TRRC – Martin Kyere Tells Migrants’ Distress Before Massacre & How He Cheated Death.
The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) continues examining one of the most infamous episodes of Jammeh’s rule, the alleged execution of around 50 Europe-bound clandestine migrants in 2005. A Ghanaian national, Martin Kyere the yet known sole survivor of the killing, has testified to the commission on Monday.
He described how soldiers “with cutlasses and guns” stripped and beat the migrants when they first captured them. The witness also informed the Commission that there were 67 migrants in total, some from Nigeria, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Togo, Senegal but the majority from Ghana. “I only knew those that were from my village namely: Abari Kassim, Eric Yao, Victor Oduro, Etmmon, Kumi, Kawbana, Kussu, Richard Baokau, Jannet (Codivoire), Makou, Agya Amo, Eric Nketia, Pay Master, Ajekum, Daniel Kuwadou, Martin Kyere, Richmond Addea”.
Martin Kyere was then held in a cell for about a week, before he and other migrants were bound with wire and driven deep into a forest in a pickup car. He said the soldier said anyone who doesn’t want to die should not jumped from the Pickup but one of them who was a Muslim started calling God’s name. “The soldier just stopped the vehicle and used a cutlass and cut Adiamoh’s shoulder and blood started oozing from his mouth”.
Kyere said the group understood the soldiers intended to kill them. “What’s going through our mind at that time is, God forgive us our sins,” he said.
Narrating to the Commission how he was able to escape the execution, Martin Kyere said he managed to wriggle free while the vehicle was in transit. He said some of his co-captive migrants “Told me it’s God who wants to set you free so that you tell the world how Yahya Jammeh has killed us,” Kyere said.
He then broke down in tears as he explained how the other migrants gave him details of where they lived — so that he could pass messages to their loved ones. Martin said he leaped from the vehicle and fled into the nearby bush. “I heard gunshots and one of them passed not far from me. I decided to wait before I continued. The soldiers used a torch light and lit at several directions where they shot at random hoping to hit me,” Martin said.
The witness revealed to the Commission that he spent four nights in the forest and was eating fruits from an African fan palm to survive.
Mr. Kyere told the Commission that Ghana later received 8 bodies, from The Gambia, said to be those of the executed Ghanaians but the coffins were never opened and no autopsy done. “The Gambia Government has insulted us with $500,000 to bury unknown bodies. They said the money sent by The Gambia was not for compensation but for humanitarian ground to bury the bodies,” Martin Kyere told the TRRC
He said he is happy to be given access to come and testify at the TRRC. “I was never thinking of sitting in The Gambia like this to explain my story” Martin said.
He concluded that he and the rest of the victims of Yahya Jammeh’s crimes need Justice, as he hopes that all of them will get justice served one day.
The chairman of the TRRC, Lamin Sise, said “The ‘Smiling Coast’ is a crime coast today after hearing what happened to Martin and the rest of the West African Migrants. I was embarrassed that this atrocities happened in the Gambia, carried out by perpetrators in the Gambia by using knives and cutlasses.”
In July 2019, former Yahya Jammeh’s “Junglers” told the TRRC that Jammeh personally ordered the 2005 massacre.