I remembered this day, that shall live in infamy, like it was yesterday – by Jeggan Grey Johnson

 I remembered this day, that shall live in infamy, like it was yesterday – by Jeggan Grey Johnson

Re open the April 10th/11th Inquiry and send a message beyond the graves of those young lives

I remembered this day, that shall live in infamy, as if it was yesterday. I went to RVH and saw the body of a young journalist and a Red Cross volunteer called Omar Barrow, who was shot in the back whilst on duty at the Red Cross Headquarters.  He was rushed to the hospital at the RVH, shortly before midday, and was placed on the floor of the morgue, that was filled with dead bodies.  As he lay lifeless on the tiled floors of the swarming hospital, his sandals still gripping his lifeless feet, it became apparent that another disaster that would relight the bitterness and a greater divide in the process of national reconciliation had been created.

Then Vice President Isatou N’jie Saidy had a load on her shoulders, with the President away in Cuba; she had to bare the ferocity of an angry, shocked and unforgiving public.  Her strategy? To react to the national blunder in a defensive tone. 

In the first press release issued out to the Media, it was stated that no one was killed by gunshots, because the soldiers fired blanks and teargas.  This was a lie.  Observing the obvious, that such an explanation defied possibility- both technically, and factually, another release emerged; the soldiers acted in a mode of self-defence.  Another lie.  It was argued by the Jammeh Administration, led by the Vice-President Isatou Njie-Saidy, that because the students had guns and fired into the crowd, they had killed their own fellow students.  A third lie in as many hours.  Another unlikely acceptance, which led to another Press Release: the students did have guns and fired first at the security personnel, they were poised to return the aggression, emanating in the deaths of ‘some’, not all of the students. A fourth lie.  The Jammeh government was on a lying marathon.  

The nation lashed out at the heavy handedness of the security forces, and the anger soon turned to the Vice President and the outspoken and unremorseful defenders of the Administration (we know who you are and remembered what you said).  Radio One FM was the venue for venting, as parents, children, teachers, and sympathizers took to the airwaves admonishing the ‘shamelessness and arrogant as well as unapologetic’ nature of the Jammeh Administration.

And how and why did Gambia degenerate into massacring children? It was the escalating acts of callousness by a cruel government that hated its people.   A student, Ebrima Barry, was tortured by members of the fire service, who had forced him to eat cement, and resorted to beat him unremittingly to his eventual death.  Another student was raped by police officers that were, at the time, never reprimanded for such despicable action.  So the students decided to confront the criminality of security services.  Police officers blocked the streets with barricades, and literally buckled down to fight kids in uniform armed with stones, and other non-threatening paraphernalia, whilst the armed forces replied with bullets and the firepower required in a war zone.  The result? An official count of ten dead, close to a hundred injured, and many more students arrested. 

We WILL NEVER forget. 

President Adama Barrow: Re open the April 10th/11th Inquiry and send a message beyond the graves of those young lives – Ebrima Barry; Reginald Carrol, Karamo Barrow, Lamin Bojang, Ousman Sabally, Sainey Nyabally, Ousman Sembene, Bakary Njie, Claesco Pierra, Momodou Lamin Njie, Wuyea Foday Mansareh, Bamba Jobarteh, Momodou Lamin Chune, Abdoulie Sanyang, Babucarr Badjie and Omar Barrow- that justice will be done so that their young and gentle souls will finally rest in peace.                       


Jeggan Grey Johnson