Yahya Jammeh’s witch hunt victims continue their quest for justice


By Makutu Manneh

Former president Yahya Jammeh’s witch hunt campaign victims are continuing their quest to bring Gambia’s long-time ruler to justice.

In a launching of a documentary video by Women Association for victim’s empowerment (WAVE), on Friday 16th April 2021, called: “We were Accused…..”

In “Stories to repair broken dignity”, victims and survivors talked about their quest for justice, encounters, stigmas they faced in their various communities, healing and reconciliation.

Many of the victims and survivors said they are not ready to forgive as what happened to them was painful which they could never forget. Some said for them to forgive, justice must prevail first.

They said they are waiting for the report of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) hoping to get justice after the recommendation of the commission.

The victims and survivors said the TRRC has removed a huge burden on their shoulders since the process started, many have come to know that they were accused and their rights were infringed by the former government.

“We thought we were going to take this pain to our graves,” they said.

A witch hunt campaign commenced in the Gambia in 2009 under the regime of former president Yahya Jammeh targeting individuals in different communities. It was said Yahya Jammeh claimed his aunt had been killed by a witch.

Ya Mummy Cessey, mother of a victim of enforced disappearance and a co-founder and chairwoman of WAVE, said they came together to form the association because most of the human right violations were encountered by women.

“This association is for women to express their feelings and also to render support to women victims of violations,” she said.

She said they cannot just sit down and wait for justice, adding they have to stand up to do something in supporting of women victims.

Dr. Dester Tuneh, WHO country coordinator, speaking on behalf of Ms. Seraphine Wakana, resident coordinator of United Nations in the Gambia, said the launching of the documentary video was a timely reminder of the need to listen to victims and ensuring their stories are heard to enable people to understand the scale of violation the victims suffered and also to prevent reoccurrence of such atrocities.

“Such documentaries can also contribute to the recovery process of victims and help them to reintegrate successfully in their societies,” he said.

Dr. Dester said the United Nations system in the Gambia stands with all stakeholders to attain sustainable peace in the country and respect for human rights and law and order.

WAVE was formed in mid-2019 with the aim of empowering women victims of human rights violations and abuses in the Gambia.