The Chronicle Gambia

‘After He kicked Me, There Was Blood All Over the Place’: TRRC Witness Recalls Alleged 1995 Torture

A former ruling Peoples Progressive Party Councilor, Koso Taylor has told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission that she was tortured and kicked in the genitals, leading to serious bleeding while in military detention about 24 years ago.

On Thursday 12th October 1995, Ms. Taylor was arrested by armed soldiers along Kairaba Avenue for allegedly taking part in a planned demonstration against the AFPRC military junta.

“I saw a vehicle coming and they stopped and pushed me into the car and took me to Kairaba police station.”

She was later transferred to Fajara Barracks. Many other people believed to be PPP supporters were also being detained at the barracks.

“They took us to a storage where they stored their rice. I was there on Thursday night and Friday morning and we couldn’t wash our face. Throughout Friday we were there. We were sleeping on the floor.”

Testifying before the commission on Skype Wednesday, Ms. Taylor narrated how detention situations worsened 24 hours after her arrest.

“On Saturday morning, we were there praying for us to go home. We saw three military trucks enter. We saw the military people jumping from the truck. So they came to us and started insulting everybody, and saying they came kill us. They asked the men to lie down on the floor. These military people started stamping on them.”

A screen shot of Kosso Taylor appearing at TRRC via Skype

Ms. Taylor said the soldiers turned to her after she remarked ‘Oh you don kill- am’ (a Krio phrase meaning ‘Oh you’ve killed him’) when they fired at the direction of a detainee called Jobarteh Manneh.

“The moment I used that word, I think eight of them rushed towards me. The first one kicked me with his feet and I fell. He kicked me in front of my stomach,” she said.

Counsel Sagar Jahateh asked: “Did he kick you in your private area?”

At that juncture, Ms. Taylor paused and remained quiet for about 30 seconds, before answering the question. “That was what happened. And all of them started hitting me using rods they had in their hands, beating me. And then he kicked me and there was blood all over the place.”

The beating continued, according to her.

“They were trying to remove my clothes and they succeeded removing my garam-buba (a traditional outfit won by women mainly to signify stature). They were trying to remove my wrapper but it was tightly tied. I sustained injuries on my back and the bleeding continued till the next day, and I remained in the same clothes. My family didn’t know where I was.”

“I was scared and I left everything with God because security people were with guns. No food was given to us. When I needed to pee, the military guy would escort me and he’d stand and watch me pee.”

Ms. Taylor and the other detainees were later charged, but the trial never proceeded.

“We went to court many times and there was nothing. They kept on adjourning the trial. Sometimes when we’d go to court, they would adjourn the case for two or three months.”

After thirteen months in detention, Ms. Taylor was released.

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