Friday, July 30, 2021

4 Years On: Family of Kanilai Man Killed By ECOMIG Soldiers Renews Call For Justice

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By Mustapha Jallow

A herdsman family has on Friday renewed call for justice after the ECOMIG soldiers shot him to death during a peaceful protest in Kanilai, Foni Kansala District.

It has been four (4) years since June 3rd 2021, when Haruna Jatta was shot and killed by the regional forces.

At least 60 people including relatives, friends and neighbours gathered to honor and mourn Jatta’s fourth anniversary at his birth home on 18th June. Community elders recited the Qur’an and offered prayers to the late Jatta and his entire family. Chants of “Justice for Jatta’’ could be heard while the Quran was being recited.    

“I cannot talk much. I felt very sad. My heart is still aching and full of sadness,’’ Rohey Jatta, the widow and mother of one, remarked as tears started rolling down her cheeks. “I still haven’t forgotten. I continue to call for justice to be served for the killing of my husband. I also want to know the killer of my husband and why was he killed?’’

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Rohey expressed her concerns about their lives and survival after her husband was killed because they are not having much support. The only support they are receiving are from a youth association in Foni, their family and community members. Tearful Rohey could not continue could not continue narrating their concerns over the death of her beloved husband.

Bakary Saibo Sanneh, former chairman of the West Coast Region, said Jatta’s rights were violated while exercising his civil rights. He added that now that Ansumana Jatta has lost his father (Haruna Jatta) , who is going to stand for his son (Ansumana)?

Sanneh called on Gambians, especially the Executive, to look at Haruan’s innocent son and stand by him. He challenged the media in playing their roles to ensure that Jatta’s child and family are supported and served with justice.

“The media is one of the most important things that a developed country needs. People need information and those giving the information are most needed. I want to call on you all (journalists) to stand by this small boy (Haruna’s son), so that he can be a better Gambian,’’ Sanneh said. “Finally, I want to call on the government of President Adama Barrow to do justice to the late Haruna Jatta and his family. I also want to inform the government that two wrongs do not make a right. Jatta and his family’s rights must be protected.’’

Why does the government remain muted about Jatta’s case and why are they failing to provide an investigation or report? Sanneh quizzed.

Alassan Jallow, Imam Ratib of Kanilai, said they have faced a lot of intimations and hardships caused by the presence of the armed regional forces in their community. He said it has instilled fear in their minds and heart, adding that since the change of government Kanilai and people residing in the community are seen as bad and disrespectful.

The imam slammed Gambian journalists for being biased, especially when it comes to Kanilai. He urged journalists to be neutral and independent when reporting issues at Kanilai village.

“You Gambian journalists, you are not here for an individual but you are here for the entire country. Don’t support anybody but only support the truth. Don’t also say or write what pleases people but say what pleases Allah,’’ he said.

Lamin Manga, ward chairman of Kanilai, Foni Kansala, said the Qur’an recitation for Jatta’s anniversary was not centered into politics but it was aimed at drawing or reminding the authorities about Jatta’s killing and that justice is yet to be served.

He said Kanilai or Foni are not in Senegal/Casamance, while reminding Gambians that the government comes and goes but the citizens always remain and will continue that way.

“So, we need to be each other’s keepers. Jatta’s case and family should not be sidelined,” he said.

Jalama Jammeh, a brother to ex-President Yahya Jammeh, recalled that Jatta used to work in the farm of former President Jammeh as a cattle herdsman.

He explained that he was among the people arrested and taken to Police Serious Crime in Banjul and that during their bail reporting on the third day, they got the news that Jatta was shot to death.

According to Jammeh, after Jatta was shot dead by ECOMIG soldiers none of the officials of the government visited Jatta’s family. He nonetheless urged Gambians to treat Haruna Jatta and Solo Sandeng equally because both are Gambians. He said Jatta also needs the fight like the one accorded to Sandeng’s case to demand answers.  

Almameh Gibba, Secretary General for Foni Youth Development Association (FYDA) and outspoken activist, said the purpose of organizing the anniversary was to send a message to the government so that it ponders over what happened to Jatta.

He said it is 4 years 13 days since Jatta was “brutally murdered” by Senegalese soldiers (ECOMIG), yet justice is not served.

He explained that in the third-year anniversary, they wrote to the ECOMIG commander who responded thus: “These Senegalese forces are not in the ECOMIG mandate that they are {under} the mandate of Senegal and that of the President. If you want any clarity, we can go and ask the President.’’

Gibba said Foni has endured a lot of bullies. So, he said they want to make sure the government takes a stand on the death of Jatta or else, they will continue to demand for justice.

“Foni is not a rebel zero nor tranny of people but it’s a peaceful region. So, therefore asked the government of Adama Barrow to make sure that Haruna Jatta’s case is investigated. We also want to know the killers of Jatta and why is the government still silent about the case,’’ he said.

According to Gibba, they felt that they were neglected because no government official visited the deceased’s family nor made compensations to the family. He added that their association will continue to provide support to Jatta’s family, especially his child. 

Three bags (50kg) of rice, 20 litre gallon oil, textbooks and other school materials were donated to Haruna Jatta’s family by senior members of FYDA.

Meanwhile, it was on Friday, 2nd June 2017, when the 52-year-old Jatta and his colleagues staged a peaceful protest against the stationing of ECOMIG Forces in their village. The protesters, with banners, marched towards where the ECOMIG Forces were camped, some three kilometres away from Kanilai.

The protest later turned to a confrontation between the forces and the protestors. Tension mounted amid the protestors and ECOMIG forces, who thereabout fired live bullets in the air as warning. In the process, Haruna Jatta, Buba Jammeh, Ebou Tamba, Amadou Jammeh, Musa Badgie, Bakary Sanyang and one Manga were hit by the bullets.

The protestors were rushed to Bwiam Hospital and Haruna and Buba, who at the time were in critical conditions, were referred to the EFSTH in Banjul. Haruna was pronounced dead on Saturday June 3rd, after suffering a bullet wound in his stomach.  

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