By Yankuba Jallow
A survivor of 2 gunshots during the April 2000 mass students’ demonstration has called on the Government of the Gambia to support them to go overseas for treatment.
Appearing before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission on Wednesday, Oumie Jagne said she still has some particles of bullets in her left hand which makes it difficult for her to do domestic chores properly including laundering.
“I cannot use my hand properly because it pains inside if I try to do that,” she said.
19 years ago, Oumie Jagne was shot around her left hand by a paramilitary officer during a mass students’ demonstration held on 10th April 2000. The students took to the streets calling for justice in the alleged maltreatment of Ebrima Barry which resulted in his death and the alleged rape of Binta Manneh. Both Barry and Manneh were students.
She said on 10th April 2000, she was on her way from the market when she saw two naked female students who were running and they entered her house asking for the mother of Anna Jagne. She said she replied to them that their mother was out, but she is the elder sister.
She recounted that the girls told her that their entire-class were stripped off their clothes by security personnel leaving them only with their underclothing.
“They said they were been forced to put off their clothes by the paramilitary,” the witness said, adding that she gave them clothes to wear.
“I escorted them in searched of Anna (my younger sister). We went to GTTI but that place was ‘hot’ as the paramilitary were fighting with the students – The security personnel were beating the students with their black sticks, they were also having their guns, the students were also stoning them (the security personnel),” she said.
“I saw the paramilitary chasing Anna, she called out my name and then I also started running after them. When I reached her, I threw the clothes I brought for her; while throwing the clothes, a bullet struck me. I turned and told the paramilitary officer who shot me that he has wounded me and he told me if I stand, he will shoot me again. I was running, he released a second shot on me and this time the bullet struck me on the same hand then I saw blood oozing from my hand,” she said.
She averred that a young man passing came and tore her clothes and used it as a bandage on her wounded hand. She added that the man went to the Red Cross and brought a vehicle which she boarded to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul. She said the Red Cross vehicle that took her to Banjul had corpses of students. She said she was taken to the accident and emergency unit where the doctor removed the first bullet from her hand with the use of a scissor.
“I know this paramilitary man who shot me and I know where he lives at the time,” she said.
“I was never part of the demonstration; I went out to help my sister who was been chased by the security,” she told the Commission, in reply to a question whether she was part of the demonstration. She said she was not a student by then.
She said at the hospital, they were treating her but her hand got swollen.
“It was then I was taken for X-ray, they discovered the second bullet sticking in between my bones, but the doctor could not take the bullet out because of the nature of my hand by then and they continue dressing my wounds in that condition,” she said.
She said they continued to dress her until one day when they were undressing the wounds; they saw the bullet on the bandage.
She said the doctor told her she was on continues pain because there are particles of bullets remaining in her arms. She said she later realized that her elder sister, Amie Jagne was also admitted in the same room she was.
“Amie was shot on her leg,” the witness said, adding that she was later taken to the United Kingdom for further treatment by a European friend of theirs.
She alleged that when former President Yahya Jammeh came to the hospital to visit them, her sister (Amie) threw one of her crouches to Yahya Jammeh as well she was insulting him for making her undergo such pain, but Jammeh never responded to any of the insults.
On her recommendation, she said justice should have been served before we (the victims) come to TRRC.
“We wrote to Ba Tambadou and went to Hendry Gomez who promised us that he would talk to President Barrow. The properties that have been seized from former President Jammeh should be given to the victims because he was the cause of our conditions,” she said.
She said President Adama Barrow has betrayed the victims of the 22 – year repressive rule of Yahya Jammeh.