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Photo Exhibit Documents Jammeh’s Reign of Terror

A photographic exhibition chronicling the reign of terror under the regime of Yahya Jammeh has been held at the Gambia Center for Human Rights Violations in Kotu.

The exhibit titled ‘Portraits to Remember’, features a collection of photographs of victims and resisters of the Jammeh regime, serving as a stark reminder of the use of brutalities including torture by the regime from 1994 to 2016.

The project was implemented by photojournalists; Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio, and Katherine Taylor in collaboration with the Victims Center.

“The idea is to keep photographic records of victims as much as possible and share their stories and to bring the photos of the victims to light. It is not only going to serve as a historical record but equally as an advocacy tool.It is one thing to read about them in newspapers and hear their names but to physically see their faces as brothers and sisters and as neighbors are what makes this exhibition important,” said Jason Florio.

In the project, Jason and his colleagues reached out to more than seventy victims of the Jammeh regime since its inception in October of 2016, with a plan to reach out to more victims registered with the GCHRC.

Jason (far left) with victims and resisters photo credit: Jason Florio

“What I learnt from the interviews with victims is the range of abuses and atrocities that happened here during the 22 years of Jammeh. I have been coming to The Gambia for 20 years and I heard about things happening in the past but I had no idea about the range of abuses, including the use of forced medication, people forced to take HIV treatments. The tourists that came here had no idea about what was going on. Even I as a journalist who been here many times had no idea about what was really going on The Gambia,” Jason told The Chronicle.

Jason appealed to Gambia government to give full medical attention to many victims who continued to suffer from the scars of the brutalities of the past regime.

The Executive Secretary of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow described the exhibition as an important bearing on the work of the TRRC.

“I came here and am learning new things and I came across victims I haven’t heard of or seen before.”

He urged the victims to come forward and present their stories before the TRRC.

Hassoum Ceesay, the Director of Fine Arts at the National Council for Arts and Culture said, “As a curator I admire the quality of the photos. It’s an excellent photographic work – the light, the color, the background.”

“One good thing about this exhibition is that it highlights the level of abuses that were committed and I urge every Gambia to come here and have a look if we don’t want this to happen again,” said Hassoum.

Henriette Brummer Sonko, the Honorary Consul for The Netherlands described the event as important and timely, observing that pictures speak a lot about a story and have more impact on people because once you come across a photo it sticks in your mind.

A victim stands in front of her portrait

“These photos are stories we have heard through the media, through the TRRC, in the trial of the NIA 9. So it just gives it the face that can trigger people’s thoughts about things they never thought could happen.

Abdou Karim Jammeh, a victim of the April 10-11 incident, is one those whose portraits are being exhibited. “We are calling on the government of the day to consider the victims especially for those who need overseas treatments. Some of my colleagues are still going through lots of pains and are suffering because of the atrocities in the past.”

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