By Nelson Manneh
An Unidentified witness before the Truth Commission (TRRC) has on Monday testified that they were kept against their will during their HIV & AIDS treatment program initiated by former President Yahya Jammeh.
The witness said initially, they were told that the treatment will last for two months, but they ended up spending about six months which was against their will.
According to the witness, this was hard for them.
Testifying further, the witness said they used to take the medicine twice a day which was not measured and that a lot of the people who lost their lives during the treatment were strangers.
“Some of them came from Senegal, Guinea, Malawi and other countries. All of them were disappointed because Jammeh promised them that he can treat the virus whilst that was not the case,” he said.
The witness said those who were saying they were cured were just afraid to tell the truth.
“There was no truth in the treatment program,” he added.
He said before he went for the treatment programme, he did not have any problem with his health but after the treatment, he started feeling pains in his body. He further said there was a large crowd the day they were released and those who claimed to be cured were called and congratulated one after the other.
He said Isatou Njie Saidy, former vice president was present during the ceremony that took place in Kanalai, Jammeh’s home village.
Thereafter, the witness said he went home to Brikama Health Center to one Dr. Sabally who continued to administer the treatment on him and he started to feel better.
The witness also said before joining Jammeh’s treatment program, he was able to do many things on his own but later, he could not do anything for himself.
Couple’s Child Tested Negative
The witness testified that his child tested negative of the HIV & AIDS despite he and his wife tested positive of the virus.
The witness said his wife confirmed to him about her status and both of them were part of the HIV & AIDS treatment program of former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh.
His wife first joined the treatment program and he followed thereafter. The witness said after they were confirmed positive of the virus, they had a child but the child tested negative.
The witness also said he was first diagnosed and confirmed to have the virus at the Fajikunda Clinic and at the MRC.
He said after receiving the information, he went to Brikama clinic to meet one Dr. Sabally who assisted him and gave them drugs to reduce the impact of the virus.
The witness said Dr. Sabally’s drugs drastically reduced the pain they were grappling with. At the time, he said he was oblivious of any medicine that could cure the virus.
“When I was informed that I got the virus, I took it in good faith,” the witness said.
He said when he heard that former President Jammeh used to treat the virus, he decided to join the treatment program and he was enrolled.
“Yahya Jammeh himself used to say that he can cure many diseases including HIV and AIDS that is why I went there,” he said.
He said many people at the time claimed that they were cured by Jammeh. This convinced him to join the treatment program.
He said he was in the fifth batch of the treatment program, while the first to fourth batches before them claimed to have been cured.
The witness said he forgot the year he joined the treatment program, but said they took the treatment at the Serrekunda General Hospital.
He said Dr. Mbowe, Ansumana Jammeh and other nurses were the ones assisting President Jammeh in the course of the treatment.
“Sometimes we drink this medicine at the Serrekunda General Hospital, sometimes at the State House and sometimes we go to Kanalai,” the witness explained.
He said at the Serrekunda General Hospital, there was a place they used to meet and former President Jammeh will administer the treatment on them and also give them medicine.
The witness said before he joined the treatment, he looked healthy but when he joined the treatment program, his health condition deteriorated.
He said they spent about six months on the treatment program. He added they were more than one hundred. He said many people died while some suffered during the treatment.
He said they believed they were going to be cured, but that didn’t happen.