persons, leading to about forty-one deaths during the 2009 witch-hunting exercise.”

“Yahya Jammeh is held responsible for the forced labour of several people in the Fonis and other areas in his home village Kanilai. Some individuals who assisted him deserve special mention and must also be held responsible for their role in the witch-hunts. These are: Solo Bojang and those soldiers who participated in the unlawful beating of his aunt/stepmother after accusing her of witchcraft thereby resulting in her unlawful death.”

“Tambajiro, Solo Bojang, Sulayman (Solomon) Manga and Toffee Manga are held individually and collectively responsible for ordering the persecution, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment of hundreds of persons during a series of Witch-hunts in Sintet in 2008 under the instructions of Jammeh”

“Saihou Jallow unlawfully assaulted, and tortured Lamin Ceesay and participated in the Essau and Barra witch hunts under the instructions of Jammeh.”

“Ensa Badjie, participated in the Banjul Police Force witch hunt with the security forces, witch hunters and Green Boys under the instructions of Jammeh and he should be held responsible for ordering the persecution, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment of police officers during the 2009 witch-hunting exercises who have been incapacitated, sick and are suffering, in pain, stigmatised and branded as witches and wizards for the rest of their lives.”

“Omar Jawo as the most senior member of the police in the North Bank Region participated in the witch-hunt and unlawful arrests, detention, assault and beating and torture of Lamin Ceesay leading to the persecution, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment of hundreds of persons, leading to 40 deaths or even much more during the 2009 witch-hunting exercises who have been rendered incapacitated, sick, suffering, in pain, stigmatised and branded as Witches and Wizards for the rest of their lives.”

“Tamsir Bah, the OC of Sibanor Police Station in 2009 unlawfully arrested and detained Nyima Jarju, and her mother-in-law Fatou Bojang in 2009 during the Sintet Witch Hunt.”

“From the testimonies of witnesses, the drinking of the concoction administered by the Witch hunters and assisted by the green boys has led to death and life-threatening diseases.”

Therefore, TRRC recommends prosecution of Yahya Jammeh, Solo Bojang and Saikou Jallow for the murder, manslaughter of forty-one (41) individuals, who died as a result of being targeted and forced to drink toxic concoctions which resulted in all the deaths. 

It again recommends prosecution of Yahya Jammeh, Solo Bojang, Ensa Badjie, Tambajiro, Saikou Jallow, Omar Jawo for the inhumane and degrading treatment and torture inflicted on the victims during the witch hunting exercise.

“The referral of Tamsir Bah to The Gambia Police Force high command for disciplinary measure for his role in the unlawful arrest and detention of Nyima Jarju, her baby and her mother-in-law Fatou Bojang in 2009 during the Sintet Witch Hunting exercise.”

“Ensa Badjie and Omar Jawo should be banned from serving in the security services or holding any public office in the civil service or government in general.”

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