April 10/11 Victim: “Paramilitary Officers Beat Me Mercilessly Even After They Shot Me in the Leg”
Abdoukarim Jammeh, one of the April 10/11 victims Wednesday told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission how he was shot by armed paramilitary personnel on the fateful day of April 10, 2000 when students took to the streets to protest against the death of a student allegedly in the hands of Fire Service personnel and the alleged rape of a school girl.
The protest, which spread from the Kombos to other parts of the country the next day, was met with heavy-handedness from the security forces, resulting to at least ten deaths and multiple severe injuries.
Testifying before the commission, Jammeh recalled joining other students to escort then army chief Babucarr Jatta to the headquarters of the Police Intervention Unit (popularly known as paramilitary) after some students were shot.
“We met Babucarr Jatta around Dippa Kunda and some of the students rushed on him and wanted to attack him or possibly kill him. But some of us said no and we asked them to allow him to explain whether he was the one who ordered the soldiers to shoot at the students. Jatta denied giving orders. We agreed to go with him to the paramilitary headquarters because one of the students among the crowd said those killed at Westfield were killed by the paramilitary personnel.”
Jammeh further recalled how armed security men started firing at the students and how he was shot.
“I saw paramilitary officers firing directly at us and one of their bullets hit me on the back and pierced out in the front of my leg. The shot threw me inside a gutter… A lot of blood was coming from my leg. This was the time one man came to my aid and pulled me out of the gutter and sat me by the side.”
He testified that he saw his helper, who was a Red Cross Volunteer, being beaten mercilessly by military officers even though he identified himself.
He continued: “While I was sitting beside the gutter, I saw four other students lying on the floor and struggling as a result of gunshots. I later saw they were not moving and I assumed they were already dead.”
Jammeh further told the Commission that he was partially in coma when he was being transported to the RVTH, but was able to notice high presence of military officers on the way. According to him, one Mr. Nyang who was accompanying him to the hospital used his shirt to wave at the soldiers and to alert them that there were dead bodies in the vehicle.
“When we arrived at the hospital I was taken to the theatre where they told me that I was hit with a bullet that force its way out of my leg. I was admitted at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Ward with one Sainabou Camara, who later told me that the paramilitary officers ‘danced’ on her until she fainted.”
Jammeh blamed the former president and his government for his ordeal.