#Portraits4PositiveChange – GoFundMe: ‘Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime’ Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

A peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh's regime, to demand that the #Gambian government release the bodies of exhumed victims and to open a dialogue the families, #Banjul, The #Gambia ©Jason Florio
A peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh’s regime, to demand that the Gambian government release the bodies of exhumed victims and to open a dialogue the families, Banjul, The Gambia ©Jason Florio.

 

Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – photographers, and filmmakers

Huge thanks you to everyone who has donated and supported our GoFundMe campaign, so far – ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime‘, #Portraits4PositiveChangeThe portraits we make will be used as tools of advocacy, and in exhibitions, to help bring the former dictator, Yahya Jammeh, to justice.

I believe that these stories must be told to ensure the greatest chance of achieving justice and reconciliation. GFM donor, T.Kellow

We are edging closer to reaching our GFM goal. Please share, and/or donate, if you can (every spare $5 will be greatly appreciated), be part of the change, and help us to carry on making an extensive, important, body of work, in The Gambia.

A work-in-progress…

See the portraits which have been produced, so far, in The Gambia (and Senegal) on Jason Florio’s website, floriophoto.com

Portrait: Fatoumatta Sandeng, daughter of murdered Gambian opposition leader, Solo Sandeng. She escaped into exile to Senegal after her father's murder in 2016 - at the hands of Yahya Jammeh's security forces - fearful that she would be targeted next ©Jason Florio
Fatoumatta Sandeng, daughter of murdered Gambian opposition leader, Solo Sandeng. She escaped into exile to Senegal after her father’s murder in 2016 – at the hands of Yahya Jammeh’s security forces – fearful that she would be targeted next ©Jason Florio.

‘Jason is making important work, again!’ GFM donor Julie Grahame/aCurator

Jason Florio photographs Ballo Kanteh - an ex-political prisoner, he 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 the notorious Mile 2 prison - for the first two years, he was held in solitary confinement in a pitch dark cell, which has permanently damaged his eyesight. Image © Helen Jones-Florio
Jason Florio photographs Ballo Kanteh – an ex-political prisoner, he 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 the notorious Mile 2 prison – for the first two years, he was held in solitary confinement in a pitch dark cell, which has permanently damaged his eyesight. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Heartfelt thanks, to everyone

The Florios ❤️

#Portraits4PositiveChange

_____

December 2018-January 2019

We will be in The Gambia, West Africa, end of November, and available for assignments in the region 

Please  contact us here or via Jason’s website

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Back in The Gambia, West Africa – images ©Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

A recap, from The Gambia, West Africa – April 2018

Street Life, Serrekunda, The Gambia- young girls playing ©Helen Jones-Florio
Street life, Serrekunda, The Gambia ©Helen Jones-Florio
Here we are, back in our second home…

As ever, there are lots to see and do – and, a little time out from work to reconnect and celebrate with old friends

Black and white, Samba and Fatou's wedding celebrations, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio
Samba and Fatou’s wedding celebrations, The Gambia © Jason Florio

 

And, of course, there is always the #9 pack…

 

Wolf, one of a pack of stray Gambian dogs, from the beach ©Helen Jones-Florio
‘Wolf’, one of the many waifs and strays who come to the compound for food, shelter, and a little pampering from us – Gambian dogs ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Peaceful marches…

Connected to what we were up to last year, early on in the year and later in November, we headed over to Serrekunda and joined in on the Solo Sandeng Memorial March, April 14th, 2018, which took place to commemorate the prominent activist – of the opposition party, UDP, and youth leader –  and other victims. Sandeng was murdered whilst in custody on this day in 2016, under the old dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh. His death sparked a national outcry and the beginning of the end of Jammeh’s brutal rule – Gambians had decided that enough was enough. Saturday’s march would never have been possible under the former regime, without there blood being shed and/or lives lost

Solo Sandeng Memorial March, Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio
Solo Sandeng Memorial March, The Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Images from the Memorial March for murdered UDP activist, Solo Sandeng, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio
Memorial March for murdered UDP activist, Solo Sandeng, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio
Memorial March for murdered UDP activist, Solo Sandeng, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Memorial March for murdered UDP activist, Solo Sandeng, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Photographer and documentary film maker, Jason Florio at work, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Photographer and documentary filmmaker, Jason Florio at work, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

 

On Monday, 16th April, we headed over to the capital of The Gambia, Banjul, to join a peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh‘s regime, to demand that the Gambian government release the bodies of exhumed victims, and to open a dialogue with the families to help keep them informed of what they are doing to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Mr Njie during a vigil, in Banjul, for victims of the Jammeh regime holding a picture of his nephew Nyass who was killed during an attempted coup in 2014 to bring down the dictatorship, Gambia © Jason Florio
Mr. Njie during a vigil, in Banjul, for victims of the Jammeh regime holding a picture of his nephew Nyass who was killed during an attempted coup in 2014 to bring down the dictatorship © Jason Florio.

 

A peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh's regime, holding placards of their missing family members, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
A peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh’s regime, holding pictures of their ‘disappeared’ loved ones © Helen Jones-Florio
A peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh's regime © Helen Jones-Florio
A peaceful vigil by families of victims of Yahya Jammeh’s regime, Banjul, Gambia, with a police escort © Helen Jones-Florio.

 

We are looking forward to the next few weeks, here in The Gambia, to see what else our journey presents to us… feel free to follow us

@floriotravels / @jasonflorio

on Instagram – for regular photo updates.

Helen Jones-Florio

Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia, West Africa
Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia, West Africa, Nov 2017

 

 

 

“We Never Gave Up: Stories of Courage in Gambia” – Amnesty International Documentary

“We Never Gave Up: Stories of Courage in Gambia

A Jason Florio & Louise Hunt Production for Amnesty International

the documentary

At the end of last year, we were commissioned by Amnesty International, West Africa, to make a documentary about the human rights defenders, and activists, who worked tirelessly, and often at their own risk, to stand up for those who had been abused and tortured – including working for the families of those who had ‘disappeared‘ – under the 22-year dictatorship of President Yahya Jammeh.

Screen-grab from documentary: Dec 2016, Yahya Jammeh goes live on air to rescind the recent elections, whereby the majority of the country voted him out
Screen-grab from documentary trailer: Dec 2016, Yahya Jammeh goes live on air to rescind the recent elections, after the majority of the country voted him out
Director of Photography/Co-Producer, Jason Florio, with Foroyaa newspaper editor, Samuel Sarr, at his printing press
Director of Photography/Co-Producer, Jason Florio, with Foroyaa newspaper editor, Samuel Sarr, in his printing press. Image ©Helen Jones-Florio (2nd Camera)

Having traveled, lived, and worked, over the last 20 years, on various assignments and personal projects, in the Gambia, Florio and I were always aware of its dark underbelly. We heard ‘the stories‘ of abuse, torture, disappearances, murder even. And, in a country which depends largely on tourism – the pull of beautiful sandy beaches, year-long sunshine, languorous boat trips on the River Gambia, technicolored sunsets – you’d be extremely hard pushed, if you only visited for a holiday, to have any notion at all of the graveness of what was going on, in the small West Africa country.

Jugana, one of the victims of Jammeh's torturous regime, being filmed by Jason Florio ©Helen Jones-Florio
Jugana Suso, a victim of Jammeh’s torturous regime, being filmed by Jason Florio ©Helen Jones-Florio

For 22 years, we documented Gambians living in a climate of fear. Their rights were denied and many were subjected to torture, arbitrary detention, and widespread surveillance. But even in those dark days, there were people brave enough to stand up and challenge the abuse of power.” 

Screen-grab from the documentary #GambiaHasDecided, Bakau ©Jason Florio
Screen-grab from the documentary trailer #GambiaHasDecided, Bakau ©Jason Florio

“Whether they were journalists, human rights lawyers, community leaders, young activists or victims of abuses, they never gave up. Our film portrays their stories, showing the world a lesson that what happened in the Gambia is proof of the power and change that human rights defenders can bring about.Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Regional Director.

Preparing to interview Imam Baba Leigh at his home ©Helen Jones-Florio
Preparing to interview Imam Baba Leigh at his home – a former prisoner and victim of torture – with sound man, Pa Ebou Sossey ©Helen Jones-Florio
Jason Florio filming at the Foroyaa newspaper print shop ©Helen Jones-Florio (2nd Camera)
Jason Florio filming at the Foroyaa newspaper print shop ©Helen Jones-Florio (2nd Camera)
Human rights lawyers: L-R ©Helen Jones-Florio
Human rights lawyers, with their client, Jugana Suso: L-R: Hawa Sisay Sabally, Rachel Yvonne Mendy, Juguna Suso, Yassin Sanghor © Helen Jones-Florio (2nd Camera)
The facilitators of the #GambiaHasDecided campaign ©Helen Jones-Florio
The inspiring people behind the far-reaching and incredibly influential #GambiaHasDecided campaign – Lamin Saidykhan, Gilleh Thomas, Asta Jobe, Salieu Taal ©Helen Jones-Florio
Filming human rights lawyer, xxxx, in her home © Helen Jones-FlorioFilming human rights lawyer, xxxx, in her home © Helen Jones-Florio
Filming human rights lawyer, Yassin Sanghor at in her home © Helen Jones-Florio
Car bumper sticker '#MyTribeIsGambian © Helen Jones-Florio
Car bumper sticker ‘#MyTribeIsGambian © Helen Jones-Florio

To have all those stories,  Jammeh’s reign of fear and terror,  Florio and I had only heard whispers about over the years (until April 2016, when Gambians came to the streets to protest after the death in custody of activist Solo Sandeng), our Gambian friends only ever spoke sotto voce about what was going on, confirmed by those who had actually lived them was both incredibly disturbing and humbling. Now, with a new president, they have the freedom to speak out, have their voices heard.

Louise Hunt, write and co-producer, interviews Salieu Taal (#GambiaHasDecided), Saffy J's Restaurant, Bakau ©Helen Jones-Florio
Louise Hunt, writer/co-producer, interviews Salieu Taal (#GambiaHasDecided), Saffie J’s Restaurant, Bakau ©Helen Jones-Florio (2nd Camera)

We are truly thankful to every single person who shared their experiences, those who worked with us on the documentary, and Amnesty International for inviting us to make the documentary, in a place that we feel is a second home.

The Florios

Photos Tell Stories – documentary, photography, travel

Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia, West Africa
Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia, West Africa

Follow us on Instagram @floriotravels / @jasonflorio for updates on

when and where you can see the full documentary

Documenting a past regime – ex-MILE II prisoners, The Gambia, West Africa

Photojournalist, Jason Florio, prepares to interview ex-Mile2 prisoner, Ballo, The Gambia, West Africa
Photojournalist, Jason Florio, prepares to interview ex-Mile II prisoner, Ballo – beaten, tortured, kept in solitary confinement – The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
‘for 2 years I did not see daylight…’
Portrait of ex-Mile2 prisoner, Ballo - The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
Portrait of ex-Mile II prisoner, Ballo -beaten, tortured, kept in solitary confinement – The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Interviewing ex-Mile2 prisoner, Ngoi Njie, The Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio
Interviewing ex-Mile II political prisoner, Ngoi Njie -beaten, tortured, and witnessed the torturing to death of her friend and fellow activist, Solo Sandeng –  The Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Ngoi Njie - ex-Mile2 political prisoner, who was beaten and tourtured, The Gambia © Jason Florio
Portrait of ex-Mile II political prisoner, Ngoi Njie -beaten, tortured, and witnessed the torturing to death of her friend fellow activist, Solo Sandeng –  The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

 

We’ll be posting more about our interviews with the ex-Mile II prisoners, in the coming weeks.

The Florios

Follow us on Instagram for daily photo updates + @jasonflorio

Instagram - ©floriotravels
Instagram – ©floriotravels  images © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio