Stories Behind Doors, the Gambia

#StoriesBehindDoors – Yundum Army Barracks, the Gambia ©Helen Jones-Florio – Instagram @doors_facades_florio

Well come to No.4, Yundum Army Barracks, The Gambia – this door, to a Gambian soldiers quarters, overlooks the site on the camp where the bodies of seven murdered soldiers were exhumed. The soldiers were murdered by soldiers loyal to the former president, Yahya Jammeh, for being allegedly part of a counter-coup in November 1994. Witnesses say eleven soldiers were buried at the barracks, so far only seven have been found. Along with the bone fragments, electrical cables were also found that were used to bind the victims’ hands. The only clothing found were underwear, corroborating witness testimonies that the men were stripped almost naked before being shot.

The exhumation findings of 7 murdered soldiers at Yundum Barrack, the Gambia. Image © Jason Florio / See more on Instagram

#StoriesBehindDoors

The families of the murdered Gambian soldiers gather next to the exhumation site at Yundum Army Barrack, the Gambia, along with the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commissioners (TRRC). Image © Jason Florio – see more on Instagram

Currently working in the Gambia – April-May 2019

Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime

#Portraits4PositiveChange

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Stories Behind Doors -Mr. Chune’s 14-year-old son was shot dead by Gambian security forces, April 2000

Stories Behind Doors, The Gambia, West Africa - the doorway to Mr. Chune's home. His 14 year old son was shot dead by Gambia security forces April 10th, 2000 © Helen Jones-Florio
#StoriesBehindDoors, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

11 APRIL 2000 – Modou Lamin Chune, 14 years old, was one of 16 young people shot dead by Gambian paramilitary forces (over two days, 10th and 11th April) when they opened fire on a peaceful demonstration by students. At first, they used rubber bullets and tear gas. When the students refused to disperse, live bullets were used.

#StoriesBehindDoors

“My son was amongst the children massacred by Yahya Jammeh’s security forces… he was trying to escape, running with the other students to save their lives, and he was shot dead as he reached the school gates” Mbye Babou Chune

Gambian, Mbye Babou Chune gives his testimony, on camera, about the murder of his 14-year-old-son © Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia, West Africa.
Mbye Babou Chune talks about the murder of his 14-year-old-son © Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia, West Africa

“Modou was a brilliant student – the saddest day of my families life…innocent children killed by state guard/paramilitary officers…using live bullets and AK47’s. There was no mistake, it was their intention to kill” Mbye Babou Chune


The protest took place after a 19-year-old secondary school student, Ebrima Barry, who after insulting one of his teachers, was tortured and murdered by firefighters (they, and not the police, who were called to remove the student from the classroom). Along with beating him, the firefighters poured cement in Ebrima’s mouth and forced him to swallow it. They later allowed him to go home but, tragically, Ebrima died the next day as a result of his injuries.

Around the same time, a 13-year-old girl – ‘Binta’ – who was attending a school sports day at the Independence Stadium, was allegedly raped by a uniformed paramilitary officer. A medical examination later confirmed that Binta had been raped. After the two incidents, the Gambia Students Union (GAMSU) requested a permit to hold a public protest, as was their constitutional right. Their request was denied and GAMSU called on its members to take part in a peaceful march from the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI), towards the capital city of Banjul, and Jammeh’s seat of power in the State House. Before the march even began, the police opened fire on the crowd, outside the GTTI.

#Portraits4positivechange

In April 2000, Yusupha was shot in the back by Yahya Jammeh regime forces while attending a protest. He was left paralyzed. Image © Jason Florio
In April 2000, Yusupha was shot in the back by Yahya Jammeh regime forces while attending a protest. Image © Jason Florio

I was not a coward, but Jammeh does not sympathise…if I put pressure on the case (to get justice for his son, and the others who were murdered and injured), I feared I would be ‘eliminated’. My phone was already being tapped by the NIA. This was not fair to the rest of my family…” Mbye Babou Chune


Despite the number of people killed, and many more severely injured – some left paralyzed, for life – then president, Yahya Jammeh’s government suppressed any investigation. Many of the victims’ families were allegedly threatened by the feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA), preventing them from coming forward to make a case. Jammeh’s brutal dictatorship latest 22 years – 1994-2017 (although he was voted out in December 2016, he refused to step down, until he was sent into exile in January 2017).

#GambiaHasDecided

Follow the blog for further updates on our on-going work in the Gambia, and other photography assignments

Helen Jones-Florio

PhotosTellStories

See portraits by Jason Florio, from our on-going series:

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters of a regime



Available for assignments & for image licensing – Contact here

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@doors_facades_florio / @jasonflorioio / @floriotravels – Instagram

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The Gambia – stories behind doors

#StoriesBehindDoors, Serrekunda, The Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio

Behind every door, there is a story to be heard…


Making #Portraits4PositiveChange, with Jason Florio, we are meeting victims and survivors of the brutal regime of the former president of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh. The man, ‘A.K.J.’, who lives behind this door, was shot in the leg by security forces when he took part in a peaceful student protest in April 2000. A.K.J. told us how they opened fire when he and his fellow students were less than 100 meters away. He saw 4-5 students lying dead around him as he waited to be rescued – 14 young people in total were shot dead. Fortunately, for him, the Red Cross came to his aid. He was In hospital for 4 months… He now walks with the aid of a stick.

As I lay wounded, hoping that someone would come and help me, on the ground around me, I could see 4 or 5 bodies… they were not moving…AKJ


'Kafu Bayo' - Stories Behind Doors, the Gambia. Image © Helen Jones-Florio West Africa Gambia Doors
‘Kafu Bayo’ – Stories Behind Doors, the Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

For three days, I did not know who I was, or where I was…my clothes were like, you know, a butchers…covered in blood… KB

Mr. Kafu Bayo, who lives behind this door, was arrested in the Gambia on April 14th, 2016, whilst marching with the opposition leader, Solo Sandeng – who was also arrested at the same time and, tragically, killed whilst in police custody – and many others, for electoral reform. Kafu, along with fellow marchers, was severely beaten, tortured and imprisoned for 8 months. He was in his mid-seventies at the time of his arrest.

See Jason Florio’s portraits, from our on-going series

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters of a regime’


Follow us on Instagram for regular updates on our work in the Gambia, West Africa – @floriotravels / @doors_facades_florio / @jasonflorio.

Helen Jones-Florio

HJF with Oumie Jagne, who was shot in the arm during the 2000 student protests, in the Gambia ©Jason Florio

#GambiaDoors / #StoriesBehindDoors / #Portraits4PositiveChange

The beauty in decay – Gambia Doors v Malta Doors

 

Green door, Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio - from #GambiaDoors & #StoriesBehindDoors
Green door, Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

 

GAMBIA DOORS V MALTA DOORS

 

Green door, Sliema, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio from #DisappearingMalta #MaltaDoors
Green door, Sliema, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

Crossing continents

Malta DoorsGambia Doors.

We are still in West Africa, and I see similarities every day in many of the doors and storefronts, here in the Gambia, of those that I see daily in Malta – the rich, and vibrant colours of beauty in decay…

#DisappearingMalta / #GambiaDoors / #StoriesBehindDoors

All images © Helen Jones-Florio

Photography prints of all the doors and storefronts are available from helenjonesflorio.com

 

Helen Jones-Florio, Valletta vintage storefront ©Jason Florio
Helen Jones-Florio, Valletta vintage storefront ©Jason Florio

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