CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST: ‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’ by Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST: We are truly honoured to be on the CAP Prize shortlist – The Contemporary African Photography Prize – with our ongoing series, ‘Gambia-victims, and resisters

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

The Gambia, West Africa, is a popular winter-sun holiday destination, but many tourists are not aware of the recent dark history of ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa’ – as it is fondly known. From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled The Gambia as his fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition with brutality. His hit squad, the ‘Junglers’ and National Intelligence Agency carried out tortures, assassinations, and acts of sexual violence with impunity – journalists were gunned down and disappeared, students shot in cold blood, and even his cousins were murdered on his order.

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST: Ballo Kanteh, an ex-political prisoner shows the burns he suffered after melted plastic was dripped onto his skin by Jammeh's hit-squad, the Junglers. Kanteh spent 18-year detention at Mile 2 prison . Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST: Ballo Kanteh, an ex-political prisoner shows the burns he suffered after melted plastic was dripped onto his skin by Jammeh’s hit-squad, the Junglers. Kanteh spent 18-year detention at Mile 2 prison . Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST

Having worked and lived on and off in The Gambia since 1998, Helen Jones-Florio, my wife and collaborator, and I were personally aware of former President Yahya Jammeh’s control over society. It was not until Jammeh fled into exile in January 2017, after an astonishing election defeat, did the litany of violations under his regime start to come to light. The Gambia has been our second home and we felt it was our duty as documentarians to give face and voice to the victims, survivors, and their families. Despite hundreds of testimonies by both victims and perpetrators at the ongoing Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), many Jammeh loyalists are still in denial of the crimes, he and his cadre are now being accused of. Making it important to keep bringing the victims’ stories to public attention. 

#GambiaHasDecided

“I was taken downstairs. They covered my eyes and I felt an injection in my back, like a big staple gun, and then I felt something enter my system…burning me inside. I was screaming, shouting, calling to Allah for help. They started to beat me with a piece of hard rubber, kicked me, punched me…I thought, I am now dead”. Pa Ousman Njie

CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021: PA Ousman Njie sitting in his taxi - April 14th 2016 and arrested by the former president, Yahya Jammeh’s, security forces. He was taken to the National Intelligence Agency and tortured. Image ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio
CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021: Pa Ousman Njie was driving his taxi when he was innocently caught up in a demonstration by the UDP opposition party on April 14th 2016 and arrested by the former president, Yahya Jammeh’s, security forces. He was taken to the National Intelligence Agency

Since 2017, we have photographed over one-hundred-and-twenty portraits, and sites of violations, and recorded video testimonies.

“When one of the soldiers used his cutlass to cut off Adamo’s shoulder and the blood is flowing all over the place…I think we realized then, that the soldiers wanted to kill us all.” Martin Kyere, sole survivor of the 2005 massacre in The Gambia of over 50 West African migrants

CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021:Nana-Jo Ndow, daughter of Saul Ndow, holding a picture of her father who, in 2013, was forcibly disappeared from Senegal by Gambian security forces and murdered ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio
(LEFT) Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, is the sole survivor of the 2005 massacre in The Gambia of over 50 West African migrants, trying to get to Europe. Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, is the sole survivor, in 2005, of the massacre of over 50 West African migrants, who were endeavouring to reach Europe. They were all killed on orders of President Yahya Jammeh, fearing that they were coup plotters   (RIGHT) In 2005 over 50 West African migrants were killed by Gambian security forces. A number of bodies, hacked to pieces were found dumped in a forest near a beach popular with tourists

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Our work aims to expose the wide-reaching forms and scale of abuse – to create a historical archive and to be used as a tool for advocacy and public awareness. Early in the project, we came to understand that many people who sat for the portraits found it cathartic, having previously not been able to openly tell their stories, and so our work took on additional and profound meaning and made it a collaborative process. Alagie Sonko, falsely imprisoned by the regime, said to us “I don’t care what you do with my picture or my story, but the fact you came and listened to me, that is enough”

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST: Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, Taranga FM community radio journalist. Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay said he was unlawfully detained and tortured by members of the Jammeh regime security forces in July 2015.. Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
(LEFT) Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, Taranga FM community radio journalist. Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay said he was unlawfully detained and tortured by members of the Jammeh regime security forces in July 2015. He was pulled from his car by four plainclothes officers in the Gambia’s business hub, Serrekunda, blindfolded and taken to a detention site. He said he was questioned as to why Taranga FM was broadcasting news that could cause instability in the country, and beaten until he collapsed due to being an asthmatic, and then dumped on the street. According to his testimony, Alagie was detained again a few days later and suffered a broken arm, dislocated leg and internal bleeding at the hands of his interrogators. His family smuggled him over the border to Senegal where he spent six months receiving treatment. (RIGHT) Threatening phone messages he Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay received a few days before he was abducted and tortured

Alagie Sonko, falsely imprisoned by the regime, during is interview, said to us “I don’t care what you do with my picture or my story, but the fact you came and listened to me, that is enough”.

CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST

CAP PRIZE SHORTLIST 2021:Nana-Jo Ndow, daughter of Saul Ndow, holding a picture of her father who, in 2013, was forcibly disappeared from Senegal by Gambian security forces and murdered ©Jason Florio / Helen Jones-Florio
(LEFT) Nana-Jo Ndow, daughter of Saul Ndow, holding a picture of her father who, in 2013, was forcibly disappeared from Senegal, along with Mahawa Cham, former Gambian MP. Witness testimonies revealed that they had been abducted and taken over the border into The Gambia, where they were both killed by Jammeh’s security forces in Jammeh’s home village. “We want answers and we want justice, and we will not give up until those who are responsible are held accountable.” (RIGHT) One of three crocodile pools in former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh’s home village. It is alleged that a number of Jammeh’s victims were dropped into local wells and some thrown to the crocodiles to destroy the evidence.

“We want answers and we want justice, and we will not give up until those who are responsible are held accountable.” Nana-Jo Ndow

See more at CAP PRIZE 2021 SHORTLIST

CAP PRIZE 2021 – 25 SHORTLISTED PROJECTS

 THE GAMBIAWEST AFRICA

CURRENT LOCATION – MAY 2021

Assignment queries, and image licensing – Contact here

Photographers & filmmakers, Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio with their exhibition ‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’, The Gambia, West Africa April 2021. Image by @flex_dan

Published by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

Award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and writer, Jason Florio (floriophoto.com), and photographer, producer, and writer, Helen Jones-Florio http://www.rivergambiaexpedition.com/ http://930kmafricanodyssey.tumblr.com/ https://www.facebook.com/floriophotostellstories Twitter @floriophotonNYC Instagram https://www.instagram.com/floriotravels/ Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jasonflorio/ Instagram https://www.instagram.com/florio_gallery/ Instagram https://www.instagram.com/doors_facades_florio/

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