“I do not care what you do with my photo or my testimony,” concluded Alagie Sonko after the meeting. It is the fact that you came to listen to me that did me the greatest good” Alagie Sonko, the Gambia – Le Monde Afrique / Romain Chanson
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
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
24-year-old, Amie, a kindergarten teacher was part of a peaceful protest in 2016 when she was picked up by members of the former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh’s, security forces. She was held incommunicado for 10 days at one of their detention sites. She was subjected to beatings with steel pipes and regularly doused in freezing water. One of her fellow protestors was subjected not only to the beatings but to gang rape by three masked police officers. See more on my website floriophoto.com
We are indebted to all the subjects who have invited us into their homes, their lives, so far, and shared their harrowing stories with us – none of this would be happening without you. Huge thanks to all the team at the Victims Centre, and the Goerte Institute for their support of the exhibition.
And, last but not least, everyone who has supported our GoFundMe campaign, your support and words of encouragement, over these last few months, has been incredible. Because of you, we are able to be in the Gambia today, to carry on building this body of work.
The exhibition is open to all – if you are in the Gambia, please come along!