The Remembrance Of April 10th & 11th Gambia Student Massacre - 4/11/2017 Showbizwal

The Remembrance Of April 10th & 11th Gambia Student Massacre 

Some of us might not remember what exactly happens in the Gambia on April 10th and 11th, 2000.Some of us were young to remember and some of us have already left the Gambia. But for whatever reason, it is time to refresh our memories and enlighten others what really happens on that day. Thanks brother Jallow Mathew the architect of some of the information on the online of what happens on this day.

 April 10th and 11th is the 3rd darkest and unfortunate chapter in the history of The Gambia after 1981 coup and July 22nd, 1994 coup. If am wrong on this please correct me on this and I will appreciate it.

 So what exactly happen on April 10th and 11th just two years after Yahya Jammeh seized power. All we know is that, on April 10th and 11th, 2000, Gambian students held a demonstration against the regime of president Jammeh for alleged murder of Ebrima Barry and the rape of a Brikamaba school girl. In this demonstration, 14 students were a massacre.

A high government official like The vice president, Isatou Njie-Saidy and former secretary of state for the Interior, Ousman Badjie said killing started from within the demonstrators themselves which is not true because none of the demonstrators were armed. The students intended to nonviolently march to the city center, but they were stopped by police, who ordered them to disperse. When students refused, the police opened fire, attacking with tear gas and rubber bullets. This is what we know as for now

 But what we are yet to know is why such decision was made by the police to open fire that leads to the dead of 14 students and 100 injuries. The only person who can answer that question right now is Isatou Njie Saidy .I think Isatou Njie Saidy should be brought in to answer some key question regarding the April 200 student massacre

Here is what lead to April 10th and 11th Massacre

On March 8, 2000, two years after Jammeh’s election, Ebrima Barry, a 19-year-old student in Brikama City, The Gambia, insulted his teacher Mr. Paul and was suspended. Mr. Paul called the fire department to remove Mr. Barry from the classroom, apparently afraid that Ebrima would not go without a fight. Yet once they had hold of him the firemen not only removed Ebrima from school, but took him to the station where they appear to have shaved his head, beaten him, forced him to carry heavy bags of cement, stripped him naked, poured cement on him, and finally put cement in his mouth and forced him to swallow.

 Ebrima was able to go home that night, where he told his mother what had happened. However, the next day, March 9, he died from injuries he had received at the hands of the firemen. That Friday student from Ebrima’s secondary school converged on the fire department with signs and banners, but the police rapidly dispersed them.

The Gambia Student Union (GAMSU) pressed for an autopsy ascertaining the cause of Ebrima’s death. Jammeh's government, aside from expressing surprise that the fire department had been asked to discipline a student, had made no move to investigate the situation. When delivered, the autopsy (widely believed to be a cover-up) claimed that Ebrima died of natural causes. GAMSU members began a protest when the government released the report, and the courts eventually charged seven officers with participation in Ebrima’s death. All seven were acquitted on March 2 of the next year.

 In early April of 2000, while Gambians were still processing Ebrima’s murder, an armed officer raped a thirteen-year-old at a sporting event. GAMSU pressed for the girl to be allowed to identify the rapist, but the government stalled and by the point, the girl –identified only as Binta – was allowed to see the men who had been on duty on the day of her rape, she was unable to recognize her assailant.

 Students in GAMSU were outraged by both events. They filed for a protest permit in order to express their anger and to hold those who had been responsible for the recent atrocities accountable, but the government denied their request. GAMSU decided to protest anyway, and thousands gathered on April 10 in their school uniforms at the gates of the Gambia Technical Training Institute. They intended to nonviolently march to the city center, but they were stopped by police, who ordered them to disperse. When students refused, the police opened fire, attacking with tear gas and rubber bullets. According to one source, the students scattered but regrouped, creating barricades out of burning tires and throwing stones at the police. According to the same source, as non-students joined the fray protesters attacked government buildings and set a police station on fire.

The police reacted by using live ammunition, killing fourteen students, a Red Cross volunteer/radio journalist, and a three-year-old that was hit by a stray bullet. Police prevented Gambians from entering the local hospital to identify the dead. Hundreds of others were injured.

The next day students across the country protested in solidarity with the Brikama students and with the same goal of holding the perpetrators accountable. The police violently repressed the protests and arrested hundreds of protesters. The two days of protest are now referred to throughout The Gambia as the Student Massacre of 2000. The government issued a statement blaming student leaders and closed all schools for a number of days. The Vice President even claimed that the students “killed themselves,” shooting each other after breaking into police armories and stealing weapons.

 After the protests subsided, GAMSU and other social justice groups such as Amnesty International-Gambia formed a larger group titled the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, which was eventually able to free all jailed student activists and successfully spread the word about the massacre. Yet over the next few years, much of GAMSU’s leadership fled overseas to escape persecution, and over time the government was able to infiltrate what remained of the GAMSU organization with hired agents willing to turn in their peers. The government also set up a parallel student union, the National Patriotic Students Association (NAPSA) that it used to counter any future GAMSU activity.